Tips For Travelling To America - Visas, Money & More Stuff

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2.68min read

Published 2 December 2017


When packing for an overseas holiday the ‘to bring’ list can sometimes feel endless and with the excitement of your trip nearing, things can tend to slip your mind. To make it easier for you, we’ve put together our top tips for when travelling to America, so you can rest assured that you’re well prepared before heading to the airport.


Australian passport holders can travel to the USA for up to 90 days without a visa – but must apply for a visa waiver, called an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation), through the official government website ( for about AU$15 per person. This should be done at least 72 hours before travel and will be valid for two years or until your passport expires – whichever comes first.


The best option is to have a number of options. It’s a good idea to take a small amount of American dollars, so that on arrival you don’t need to search for an ATM or currency exchange counter immediately. Once in the USA you can easily use cash (via ATMs or by changing money), credit cards (there are quite a few options now with minimal or zero overseas fees) and a Multi-currency Cash Passport™ (a prepaid multi-currency MasterCard® that can be used like a credit card and to withdraw money from most ATMs).
Travellers cheques are being used less often, so as a result there are less facilities to change them. Consider purchasing American dollars in notes or cash passport through Travel Money Oz for competitive rates.

Luggage Locks

It’s ideal to have Transportation Security Administration (TSA)-approved locks when travelling to the USA. The TSA screens bags before they are loaded onto the plane using advanced screening technology. Sometimes they will need to inspect an item inside abag, and a TSA-approved lock is designed to be easily opened with a master key (otherwise they may need to break your bag to take a look inside). TSA-approved locks can be purchased at most luggage stores as well as larger chain stores such as Target, Officeworks and Kathmandu.

Staying Connected

Using your normal mobile phone plan for calls and internet overseas can cost hundreds. Other options include buying an overseas SIM card or getting a local SIM card in the USA. For free wifi, just hang out at any Starbucks (they’re everywhere in big cities). Many hotels also offer free wifi if you sign up to their chain’s loyalty program.

Healthy Travel

Travelling can take a lot out of the body and mind, especially when you're crossing large distances. Staying healthy while travelling will let you enjoy every day of your trip. Before travelling to America, it's important to confirm with your GP or a US Embassy that any medications you're bringing are legal in the country.
Make sure your medicine is in its original packaging and still has a prescription label with your name. Flights to America can exceed 12 hours of flight time, so you need to ensure you stay active on the plane, perform various stretching exercises and drink plenty of water.
If you're prone to Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) see your doctor prior to travel for medication or purchase compression stockings. Travel nausea can be helped by taking medication, abstaining from alcohol or chewing on ginger sweets. Upon arrival keep your fluids up and perform a little light exercise to help prevent jet lag. You should also avoid sleeping too soon after landing.   

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance for American trips can be costly, but it's nowhere near the price of hospital treatment if you go without. You don't want your holiday to be cut short by expensive hospital bills. Travel insurance isn't just about covering physical damages. You can also be protected from theft, trip cancellations and lost luggage, allowing you to travel the globe with less worries. Cover-More travel insurance is an industry leader with more than 25 years experience in ensuring travellers feel secure no matter where they are. 
Access Prepaid Australia Pty Ltd (ABN 47 145 452 044, AFSL 386 837) arranges for the issue of the Multi- currency Cash Passport™ in conjunction with the issuer, Heritage Bank Limited (ABN 32 087 652 024, AFSL/ACL 240 984). You should consider the Product Disclosure Statement for the relevant Cash Passport available at before deciding to acquire the product. Any advice does not take into account your personal needs, financial circumstances or objectives and you should consider if it is appropriate for you. *Lock in your exchange rates mean the exchange rate is locked in for the initial load only. The exchange rates for subsequent reloads will be set at the prevailing exchange rate at the time of the transaction. ** Other fees may apply – refer to the Product Disclosure Statement for a full list of fees and limits.
MasterCard® and the MasterCard Brand Mark are registered trademarks of MasterCard International Incorporated.
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