Here at House of Coco we are obsessed with traveling to the USA. Whether it’s for a cheeky weekend in New York city to party the night away in Brooklyn or its to relax at a world renowned spa in California, the USA is our playground. We love the land of opportunity and we are always flying over to the states to fulfil our desire for adventure. With new hotels opening all of the time, there is always an excuse for us to fly back over the pond to have some time out.
We can be found catching flights more than we catch feelings so we can often become complacent and just assume that we know everything there is to know when it comes to travel and sometimes we get caught up in the moment that we forget the basics. So here we have put together our fool proof guide to making sure your first visit to the USA runs smoothly.
Tick all of these things off before you travel and we will guarantee that your first trip to the USA will run smoothly.
Make sure you have your ESTA
Each country has different laws when it comes to Visas and America is no different. You will need your ESTA, this is the Electronic System for Travel Authorization which is an automated system that determines the eligibility of visitors to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program. No ESTA means no entry! You can apply easily online and it can sometimes take up to 72 hours to get a response so make sure you allow yourself enough time to do this, but often you will find out in just a matter of hours.
People say don’t forget your toothbrush but we say don’t forget to get your ESTA. Plus, your ESTA is a cheaper and easier alternative to getting a Visa so it makes sense the remove any additional costs or hassles.
Americans expect tips
Whilst not mandatory in most of the USA, it is customary in many circumstances for service, especially if you are in a sit down restaurant with table service because the staff rely on tips as an essential part of their wage. Tipping 15-20% is usually acceptable but be prepared to get dirty looks if you go under this, whilst it’s not mandatory the staff can be offended when you tip low or, if you’re feeling brave, don’t tip at all.
Dining out in America isn’t particularly cheap so we would recommend checking out the restaurants you plan on visiting, researching their menu online and then working out the cost to eat there plus tips and tax, once you do that, the mega deal at that steakhouse might not be quite so appealing.
Each state in America is massive so without a plan ahead of your visit you might just get lost on the open road and waste valuable time trying to decide what to do and where to go.Whether you like casinos, beaches, festivals, history or nature, the USA will not disappoint. Research each state online before making any decisions on where to go. But the main bit of research you will need to stick to is your ESTA form, without filling this out and getting your ESTA, you won’t be able to enter the country.
The USA is filled with adventure and opportunity so whilst planning ahead is neccessary, you also want to allow for spontaneity and surprise, so be ready to just go with the flow. Chances are you will make friends along the way as Americans are so friendly and welcoming so your new besties might have some suggestions and insights that you have not even thought about.
Be prepared to be wowed when you visit for the first time, seeing all of the amazing things you have only seen on the TV will be jaw droopingly amazing and you will fall in love with the USA immediately.
With so much choice you can be overwhelmed when it comes to arranging a trip to the USA, but once you are armed with all of this information, your ESTA and a desire to explore then you are ready to go and experience the adventure that awaits you in America.