6 Things to Think About Before Visiting the United States

With the world growing ever smaller thanks to advancements in technology, it’s perhaps unsurprising a nation as in-touch with that social community as the United States of America is becoming one of the leading names in tourism.

6 Things to Think About Before Visiting the United States

*This guest post is contributed by Luke Green.

 

Across the last 20 years the U.S. has seen a marked rise in the number of people travelling there on holiday – with figures rising from a peak of just over 4 million in 1996, to numbers that are now breaking the 8-million-person point in 2016.

 

With the popularity of a trip away to the U.S. rising, it’s not unlikely someone reading this blog might have an interest in a break to North America’s most prominent nation. As such, here are six things you might want to think about before heading to the United States.

 

  1. Getting Around

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The U.S. certainly isn’t a country you can visit without first thinking ahead and plotting out some sort of strategy when it comes to your mode of transport.

 

Ranking in as the third largest land mass for a nation on Earth, the States stands out as an area where failing to purchase a rental or hire car prior to travelling could result in you becoming somewhat stranded.

 

This isn’t necessarily a major issue if you’re planning to stay in one city for the entirety of your trip – but even cross-state visits will without question see you needing to find some sort of vehicular transport.

 

If you really are planning to remain in just the one city or town while you’re there, then it’s equally important to familiarise yourself with the local bus and inner-city train routes. This will make things considerably simpler when you arrive as you’ll know roughly where you’re going every time you want to take public transport.

 

 

2. What You’re Going to Do

 

Similarly, in a nation that offers such a vast variety when it comes to differing holiday activities, it’s also important you plan out roughly what you want to be doing before you head out.

 

If you’re planning to take a trip which will be primarily family-orientated, then try searching the area you’re thinking about visiting for beaches, parks, zoos or even farms.

 

On the flip-side of that coin, you may wish to check out which towns or cities are famed for their nightlife if you’re making a journey with a group of friends – remember though in some States the legal drinking age is 21, not 18.

 

One fantastic thing about the United States is that there’s more diversity there than practically any other nation on Earth. Sketch out a rough plan of what you intend to do before you travel and you’ll find separating the wheat from the chaff when you’re there will be significantly easier.

 

 

3. How Much Money You’ll Need

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As is the case with any trip away, it’s crucial to work out a rough estimate of how much money you’re going to need beforehand.

 

Studies have found that you could spend anywhere up to $250 per person, per day, on a trip to the US – with even more modest holiday spending seeing a person fork out $100 a day for their vacation.

 

With those kinds of figures in mind it’s worth ensuring you will have enough cash on you to last through the entirety of your stay.

 

That said, those figures also factor in the price of your accommodation – which most of the time you will have already paid for upfront.

 

Regardless, it’s always best to make sure you have too much, rather than not enough. Over-estimate how many American dollars you’re going to need to make sure you aren’t left penniless while you’re there.

 

4. Visa & Entry Requirements

 

Arguably the most stressful part of any holiday away comes in the form of ensuring you have all the right permission and documentation to enter a country legally.

 

That’s as true of the US as it is in any nation, with visitors needing to meet a host of requirements to be granted access – when it comes to both their visas and what they can bring into the country.

 

Anyone planning to visit the United States for a short-term stay must have a valid visa, while anyone looking to remain on a more long-term, albeit temporary, basis must instead apply for a non-immigrant visa category B-2.

 

When it comes to what you can bring into the United States, it’s also important to remember you must:

  • Declare all plant and animal products you’re carrying
  • Refrain from taking more than 200 cigarettes or 100 cigars with you into the country
  • Have a maximum of just 1 litre of alcohol on you (assuming you are 21 or over)

 

This is quite possibly one of the most important pre-travel steps to think about, so you might want to try to get this organised before anything else.

5. Pack Appropriately

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It’s also critical when heading to the United States to think about exactly what you’re going to need to pack. Conditions will be drastically different all throughout the year – especially taking into account the vastly contrasting climates you’ll experience from state to state.

