Currency: US Dollar
Time Zone: There are several time zones across the USA. The East Coast (New York, Boston and Atlanta) (EDT/GMT-5) The West Coast (San Francisco and Los Angeles) (PDT/GMT-8) The time zones for central USA fall in between and these are CDT/GMT-6 and MDT/GMT-7.
Tipping: Whilst tipping is not mandatory, it is expected in many cases. As a general rule when tipping 15% is standard, 20-25% is for exceptional service.
If there's one thing you'll notice about the USA it's that everything is super-size. From the food portions and the greetings to the diversity of experiences that escorted tours here can offer, America doesn't do things by halves. This is a country that is larger than life, too large in fact for words, offering one fantastic holiday after another.
America's popularity speaks for itself and frequently dominates the list of most-desired long haul destinations no matter what the chosen travel type. There really is something here for everyone, from the striking colours of New England in the Fall and the adult playground of Las Vegas where anything seems possible, to infinite canyons and cities that never sleep. The Deep South, Golden West, Route 66, Hawaiian islands, Graceland, Mount Rushmore, Texas, Washington, Blue Ridge Mountains, Florida...the list reels off longer than a history of Disney films.
Navigating such a vast country and organising itineraries independently can be a daunting and costly task, and it's hard to know what to include especially if you're limited for time. The beauty of USA escorted tours is that they cover the very best of every area or theme, with key sights (on and off the beaten track) internal flights and trips to amazing places you didn't even know existed all taken care of within the price. You'll also have the piece of mind that comes with travelling in a group, but with all the freedom and flexibility to explore alone.
All touring holidays to the USA feature departures via local or national UK airports, return flights, internal flights as stated, accommodation (room only), the services of a tour manager, any government taxes or service charges, full touring itinerary, transfers whilst in America and listed excursions. It's worth noting that meals aren't usually included on a USA holiday down to the fact that there is simply so much choice on the doorstep.
To help you have an enjoyable holiday in the United States of America take a look at these useful tips and advice provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO):
Health and Travel Insurance
Local Laws and Customs
Visa Waiver Programme
Health and Travel Insurance
Medical treatment in the USA can be very expensive and there are no special arrangements in place for British visitors. Before you leave make sure you have the correct travel and health insurance and that you also have access to funds which will cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and also repatriation.
To contact an ambulance whilst in the USA you should dial 911.
Violent crime relating to the drugs trade is a major issue in the states which border Mexico such as California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Always avoid crossing the border into Ciudad Juarez in Mexico, which the FCO advises against in all cases but essential travel. Although some foreign nationals have been among the victims in the USA/Mexico border region, there is no evidence to suggest they were a target due to their nationality. Always be vigilant when in all border areas and follow the advice given by the local authorities.
Violent crime, including that of gun crime, is not just limited to the border areas. Incidents very rarely involve tourists, but you should take care if travelling in unfamiliar areas. Before travelling research your destination and seek local advice about areas which have high levels of criminal activity.
Local Laws and Customs
Laws do vary from State to State. When you are in a State, even it is temporary, you are subject to that State's individual laws.
The narcotic plant Khat or Qat is illegal in the US. Should you bring Khat into the country you will be arrested and detained. You may even face a prison sentence.
You must always carry a passport showing that you have are allowed to enter or remain with you at all times. Some States such as Utah, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Alabama have introduced a new legislation which allows police officers to detain suspected illegal visitors to the United States. It is very important that you carry your passport with you when you are in these States.
Your passport should always be valid for the proposed duration of your stay. You will not need any additional period of validity beyond this. Travelling under the Visa Waiver Programme is restricted to those with passports that include certain security features.
Visa Waiver Programme (VWP)
The US Visa Waiver Programme allows most British Citizens to visit the US for a maximum of 90 days. The types of journey that are permitted under the VWP include certain types of business visit, tourism and transit to another country. If you have a British passport which describes your nationality as something more than a 'British Citizen' then you will need to get a visa.
