For Australians, there are some similarities between life in Australia and America. However, don’t let the shared language fool you. There are also many differences – culturally, financially, ideologically, etc.
Preparing for Your Trip
The more you plan ahead, the smoother your trip will go. Here are a few things you’ll want to do in advance of your trip:
- Get the proper travel documents. Australian citizens are required to apply for an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation) visa waiver in order to enter the United States. This document allows you to visit for tourism, business, and other purposes without a visa for up to 90 days per visit. Applying for an ESTA is as easy as filling out some basic forms online.
- Choose a region to travel to. Don’t be fooled into thinking you can hit every major city in the United States on one trip. Unless you have months to road trip across the country, you’re going to be hard-pressed to do so. Instead, you’re better off picking a region of the country and traveling to several different cities or destinations within that area. This lets you spend more time soaking up the sights and less time traveling from place to place.
- Purchase airline tickets in advance. You should book international flights to the United States far in advance. Generally speaking, the best prices are offered 90 to 120 days out. Once you reach the 28 day mark, prices start rising sharply. The best rule of thumb is to buy tickets sooner rather than later.
The more time you give yourself to plan for your trip, the less stressed you’ll feel. It’s best to knock these tasks out as soon as possible so you can dream about the fun parts.
Arriving in the United States
Unless you’re flying out of another country, most Australians will enter the United States either through San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas, or Honolulu. Unless you’re planning to stay in one of these cities, you’ll then need to catch a connecting flight to your final destination.
Notice that there aren’t many direct flights to the northeast. So if you’re planning to visit New York City, be prepared for another long connecting flight. You can spend some time in San Francisco or Los Angeles on the front or back end of your trip.
Maximising Your Experience
Once you arrive in the United States, it’s time to let loose and have fun. Here are some ways to get the most out of your experience in America:
- Try some new food. In many ways, America’s food scene is a hodgepodge of other cultures. However, they also have plenty of their own unique dishes and culinary specialties. Here are some different (but totally delicious) menu items you should definitely try: deep dish pizza (preferably from Chicago), biscuits and gravy (ideally from somewhere in the southeast), grits (again, it’s best in the southern states), bagel and lox (try it at a New York City brunch), and sloppy Joes (good anywhere).
- Be prepared to tip. Americans love tipping. (Well, they might not love it, per se, but they certainly do a lot of it.) Be prepared to tip anytime someone performs some sort of service for you. This includes waiters at restaurants, porters carrying your luggage, taxi or Uber drivers, hotel housekeepers, etc. Here’s a more detailed breakdown.
- Visit National Parks. The U.S. The National Park System is one of the best parts of the entire country. There are 63 of them throughout the United States and the land is protected by the government and accessible to citizens and travellers for visiting, hiking, camping, and exploring. We definitely recommend checking some out.
If you are planning on going traveling out and about then it may be helpful for you to hire a car for your trip. You will notice that America isn’t small so it takes a while to get from stop A to B. When you are booking your flights you will quite often see the option to add car hire. This is well worth looking into as a car is necessary to explore all the amazing American sites and scenery. Make sure when checking out car hire that you shop around for the very best deal as the prices will vary. Something else to be aware of is that America drives on the other side of the road, this can be confusing at first. However, you will soon get used to it and become a pro. If you do have an accident while on the road in the states it would be useful to speak to a car accident lawyer to find out where you stand.
- Get travel insurance. If you’re visiting the United States, it’s a good idea to have some travel insurance. Medical care is extremely expensive and a policy can keep you protected in case there’s a medical or travel emergency on your trip.
These are just a few suggestions. Talk to anyone who has visited the U.S. before and they’ll be happy to provide their own list of must-see and must-do activities. Gather your research, but don’t get overwhelmed. You can always plan a return trip to see more of the country!
Safe Travels, Mate!
The United States is a playground for an Aussie. It has a lot to offer, including great sights, delicious cuisine, and plenty of unique and distinctly American experiences.
Start planning your trip today and don’t look back!