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Visiting the US for Summer Holiday? 5 Things to Have to Hand

Visiting the USA on holiday this summer might just be what the doctor ordered. Maybe you want to see friends or family that live there, or you simply want to take the kids to Disney World. It doesn't matter what the reason is, making sure you can escape to visit this country and enjoy your stay there is important. To make this happen, you need to be sure you have certain items at hand and make sure you avoid bringing certain items with you when you travel.

Host’s Name and Address

Before you arrive, make sure you have your host’s name, full street address and an explanation of how you know him or her. Don’t keep this information in your suitcase; have it ready to hand off to border patrol.

You’ll also want to talk to your host prior to arriving to make sure they can help support you while you’re there, and bring enough cash or credit cards to make up the difference. This is especially important when you’re coming for holiday, as you most likely won’t be wanting a work visa. If possible, get your host to email or text you their intentions to help you support yourself during your visit. Having this information ready and to hand will provide immigration with piece of mind that you’re not attempting to enter the country illegally, work illegally or stay for longer than your visa will allow.

Medical Insurance

Many people coming to the USA don’t realise just how expensive medical treatment is. According to the Healthcare Blue Book, you can expect to pay between $74 and $138 for a strep test, $10,000 for an appendectomy and $9,500 to fix a broken leg. While the last thing you want is for something to go wrong on your holiday, that doesn’t mean it won’t. Be prepared with medical insurance that can help cover the cost of this expensive medical care. Be aware that you may also have to pay for the expenses upfront and wait for a reimbursement when you return to the UK.

Travel insurance may also be necessary. Not only will this pay for your typical medical expenses, but it will cover lost and stolen property and medical expenses related to adventurous actions, like sky diving or water skiing. Some regular medical insurance policies may not cover these types of injuries.

A Variety of Clothing

While you may know that your trip to the USA will involve a visit to Disney World so your children can enjoy Space Mountain, other activities may not be scheduled yet. For this reason, it’s important to bring a variety of clothing with you. Men’s suits and tweed jackets are ideal for those late night dinners with your spouse, while swimming trunks are necessary for fun days at the beach.

To save room in your suitcase, consider wearing your men’s suits on the plane. This not only ensures you have plenty of space for dress shirts, tweed jackets and jeans, but will also keep the suits from becoming wrinkled.

Tip Money

Tipping is usually not expected here, but in the USA, it is. In fact, some restaurants will actually include the appropriate tip in your bill to help ensure you don’t forget to tip. Because of this, it’s important to bring enough money with you to appropriately tip while you’re out. For most of the US, the average tip is between 15 and 20 percent.

A Unique Bag

Airport security is scary enough. You don’t want to go through customs with someone else’s bag. You’re just asking for it. To make sure this doesn’t happen, make your bag as unique as possible. Tie green rope around it or cover it in red stickers. Whatever you have to do to make that plain black suitcase look different than everyone else’s.

What Not to Bring

Just as there are some things you should always bring with you, there are a few things you’re going to want to leave behind:

  • Certain Foods- Many plants, seeds, meats, vegetables and fruits are prohibited from entering the US. It isn’t that they don’t want you to eat right. It’s that plants and meats from other countries can carry diseases and pests that could hurt agricultural life in the United States. This page describes what food and agricultural products you can take into the USA and which ones you can take out of the country as well. Be sure to read it carefully prior to making the trip.

  • Toiletries- The United States has soap, shampoo and toothpaste, and they are relatively inexpensive. Save some room in your bag and buy your toiletries when you arrive. If you’re staying at a hotel, many of these toiletries will be provided to you at no extra cost.

  • Expensive Electronics- Things get stolen, no matter where you go. However, this often seems to happen when you’re enjoying yourself on holiday in a different country. Unless you can get it covered by travel insurance, leave those expensive electronics behind. If you do decide to bring your laptop with you, make sure any sensitive information is encrypted.

  • Bulky Jackets- Unless you’re going to Alaska, most parts of the USA are relatively warm in summer, especially the further south you go. Bulky jackets take up room that could be used for other items, like your niece’s birthday presents. Instead of packing these, pack clothing items that will work well as layers for cooler climates and nights. Pack tweed jackets, cardigans and pullovers.

  • Extra Baggage- If you can, take only what you can pack in your carry on. While your additional luggage may arrive with you, there’s always a chance it could get lost. While you look good in men’s suits, you don’t want to wear it the entire trip, especially while the rest of the family is enjoying time at the pool or in the ocean. By packing what you really need in your carry on, you not only save money, but also keep what you need close.

Enjoy your summer holiday in the USA, but make sure you know what you should be bringing with you and what you should leave behind.

By Brook Taverner 15 March 2017