This is serious thing. Yes, for those Europeans which don’t know and plan to travel for the first time in the U.S.A. you must be sure in advance you already have those 3 mandatory things with you. 1.Visa. 2. A Plug Adapter and 3. Money. Let me take them one by one.
1. VISA – well this is almost not a problem at all. Many west European countries don’t need any VISA to enter the U.S.A. If you are for example Belgian citizen you don’t need it. But to be sure it is good to check the conditions for your country of citizenship. I am talking about only the member countries of the E.U. as shown in the map from the title of this post. In some cases like for example, if you are Romanian citizen you may still need to apply for a VISA which is valid for 10 years. But don’t worry if you fulfill all the requirements to travel in the U.S.A., it’s not a problem, you get that VISA very easy, I would say no more than max 20 days. However it is better to check the condition on the embassy website of the country whose citizen you are. Do that a bit in advance (3 or 4 months) before the day of your departure.You pay something like 100Euro or so and it’s done. They will notify you per e-mail when can you go back and get it.
2. Plug Adapter/Convertor. – Now this is serious stuff. It is more important than VISA.:-) . Depending on which type of electronic device you take with you, but I am 100% sure, you will take at least your smartphone with you. So be prepared because in the U.S.A. the electricity power is different than in Europe and also the plugs have different configuration than in Europe. So if you don’t plan to take other electronic devices with you except your mobile phone I suggest you to buy a plug adapter as shown in the picture below, you can easily recognize it after its shape and it must have a EU to USA layout.
You can find it either at any electronics shop or directly inside the airport at duty free shops. It cost something like 10 or 12 Euros. Don’t forget it, otherwise you cannot recharge your phone once you arrived in the U.S.A.
But in the case you take also other devices such as a Hair-Cut trimmer or anything else that must work once you’ve plugged it in, then just a simple adapter as shown above in not enough. This is because all the devices in Europe are made to work at 220 V power and in the U.S.A. the voltage is 110 V. In that case you need a Power converter, from 110V to 220V. You can also find one the same as the plug adapter at any electronics shop. This one looks like this:
This one also cost around 18-20 Euro.
3. Money – Now this is the most important thing before anything else. Don’t go in the U.S.A. without your Visa/Mastercard Credit Card. When I was there for the first time I didn’t pay attention to this detail and I had 2 Maestro/Bancontact as I usually use in Belgium. Belfius, BNP Paribas or ING.Actually I had all 3 types with me but just one Belfius Mastercard on which I had some money but not very much. All the my important money were on Maestro Cards. Ok I also had some cash in U.S. dollars but just enough to spend at the airport and for the 1st day after arrival. After 2 days in the U.S.A. I spent all my cash (about 150 or 200 $) and I decided to withdraw some more.Well … That was a big unpleasant surprise,namely it was impossible to unlock the money from my Belgian account at any American bank . I have been directly at the desk clerk from all the American banks I could find in New York to ask for support.
These are the ones I have tried:
None of them could unlock the money from my Belgian account. They all told me, it’s because of security reasons and to avoid money laundry and fraud. I got pissed off a little bit because I told them I am just a tourist, Why shall I do such dirty things like money laundry and fraud? They all refused, no chance to get anything positive. That was difficult situation because I still had to stay in the U.S.A. for 10 days. I immediately called my friend who lives in Washington D.C. to borrow me some U.S. $ in cash. So I was lucky but that is not a pleasant situation anyway. So that’s why, if you don’t have MasterCard or Visa Credit Card before to travel to the U.S.A. make sure you have at least enough US $ cash for your entire journey. Otherwise you are screwed,without having a local friend which can borrow you some cash, I don’t know what else can you do.
In America you can mess up with many things but don’t mess up with money, if you do, you are doomed. Nobody will help you.