Your passport should be valid for the full duration of your stay. You don’t need any additional period of validity on your passport beyond this. All children must have their own passports.
The Visa Waiver Programme allows most British Citizen passport holders to visit the USA on holiday for up to 90 days and is valid for two years. This is known as an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (or ESTA) and should be completed at least 72 hours before travel. You will usually get a response within seconds, although it can take longer. There is no need to use a third party to do this, you can complete the form yourself for your entire party. There is a nominal charge for this. For more information, and to apply online, visit the official ESTA website: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/
You’ll drive on the right in North America just like you would in Europe. Hire cars are usually automatic so you won’t need to worry about changing gear. Most road signs are similar to those in the UK.
If you park in the street, you must always park facing the direction of travel and must not park next to a fire hydrant. Many cities will have restrictions on parking times and days so please check signage carefully.
There are very few roundabouts in the USA. They prefer 4 way crossroads, often with a stop sign for each road. Cars take turns to cross, usually in the order they arrived at the juntion.
At red traffic lights, you can usually turn right unless a sign tells you otherwise provided you give way to cars and pedestrians who have a green light.
Most cars, SUVs and minibuses will use unleaded petrol (gas). In the UK unleaded fuel is shown with a green hose and diesel is a black one, however in the USA it is the opposite way around so you’ll usually want the black hose. Some stations will use one hose for all grades of fuel and you’ll press a button to select a grade. Usually you’ll need to pay at the counter before you can pump your fuel and often fuel is cheaper for cash payments as opposed to card.
In the USA they use the United States Dollar (USD or $). It is different to the Canadian Dollar. 100 cents is equal to $1, and they have names for some denominations such as Nickel (5c), Dime (10c) and Quarter (25c).
Major UK credit and debit cards can be used in the USA, although your card issuer may make an additional charge for both purchases and ATM withdrawals. Please change some money before you go so that you have cash for tips when you arrive.
Service tends to be good in the USA, in part because staff often rely on tips to make up their pay. Although it is usually optional, just like here in the UK it is normal to leave a tip.
Here is a rough guide:
Restaurant: 15-20% of bill
Bartender: $1 per drink
Taxi: 10-15% of bill
Bellhop: $2 per bag/case
You can obviously buy clothing and other items for your own personal use without any issues. If you wish to buy electrical devices, be careful. Some items such as video/tv equipment may not work due to a different type of picture used in the USA. Phones and smart watches may not work on the UK networks. Some electric also may not work due to their usage of 110V as opposed to our 240V power. In our experience items plugging in to the wall using a USB plug will usually work fine.
There is no reciprocal national health system in the USA and treatment can be expensive. Should you have an serious accident or emergency, they will treat you and then charge you. It is extremely important to have adequate health insurance which covers your holiday in the USA.
North America use 110V electricity and the plugs have two flat prongs. Please buy your plug adaptors here in the UK before you go as they can be harder to find in the USA. If you buy electronics in the USA, they may not work in the UK due to the difference in voltage.
Whilst Americans use miles for distance, they still use feet and inches for measuring as opposed to the metric system we tend to use. Fuel is sold in US gallons which is different to UK gallons; A US gallon is just under 4 litres.
All per person prices (pp) shown on this website are based on two adults sharing. RouteTrip USA and RouteTrip are registered trademarks of RouteTrip USA Ltd. *T&Cs Apply. **Subject to availability. ***Refundable deposit required