Travel Tips

Travel is an exciting, eye-opening experience. It’s easy to get caught up in the thrill of adventure but remember these considerations while you’re planning a trip abroad.

Currency

The U.S. dollar is the official currency of the United States of America. You can exchange your money before you travel, exchange money at the airport or other locations around the USA, such as banks. It is not recommended to travel with large sums of cash.

Cash

There are approximately 425,000 automated teller machines (ATMs) in the United States. Keep in mind, though, that you could be charged a variety of fees, including a non-bank ATM usage fee of up to $3 per use, ATM operator access fee and international transaction fee. Check with your bank and credit card companies regarding fees before you travel. ATMs often offer the most competitive rates for currency conversion. Check the currency conversion rate before withdrawing money to make sure you are getting a fair exchange rate.

Getting Cash & ATMs

There are approximately 425,000 automated teller machines (ATMs) in the United States. Keep in mind, though, that you could be charged a variety of fees, including a non-bank ATM usage fee of up to $3 per use, ATM operator access fee and international transaction fee. Check with your bank and credit card companies regarding fees before you travel. ATMs often offer the most competitive rates for currency conversion. Check the currency conversion rate before withdrawing money to make sure you are getting a fair exchange rate.

Credit Cards

Credit cards are widely accepted throughout the U.S. for everything from hotels and dining to entertainment and public transportation. Depending on your credit card, you might be charged currency conversion and international transaction fees. Check with your credit card company prior to travel to keep these fees to a minimum. Keep a photocopy of all your cards and international phone numbers for your credit card companies in a separate place from your credit cards in the event the cards are lost, stolen or stop working.

You should notify your bank about international travel before you depart to ensure your credit cards work properly upon arrival. Merchants in the United States are in the process of switching to devices that can accommodate credit cards with the chip and PIN system, matching the technology used in Canada, Europe and elsewhere. Most retailers should be able to accommodate chip and pin credit cards by October 2015, though some smaller independent U.S. merchants may take longer to bring their systems in line. Some independent merchants do not accept credit cards, so it is best to check with merchants in advance to determine whether you need to withdraw cash.

ESTA

The Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) is the new web-based system for authorisation of entry into the United States that came into effect for all people travelling on or after 12th January 2009. This system will prompt you to answer basic biographical and eligibility questions that had previously been asked on the paper I-94W form.

 

Applications may be submitted any time prior to travel, but must be at least 72 hours prior to travel. In most cases, you will receive a response within seconds.

 

You can access the ESTA website from our homepage or by clicking on the following link:
https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov

‍The average time taken to complete this online is 3-4 minutes and the application is processed within 4 seconds on average!

 

The authorisation is valid for 2 years OR the life of your current passport if shorter, and only applies to those eligible under the Visa Waiver Programme (including Ireland, UK, etc.)

Tipping

As a guide, 15% is the customary tip for service well done, $1 (gratuity in America) per bag porterage. Some restaurants, however, do include a 15% service charge so check before you pay. It is a good idea to carry ten one-dollar notes with you ready for tipping, especially on arrival in the USA.

Time Difference

The time will be between 5 and 8 hours behind Ireland in mainland North America (5 on the east coast, 8 on the west coast). Flights on your transatlantic homeward journey will arrive the following morning into Ireland.

Sales Tax

State and local taxes, usually around 8% to 10%, are added to all purchases made in the USA and advertised prices rarely include the applicable tax.

Climate

Whilst hurricanes or tropical cyclones are irregular and difficult to predict, in areas around the Western North Atlantic, climatic conditions potentially conducive to hurricanes or tropical cyclones are most likely to arise during the months of Jun. through to Oct.

Personal Safety

It is necessary to show reasonable care and avoid potentially dangerous areas and situations.

Spring Break

During March/April American college students frequent Clearwater, Key West, Fort Lauderdale and Daytona.

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