1. Getting from Australia to America
Firstly, I recommend researching flights and THEN going to visit your local travel guide. My pick is Australian travel agent, Flight Centre. They will actually beat any flight you find online by $1 even if it costs them money to match your flight! (That’s just about a coffee in America ok!)
Secondly, consider flying into Los Angeles and booking your own internal flights. I recommend Southwest for the most convenient and economical option. (You cannot book Southwest flights through a travel agent) They don’t fly everywhere but they allow two free 23kgs bags (most airlines charge extra for any baggage so don’t be deceived by cheaper flights!), their flights are often less expensive – especially if booked more then a month out AND you can change flights and receive money in credit rather then getting charged huge fees!
Also if you download DING on your computer or iPhone you can be alerted of extra discounted fares daily. Seats are not allocated, so when you check in you are given a number which gives you the order in which you will board. A boarding pass with A23 boards before B13 for example. You can check in up to 24 hours prior.
If you plan to fly out of Los Angeles the same day you arrive, I would recommend at least a four hour layover. It recently took me just under two hours just to clear customs and I didn’t arrive during peak.
Caution: LAX airport is the most boring airport I’ve ever been to… don’t be deceived by the concrete massiveness from the air!
You will almost certainly have to collect your baggage and check into a different terminal – especially if you did choose to book internals yourself. Check this with your travel agent. Here is a link to a great map of Los Angeles Airport (LAX) so you can work out how far you would need to walk.
When you pick up your bags there are free trolleys. So I recommend grabbing one of them and walking to your next flight. It will most likely be an ungodly hour of the morning by the time you arrive (Australian time!) so the best thing to do is get as much sunshine as you can!
2. Getting cashed up
If you are wanting to get cash out prior to traveling (a good way to stay within budget!) you can avoid $8 bank fees by ordering cash through the Australian Post Office rather then a bank.
If you have a Westpac Bank account you can withdraw money out of a Bank of America atm without being charged fees – just the standard currency conversion rates. Or you can just use the Westpac Credit card and just get charged the daily currency rate. You can buy $1.50 coffees in the US… they like plastic over here.
3. Avoiding getting kicked out of the country
To holiday in the US you must have a Visa Waiver. This costs $14 per person and can all be done online here. Print out the form and keep it with your tickets just in case you’re asked for it… most likely though, they will scan your passport, take all your fingerprints and a mug shot and they’ll already have the visa waiver number. They know everything about you! It’s kinda creepy!
If you have travelled to the US before have you got any travel tips or recommendations to add? Or if you have any further questions please don’t hesitate to leave me a comment and ask. I’ve done this leg more times then I can count so I’m sure I can help!