Useful Tips

What to take on a trip to the USA? Practical advice and practical advice

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Citizens of Russia to visit New York need an American visa, which can be obtained independently at the US Consulate General in Moscow. There are many fears and prejudices regarding obtaining an American visa, but if you follow a clear scheme, this process will not take you much time and nerves.
You can get a visa in cities such as Moscow (http://www.ustraveldocs.com/ru_ru/ru-niv-visaapply.asp), St. Petersburg, Vladivostok and Yekaterinburg.

Before visiting the consulate, you must pay the visa consular fee. It is $ 160 and you can pay it in several ways:
- In cash at the bank. To do this, print and fill out a receipt on the website of the US Consulate General.
- by credit card. You can transfer the required amount with a credit card at https://payusvisafee.rsb.ru/
After paying the consular fee, you must collect the documents necessary for obtaining a visa and make an appointment for an interview at the consulate. A personal presence is required at the interview, you can sign up on the site at the link: https://cgifederal.secure.force.com/?language=Russian&country=Russia).
Here's what the basic list of documents for obtaining a U.S. visa looks like:

  1. A valid passport (with at least one blank page), the validity of which must be at least 6 months from the end date of the trip to the United States.
  2. Confirmation of the completed application form on the website of the US Embassy. (After filling out the questionnaire, you will see a confirmation page that you need to print.)
  3. Confirmation of an invitation to an interview at the consulate.
  4. Consular fee receipt.
  5. One recently taken photograph.
  6. Previously issued passports. (photo requirements can be viewed on the consulate website)

All other documents are not basic and binding, but you have the right to request them. Therefore, you must have documents with you confirming the purpose of visiting the United States and relations with Russia. Your task is to convince the consulate that you do not plan to move to the United States and the purpose of your trip is exclusively tourist. The right documents will help you easily cope with this task:
  • - Description of the travel route in the United States, confirmation of airline reservation, hotel accommodation, car rental.
  • - Relations with Russia: marriage certificate, birth certificate, documents on ownership of property or a share in the business, disability certificates of a close relative.
  • - Financial guarantees: a certificate from the place of work indicating the position, salary, term of work and the availability of agreed leave, statement of the state of funds in the bank account, certificate of storage of currency.

How to buy a ticket to New York on your own

You can book a ticket to New York either directly on the website of the corresponding airline, or through the Internet portals for selecting airline tickets to different countries. For example, the Aviasales metasearch engine allows you to search and compare prices for airline tickets for various airlines and agencies. Moreover, the search engine allows you to plan a composite route or buy a one-way ticket.

Aeroflot and Transaero fly from Russian air carriers from Moscow to New York, and Delta fly from American carriers. In addition, one of the many American or European airlines can fly to New York with a change in Europe. It is convenient to use a transfer flight if you fly from other cities of Russia. Moreover, in this case, as a rule, it will be more convenient to get to Moscow and fly out of the capital.
The flight time for different airlines varies and is approximately 9 hours one way. New York is in the UTC −5 time zone; its time is 8 hours behind Moscow.

The cost of tickets to New York directly depends on the time of year at which you planned your trip. In the low season (late autumn, winter and early spring) prices start at $ 400, in the high season (late spring, summer and early autumn) prices can reach $ 600. In any case, the purchase of a ticket much in advance even in high season will help you save money. You will also be able to purchase tickets at a reduced price thanks to sales, which are held several times a year by many airlines.
You can now check the cost of tickets to New York using this search form, just enter the dates you need.


If you have never bought tickets on your own, I recommend that you read the detailed instructions where the steps for buying tickets online are described in steps.

How to get from the airport to the city

There are three international airports in New York: John F. Kennedy (he receives the main stream of flights from Russia), La Guardia and Newark. You can get from them to the city in several ways.

