Are you a Brit travelling stateside? From applying for your ESTA USA application to coping with portion sizes as big as your head (yes, literally), here’s all you need to know about coming to the USA.
If you’ve been dreaming of trading your tea for the land of red, white and blue — it may be time to get your ESTA and make a trip to the USA.
Whether you’re looking to live like a southerner in Texas or pick up a bit of city life in NYC, there’s a reason why over five million Brits decide to make the USA top of their travel bucket list year after year.
Having lived in the UK from the US for the past six years now, I’ve constantly been giving tips to both my British friends and online community on how to make a once-in-a-lifetime trip to my second home (including must-do things like getting your ESTA in advance). Here’s how you can do it too!
7 Tips for Brits Travelling to the USA
1. Don’t Try to See it All
Given how far the UK is from the US, it’s easy to get into the ‘I’ll do everything!’ bubble. But between well, 51 states and limited holiday time, you’ll need to choose wisely.
Personally, I suggest centering a trip around 1-2 states closeby to each other with a couple cities/towns or National Parks in each.
So for example if you went to California — you could spend a few days in San Francisco, followed by Yosemite National Park, then L.A. And if you’re in the US for a longer trip, you could add on a few days in Hawaii at the tail-end too.
2. Do Your ESTA USA Application in Advance
If you’re from the UK travelling to the US one thing you’ll most definitely need to do is make your ESTA USA Application in advance.
To clarify, ESTA is not a visa. But it’s basically the proof you need to be able to travel without a visa to the states.
Once you receive your ESTA you’ll be eligible to travel to the USA for two years with up to 90 day visits each time.
If this all sounds super confusing, don’t worry. It’s very straightforward!
Just head to e-visa and fill out a quick application form with your identification and a few details, pay for your visa processing and three days later you’ll get a decision — all for under £40.
3. Learn Some US Slang
Once you’ve got your ESTA, it’s time to head to the states! But you’ve got to learn some US slang first.
Not the first thing of when it comes to travelling to the US — but very important!
From letting go of letters (for example: ‘travelling vs traveling’) to learning how to greet people, here’s a few basics to know for your trip.
4. Remember You May Need to Drive
It’s easy to forget just how big the USA is…and how difficult it can be to get around with public transport (a huge shock to Londoners especially).
Unless you’re visiting a big city, be prepared to rent a car for your time in the states once your ESTA is approved.
5. Speaking of…Drive on the Other Side!
Self-explanatory, but we’re not in the UK anymore! Remember to drive on the right when you’re cruising around the USA.
6. Prepare for Sales Taxes
Having lived in the UK for years I personally find this a shock myself now. But remember sales tax for basically everything in the states isn’t added until you get to checkout.
So for example, the thing you bought for $10 may end up being $10.47 once you’re ready to pay. So keep an eye out!
7. Prepare for Tipping
In essentially all food and dining establishments in the states it’s custom to tip 15% (especially in restaurants where servers aren’t typically paid a living wage, so they rely on tips).
P.S – This also applies to hotel staff, for example if a bellman brings your stuff to your room you would usually slip him a few dollars.
Final Thoughts on Tips for Brits Travelling to the USA
- Make sure you plan your trips around the best weather period for that state (you don’t want to be in New York for January, I’ll tell you that much!)
- Try to get your ESTA stuff sorted as soon as possible so you can focus on planning your trip!
- Okay, not a tip necessarily, but if you have any other questions about getting your ESTA or the states in general, feel free to ask in me in the DMs @candaceabroad