Do I Need a Visa to Travel to the United States?

Normally when travelling to the United States you would need a visa in order to enter. However, the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows people from certain countries to travel to the United States without a U.S. Visa. In order to qualify, you must be visiting for 90 days or less as a non immigrant visitor for the purpose of business or pleasure (tourism). The Visa Waiver Program was started in 1986 as a pilot program but became permanent in 2000.

Those traveling under the VWP must be a national of one of the 35 participating countries (listed below) and;

1. Valid authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to travel. ESTA determines the eligibility of visitors to travel to the U.S. by collecting the same information as the I-94 Arrival-Departure Record. The application may be submitted at any time prior to travel. Normally it is valid for up to two years and can be used for multiple entries into the U.S. In addition, you must have a valid passport for 6 months beyond the period of intended stay, 90 days. Therefore, your passport must be valid for 9 months. The purpose of your stay must be for 90 days or less, and reason for your visit must be for tourism or business. If arriving by air or sea you must have a return ticket. Additionally, you must be able to show that your intent to stay is 90 days or less and that you have sufficient funds to support yourself while in the U.S. You must also be found to not pose a safety threat to the U.S. and have no previous violation of any admission policy. Finally, you have to waive your right to proceedings before an immigration judge, except for an asylum application.

2. Screened at a port of entry into the United States;

3. Enrolled in the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S.-Visit program.

The following countries participate in the Visa Waiver Program:

Andorra Hungary New Zealand
Australia Iceland Norway
Austria Ireland Portugal
Belgium Italy San Marino
Brunei Japan Singapore
Czech Republic Latvia Slovakia
Denmark Liechtenstein Slovenia
Estonia Lithuania South Korea
Finland Luxembourg Spain
France Malta Sweden
Germany Monaco Switzerland
Greece the Netherlands United Kingdom

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of the Visa Waiver Program?

Those who use the Visa Waiver Program are allowed to travel to the U.S. spontaneously without obtaining a visa for the purpose of tourism or conducting business. On the other hand, those using the VWP may not change or extend their nonimmigrant status. Furthermore, if you are denied admission, you will not have the opportunity to go before an immigration judge to dispute your inadmissibility. Finally, you may not enter under the VWP if you are found to have previously violated the terms of your admission. Therefore, you should consult with an experienced Phoenix immigration attorney in determining whether you should use the Visa Waiver Program.

Travel Insurance – Is it Really Necessary

This may come as a surprise… but there are still far too many people setting out on their vacations without adequate travel insurance.

The usual story is that you start making your travel plans and may have a limited budget to work with. Once you take into account the cost of flights, hotels, tours and other expenses you try to cut corners to reduce the overall cost of your vacation.

While keeping costs to a minimum is a good idea it is important not to go overboard and scrimp on things that are a necessity such as travel insurance.

Does this mean that you should pay for an expensive travel insurance package just because your travel agent wants a big commission? Absolutely not. But you do need to purchase enough insurance cover so that you’re not stuck in a foreign hospital facing enormous expenses because you wanted to save an extra few dollars on your vacation.

Some sensible tips to help decide on the level of travel insurance you require are:

Check the details of any existing insurance you may have

Sometimes you will find that your existing health and/or life insurance policies do cover a certain amount of coverage while you are traveling. Go over the details carefully and take note of what coverage you have and don’t have so you can purchase a small travel insurance package to fill the gaps in your existing coverage.

Check any travel insurance you may have connected to your credit cards

These days there are a number of credit card companies that offer free travel insurance as a bonus to card holders. It is important however to check the amount of coverage associated with these offers to ensure that it provides you with adequate coverage for your entire vacation.

Check any previous travel insurance policies you may have purchased

If you have traveled within the previous year then check any travel insurance policies you may have taken out for your previous vacation. Sometimes you will find that your old policy is still valid if it was a one year policy.