Taxi. From Kennedy Airport, the trip will cost approximately $ 45, from Newark Airport - about $ 50-70, depending on the destination area, and from La Guardia Airport - no more than $ 75.
A train. From Kennedy Airport, you can take the AirTrain mini-subway to the Long Island Suburban Rail Station (LIRR) Jamaica Station. It provides easy access to Manhattan. The fare is approximately $ 10.

Bus. You can also get from the airport to the metro by buses, whose parking is located at Terminal No. 4 (if there is a MetroCard, there is no charge for transfers in the metro). The fare is $ 2.25.

From La Guardia Airport, buses are available to the metro. Five city bus lines: M60, Q33, Q48, Q72, and Q47 connect the airport with the Long Island subway and railway line.

From Newark Airport to Manhattan can be reached monorail AirTrain Newark to the Penn Station (price - $ 5.5). Also, Manhattan for $ 15 can be reached by bus.

We take both plastic cards and cash

What should a tourist take on a trip to the USA? First of all, bank cards of international payment systems. In many states, especially in the West of the country, cash circulation is minimized. Most purchases in America have long been made in a non-cash way, using a card.

People who pay in cash, especially large and relatively new bills, are often suspicious. Moreover, in small cafes and shops, a bill of $ 50 or $ 100 may be refused from you. It is believed that they are most often faked.

Please note: more and more American retail chains are switching to the most modern, microchip bank cards. An ordinary card, without a chip, may not be accepted.

On the other hand, you will definitely need cash. For example, travel in American city buses can only be paid in cash. Some cafes and souvenir shops also accept cash only. So make sure in advance that there are banknotes in the wallet with a face value of 1 to 20 dollars.

Another noteworthy fact regarding money. Not all Americans are aware of the existence of a $ 2 bill. It was released in a limited edition, especially for the 200th anniversary of America and is considered very rare in its homeland. So if you are its owner, it is better to save such a bill as a souvenir. It is possible that when you try to pay her in some provincial town, you will be suspected of fraud.

What to take from clothes and shoes?

To get together in the United States, you will need to independently find information about the climate of the state to which you are heading. As already noted, in America there are almost all climatic zones that you can imagine. In Florida and Hawaii, eternal tropical summer reigns, hot and humid. In California, Nevada and Arizona, air humidity is lower, but it is also sultry almost all year round.

In New York, the climate is temperate, with mild summers and damp, dank winters. There is a lot of rainfall throughout the year. Partly, the climate of this city is similar to the weather in our St. Petersburg. If you are already familiar with our material on what to bring with you to St. Petersburg, then you can very easily get ready for a New York trip.

First of all, you will need an umbrella, as well as a dense demi-season jacket or bike. She will protect you from the winds blowing from the Atlantic Ocean.

Also, regardless of the final destination, pack in a suitcase:

  • several sets of linen, including socks,
  • at least 3 cotton t-shirts,
  • warm sweater, cardigan or turtleneck,
  • denim jeans or trousers.

If we go to the USA in the summer, be sure to take shorts, in the winter - a warm hat, scarf and gloves. Shoes should also be selected according to the season and climate of a particular state. In California and Florida, sandals and lightweight sneakers are most appropriate. For trips to temperate states it is better to take strong, closed boots.

A very important point - first aid kit

Every tourist who is going to America must take a first-aid kit with him. In this case, antihistamines for food allergies and drugs for indigestion should occupy the main place in it.

There are legends about the quality and characteristics of American food. Here you can buy both 100% natural organic products, as well as genetically modified ones, with a large number of specific dyes and preservatives. Many of these nutritional supplements are not used by our manufacturers, so a severe allergy can begin with a tourist’s habit. So antihistamines are absolutely necessary things for a tourist to travel to the USA.

By the way, antihistamines will also be needed if you decide to pack up in Italy. Italian cuisine is replete with fresh seafood, which we do not consume so often. They contain a lot of protein, nutritious, but difficult to digest. Excessive passion for seafood, especially in the first days after arrival, can lead to an allergic reaction.

