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The best tips to prepare for your trip to the United States!

After 6 trips through the USA I can truly say the States is one of our favourites. Why? Particularly because of the diversity the country has to offer; hip cities such as New York, “total madness” in Las Vegas and impressive nature in the National Parks such as Yellowstone. After all of our trips I’ve gathered all the tips to prepare for your trip to the United States!

Very important, do not forget your visa! 

When you travel through the States it’s obligatory to ask for a visa, popularly known as an ESTA. This is not entirely correct because ESTA is the system through which you ask for a visa; “Electronic System for Travel Authorization”. You need to apply for the visa before you leave, do this yourself (make sure you have credit card) or, if you think this is a little exciting or complicated, you can have this done for you online. You fill in information in 4 steps online and your ESTA will be requested. 

The most fun part of the preparation: the route!

America is so big, to make your trip as unforgettable as possible, planning your route is very important. My best tip is: don’t want to do too much and make sure you spend full days at certain locations to really appreciate and enjoy your surroundings! Tioga Tours has a real good route planner for cars as well as campers which tells you exactly how many hours you drive. The planner “thinks” with you and lets you know multiple possibilities that are in your area for visiting and are within driving range, after each step.

Navigating, apping and internet? Arrange a sim card

The first time we went on a camper tour through the States we rented a Tom Tom which was rather pricey. Now that there is good navigation on your phone (Waze, Google maps) we chose a sim card with data. This way we always have navigation at hand and we can share pictures with family and friends at home. You do need to make sure you have a sim-lock free phone so you can put a sim card of another provider in. You can get pre-paid sim cards and data at large super markets such as Walmart.

Book your hotels or camp sites up front

This is a tricky one for us as we want enough freedom on our travels. But we did learn that it does give a lot of peace knowing you’ve arranged a place to stay and it’s also the best way to go if you want to stay at the most beautiful places. What you really “need” to book ahead: camp sites in the National Parks are full very quickly so be sure to book these far ahead if you want to stay in the parks and not outside of them. I also book our first hotel night ahead when we arrive so we can get adjusted to our surroundings at ease. And the kids enjoy taking a dip in the pool after we’ve just arrived.

Money, money, money

As you may know, the States don’t accept our good old Euro coins and you need to pay in dollars. You can change dollars at Schiphol airport or when you arrive in the States. In most cases, the exchange rates at the airports are just a little less interesting than at your nearest Walmart or somewhere in town. But what you really need in America is your credit card. It’s true; even the smallest things, like an ice-cream on the corner or a pack of gum, is paid with your credit card. Aside from my Mastercard I’ve bought an American Express Flying Blue creditcard, especially for our America travels, so I can earn flying blue miles which I can use for free or discounted flights and hotels, while I have my card smoking.

To prepare yourself for your trip to the United States is half the fun right? Happy travels!

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