Top 10 Common Mistakes Visitors to USA Make

Visiting the United States is a dream millions of people have worldwide. In addition to being a developed country, the innumerable tourist options in the USA appeal to all types of people. Therefore, millions of people visit the U.S. every year. As the U.S. is geographically separate from many countries of the world, travelling can be time-consuming and exhaustive, not to mention the preparations needed in order to travel to the U.S.

By following this list of USA travel tips, travelers can have a smooth and trouble-free visit to USA.

1. Passport

In order to visit the U.S. or most foreign countries, a valid passport is obviously required. Additionally, for citizens of many countries, unless exempt, the U.S. requires that your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your intended stay in the U.S.

Even if your citizenship country exempts you from this rule, if you are planning to stop over in another country, the rule may apply in that country. E.g., citizens of India are exempt from the six-month passport validity rule while visiting the U.S. However, if they are flying Emirates and planning to stop by in Dubai for a few days, they need to make sure their passport is valid at least for six months beyond their intended stay in UAE.

2. Visa Requirements

Citizens of most countries require a visitors visa to visit the U.S. Unlike many other countries, the U.S. visa process is long, time-consuming, document-intensive and requires multiple visits to the U.S. embassy or consulate. The complete US visitor visa process can easily take several months for many people, especially in countries where the demand to travel to the USA is very high.

Many countries participate in the visa waiver program; however, residents of these countries still need to be approved in advance through a procedure called ESTA.

3. Tight Connections

Due to the geographical location of the U.S. in the world, unless you are visiting from one of the few neighboring countries, travel time for most people will be long and it will likely involve a layover with connecting flight.

While shopping around for the cheapest flight, make sure that your connection is not very tight. You will want to have ample time to reach your next plane at a leisurely pace rather than having to quickly disembark and sprint through the airport hoping you don’t miss your connecting flight. In addition to the flight delays, you also need to keep in mind the immense size of many airports. It may be necessary to change terminals, walk a lot, and take a bus or train. Therefore, please allow yourself sufficient time to reach the next gate.

4. Credit Card and Bank Accounts

Most credit card companies and banks have a built-in mechanism to track the spending behavior of their customers and detect any anomalies in their spending pattern. If they detect potential fraud or unauthorized charges, they may freeze the credit or debit card. If they freeze your card, there can be additional difficulties clearing up the issue, as you will have to call your bank from a foreign country. 

To prevent potential issues arising, it is advisable to call your credit card company (and the bank if you plan to use your debit card) to let them know your travel dates and the countries you will be visiting. Then, they will expect to see transactions from a foreign country and are less likely to freeze your card.

5. Power Adapters

Different countries around the world use different types of power plugs and outlets, as well as voltages. Nowadays, it is very common for people to travel with their laptop, mobile phone, tablet, and even portable gaming consoles.

Typically, there are two problems when traveling abroad: the shape of the plug/outlet, and the voltage itself. Unlike many countries around the world that use 220 volts, the U.S. uses 110 volts. Fortunately, many chargers allow both 110 and 220 volts, which means you may not need a voltage converter or transformer. However, you will still need a power adaptor, as the shape of power plugs are different. In the U.S. and Canada, the pins have flat blades and are rectangle in shape (Plug Types A & B). Plugs used throughout Europe (Plug Types C, E & F) and India (Plug Types C, D, & M) are round-pinned and rounded or squared in shape.

6. Local Currency

The U.S. uses the United States Dollar (USD). Most places in the U.S. accept credit cards or debit cards, even for a small purchase as low as $1. Some establishments may require cash payment for purchases under $10.

Before traveling to the U.S., it is advisable to visit a local bank or foreign currency exchange location to convert your money to U.S. dollars in various denominations such as $20, $10, $5 and $1. Don’t get $50 or $100, as some establishments may not accept large bills.

It’s best to not convert currency at airports because you are more likely to see worse exchange rates and pay additional fees. Only exchange currency at the airport if you’re desperate or don’t care about wasting money.

7. Visitors Insurance

While the United States may offer some of the best healthcare in the world, it is also the most expensive in the world. A visit to the emergency room may cost several thousand dollars for a serious condition, and hospitalization may run into tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Most visitors to USA can’t afford to pay for healthcare out of their pocket if they were to become sick or injured while visiting the USA.

Visitors insurance for travelers to USA provides medical coverage generally for any new medical conditions, injuries or accidents that may occur after the effective date of the policy. There are many choices available with a range of coverage options and prices. Therefore, it is better to use a comparison website where you can see quotes of multiple products, compare them side by side and make an easy, instant purchase online. Make sure you purchase from a broker that can help you not only choose the most suitable policy for your needs, but also be ready and willing to help in case you have a problem with the claim later.

8. Cellphone Plans

Most people possess a smartphone, which has voice and data charges. Before leaving your home country, make sure that you have international roaming activated and available for both voice and data. Please check with your cellphone carrier if they offer a plan that can save you money. To avoid data charges, you should use Wi-Fi wherever available. If you have applications such as WhatsApp on your cellphone, you can even make phone calls using Wi-Fi.

If that does not work, you can consider purchasing a new SIM card within the U.S. Many stores, such as Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target and other retailers have prepaid SIM cards available.

9. Packing

Many people don’t realize the diverse geographical areas throughout the U.S. Depending upon the season you travel and the region you are traveling to, you may need to pack summer or winter clothes, or perhaps even a combination of both if you plan to stay several months or travel to different regions. There is no point in carrying clothing you probably won’t wear; at the same time, you may not want to wait and purchase the clothes you think you will need in the U.S.

Additionally, check the baggage limit with your airline. Many of them allow the one or two big bags with a limit of 23 Kgs each (50 Lbs. each) and one carry-on bag. Additional bags would cost additional money.

10. Domestic Travel

As the U.S. is a vast country, you may need to take flights to travel domestically. Make sure to add that cost in your budget. For some locations, you may prefer renting a car as the local public transportation systems may be inconvenient unlike in Europe, India or China. If you need to travel within large cities such as New York, Chicago or San Francisco, using public transportation such as a bus, train or taxi are easily accessible.

Make the best out of your vacation by keeping these travel tips on how to avoid such common mistakes in mind to help you have a better journey to and in the U.S.

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