A road trip across the USA is a travel dream for many, I too have dreamt of passing through cities, visiting national parks and driving along gorgeous coastline. In fact, I had an American road trip all planned out, but life got in the way! I’m hoping 2023 will finally be the year that I get my dream holiday. So how can you prepare for a US road trip? If you’re spending a few weeks abroad, you’ll definitely want to have all of your documents in check, including your ESTA.
US Road Trip Checklist
Don’t forget your ESTA
Your ESTA is a super important document that you need to remember to get sorted ahead of your trip to the US. ESTA stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorisation. It determines someone’s eligibility to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).
It’s important to make your ESTA application well ahead of your date of travel. You are required to receive authorisation before travelling if you are a citizen of VWP countries, and this must be completed before you board a vessel which is bound for the United States. It must be approved for your travel, whether you are heading to The States for business or pleasure.
The ESTA form is straightforward to complete, takes around 10-20 minutes, and costs $14. Once your ESTA application is approved, it is generally valid for two years, or until your current passport expires.
Remember your credit card
If you are hiring a car in the US, you will also need to have a credit card with your name on it in order to hire the car. (I speak from experience after finding myself stranded at an airport for 8 hours!) Car rentals will not accept a debit card or a credit card from another passenger, so make sure you have one ahead of travelling, even if you’ve already paid for the car upfront.
When you’re going on a road trip in the US, you are quite likely to experience a few different climates. Even within one state you might go from a cool and breezy beach town to a boiling hot national park. On one memorable trip, we had been in chilly San Francisco, and arrived in Yosemite where it was over 10 degrees warmer- I hadn’t packed any summer clothing which was a nightmare!
Be sure to pack adaptable clothing to ensure that you have enough layers to stay comfortable when there is a large increase or decrease in temperature. Light jackets and thin layers are your friends here.
When road tripping, the last thing you want to do is to haul large amounts of luggage everywhere you go. Pack smart to keep luggage size down to a minimum- who knows, you might be staying in a hotel one day, and camping the next! You can pack smart by using packing cubes, packing a capsule wardrobe, and purchasing miniature toiletries (if you need to stock up on anything, you can always pick it up when you’re there).
Another important thing to remember, is to always have copies of your important documents in your suitcase. Sure, printed documents are a little old fashioned, but you don’t want to be in a position where your phone breaks and you no longer have access to important documents like your ESTA, insurance policy, and flight details. (Trust me, my phone has broken on holiday before and it was a nightmare!). Old school is definitely the way to go when it comes to making sure you stay safe abroad.