How to expedite your trip to the U.S.

Published: Jun 28, 2021, Updated: Jun 28, 2021 | Tags: ESTA Requirements, USA Visa Requirements

This article is intended to provide visitors of the United States with information that will help expedite their arrival to the United States. It covers a number of topics related to itinerary booking, flight preparations, as well as arrivals at the U.S. border.

Apply for an ESTA or a Visa

Foreign nationals visiting the United States will need either a U.S. visa or an ESTA to enter the country. If you are a traveler holding a passport from a Visa Waiver eligible country, you should consider applying for an ESTA. An ESTA is a visa waiver that allows individuals from over 39 countries to enter the United States for tourism or business purposes of up to 90 days per visit. An ESTA is digitally linked to your passport and can be obtained online. If you are ineligible or have been denied an ESTA, you will need to apply for a U.S. visa if you wish to visit the United States. A U.S. visa will require the submission of a digital form called the DS-160, as well as require applicants to attend an interview at an embassy or consulate in their country of citizenship or residence.

Book Tickets in Advance

You should consider booking your airline tickets once you have decided on your itinerary. Booking early ensures you secure a ticket on your desired flight date and time. Airfare typically does not fluctuate in price until a few weeks before departure, where there may be an increase or decrease in fares depending on demand. Business travelers are advised to book as early as possible, as premium ticket prices usually increase closer to the time of the flight. Booking early also ensures you will have more options for selecting a desired seat on the plane.

Secure Accommodation in Advance

You should book your accommodation before your arrival to the United States. Booking accommodation last minute can lead to disappointment if there are insufficient choices to meet your requirements. Hotels, motels, serviced apartments and peer-to-peer room-sharing all offer travelers a number of options to suit any budget or desired level of service. If large events are planned in a city at a particular time, it may be challenging to find suitable accommodation. Thus, booking in advance will eliminate the risk of not having a place to stay while in the United States.

Take Care of Medical Issues

If you take any kind of medication, order enough to last through your trip. You should consider taking extra medication in the event you are delayed on your return to your home country. Most of the time, medications need to be in their original container with prescription information available, such as a doctor’s note if the medication is a controlled substance in the U.S. At the same time, it's a good idea to check that your immunizations are up to date and that you don't need any additional vaccines before you can enter the United States. The World Health Organization recommends the following vaccines: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, measles, mumps and rubella, polio, meningitis, Tdap, chickenpox, shingles, pneumonia and influenza. Not all of these immunizations are required to gain entry into the United States but may be a good idea if you're traveling to a place that might put you at risk. Talk to your doctor to determine which vaccines you should consider. If you have food restrictions or allergies, be sure to let the airline know ahead of time so they are prepared with food and drinks that are safe for you to consume.

Packing Your Carry On Bag

This is the bag or pack that you'll take onto the airplane. Not all items are allowed to be placed in this bag so make sure you understand the regulations for your selected airline. You should include your travel documents, identification, tickets and boarding passes, credit cards, cash, health and travel insurance cards, medications and your mobile phone with charger. You might also want to include something to read and a change of clothes depending on the climate on the plane. If you plan to carry any liquids onto the plane with you, they must follow the 3-1-1 rule. This means that each bottle must be 3.4 ounces or less, must all fit into a 1 quart zip top bag and each traveler cannot have more than one bag. However, some airports will allow travelers to take additional bags if they are for medications.

Packing Your Checked Bag

For checked baggage, you are typically restricted by the number of bags you can check-in, unless you are willing to pay additional baggage fees. Pack efficiently to reduce checked-in baggage fees and the number of bags you carry during your travels. Be aware of restrictions on hazardous goods, particularly those that are combustible or pose a hazard to the health and safety of the people on the airplane. If permitted, you should place electronics on the top layer of your luggage so they can be easily screened by airport security staff.

Before Arriving at the Airport

On the day of travel, it's best to arrive at the airport early and be mindful of any announcements or alerts in case there are changes impacting your flight. Arriving two hours prior to departure is usually the recommended time frame, though you may want to give yourself extra time if arriving to the United States from anywhere other than North America. To further expedite your travel, consider checking into your flight online or request early boarding. If you have a medical condition or disability, let your airline know so they can be ready for you when you arrive.

At the Check-in Terminal

There are some things to keep in mind when you arrive at the airport check-in terminals. Make sure you have your passport or travel document, as well as your mobile or printed boarding pass. When going through security, you will need to remove liquids and electronic devices and place them in the bin at the checkpoint. Your shoes and jewellery may need to be removed and sent through the x-ray machine. Once you've gone through the security screening machines, you can collect your belongings and move toward your terminal.

Upon Arrival in the United States

When you travel into the United States from another country, you will need to go through customs upon arrival. It's important to have your passport and completed customs form available to get you through quicker. Once you clear customs, you can then proceed to collecting your bags and heading to your destination.


This article provided a summary of considerations for travelers who are planning on visiting the United States. A number of topics were discussed regarding trip itinerary planning, packing, flying and arriving at the U.S. border. By expediting the logistics regarding your travel, you will have more time to enjoy your visit in the United States.



Apply for ESTA

ESTA is a mandatory travel authorization for eligible travelers entering the United States by land, air, or sea for visits less than 90 days.

Apply for ESTA