Those travelling under the Visa Waiver Programme who are arriving by air or sea must provide details online at least 72 hours before they travel. This is known as the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation or more commonly the ESTA. If you don't have an ESTA completed you'll be refused travel to the United States. For more information and to apply for your ESTA online visit the official ESTA website. If unsure, ask during your booking.
Some unauthorised websites can charge for information about the ESTA and submitting applications. These websites are not endorsed by or have any association with the United States Government. Always be wary of such sites, particularly those that ask for additional fees.
Please note that getting an ESTA is a completely separate process to when you are asked to provide your airline with advance passenger information when flying to the USA.
If you're entering the USA by land from Canada or Mexico and you qualify to enter the USA under the VWP, you will not need to complete an ESTA. However, you will need to complete an I-94W form when you arrive at the border and in addition to this pay a processing fee.
Whilst in the US under a VWP, if you were to travel to Mexico, Canada or the Caribbean you can normally re-enter the USA using the ESTA and the admission stamp you were initially issued with when you first entered the US. Please note that the time you spend outside the US is included in the 90 days issued at the start of your US visit. Ensure that you're clear about the length of time the immigration officer has authorised you to remain in the USA if you are re-entering the country using the same ESTA.
The VWP is intended only to be used for occasional, short visits to the US. However if the US immigration officer suspects that you're trying to 'reset' the clock by travelling outside the US for a short trip and re-entering for an additional 90-day period, you could be denied entry.
If you are any doubt whether you're eligible to enter the US using the VWP (for example if you have a criminal record or have previously been arrested even if it didn't result in a conviction at the time), or even about visa matters generally, make sure you contact the US Embassy in London prior to travelling.
The UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETD) cannot be used for valid entry into the USA under the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP). If you are planning to enter the USA using a UK ETD you must also apply for a US visa prior to travelling.
The HIV Infection has been removed from the list of communicable diseases of public health significance by the US Department of State, meaning that HIV infection is no longer a restriction to entering the US. This includes under the Visa Waiver Programme.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) restricts the import of various prescription drugs entering into the US. The US Department for Homeland Security has a website which contains further information and guidance on bringing pharmaceuticals and controlled substances. Should you have any questions about bringing a specific pharmaceutical into the USA, contact the FDA's Division of Import Operations and Policy on 1-888-463-6332.
Any other nationality looking to visit the USA must contact the local embassy to check visa requirements.
With the sheer size of the USA, it is hardly surprising that there are so many attractions and cities to explore. Here's a selection of key places visited on USA escorted tours.
Take a bite out of the Big Apple by exploring the bright lights and hustle and bustle of Times Square, view New York from the top of the Empire State Building or the Rockefeller Centre - on a clear day you will be able to see for miles. Be sure to visit the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island and take a stroll through Central Park and spot all those sites you see so frequently on the TV. Take a trip to South Street Seaport, Brooklyn Bridge or observe the building works on the New World Trade Center. The only problem is you'll wish you had longer to explore!
Affectionately known as the 'Windy City', Chicago is a great city to visit and explore for a short break. When there be sure to visit the Sears Tower (Chicago's tallest building), plus Millennium Park which features stunning architecture and has become an urban sanctuary for Chicagoans. Navy Pier is a 50-acre playground of museums, entertainment, restaurants, activities and shops and is definitely worth a visit. You can also catch a boat tour which gives you more insight about the Chicago River and Lake Michigan.
Described as the Disney for adults, there are so many things you can see and do in Las Vegas that the list is almost endless. Visiting each of the hotels is like visiting a different country, especially the themed ones! You can take a gondola ride at the Venetian, eat a bagel at New York New York, enter a pyramid at the Luxor or watch the Tournament of Kings at Excalibur. Each of these hotels has its own casino so try your luck on one of the tables. Whilst in Las Vegas, you should also try and fit a visit into the Grand Canyon, one of the world's most awe-inspiring natural wonders.
This city has so much to offer a visitor from the beaches and Hollywood to theme parks. This really is a city where dreams are made. Thrill seekers will make a visit to Universal Studios or Disneyland and film and TV buffs can do a studio tour to find out how your favourite show is made. See the Walk of Fame and try to find your favourite celebrities or why not do star spotting in Beverley Hills.