You may know by now that the United States is an incredible touristic destination. This country has countless attractions that make it an ideal place to visit: New York, Las Vegas, California, Florida, just to name a few, are amazing spots full of astonishing experiences that you will remember forever.
So, what do I need to know in order to visit the Land of Freedom?
For this article, we have selected a series of tips you might like to consider in order to have unbeatable travel experience in the United States, whether you do it for business or tourism purposes:
1. Receiving an ESTA status under the VWP
The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) is a modality that allows an individual looking to visit the United States, to do it without the need to have an American Visa. Without a doubt, this is one of the fastest and easier ways you have to enter the American Territory.
If you live in a Visa Waiver country, you will need to process an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) Status with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The ESTA Status is a system designed with the purpose to define the guidelines of eligibility of a person under the VWP Program. By filling a series of biographical questions from the VWP, the applicants state their suitability to obtain an ESTA status that will allow them to enter the country.
You are eligible to apply for an ESTA status if:
- You live in an approved Visa Waiver country.
- You currently don’t own a Visa.
- The reason for your trip is for business or tourism purposes.
- Your stay will be less than 90 days.
So, what do you need to receive ESTA status? The actual requirements to apply for it are:
- You will need to obtain an e-passport with the VWP. This is a digital document that contains a microchip that stores your biographical information and your photograph.
- A valid credit card or a PayPal account, in order to deposit USD $18 for each ESTA application.
- Some contact information.
- Current and past employment information.
After submitting the ESTA application, the Department of Homeland Security will inform three kinds of responses:
- Authorization Approved: You now have an ESTA status. Yaaaaay!
- Authorization Pending: You will need to check again in the following 72 hours in order to obtain a definitive answer.
- Travel Not Authorized: In this case, the Department of Homeland Security rejected the ESTA status application.
If your ESTA Status gets denied, don’t panic! You can always consult the requirements of the Department of State in order to apply to a US Visa. There are several types of Visas and, depending on the purpose of the travel (and sometimes, depending on your nationality), the documents you will need may vary.
2. Visa Waiver Countries
The following are the countries that are part of the Visa Waiver Program:
- Czech Republic
- Republic of Korea
- New Zealand
- San Marino
- United Kingdom
If you are a citizen of one of these countries, congratulations! You are eligible to apply for an ESTA status from the VWP program. You are one step closer to the United States.
3. Schedule your trip in advance
The best thing you can do for your trip to the United States is to design a proper plan with anticipation. Consult an experienced travel agent who will guide you through budgets, attractions, flights, hotels, and even restaurants! It is way better to have an informed point of view before making plans. Also, please consider that upon arrival, you will be required to have a hotel reservation and a booked plane ticket too. At this point, a travel agent can be really useful!
4. Consider the season you will arrive
As a country ruled by seasons, you might like to be informed about the weather conditions beforehand. New York, Boston, Washington, Seattle and basically most northern states have great touristic attractions, however, they can be a little difficult in the winter.
5. Think about what you want to visit and the time you have available
The United States is a HUGE country, so, you should consider what are the attractions you want to visit: There are some strategically connected regions with points in common. You can go to the West Coast, including Los Angeles, Hollywood, Las Vegas, Yosemite National Park, San Francisco, the Grand Canyon. If you want to go to the beach, enjoy amazing weather and visit incredible amusement parks, Miami and Orlando are your perfect destinations. The North East also has great places to know, like New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Boston, etc.
Keep in mind that you can visit all the regions, however, you should consider the time (and budget) you will need to do it.
6. Buy a travel insurance policy
No one is exempt to have a small accident in the United States, and medical bills there can be incredibly expensive. Trust me, the best thing you can do is to get yourself a complete travel insurance policy in advance, a warrant to be covered from any unexpected (but possible) issue you might face.
7. Plan your budget (and then save some more)
Not only you will need to provide to immigration authorities enough proof of having money to spend on your trip (plain cash), you should also consider unexpected expenses, souvenirs and the occasional night out. Try to set a daily budget of at least USD $75 and, if you didn’t spend all of it, save it for the next day.
As you can see, there are a lot of things you have to keep in mind before entering in the United States in order to have a smooth and unforgettable experience, however, with this information, you can be sure to be going in the right direction.