By Chaitanya Bala
With the holiday season coming up, many international students are having their parents and relatives come to the States so they can check out their living arrangements and get a taste of American culture. With a huge number of international students studying in the U.S., it’s no surprise that there’s a lot of overseas travel back and forth during the winter months; students are either returning home for the holidays or trying to get his or her guest(s) to the United States.
If you’re an international student who wants your family, significant other, or friends from your home country to come visit the U.S. during your holiday break – or even if you’re not a student and simply want your relatives to visit from another country – you may have many questions; namely, what steps do they need to take to ensure they’re prepared for an enjoyable trip?
That’s why we’re here to help!
Let’s assume that your guest has already applied for a B-2, or a visitor’s visa, has been granted the visa, and has an up-to-date passport. Here are the next steps they need to take – starting with buying U.S. visitors insurance – as they get ready to come to the United States for the holidays:
Get Visitors Insurance for the U.S.A.!
This is by far one of the most crucial recommendations we can give you. As a person who travels to India often, I will admit that I have never gone to India with a travel insurance policy since healthcare is pretty cheap there.
However, I definitely wouldn’t dare travel without travel insurance if I were traveling from India to the United States. This is because travel insurance for visitors traveling to the United States covers healthcare expenses, which as very expensive in the U.S. relative to the countries visitors may be coming from. According to John Hopkins professor, Gerard Anderson, an average emergency room bill without health insurance is $8,094.21. And with insurance, this cost is reduced to $309.57.
If residents of this country who make enough money to sustain a living are reading this in astonishment, imagine how things would be for a traveler who’s brought just enough money for some leisure activities and goods, and ends up facing a medical emergency with no insurance! Before your guests come to the U.S., definitely urge them to purchase a U.S. visitors insurance policy.
Get Up-to-Date Vaccinations
One of the requirements for immigrants entering the United States is that they must be vaccinated to protect against a particular group of infectious diseases. Make sure to communicate to your guests that they must have up-to-date vaccinations for these diseases, including measles, polio, and hepatitis A and B. Have them check out the full list provided by the CDC.
Figure out their Phone Situation
Are your guests going to use your phone the entire time they’re in U.S.? Are they going to change the SIM card on their phone while they’re here? Or, are your guests simply going to purchase a cheap phone to use during their stay here in the United States? It’s quite possible your guests are already cognizant of this, so just remind them to consider what they’re going to do for communication before they come here.
Bring the Right Amount of Money
Depending on where your guest is traveling from, the difference between the value of the U.S. dollar and the value of the other currency can be either barely discernible, or dramatic. Based on your knowledge of the exchange rate and your guests’ spending habits and budget, give them a ball park estimate of how much money would be sufficient to bring. Some other questions that your guests should consider is whether or not using a foreign credit card will be a good idea. If so, where should they go apply for one? Or should they carry around all cash? Your guests should also determine when they’re going to exchange currency and where. Once they get this squared away, they can ensure they have enough money to enjoy their stay!
Don’t Forget the Adapter Plugs!
In a day and age when we live and breathe technology, having your laptop or other electronic devices die with no way of bringing them back to life is pure torture. I still remember one time when I went to India and had accidentally dropped my adapter in the back of the taxi cab. Let’s just say the next two weeks went by really slowly. That’s why it’s super important to ensure that your guests have the right power plug that is compatible with electrical outlets in the United States. They can purchase adapters online, or at travel stores in their city.
We hope things go smoothly as your friends, significant others, and family members get ready and come visit you in the U.S. for the holidays! Good luck!