Keep in mind: we are going to travel to the United States, and most drugs here are very expensive and are sold only by prescription. So be sure to take:

  • a pack of two aspirin
  • painkillers
  • iodine, brilliant green or hydrogen peroxide - it can also disinfect wounds,
  • plasters and bandage.

With us all this is cheap, in America it is incomparably more expensive.

Adapter for electrical appliances

Packing for a trip to the United States should include packing a special adapter for outlets. Not all tourists know that American outlets are different from ours. To connect any electrical appliance manufactured for the CIS countries or Europe to them, an adapter is required - without it, the plug simply will not enter the socket. You can search for such an adapter in our electrical stores, but it is better to buy it already upon arrival in the States. In this case, it is guaranteed to fit.

Part 1. Preparing for the trip

Obtaining a visa to the USA is not difficult at all: you need to fill out an electronic application form on the website of the Embassy of the United States of America, and pay there 160 dollars, wait for the invitation to an interview and appear at the indicated time at the US Embassy with the necessary documents. There you will need to hand over the fingerprints in electronic form and answer several questions of the embassy staff. The most pleasant - the decision on issuing a visa is made on the spot, so immediately after the interview you will know whether you were issued a visa or not, and if so, for how long. Most likely, you will get a visa, but there are exceptions: some applicants are interviewed again, and some are refused at all, and without explanation. They have the right, nothing can be done.

Unlike the Schengen visa process, applying for a visa in the USA not accompanied by the preparation of a bunch of documents (tickets, hotel reservation, bank statement, etc.) and requires only an invitation to an interview, confirmation of the application form, photo and passport (current and old, if any). You can bring for an interview any “evidence of your strong ties with Russia” (real estate documents, certificate of employment, etc.), but your answers to questions of the embassy employee will be much more important than pieces of paper.

Should I take gadgets?

Going to America, many people take with them not only a smartphone, but also a laptop. This is not entirely rational, because many models of gadgets in the US are cheaper than ours. So if you have an old heavy laptop, maybe it makes sense to leave it at home? If you wish and opportunity - look for yourself a new and easy upon arrival.

A smartphone is also a pretty controversial device. Communicating from America by phone with friends and relatives in Russia is a very expensive pleasure. It’s better to do it on Skype, and a tablet is more suitable for this. It weighs not much more and allows you to use any application. So if you do not know what to take with you on a trip to the United States from gadgets, think about the tablet.

Trip duration

So, the visa issue has been decided, now we plan the trip itself. If this is not a business trip or a short visit to someone to visit, I recommend lay at least 2 weeks on it. On the one hand, this is the standard duration of the vacation, on the other hand, this time is quite enough to visit the main interesting places.

It’s possible for 10 days, but in this case, you’ll have only a week to do everything about everything (after all, a couple of days will be spent on flights and technical movements). This is enough for a more or less leisurely visit to a pair of cities not very distant from each other, or short-term hops back and forth. I strongly advise against the latter option: you won’t be able to get full impressions from staying in interesting places, but get tired quickly, because of which the overall impression will be crumpled and slurred.

An important point: before buying a ticket it is worth deciding on which part of the USA you want to travel. The choice here is actually small: the most interesting places are concentrated along the east and west coasts, while it makes sense to visit the central part of the country if you have significantly more than 2 weeks or you have already been to New York, California and the neighboring eastern and western states .

A compromise could be visiting both coasts. True, in this case you will have to spend money on an internal flight (200-300 dollars per person) and lose almost a day: despite the fact that time spent on flights partially compensates for the three-hour time zone difference (if you fly from east to west), fatigue from the flight will not allow you to spend the rest of the day with noticeable benefits. On the other hand, the impressions of such a trip will be much more diverse, and you will know the country better, but it's worth it. Personally, I chose this option.