 

For example, if you’re planning a trip to New York City in January, you should prepare yourself for conditions that can reach as low as -3 degrees Celsius. By contrast, somewhere like Houston in Texas will see lows of just 16 degrees Celsius for the entire year.

 

Make sure you think about factors like this when packing, and also bear in mind some airport security can be fairly strict when it comes to your luggage.

 

Don’t give them a reason to confiscate items from your bag. Prevent this by reading around and seeing what sort of things are likely to be taken away from you when going through security.

 

 

6. Ensuring You Stay In Good Health

 

While there are no jabs required to travel to North America, it’s always wise to keep up to date with any vaccinations you have been advised to have by your local GP.

 

It might also be prudent to think through what kind of precautions you might want to take while you’re there.

 

This could include seeing what sort of over-the-counter medicine is available in the area you’re travelling to, or even going as far as to check hygiene standards at restaurants you’re planning to visit.

 

Thinking one step ahead isn’t a sure-fire way to guarantee you’re going to avoid getting ill, but it will drastically reduce the chances of it happening.

 

 

There you have it: six things to think about before traveling to the U.S. If you’re thinking about a vacation to the States take some of these useful points into account – it could make your vacation that little bit easier.

 

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*Adventures and Kindness received compensation for the contribution of this post. It may contain affiliate links which will benefit (at no extra cost to you) the writer. This was published to add value and help Adventures and Kindness readers. Thank you for your support!

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Feature – Elliot from Lossul.com

Adventures and Kindness is starting to feature like-minded individuals who are passionate about travel and/or self improvement. To start us off, I would like to introduce you to a blogging friend of mine, Elliot from Lossul.com.

Feature - Lossul.comI met Elliot through a Twitter conversation, and since then I have been blown away by how genuine, passionate, and well-written he is. Our two sites have a lot in common, and I love that we share in the belief that life (personal development/self improvement) and travel are closely intertwined. If you love Adventures and Kindness, then I’m sure you will love reading the thematically similar articles from Losssul.com

He was kind enough to feature me as the first blogger of his new people section. It’s such an honor, and I’d love for you to read it! <<< And now, I would like to introduce you to my friend from across the pond! Check out our little interview!

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Q1: Lossul.com is a wonderful site that offers a unique perspective to its readers. What inspired you to get started and create it?

 

A1: Thank you for the compliment Emily and I really appreciate you inviting me onto your site.

I’ve always written, right from a young age, and I’ve always enjoyed photography too. From as early as I can remember I was always making up stories of my own and just loved the experience of putting pen to paper. Unfortunately though, in my late teen years I somehow managed to let my interests slip.

It wasn’t until 2004 when I first went backpacking that I decided to start writing again; this time in the form of emails sent to groups of people back home. I wrote in a diary style and told of my adventures like they were a story. The popularity of them grew and before I knew it they started getting circulated amongst people I didn’t even know. This really encouraged me and so on later trips in 2005 and 2007 I did the same thing again. Everybody encouraged me to keep writing.

But once again I let the writing slip as I struggled to find a way of getting my work ‘out there’. However, with the rise of the internet and blogging, I finally found a platform. When creating Lossul.com I made a point of structuring it around exactly what I wanted to do rather than what I thought other people would want to see. I wanted it to be authentic, and a true representation of myself. I believe that when you write, it truly has to come from the heart, and there has to be an element of emotion and sometimes even vulnerability, because that’s the only way that people will ever truly ‘connect’ with it.

My style of writing is something that’s developed naturally over the years, but if I were to single out any real influences I’d say that both Dave Gorman and Danny Wallace have been particularly inspirational. Their humorous tales of real life concept adventures were what first inspired me to create ‘The Mission’ articles.

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Q2: Wow, that’s really awesome Elliot! You definitely have a passion for writing and I like how you talked about wanting it to be authentic and a true representation of yourself. What can readers expect when they read something from your site, and how are the topics a true representation of yourself?

