For Brits looking to get away, much of the world is opening back except. One area which has been particularly difficult to travel to is Asia, and even Australasia, even though they’re both gradually opening back up.
However, the US is a great long-haul choice because it’s perhaps less likely to roll back such entry requirements anytime soon, plus the restrictions once there are less strict than many other countries right now. And, if you do catch Covid, health care is of a very high quality – just make sure to purchase health insurance before entering.
So, here are the things to consider in your preparation for a holiday to the US when flying from Britain. This information was collected on the 7th March and so it’s important to check the updated entry requirements before booking flights.
Visas and ESTA
Unsurprisingly, ESTA for UK citizens is required, meaning that the visa waiver program is still up and running. ESTA is essentially an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation and it means that you can get a visa waiver – otherwise, you will need a visa, which can be a pain to get.
ESTA requirements are simple things like a valid passport from a list of visa waiver countries, and your email, address, and contact details. The total application can be done in around 10 minutes. If you’re looking to get a visa, then it’s advised to check the UK embassy on the US website. An ESTA is recommended, however.
For those who are fully vaccinated, entering is fairly easy. No quarantine will be required and you’re only recommended to get a viral test within 5 days of being in the US but this is only a recommendation. You will definitely need proof of vaccination and printing this is much easier than relying on your phone – particularly with the NHS app being a bit unreliable.
There are no passenger locator forms but you will also need a test that shows you’re COVID negative no more than 1 day before travel, which can be tricky.
For those who are not vaccinated, you will not be able to enter unless you’re a US national or some other exceptional circumstance.
The general feel of the US as a whole right now is that masks and curfews are on their way out, however, masks are still required on planes, buses and trains. Furthermore, not all states take the same approach so this is the most important thing when travelling: check state-specific restrictions to wherever you’re travelling.
For example, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington still had broad mask-wearing mandates in most places, though New Mexico recently dropped this. It’s important to check the state laws, but the odds are there will be no more restrictions than you’re used to in the UK.
Like with the restrictions, the US is a big country and the climate changes from one state to the next. Generally, the US is currently entering Spring, like here in the UK, meaning it will be cold in the northern states like Chicago still, whilst southern states like Texas will be warm from April onwards.
If you’re looking to do a trip across the US and multiple states, it’s best to prepare at least one outfit for temperatures as low as 5ºC in April just in case. Even New York hits below this at night in March and has low temps of around 7ºC in April.
Many of the southern states also suffer from extreme weather, like hurricanes and even earthquakes. Hurricane season is generally between June and November and can be something to be mindful of.
Transport and Accommodation
The US is nothing like Europe, even though it’s a similar size. Getting a train from Paris to Berlin on a train, for example, takes around 4 hours with it being 300 miles. This is around a third of the length of Texas alone.
By comparison, there is no public transport option from getting from the east coast of Texas to the West, and if you decided to drive that 775-mile journey, it would take 11 hours. In other words, travel is slower, more car-focused, and further than you’d ever imagine. Unless you love the driving itself, it’s best to fly to one state and stay there. Uber and Lyft, however, are fantastic in many cities. Also, the flight itself is going to be long-haul, so make sure you have your favourite shows downloaded along with a pair of headphones.
AirBnB is unfortunately overpriced in the US, which makes hotels more attractive. In particular, casino hotels in Vegas can offer great value given the high level of luxury because they’re more focused on trying to lure you into gambling than they are on hotel price revenue. This makes longer stays more tricky, though, which also makes the idea of a camper van rental more attractive than it would in Europe too – particularly with the comparatively cheaper petrol prices.