28 March 2019

Practical travel tips for The United States


  • A travel insurance that covers all medical costs is very important. The costs of medical help in The United States always have to be paid for by you unless it concerns an emergency. The costs are much higher than they are in The Netherlands. For instance, a doctor’s visit can cost around 1400 euros. 


  • It is not a good idea to lock your baggage when you fly to The United States. The TSA is allowed to break open your suitcase at all times, the costs will be for you. You can buy a TSA lock which only you and the douane are able to open. 
  • Watch out for your medicines! Many medicines are seen as drugs and can cost you a night in jail and high fines if you are not in possession of a medical certificate.
  • People from the age of 21 are allowed to bring 1 bottle of alcoholic drinks through the customs, and 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 2 kg of tabaco. 
  • When you enter the first airport in The United States you will always have to pick up your own baggage, whether you have a connection flight or not. The reason for this is that baggage always needs to go through the customs and immigration. 
  • Keep in mind that you will have to be at the airport at least 3 hours before your flight. The possibility exists that you will have to answer questions about your baggage. Your body will be checked for prohibited items by a body scanner. Sometimes you will still need to fill in the green I-94W form, even though your ESTA has been approved. Therefore, you should make sure that you can proof where you will stay your first night in The United States. 
  • Before you are allowed to enter The United States you will get questioned by immigrations. Examples of questions that may be asked: What is the purpose of your stay? What type of work do you do? Are you really here for holiday and when will you be flying back? Afterwards they will take a picture (iris scan) and scan your fingerprints. Keep in mind that it can take a while to get through immigrations, over an hour. It is therefore advised to plan two hours between connection flights. Also, since your baggage needs to go through the douane again. 


  • If you want to enter The United States by air or sea and you are a citizen of a country that is part of the Visa Waiver Program it is mandatory to apply for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). Which means you can do the application online. The United Kingdom is part of the Visa Waiver Program. 
  • The travel authorization ESTA is only meant for temporarily business trips or touristic visits for up to a maximum of 90 days. An ESTA travel authorization is also needed when you land on US soil for a transit flight (even though you might not have to leave the airport). The travel authorization is valid up to 2 years or until your passport expires. During this time ESTA allows you to enter The United States as often as you would like. However, you are still only allowed to stay for 90 days per visit. 
  • At www.esta-applications.uk you can apply for an ESTA in an easy and fast way. You can also visit this site for more information. 


  • If you want to drive a car and if you plan to stay in The United States for longer than 3 months, you will need a local driver’s license. Therefore, you will need to do a driver’s test in the place you stay. 
  • Always make sure you have enough water in your car during a long car ride, when your car breaks down help can take hours to arrive. 
  • Some parts of big cities are unsafe, downtown Los Angeles and large parts of Detroit for instance are better to avoid. At night always drive with your windows closed and doors locked, and don’t go of the main roads. Also make use of well-lit parking lots. 
  • Traveling by public transport is less common than it is in Europe. Of course, the big cities have a metro, but outside of the cities it is best to rent a car. 


  • America’s National Parks app
  • Worldwide travel guide app
  • Passport America app
  • Viber app
  • Translator with speech app


  • Paying with a debit card is not free, you will pay per transaction. Payment with a credit card is free and they are accepted everywhere. 


  • Service costs are not included in your bill when you go out for dinner, it is expected that you pay at least 15% in tips of the full price of the bill. 
  • Fast food restaurants often have child seats and a play area, luxury restaurants don’t have these. 


  • The hurricane season is from June through November. On the south and east coast hurricanes can cause a lot of damages. Keep close watch to the notifications and always follow the instructions of the local authorities during calamities. 
  • Tap water is safe to drink.