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USA travel essentials

USA travel essentials

Planning for your USA holiday or business trip?

Before you fly to the other side of the world there are a few things you should accomplish in order to ensure a safe and seamless trip, because while we share a common language, they do things different in the US. 

Here's the essential checklist for your trip to the United States.

Before you leave:

1. Plan for health issues

There are no required vaccinations for Australians who plan to visit the U.S.

However many of the medications you can buy over the counter at a pharmacy in Australia require a prescription in America.

So even if you're in great shape, take any medicines you think you may need. 

Your doctor can talk to you about any current or regional health concerns depending on where you will be visiting and refill any prescription medications that you may require during your trip.

Finally remember that an unplanned trip to a US hospital or doctor could leave you many thousands of dollars out of pocket, so buy appropriate travel insurance before you get on the plane. 

There's no medicare or bulk billing available in the U.S.!

2. Get ESTA approval

For most Australians visiting the United States, you won’t need a visa.

As long as your stay is less than 90 days, you're travelling for a holiday, business, or transit, and you have a valid Australian passport, you should be able to travel visa free.

But you will need a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) approval before you travel.

Keep in mind, there have been reports of unofficial websites charging users for ESTA applications.

Only obtain your ESTA from the official U.S. Customs and Border Protection website to ensure that you are filling out an authentic application.

3. Planning on driving?

If you expect to drive while visiting the U.S. you'll need to bring your valid Australian driver's license.

Also, verify the specific laws of the state you will be travelling in.

Check your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles for detailed information and requirements. 

You will need an international driver’s permit in order to hire a car.

To obtain one, visit a member of the Australian Automobile Association, such as your local NRMA Motoring & Services branch, where you can have your passport photo issued along with your driver’s permit.

Find out more about how to apply here.

Also, be sure to ask your travel insurance company about adding car hire excess to your policy.

This could save you the expense of having to pay for hefty excess fees in the event that something happens to a vehicle that you hire during your visit.

4. Roam for cheap on your mobile

You’re probably planning on using your mobile while travelling.

To avoid international roaming charges, call your service provider and find out what options may be available to you.

You can also purchase a prepaid SIM card or even a Global SIM card if you expect to travel outside of the United States.

To make your life and travels a little easier, the NRMA Travel International Comprehensive Plan includes a free, prepaid Global SIM card. 

5. Register your travel plans

When leaving the country, it's a good idea to register your travel plans with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

By giving DFAT your trip itinerary and contact details, your family will be informed in the unlikely event of an emergency.

6. Keep a record

If you lose your passport or travel documents while you're in the US, it could throw out your travel plans while you wait for replacements.

For ‘just in case’ purposes, make copies and take photos on your phone of...

  • Your passport.
  • Your travel insurance policy.
  • Credit cards and any traveller’s cheques.
  • A list and copy of your contact numbers.
  • Photos and receipts for any valuables in the event that they are lost, stolen, or damaged.

You can use the NRMA Insurance Valuables Vault app to streamline this process.

8. Tag and lock your luggage

Write your name and contact info on brightly-coloured tags and place them on your luggage.

This way it will be easy to identify your bag at the airport and it will come in handy should your baggage get lost along the way.

For added security, consider a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) approved lock so no one can get into your personal items once your luggage is checked.

You are now ready for an amazing visit to the United States!

Enjoy your journey and travel with peace of mind – you prepared like a pro!

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