 

A2: That’s a really good question, and my answer would be that readers should expect the unexpected. You’ll never know what I’ll be publishing next, and the reason for that is because I never know what I’ll be publishing next! I like to wait until I feel inspired and have something I feel passionate about, and then I just let it flow from there.

The site centres around three key themes of Travel, Life, and Experience. The TRAVEL element may focus upon the factual aspects of travelling and travel destinations, or it may be that I publish a travel diary about the latest place I’ve visited. The LIFE part centres mainly upon personal development themes, self empowerment, reflective thoughts, and life observations. And finally, the EXPERIENCE themes of the site may be any manner of life experiences, not necessary associated with travelling, and this may also include the latest instalment of ‘The Mission’.

I guess the reason why I feel the topics are a true representation of myself is because I always do my best to write with openness and honesty. The writers I’ve always connected with most have been the ones who are able to demonstrate total humility. I love that. Every single one of us is on a learning curve in life and so I believe it’s important to be able to admit to your own flaws (and to do so with humour) as well as being able to take pride in yourself when you do well. But even then we can strive to be better. It’s amazing how strongly people can connect with each other when we dare to drop our guards and admit we’re not perfect.

I mentioned before that I tend only to write about the things that I really want to write about rather than the things I think people will want to hear, and I guess the best way to explain that is to compare it to music. You know how sometimes you’ll find a musician that creates very personal music, and their popularity may be very slow growing in comparison to the bands that make music for the masses, but being their most authentic self is what matters most to them. And the same goes with my writing. When I write, it’s flowing straight from the heart.

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Q3: Authentic writers can be hard to come by these days, so I’m sure I speak for all of your readers when I say how much that is appreciated! I’ve been curious about this for awhile – what is the meaning behind your site’s name? How did you choose it?

 

A3: Thank you Emily, and I really appreciate that.

Hahah, oh okay, well now you’re asking a question. I’ve had a lot of people ask me where the name came from and I’ve always responded by saying I can’t tell them and that it’s a big secret. I tried to let it remain a mystery, but in all honesty the truth isn’t all that exciting.

I mentioned before that I revisited my writing when I went backpacking for the first time, but prior to that and on the build up to the trip I wrote with a group of likeminded people and fellow travellers. At that time I was at a real crossroads in my life and so I chose to write under the name of The Lost Soul. But a name like that was a little too long and so somebody decided to shorten my name for me; The Lost Soul became Lossul, and it’s a nickname that’s stuck ever since.

When I first created the website I was at a real dead end trying to think up a name. I’m sure you can appreciate yourself that it’s really not an easy thing to decide as it’s a name that’s going to stick with you throughout. I knew that authentic writing would form the basis of the site, but I really didn’t want to include my real name as somehow that just felt a little self-indulgent and maybe somewhat conceited. But the name Lossul is something I automatically associate with travel, with writing, and somehow it just made sense. Deciding to use the name Lossul was like the moment you slip on a comfortable pair of shoes. It just felt right.

Feature - Lossul.com

 

Q4: That is such a unique story, and I love how it so perfectly matches up with your site’s vision and authenticity! Speaking of all of your travel experience, where is your favorite place that you have ever been? And what is it about that particular country/city that makes it your favorite?

 

A4: Wow, okay that’s a toughie as I like a lot of different places for a lot of different reasons. But what matters most to me is not necessarily what I see when I visit a country, but how I feel when I’m there and the people that I meet; it’s about the deeper connection.

 

For that reason I am a huge fan of America as it’s a country that I’ve been lucky enough to visit right from being a child, and so it’s a place that I have a real affinity for. The open road of America feels like the ultimate freedom and so I enjoy nothing more than hiring a car and moving on from place to place, discovering all the little towns along the way.