In two weeks I was able to visit the city of New York, its suburbs and major local attractions (it took 5 days)then Los Angeles and its surroundings - Hollywood and a couple of beaches, Disneyland, Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, Las Vegas, Yosemite National Park and several small towns, driving a total of 3,500 kilometers by car and after driving several tens of hours. At the same time, I did not have time to visit the planes of Boston, Washington (DC), San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Death Valley and several smaller attractions. Draw conclusions.

Buying tickets

If you have decided on the time and route - time to buy tickets. Doing so best in advance, in this case, you can significantly save. In general, the price of tickets depends on several factors: time of year, type of flight (direct or with change), time of departure and arrival, etc. Most you will have to pay if you buy a ticket for a direct flight for June-August a couple of weeks before departure. If you buy a ticket for September or April and do it a few months before the expected departure date, you can spend half as much.

If the budget is minimal, You can try to search for flights with transfers: they are often cheaper than direct ones, but in this case you need to get ready to spend significantly more than the standard 10-12 hours on the road. A much more pleasant alternative to such self-torture is airline special offers. Large carriers regularly arrange ticket sales in various directions, including in the United States: as part of such an action, you can grab an inexpensive ticket, however, it will be non-refundable, that is, return it after the purchase does not work no way. By the way, many online ticket sales services allow subscribe to change in value: choose the direction you are interested in, and the system will automatically send you a message every time a ticket loses value. Very comfortably.

So, there are tickets, it remains to collect baggage. Main tip: don't take a lot of things with you! Over the past 10 years I have visited many countries and I can say with confidence: all these ten t-shirts and five pairs of pants will turn out to be ballast. Most likely, half of what you plan to take with you will be enough for you, regardless of the length of your stay. In my case все вещи поместились в небольшой чемодан, который можно было даже взять с собой в салон самолета, если б не туалетные принадлежности и прочие запрещенные к перевозу в ручной клади предметы. My two-week set of clothes, which I took on a trip to New York and California, consisted of several sets of underwear, several T-shirts, shorts and light pants (one pair), a shirt, a windbreaker, a hoodie and a spare pair of light shoes. Moreover I didn’t take part of the clothes (however, it was still worth taking it, in case of bad weather).

What to do if something is still not enough? Everything is very simple: dirty things can always be washed, and the missing ones can be bought. Both that, and another is done easily and relatively inexpensively (read about it in the following parts of the article). Of course, it will be more difficult for girls to shorten their list of things, but I highly recommend trying, because carrying a heavy suitcase with you, especially with frequent movements from one city to another is a dubious pleasure. In addition, it is much more pleasant to fly away from home with a half-empty suitcase, leaving room for shopping results.

A separate tip for girls: do not bring evening dresses and other weekend dresses. There will simply be nowhere to wear themunless you are going to an expensive restaurant or reception. Better grab comfortable shoes for long walks. Jeans also can not take - buy on the spot.

It would seem that there might be some advice: take with you more dollars - that’s all the recommendations. But in reality there are a number of nuances that you should know about even before leaving. The United States is not a very cheap, but in some places a frankly expensive country, especially given the current ruble / dollar exchange rate. In particular, it concerns New York and California - the most popular states among tourists. This does not mean that you have to limit yourself in everything, but optimize the budget does not hurt.

The most important thing to know about: housing and food - These are the expense items that will account for the lion's share of your costs. When planning a budget, I would recommend laying an average of $ 150 a day for accommodation and about 100 for food (all this for two, of course). These are the amounts that guarantee you comfortable housing and a more or less diverse diet. Yes, the numbers are shocking, but what can you do: finding a normal home cheaper than $ 100, especially in New York and the suburbs, is almost impossible, and the cost of one dish in a mid-range restaurant starts from $ 8-10, and this does not include taxes and gratuities.

Of course, ultra-budget options exist, in which the cost of a roof over your head and food can be reduced to several tens of dollars a day, but this is not our choice. If you, of course, do not want to eat exclusively cheap fast food every day and live in the same room with a bunch of other thrifty travelers. About how to choose housing and where to eat - read in the following parts.

