Take precautions to protect yourself against petty crimes. Make sure you don’t leave any luggage or belongings unattended. Be aware that pick pockets operate in city centres, airports and other busy places.
There are violent crimes that relate to the drugs trade on the US/Mexico border in the states of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Don’t cross the border into Ciudad Juarez in Mexico as this is advised against by the Foreign Office (FCO) unless it is essential for you to travel there.
Although some foreign nationals have been victims in these incidents there is no evidence to suggest that it was due to their nationality. Be vigilant when you are in border regions and in the surrounding areas and listen to advice you receive from the authorities.
Violent crime and gun crime is not only in border areas. It rarely involve tourists but make sure you take care when you are travelling in unfamiliar areas particularly late at night. Research where you are going and ask for advice from locals to find out if places you are visiting have high amounts of criminal activities.
If you are planning to drive in USA, in some states you will be allowed to use your UK drivers’ licence but in other states you may also need an international driving permit so make sure you check before you leave. Make sure that you carry your full UK driver’s licence with you at all times.
Make sure you know all the traffic laws in USA before you drive as they will vary from the UK particularly drink driving laws and speed limits. Traffic laws also vary from state to state so make sure that you know the laws that are specific to the state that you plan to drive in.
Check the weather conditions before your journey especially if you are planning on driving in mountainous areas where there is a possibility of snow. If you are driving in Desert areas then make sure you have plenty of water and petrol as in some isolated areas there will be less petrol stations about. Always make sure you have planned your route carefully and you know where you are going. When parking make sure you use well lit main roads and car parks and don’t leave anything in your car on display. If you are involved in an accident call the police on 911.
In 2012 there was 33, 780 road deaths in the USA which equates to 10.8 road deaths per 100,000 people. This is much higher than the UK where there was an average of 2.8 road deaths per 100,000 in 2012. Always drive with extra caution and care.
Go to the Transportation Security Administration website for information about the security measures that you are likely to go through in airports.
Don’t make any remarks about bombs or terrorism especially when you are going through airports.
The TSA has a helpline number that you can contact before you fly for any passengers with disabilities and medical conditions who may need help.
There is a general threat from terrorism which you should monitor through media reports before you travel. Be vigilant at all times.
Snow storms in the winter can cause delays and cancellations and disrupt journeys throughout major airlines and airports. Check with your airline or tour operator before travelling for current flight information. You can also look on Federal Aviation Administration website to monitor current airports conditions in the USA.
The hurricane season runs from June to November and it can affect the whole of southern USA. For more information on current or approaching storms go on the US National Hurricane Centre website.
The west coast is prone to earthquakes and to find out more information about what to do in this situation go to the US Federal Emergency Management Agency website.
Tornadoes normally occur east of the rock mountains in the spring and summer months. There are around 800 reported tornadoes nationwide each year. In the southern states, the peak tornado season is normally from March to May, while the peak months in the northern states are usually during the summer. If you want to find out more information about tornadoes visit the US National Weather Service website.
Laws vary from State to State but whatever state you are travelling in you are expected to abide by its laws. Check the local laws of the state that you are travelling in before your holiday. You should carry your passport with you at all times. In the states of Arizona, Utah, Indiana, South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama, there is legislation which allows police officers to detain individuals that they believe are travelling illegally in the country. It is especially important to make sure that you have you passport with you when you are in these states.
The plant Khat is classed as an illegal narcotic in the USA and if you are caught in possession of it you could receive a severe punishment as it attracts the highest penalties. This will include a prison sentence and a large fine.
Contact your GP at least 8 weeks before you travel to find out if you need to get any vaccinations. You can find out more about country specific guidance and advice on the National travel health and network centre website and other important about healthcare abroad on the NHS website.
Medical treatment in the USA can be expensive and there an no special arrangements for British visitors. Make sure that you have the adequate travel and health insurance and extra funds available to cover the cost in case you need any medical attention whilst in the USA.
There are sometimes outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases, which include West Nile virus, eastern equine encephalitis and dengue fever.
In the event of you needing emergency treatment you will need to call 911 for an ambulance. Make sure that you contact your insurance company if you are referred to a medical facility for any treatment.
Make sure that your passport is valid for the proposed duration of your stay.
Travel under the Visa Waiver Programme is restricted to travellers with passports that include certain security features.
The US Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) allows for most British citizens to travel to the US for up to 90 days. The types of travel that are allowed under VWP include tourism, certain types of business and travel to other countries. If you have a British passport that describes you as anything other than a British citizen then you will need to get a visa.
There is an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation or ESTA as its known. If you are travelling under VWP to the US you will need to use this system to provide details of your journey at least 72 hours before your trip. If you don’t have ETSA you will not be allowed to travel to the USA.
Some unauthorised websites try to charge people for information about ETSA and submitting applications. Don’t use these website as they are not endorsed by the United States government. When you arrive you will need to provide details that show that you have enough money to survive during your stay even if you are staying with friends or family.
UK emergency travel documents (ETD) are not valid for entry into the United States under the VWP. If you are planning to enter the USA with an ETD you will need to apply for a visa too before travelling.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has certain restrictions and prohibitions on certain prescription drugs that you can take into the country. The US Department for Homeland Security contains information about this on their website.
If you have any questions about bringing specific prescription drugs with you into the USA then you can contact the FDA, Division of Import Operations and Policy, on 1-888-463-6332.
* Please note: All content was correct at the time of publication.