A family vacation in the USA is as much about big cities, theme parks and shopping as it is about small towns, natural wonders and national monuments. And whether you intend to spend your holiday communing with nature in wide open spaces or taking in the sites along America's back roads, family attractions and child-friendly activities abound. Children's museums, amusement parks, sports stadiums and holiday parades are just a few of the fun things to see and do with kids in the United States. Paddle a raft, kayak or canoe. Hike, bike, snowboard and ski. Surf on the west coast, body board on the east. Dig for fossils in the Badlands. While a cross-country road trip may not be in order, a scenic drive speaks to freedom and family adventure. Take a detour from the highway or day trip from the city and introduce the kids to American culture; hotdogs and Hollywood don't hold a candle to the Pennsylvania Dutch or Native American Indians. Whether you plan to travel to New York or California, tour the Midwest or discover the deep South our family travel guides will help you make the most of your holiday in America.
A passport, valid for at least 6 months beyond the length of stay, is required for all travelers. A visa is not required for travelers entering the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) for tourism or business stays of up to 90 days, however, all VWP travelers must have a machine-readable passport and must obtain travel approval through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to departure. Electronic pre-clearance is generally valid for two years and for multiple-entry into the United States. A fee, payable by credit or debit card, is charged for both registration and renewals. A visa is required for all other travelers.
Travel to the United States is possible year-round and the best time to travel truly depends on where you go and what you do. Spring (March to May) and fall (September and October) are the best times to visit the desert Southwest and America's big cities, with the possible exception of Seattle and Chicago. Many areas of the United States have stunning leaf color in September and October. Summer (June to August) is the prime season for road trips across America and beach vacations on much of the East and West coasts. Winter (December to March) is the peak season for skiing and winter sports. Winter and spring are best time to visit southern beaches and Hawaii. Family Travel Tips: Fall foliage peaks earlier in the northern states and at higher elevations. The hurricane season normally runs from June to November and can affect the whole of the southern USA. Winter snowstorms can cause delays and cancellations across the U.S. The busiest travel times coincide with school holidays, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah - New Year, spring break, and summer. Expect high prices and crowded spaces in the peak season.
There are no specific health risks or vaccinations required for family travel to the United States, however, children should be up-to-date on routine childhood immunizations, you should take the same precautions as you would at home and review your medical coverage to ensure it applies abroad. If not, supplemental travel health insurance should be given serious consideration as the cost of medical treatment in the U.S. can be exorbitant. Traveling by car? All 50 sates and the District of Columbia have child restraint laws. The requirements are based on age, weight, and height but vary from state to state. Check the state law before you start to drive.
The currency of the United States is the U.S. dollar. The currency sign is the $ and the currency code is the USD. Dollar bills come in $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 denominations. There are six denominations of coins: 1¢, 5¢, 10¢, 25¢, 50¢ and 100¢ or $1. When changing money ask for small denominations as large bills - $50 and $100 - aren't appreciated for small transactions. Carry plenty of $1 bills for tips. The most convenient way to get cash away from home is from an ATM but it isn't always the cheapest as banks charge a transaction fee for withdrawals made from another bank's machine and/or for international transactions. Credit cards are readily accepted in the United States and are almost always required to rent a car and make advance bookings for hotels, tours and attractions. It's common practice in America to tip restaurant servers, taxi drivers, hotel staff, tour guides and even massage therapists. In fact, it's is not really an option so take tipping into account when you draw up your budget for a family trip. Other factors that influence the cost of a U.S. vacation include transportation, accommodation, food, tours, attractions and, of course, destination. A family vacation to New York City or Walt Disney World Resort will likely cost more than a trip with kids to Yellowstone National Park or the Wisconsin Northwoods, no matter your style of travel.
Electrical voltage in United States is 110 and electrical plugs have two flat parallel blades. While most laptop computer, mobile telephone and digital camera chargers are dual voltage, meaning they operate safely at both 110 and 220 volts, its best to check before you depart. A plug adapter is likely needed.
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