USA Travel Planning Roundup

The United States of America is the big land of travel opportunity for Australian travellers. From the bright lights of New York City to the family haven of Disneyland and the awe of the Grand Canyon, there’s nothing our friends in the United States of America can’t do on a scale you never thought possible.

However you choose to experience the United States of America, one thing is certain: this won’t be a quiet, small break. It will be mammoth and exciting. So, to help you plan your trip we’ve scoured the internet for the best USA travel tips.

Getting There

Typically, Australian visitors enter the U.S via LA, Dallas, Honolulu or San Francisco.

Flights to the U.S put the long into long-haul. There’s no way of getting around it, America is a good long way from Australian shores. Our best bet for direct flights is to leave from Australia’s east coast. From Sydney you can fly direct to San Fransisco on United in a mind-bending 13h 45m. Or, take a direct flight from Sydney to Los Angeles with Qantas, United, Virgin Australia and Delta. For a record setting long-haul adventure, Qantas flies Sydney to Dallas direct in 15h 35m.

From Melbourne, LAX in Los Angeles is a 14h 25m flight on Qantas or United. Queenslanders can also get in on the LAX action with a 13h direct flight from Brisbane International Airport to L.A on Qantas and Virgin Australia.

Another rather attractive option is to fly to mainland USA via Hawaii‘s Oahu island. The flight options to Honolulu are plenty with Jetstar flying direct from Melbourne 3 times a week in 10h 30m, and Qantas, Hawaiian Airlines and Jetstar taking care of the Sydney route with a 9h 45m flight. Brisbane also gets a direct 9h 15m flight to Honolulu with Hawaiian Airlines and Jetstar.

A range of connecting flights to Sydney and Melbourne are available from Perth, Adelaide, Darwin, Hobart and Gold Coast. Aussies can also get to the States via New Zealand on Air New Zealand and Emirates.

USA Visas Requirements

The Aussie government’s Smartraveller site is our go-to for the really important stuff on all foreign travel, including the U.S. On tourist visa rules for Australian’s visiting America on holiday, Smartraveller says:

Before setting off to the U.S, Australian passport holders travelling under the VWP must apply for an ESTA at least 72 hours prior to travel. The cost is US$14 and is payable online by credit card.

While ESTA makes travel to the U.S a relative breeze, it’s important to know that the United States administers a strict entry regime and you may be refused entry if you do not comply with its requirements, even if you have already obtained travel authorisation under the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA).

Australians with a criminal record (regardless of how minor or how long ago the offence took place) should ensure they seek advice from their nearest United States Embassy or Consulate about their visa requirements for entering or transiting the United States.

Because entry and exit requirements can change, contact your nearest Embassy or consulate of the United States for the most up-to-date information.


The standard of medical facilities and care available in America is comparable to Australia. The costs however, are far from comparable. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

In the absence of accepted health insurance (or proof of ability to pay), payment would generally be required up front, or at the very least, a deposit or ‘good faith’ payment on admittance.

Always direct any requests for funds to your travel insurance provider first; only pay the hospital if you’re advised to do so by your travel insurance company.

Car Rental

If you’re planning on renting a car in the U.S, check the driving rules for the state you’re visiting before turning on the ignition. The number one rule to get your head around will be to drive on the right side of the road, a feat made easier if you can remember the phrase ‘tighty righty, loosey lefty’.

International Driving Permits are generally not required in the U.S. but it is helpful to carry one. To be double sure, check the requirements with your car rental company before leaving Australia for the States.

The Best if the US

In the USA you’ll find the world’s most recognisable photo prospects, including the huge Hollywood sign, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, Las Vegas’s famous casino strip, Mount Rushmore and Rodeo Drive. Many visitors like to pretend they’re in a television show or movie and take a tour around the sites of their favourite flicks or hire a convertible a la Thelma and Louise. History and political buffs love the States for sights like the Kennedy Space Center, Washington D.C., great museums and the locations of big historic events.

Sometimes you just want to cut to the chase and experience the big hitters, right? For an awesome range of top America guides, we love Visit The USA for their concise recommendations and themed curations.

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