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Traveling to the USA is exciting especially if it is your first time traveling however there are steps that you will need to take before your travel date if you want things to go smoothly.

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Taking these 7 steps will ensure that you have an easy trip to the US and that you will not have a problem with customs or entry when you get there.

Until very recently traveling to the US was chock full of red tape and in many cases took a very long time to get the proper documentation, while it is much easier now to travel to the US you still have to be sure that you take the necessary steps before you leave or you may run into problems.

Here is What You Need to Know

Outlined below are the 7 things you need to do before you leave:

1. File your ESTA application online.  The US government has made travel much easier by allowing citizens of countries that have an agreement with the US to apply for travel approval online. The process is relatively easy but it is a necessary process, without this approval you will not be able to board any vessel or flight that is headed to the US. As a matter of fact even if you are on layover for part of your journey in the USA you will need to get this travel approval. Without having this document you can expect very long delays and in some cases be barred from boarding the vessel/flight.  Using the easy online system is fast and convenient. It takes a few minutes to fill out the application and you can have your approval in about 24 hours.  Have your passport on hand because you will need your passport number. You will have to answer a few questions and pay a small fee. While this authorization to travel will not guarantee entry in the USA it is necessary for entry and for boarding the mode of transport to the US.  You do not have to know your specific travel plans when you file the application you can go back to it later on to amend your travel plans. The approval is good for up to 2 years.  This option is ONLY available to citizens from Visa Waiver Program countries.  Some restrictions apply. You can get more information right here.

2. If you plan on being in the USA beyond 90 days you will need to apply for a visa that states why you plan on staying beyond the 90 days that is afforded under the ESTA program, some reasons are education or medical treatment that exceeds 90 days. The ESTA program cannot provide you with the necessary documents for an extended stay you will need to visit the consulate to get more information about what type of visa you will need and how you go about getting it. The USA has very strict immigration laws that you must follow so it is important that you gather the proper documents before you leave for your trip.

3. Check your luggage. When you are packing for your trip to the USA there are some things that you will want to leave at home. There are certain items that the US will not allow into the country and they will either confiscate it or they could even detain you. Some of the items that are not permitted in the USA according to the Department of State website include but are not limited to:

Absinthe (Alcohol), Alcoholic Beverages, Automobiles, Biologicals, Ceramic Tableware, Cultural Artifacts and Cultural Property, Defense Articles or Items with Military or Proliferation Applications, Dog and Cat Fur, Drug Paraphernalia, Firearms, Fish and Wildlife, Food Products (Prepared), Fruits and Vegetables, Game and Hunting Trophies, Gold, Haitian Animal Hide Drums, Meats, Livestock and Poultry, Medication, Merchandise from Embargoed Countries, Pets, Plants and Seeds, Soil, Textiles and Clothing (if not for personal use and exceeds limit),  certain Trademarked and Copyrighted Articles

Other items that you will not be able to bring into the USA is “ unknown liquids, suspect materials, flammable materials that are not labeled, any unsealed containers containing liquids

US custom officials are very strict about what you can and cannot bring into the country. You can get a full list of materials that are banned from the US Consulate in your country.

1. When you are making your travel plans make sure you have return plans in place as well. US Customs does not like to see an open ended ticket it can be misperceived as being an “intended immigration” situation and can cause you delays at the point of entry.  Ensure that all of your travel documents are in order and that you have them handy so that you can produce them when you need too.  During your travels be sure to avoid conflicts. Do not argue with other passengers or even be short with the custom officials or it could cause delays and you may be prevented from entering the US.  The goal for everyone that is traveling to the US is to travel safely and to not experience long delays at the entry points having all your travel plans together and ready to produce the documents you need will ensure that you are doing your part to move things along.

2. Be prepared. Do a little research about your destination. The USA is a very big country with varied climates it is not unusual for one region to have snow while another is warm enough to spend a day at the beach.  You want to be able to pack appropriately and know a little about the culture of the region that you will be visiting.  The USA is broken up into Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, West, Southwest and Northwest each region has different types of food, a different style of living and some would even say very distinct cultures. For example a soft drink in Michigan is called “pop” while in the Northeast it is called “soda” and in other regions it is called “cola”.  Learning about these little details before you head to the US can help you to navigate the country more effectively.  There is tons of information online that can help you to feel much more confident about your trip.

3. If you do not speak English, you may want to learn some before your trip. Learn at least the basics like “where is the bathroom” or “how do I travel to ____?” Having some sense of the language will help you to better enjoy your stay.  Of course you can also buy an electronic translator to help.

4. Finally, get your finances together. Learn about the exchange rate. Be sure that you have access to an emergency stash of funds in case you have to tap into them.  It is always better to be prepared and have a little extra money available just in case you find yourself in a position where you need it. 

5. Be prepared. Do a little research about your destination. The USA is a very big country with varied climates it is not unusual for one region to have snow while another is warm enough to spend a day at the beach.  You want to be able to pack appropriately and know a little about the culture of the region that you will be visiting.  The USA is broken up into Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, West, Southwest and Northwest each region has different types of food, a different style of living and some would even say very distinct cultures. For example a soft drink in Michigan is called “pop” while in the Northeast it is called “soda” and in other regions it is called “cola”.  Learning about these little details before you head to the US can help you to navigate the country more effectively.  There is tons of information online that can help you to feel much more confident about your trip.

6. If you do not speak English, you may want to learn some before your trip. Learn at least the basics like “where is the bathroom” or “how do I travel to ____?” Having some sense of the language will help you to better enjoy your stay.  Of course you can also buy an electronic translator to help.

7. Finally, get your finances together. Learn about the exchange rate. Be sure that you have access to an emergency stash of funds in case you have to tap into them.  It is always better to be prepared and have a little extra money available just in case you find yourself in a position where you need it.  

With a little pre-planning your trip to the USA will be a  wonderful experience!

https://i1.wp.com/elitetravelblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/e834b40f28f5033ecd0b470de7444e90fe76e6d31cb0114992f3c5_640_new-york.jpg?fit=640%2C426https://i1.wp.com/elitetravelblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/e834b40f28f5033ecd0b470de7444e90fe76e6d31cb0114992f3c5_640_new-york.jpg?resize=150%2C150Timothy ChowNorth AmericaTraveling to the USA is exciting especially if it is your first time traveling however there are steps that you will need to take before your travel date if you want things to go smoothly. Taking these 7 steps will ensure that you have an easy trip to the US...A travel blog featuring interviews and guest posts about destinations around the world. Why not have your say and write for us?