Ensure that you are covered for unexpected expenses

Most travel insurance policies cover medical emergencies but you should always check that the level of coverage is adequate for the type of travel and your destination. Also, while you don’t want to think about an extreme situation or tragedy during your vacation it is important to ensure that you are completely covered for any situation that may eventuate. This means getting insurance coverage for things such as accidental death and any associated emergency evacuation.

Unforeseen events or losses

Also make sure you are covered for events such as lost or delayed baggage, theft of personal belongings, and flight cancellations or delays. All these events can be expensive should you need to purchase extra clothes if your baggage is lost or you need emergency accommodation when a flight is delayed.

By now you should realize the importance of having adequate travel insurance and what types of cover to get when planning your next vacation. There have been numerous horror stories where travelers have become ill or had accidents while on vacation and been left with expenses in the tens of thousands of dollars so don’t let this happen to you.

While travel insurance may be an added expense to your vacation it is a wise investment and will save you money should an unforeseen event occur while you’re traveling.

Normally with a little research you can find discounts in other areas of your travel to cover the entire cost of your travel insurance and still leave a little extra money in your pocket. So what are you waiting for? Get planning that vacation.

Travel To Antarctica – What The Trip Will Be Like?

Definitely planning a trip to Antarctica is not the same as taking a couple of return tickets at Pricelne. When I need to move around Europe it takes me an hour to plan the route, get the flights, and find the adequate accommodation. If you want to travel to Antarctica, many of those things will not be necessary to plan, as they will come included in the package, but even more essential and more time consuming will be the fact that you need to select properly the kind of trip you are expecting to get.

Nothing can be more frustrating than spending a fortune to travel to Antarctica and discover later that you were not looking for this kind of trip. Probably you will not be able to allow yourself to come back again for economic reasons. Let’s take a look at what different possibilities are there, and which requisites you should look for before booking your trip.

First of all, do a large research. Do not worry about the time, and if you don’t have it, let an expert help you in it. The regulations in Antarctica are very different than the ones in any normal touristic destinations, and all the touristic tours operated there are regulated by the IAATO. Whichever vessel you choose to travel there, make sure they are members of the IAATO, and you will avoid strange surprises.

The kind of expeditions will be most of the times conditioned by the kind of transport you use to get there. If you choose to travel with a research vessel, you will find there many active programs and normally more younger customers are attracted. These vessels are not enormous, but are a good intermediate point. The ships are built for polar research and have the hulls strengthened to deal with the ice, but are not considered icebreakers. Many of them are Russian vessels that after the collapse of Russia were chartered to be used for adventure tour operators. You can’t expect luxury on board, but comfortable rooms and kind of a private environment to travel to Antarctica

Another kind of ship will be an expedition ship. Always larger than the research vessels, they are built to explore the remote waters of the planet. Normally they will include a large number of experts on board that will give classes during the whole trip in order to make your experience as cultural as possible. You will find a great source of knowledge there, and they are normally prepared for landings, so you will almost sure enjoy some land expeditions on the white continent. Normally they will offer a higher level of luxury than research vessels and more services will be offered to you.

Finally, an Icebreaker is directly designed to break through the ice. It is the biggest of the vessels discussed here, and they are nearly always leased by Russia to Adventure Tour Operators in a way that they can get some cash in the months where exploration in the North is not possible due to the winter conditions. These vessels are prepared to travel to the most remote and difficult parts of the Antarctica, so you will have the opportunity to land in the regions where all other vessels simply can’t make it safely. An extraordinary opportunity that normally will also involve a higher price and will get the most veteran travelers. Somehow, a trip with this boats feels like a true expedition!

In any case, there is one thing you must understand before booking with any operator. Even if it may seem that the larger the boat the most interesting the experience, regulations say that no more than 100 tourist can be in the Antarctica at the same time. This means that if the boat is very big, a large number of people will be there, and the turn taking to step on the continent will make the landings time reduced. That’s all up to you depending on the interest you have in walking on these remote lands.