How to prepare your trip to the US…

Hi everyone out there! How are you ? My very first Blogpost will be about going to the US and how to prepare for it (especially as a younger person)

Passport…

The first thing is a passport! Is it still valid? Is the passport enough for the country or do you need a visa? Is it damaged and you need a new one? If everything is ok than congratulations! you can go. If not go and check how to fix it!

Creditcard …

The second thing is a credit card.  When i went to the U.S. i knew i would have to get one. You pay nearly everything with creditcard there so be prepared! Please know that you should ask:

    •  how much money you can spent with your credit card? (they can normally give you a higher limit if you need that)

 

    •  can you use it in the U.S.?

 

    •  how much it will be if you take money from the ATM?

 

  •  how much the credit card will cost or if it’s for free?

There is also an opportunity for a prepaid credit card, but it will take 2 workdays till you money will be on this card. And in a chase of emergency I wouldn’t have the time to wait for my money to get on this card. So think about that. I also took 30$ Cash from the bank. Don’t take too much money from the bank because the fees are more expensive thank just going to an ATM once. But you will use your credit card 99% of the time. So it would be good to give your creditcard a try before you go abroad. If you are a German student there is the opportunity to get an international student ID , a credit card or some benefits for different things.

Flights …

They also have a connection to a website where you can get cheaper flights as a student but in my research they are not cheaper at all. While we were looking flights, i really started thinking about all the websites with those super cheap flights. I had this super cool app called skyscanner. And yes i found a flight from Frankfurt to Los Angeles for 545 € and got super excited. I wanted that price. So i tried to book on the connected website. But first they added money for not using a mastercard gold and seats reservation and so it wasn’t cheaper anymore. I still wanted to book because i wanted to get a flight so we would have to wait till last minute to find out if we would go for sure. But when i made the payment with paypal they told me it was canceled. I was super angry. And I tried it again. So it still didn’t work out. I read at different websites about the website that offered the tickets. Let’s say it was shocking for me! I mad the decision to NOT book on those websites and book at the airline directly Before that i took a moment to look at the airline ranking. If you are having a long flight ahead you want to have some comfort right?

So we got a flight there and back home for 610 € per person with Turkish airlines. We were able to choose our seats directly, which i really loved because i really wanted to sit at the windows. So that was perfectly planned.

How to get into the country (ESTA)…

Then we had to fill out ESTA. This is like a “short” holiday visa that you have to fill out in most of the countries if you want to go to the US.

You need :

    • passport

 

    • a credit or debit card

 

    • normally around 15$ per person

 

    • TIME

 

Guys please TAKE CARE with that and TAKE YOUR TIME because they won’t let you get in if you taking this a joke! They are super serious about EVERY question. Even if it is stupid for you to think about it. 

  • YES, I’ve taken drugs… (Why should I?)
  • YES I’ve been in world war two (i wasn’t born then….)

I did a ESTA group application for my boyfriend and me. (So we can go through the security check together) It’s valid for 2 years if they approved it once. You can check it online. (Ours have been approved in 5 minutes)


How to get around…

So if you go the US. think about how you can get around.

In Los Angeles you normally have to use the car. So i tried to get one.

You can get a car when….

  1.  you are at least 21 years old
  2. have a normal credit card
  3.  have a lot of money if you are under 25!

 When you are under 25 you normally paying taxes for being a young driver. I heard that people with 18 years got a car but please know that this is very hard to get and expensive! And also remind yourself that you have to know how to drive safe in a very big city, with bad streets and traffic! They can drive like crazy, when they are in a rush so make sure you can deal with that stress. It is so different then driving in Germany. All of that made me choose not to drive. Also i have friends over there that would take me most of the time so it wouldn’t make sense at all. We choose to use Uber. We were super nervous at the beginning but it was just awesome and we felt super safe. You can get it as an app in your app store on your mobile. We used the carpool option and usually had to pay around 10-15 $ per drive (depending on where we went.) So it was super cheap for us.

If you want to go to another city there are different options:

  1. book a seat at Megabus
  2. take a flight
  3. take the train (to San Diego)
  4. take a prepared tour

For San Francisco we took Mega bus because it was cheap and super easy. We payed 40 bugs per person with seat reservation to get there and back. It took us 7 hours (if i am right).

You will have free WiFi at the bus. There is also an Megabus to Las Vegas but if you want to go to San Diego you will have to take the train, a car or find another way.

Cellphones / Mobile phones

If you are thinking about how make your mobile phone work for the US there are the options to..

  1. buy a simcard at AT&T (think i saw it for 60$)
  2. get a cheap mobile at a store with a prepaid contract (around 20$)
  3. Check the offers of your mobile provider

I was super lucky that my friends got us a simple smart phone at ralphs for 20 bugs where we could us all the apps we needed, call them and text them. My mobile provider was so expensive that this option was canceled right away. That was such a help because if i am right then our German mobiles don’t get along with any other Sim card then AT&T but it was just super expensive in my opinion. If anybody out there has more ideas or experience i would be happy to hear about them.

Our normal smart phones were still with us because there a lot of free wifi places. And we got along pretty well.

Insurance 

To make it quick: get a travel health insurance for America! You don’t want to pay the bills in chase of an emergency. Ask you normal health insurance for advice, if you are insecure. You will find a lot of them online.

Here the checklist again:

  1. Passport?
  2. Creditcard?
  3. Flights?
  4. ESTA/ Visa?
  5. Car/ Uber/ Public Transportation ?
  6. Cellphones/ Mobilephones? 
  7. Insurance?

So that is how to plan your trip!

Just try to take your time! It is a lot of work but still totally worth it!

I hope it helped someone out there! And sorry for such a long first blog post but it is just so much to prepare before you leave to the US!

Have a great day.

xxx M

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