But South-East Asia is really special to me, perhaps because the culture is so different from back home. It’s like another world. I think I could easily spend a year there travelling from country to country without getting bored. Thailand was the first place I ever went backpacking and I could return again and again; it has everything. The lush greenery, the beaches, the food, the customs, the colours, the sounds, the wildlife, the people; it’s a real sensory overload.

There are so many places that are on my wishlist and I certainly don’t feel as well travelled as I’d like to be; at least not yet anyway. Some of my friends have been on huge round-the-world gap years which is something I never did. In fact my longest trip lasted just two months. But I make the most of the time that I have and that’s part of the concept behind setting up the website. It’s about doing as much as we can with the time that we have.

Feature - Lossul.com

 

Q5: I think you’ve seen a lot of the world, and I love what you said about it being about the deeper connection! As we conclude this little interview, do you have any final thoughts or advice that you would like to give readers and fellow travelers?

 

A5: Wow, you’ve saved one of the toughest questions for last! And it’s a difficult one because we are all on our own paths in life, and we’re all on our own individual journeys.

But on the subject of blogging I would give one piece of advice for anybody who is considering starting one; create a blog that YOU would like to see. Start by asking yourself what it is you enjoy, what you’d like to write about, and what it is that you’d like to share with the world.

Don’t worry about the size of the audience your blog will attract at first, because the fact is that whatever kind of blog it is you create, there will be people out there who will want to see it. And if you focus on what you’re really interested in, then this will allow you to be more open and to be your most authentic self. It needs to be created with passion, because blogging is hard work and it takes up A LOT of your time, and it can even be quite a lonely pursuit. At those times when you’re struggling to get motivated and when you’re finding it hard to justify the sacrifices you’re making, it will be that passion that carries you through.

And that’s as far as any advice goes because the answers to what we need to know are already in our own hearts; it’s just about looking inside and being truly honest with ourselves.

My website falls under three main headings; travel, life, and experience. And I’m more than happy to give some thoughts on those areas though.

Travel – Wherever you travel and however much you travel, at some point try travelling solo. Solo travel is one of the best things to do to enable you to develop as a person and its benefits are almost endless. It’s about building character and developing resilience, learning how to plan and to budget, becoming self sufficient, engaging with new people and improving social skills, expanding your mind and your outlook, learning how to appreciate solitude, and to become truly comfortable with who you are and to be at ease with yourself. It also really makes you appreciate home.

Life – If there is any part of your life that you’re unhappy with and would like to improve, then your journey needs to begin. This means stepping back, taking a look in the mirror, and being brutally honest with yourself. Develop self-awareness; know who you are and who you want to be, and then plan a logical path which you can follow to get there. I truly believe that the only way we can ever really help other people is to first become completely at ease with ourselves.

When we’re not at ease, we often find ourselves trying to achieve this through the people that surround us, and so we end up taking from them. But when we are at ease, we no longer need to take, and when we no longer need to take, the only thing that’s left is to give. When you start down that path of becoming the best possible version of yourself, everybody benefits. I really do believe that the path of personal development is the most exciting journey you can ever take.

Experience – Finally, don’t forget to get out there and to experience life. Live it. Take all of those things that you want to do and start planning how to do them. If your so-called ‘bucket list’ is sitting in the bottom of a drawer somewhere, then get it out and start ticking those things off. Do all that you can, and while you can. Remember that famous saying about how twenty years from now you’ll look back and regret the things that you didn’t do? Don’t ever allow yourself the opportunity for regret. Experience.

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How Can Readers Stay Connected with Lossul.com?

You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. I also have a newsletter/mailing list which you can sign up to in order to receive all my latest news and articles direct to your email inbox. By signing up to the newsletter you will also be automatically entered into all free prize draws that will be featured on my site.

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And there you have it! I hope you enjoyed getting to know Lossul.com and Elliot as much as I did, and that you find a way to stay connected with him! Stay tuned for the next feature! 🙂

With love,

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