Planning a trip to a country you’ve never explored before is exciting, but it can also cause anxiety if you’re unsure of the customs, procedures, and important things to remember prior to your departure.
To help you along, here are 7 helpful things to know when travelling from Africa to the United States of America.
1. It will be a long flight
Obviously, this will depend on where you’re flying from, and which state in America you’re flying to. On average, you can expect at least a 16-hour flight, but it may be significantly longer if you have to incorporate flight changes, stopovers or states which are further afield. This means if you’re planning a trip, be prepared for a long flight.
2. Check your passport validity
As a general rule, most countries require at least 6 months of validity left on your passport for the time of your trip. You should check before you travel to the US, however, it may be okay to have the duration of your trip only left on your passport if travelling from Africa.
3. You will need a visa
Nearly all African country citizens need a visa to enter the US. This visa should take into account your trip duration and your purpose for the trip (i.e. tourism or work). A visa can be obtained from the US Embassy or Consulate in your country or by applying online.
4. There are a lot of states to choose from
If you don’t yet know a lot about your destination options, there are 50 states in total. This means you will need to do a lot of research before you plan your trip to ensure that you travel to the right state suited for your needs, in regards to activities and things to see and do.
If you’re going for scenery and outdoor activities there’s an abundance of National Parks in the USA, like activities in Bryce Canyon, or if a bustling city-life is what you’re going for, you can head to the top spots like New York City or San Francisco.
5. Tipping is a big deal
The US is big on tipping, especially in restaurants and cafes. It’s a good idea to have dollar bills on hand to more easily leave tips, but you can add a tip amount to any charge you’re billing on a credit card. You should also plan to tip any other services during your trip, such as taxi drivers or transfer services.
6. Check the currency exchange
Look for good deals on currency before you travel, and be sure to check that you have a grasp on the exchange rate. In the US, one dollar will amount to around 15 or 16 South African Rands, but currency rates can fluctuate depending on the time of travel.
7. Don’t forget your health and travel insurance
Healthcare costs can be quite extortionate in the US and you don’t want to be stuck with a huge bill should something go wrong during your trip. Be sure to shop around for relevant insurance before you travel to cover any potential medical or health costs.