We may not be able to pack your suitcase, or help you move through the immigration queue at JFK airport any faster but we can make your stay in the US as smooth as a sip of Southern-style whiskey. Here are five easy ways you can streamline your trip to North America.
Know your way around the new terminal
Qantas passengers flying into New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport from April will notice something a little different. Now arriving and departing from the newly renovated Terminal 8, the dedicated Qantas terminal allows for more streamlined check-in services and an extensive shopping experience with retailers such as L’Occitane for last-minute beauty gifts and Hudson Booksellers to grab a pageturner for your flight. There’s also easy access to refurbished American Airlines Flagship Lounge for Qantas Frequent Flyer members.
Get on top of tipping
It’s hard not to be frazzled by the non-negotiable tipping culture in the US. For restaurant service, it’s a standard 18-20%. For takeaway coffees, it’s typically zilch. For a bevvie at a bar, it’s customary to slip your bartender a dollar bill. Save yourself the stress of how to tip and check out this comprehensive guide before you leave. Later, when you’re sorting through your change and scratching your head over the cost of your pastrami sandwich, try this nifty app that spits out a specific tipping amount to save any confusion.
Drive with the right documentation
The great American road trip is a bucket-list inclusion for many – just ask Jack Kerouac. If you’re planning to hit the highways, make sure you’re not caught without the right documentation. A valid driver’s license is of course a must but additionally, some states – Florida, for example – require an International Driver’s Permit. Check with each state department directly to make certain you have the correct permits before taking off down Route 66.
If you’re keen to avoid getting hit with crippling roaming fees on your phone, plan to pick up a local SIM instead. Companies with the best and widest coverage include T-Mobile and Verizon but the latter isn’t compatible with most unlocked Australian mobiles that operate on GSM. T-Mobile does offer prepaid SIM cards to purchase on arrival that will slip straight into your unlocked phone but if you like to plan ahead, you can purchase your SIM before you leave Australia online and have it sent to your hotel. When it comes to data coverage, don’t go overboard. Wi-fi is readily available across the US – Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and similar offer it free of charge (so, too, does the New York subway).
Streamline your smartphone
A reliable app can make all the difference when you’re in an unfamiliar place. Apps like Circa will help you keep on top of US time zones (there are no fewer than six), GasBuddy will ensure you never pay more than necessary on petrol stops and RedZone – the crime-mapped GPS navigator – gives you the heads up on neighbourhoods that aren’t great for evening jogs or late night strolls, should you be travelling alone.
SEE ALSO: The Best Free Things to do in New York