By the way about taxes and gratuities: neither one nor the other in the apparent price of goods in the United States, as a rule, is not included. Whether you buy a can of cola in a store or pay for a taxi - in most cases, in addition to the amount you see on the price tag, you also have to pay a tax (or even a few). Since tax rates in different states (and even cities) may be different, for the convenience of preliminary calculation, it’s easy add another 10% to the price - the total amount will be plus or minus equal to the one you have to pay.

The situation is similar with tips: when you receive an invoice in a cafe or restaurant, you most likely see the final amount excluding tips. In the USA, they are usually left at a rate of 18-22% of the check amount. More is possible, less is not recommended, not leaving at all is impossible. When my acquaintances compatriots were dissatisfied with the service and decided to leave the waitress without remuneration, she caught up with them at the exit and reasonably indignant at the lack of a tip. As a result, there was a scandal that almost ended with a call to the police, which is understandable: according to local concepts, non-payment of tips is in a sense equivalent to if you didn’t pay the bill at all. Of course, such a development of events is rather an exception than a rule, but you should not experiment and take risks.

In some establishments, mainly located on hiking trails, tips are included in the bill. In this case “service fee” will appear in the check or something like that. If you have received an invoice and are uncertain whether a tip is included, ask the waiter.

Now a little about how it is worth taking money for expenses with you. USA - country of long-won "plastic": Bank cards are accepted almost everywhere - from vending machines for drinks to entrances to national parks. So before leaving, I recommend putting approximately two-thirds of the amount spent per card, and it is desirable that she be pegged in a dollar account and belonged to the Visa system - so you can avoid unnecessary currency conversion when paying. Take the remaining third with you cash, making sure that at least some of this money is in the form small bills - 1, 5, 10, 20 and 50 dollars. They will come in handy in the early days for paying tips, buying street food and paying for goods where cards and / or hundred-dollar bills are not accepted (and such places are also found).

Another important point regarding bank cards: when someone (a seller or a machine) asks you which card you have - debit or credit - answer credit, even if you have a debit card. Do not ask why, just remember - in the USA, any card issued in the Russian Federation that has a magnetic strip / chip and your name is indicated is considered a credit card.

What else to take with you on a trip - everyone decides for himself, but if you are flying to the United States for the first time, listen to the following tips:

  1. If you like taking pictures, take care in advance about the free space on the smartphone or on the camera card. I guarantee: you will photograph a lot, which means you will need a lot of memory.
  2. Buy some adapters from european plug to american. This can be done both before departure (cheaper) and upon arrival (more expensive). The main thing is not to forget, otherwise you risk finding yourself with a European plug in your hands at an American outlet at the most inopportune moment. Well, grab an external battery just in case.
  3. Do not forget take a driver's license with an open category "B"if you plan to rent a car. International rights - optional: their presence is necessary in some cases, but most often they are not needed. Read more about this in a post on a trip to California.
  4. If possible refuse roaming and just buy a local SIM card upon arrival: for about $ 30 you will receive a prepaid SIM card with a couple of gigabytes of Internet traffic - this is enough for correspondence in instant messengers, and for uploading photos to Instagram for a couple of weeks, and for searching for this or that information during a trip.
  5. In advance upload an offline dictionary to your smartphone (Google Translate, for example) and Applications for navigation, housing, restaurants and attractions. In my case, it was a set of about a dozen programs: AirBNB, Booking.com and HotelTonight came in handy for finding accommodation, Triposo, Yelp and TripAdvisor were useful in choosing restaurants and visiting interesting places, Parkopeida made it easy to find parking lots, and Citymapper suggested the best way move around the city by public transport.
  6. If possible, budget 10-20% of the reserve for possible cost overruns: experience shows that situations are different and reinsurance will not hurt.

Well, the tickets were bought, the bags were packed, the route was laid - the next stop is New York! To be continued…

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