With the thread of Covid-19 looming ominously over us all, so many people have had to cancel holidays and trips abroad over the last couple of weeks. Applying for an ESTA, choosing the best prepaid travel card or checking how long we’ve got left on our passports is probably the last thing we all have on our minds at the moment.
These are certainly daunting times but making holiday plans is a good way to keep ourselves positive and upbeat; and also gives us something to look forward to.
My last blog post was all about our family road trip from LA to San Francisco; and even though we won’t be able to make a return visit in the next couple of months, we’ll definitely try to go back again soon.
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Where To Go?
Whether you fancy seeing New England in the fall, the Mangroves of southwest Florida or the sunflower field of Kansas; the USA has so much to see and do. They’re blessed with beaches, countryside, mountain, desert and incredible cities.
And whether you fly direct — and base your itinerary within one area — or take a road-trip through many, as we did, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
5 Tips To Remember When Planning a Trip to the USA
All UK citizens need an ESTA* to travel to the USA.
ESTA stands for ‘The Electronic System for Travel Authorisation’.
You can Apply for an ESTA visa, really simply, by visiting e-Visa; it costs less than £30 and you can apply online.
Points to remember:
- An ESTA USA is always required for a business trip, holiday or transfer in the USA.
- Minors (under the age of 18) are also expected to possess their own ESTA.
- ESTA applications can be submitted entirely online, so there is no need to visit the U.S. embassy in London.
- Applying for an ESTA online is easier and faster than a US visa — and the application costs are substantially lower as well.
*You’ll need a visa for entry to the USA. But, as I’m writing this, the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) visa waiver programme is not currently in operation due to the imposition of new travel restrictions on those travelling from the UK.
You can find out more about the US entry requirements and restrictions by visiting the Gov.UK website.
Passports should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay in America. You don’t need any additional period of validity on your passport beyond that.
If you’re planning on hiring a car whilst you’re away, I highly recommend joining a loyalty programme before you go.
Hertz, for example, has a Gold Plus Rewards scheme which offers so many benefits; one of which is a separate queue for gold members. In our experience, we literally side-stepped the long queues at the desk, picked up our car and off we went!
Similar to the hire-car loyalty programmes, if you’re doing a road-trip, it’s really worth signing up to a hotel loyalty programme.
We joined the ‘Hilton Honors’ programme before we went to California, as they had some fantastic, money saving deals. The more you stay with them, the more perks you earn — which is amazing if you’re away for any length of time.
Prepaid Travel Cards
You can also save money on your trip by signing up with a prepaid travel card — or currency card. You can get single — or multi-currency — prepaid cards.
Single-currency prepaid cards restrict you to one type of currency (ie euros or US dollars). They’re great because you can lock in the exchange rate, on the day you load the card with money. If rates fall when you’re away, this can be a bonus!
Because they’re pre-loaded, it allows you to keep tight control of your spending, as you’ll also know exactly how much you have to spend in the local currency.
Use them as you would a debit card to spend or withdraw cash as you wish.
Keeping Positive and Looking Forward
These are testing times indeed and everyone’s feeling the pressure at the moment.
The boys were sent home yesterday from school and we’ve been advised to self-isolate for 14 days.
We’re listening to daily news reports and reading government statements. But I know it’s not just our family; this worry spans continents and affects so many families.
I’m going to try my hardest to keep positive over the coming months; to look forward to the time when we can freely see our friends and family again.
And, in the meantime, I’m going to plan our next holiday; get excited about the places we’ll see and the things we’ll do.
Dreaming about future adventures is definitely what’s going to keep me buoyed over the next few months.
I am working in a paid partnership with e-Visa but all thoughts, words and images — as ever — are entirely my own.
If you need more information regarding ESTA applications, e-Visa has all the resources you need; pop over to their website to apply directly online.
Caro Davies is a former art-director turned writer and content-creator, and editor behind UK lifestyle blog The Listed Home. She writes about home-related topics, from interiors and DIY to food and craft. The Listed Home has been featured in various publications, including Ideal Home, Grazia, and Homes & Antiques magazines.