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First time visitor to the USA
Anything I need to know

 6:33 pm on Oct 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

I finally bit the bullet and signed up for pubcon.

I am from the UK and have travelled around Europe a bit. My travel planning normally consists of wake up, chuck some clothes in a bag, grab passport and jump on plane.

I figure I might be a little more organised for my first trip to the states. So I have the plane, hotel and transfer from the airport sorted. I then came across the Electronic System for Travel Authorization Web Site (https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/application.html) and it looks like I need to fill in a form and pay some cash before I travel.

Is there anything else I need to watch out for, anything I can't bring in my luggage etc ?



 8:14 pm on Oct 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

Do not bring anything that could conceivably be used as either a weapon or as a constituent part of an explosive. A change of underwear should be safe.

:: pause to sit on hands ::

As of the last time I got on a plane in the US, They Who Decide had not yet figured out that you can kill someone with a skillfully wielded writing implement. Literally, not metaphorically. But that was a couple of years ago. Better bring a soft felt-tip marker to be safe.


 4:17 pm on Oct 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

Pubcon: Bring comfortable shoes as there's a lot of standing and walking, and talking.
Make sure you have plenty of business cards if you plan to do networking, which i'd recommend.

As with most airports, expect to be searched and allow extra time between flights.


 4:24 pm on Oct 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

I should look into this too. I've avoided flying lately, taking the train or driving whenever I can. The last time I flew in the US they threw out my toiletries. Geesh.


 1:43 am on Oct 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

The ESTA doesn't have to be printed, but I do that to be safe. The metal detectors are extra sensitive, so if you are used to walking through with your shoes or belt (as we can in Oz), take them off first. Don't attempt any humour with the INS.

When leaving Vegas, prepare for an unexpected delay in passing through security. There is a train from the gates to the baggage area. The MGM has its own shuttle service, so look for it if staying there. Otherwise a shuttle will work out cheaper than a cab.

Don't forget to tip, so keep your $1 notes handy.

Don't mention rubbers or fags. ;)


 10:40 pm on Oct 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

Oh yeah, once when I went through to an SEO conference, the customs agent demanded papers for the conference and hotel. I didn't have any papers, I booked everything online. They demanded how they knew I wasn't just going down to the hotel in the US to do some work. I dunno genius, how do you know that? In any event, now I print out hotel and pubcon registrations for the times I get idiot customs agents.


 11:25 pm on Oct 18, 2011 (gmt 0)

Most likely will be ambulatory, but if you get behind the wheel... we drive on the other side of the road! :)

Wish I could join you guys this year...


 9:15 pm on Oct 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

In any event, now I print out hotel and pubcon registrations for the times I get idiot customs agents

^^ this is always a good idea. Best to have all your paperwork and intinerary ready to hand over. They are a little sensitive in the USA about people coming in and doing work. Make sure that you make it clear that you are attending a conference.

Like somebody else said, no humour. They do not appreciate jokes or anything they perceive as a bad attitude. "yes sir .. no sir .. thank you ... have a nice day" Never volunteer information, just answer questions directly and honestly.

Remember, these people can ruin your day and your trip just because they want to.


 1:34 am on Nov 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

! Almost forgot.

If you learn nothing else, learn how to pronounce "Nevada". This applies to everyone east of the Rockies. Or, um, west of the Pacific.

At one time the Nevada tourist bureau ran ads writing it with a breve over the first "a".* But somehow I could never believe that people contemplating a vacation in Nevada would know what a breve means.

* See recurring grumbles elsewhere about the perils of not declaring a charset. I had a lot of fun putting SubEthaEdit through its "reinterpret" paces until I realized that the results themselves were likely to get rewritten :)


 10:44 pm on Nov 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

chapstick, eye drops, power adapters (2!), jeans, shirts and a sneaker alternative. drink lots of water! identify yourself to other webmasters at the bar!


 12:35 am on Nov 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

ne VAD ah, neh VAH deh, too MAY toe, too MAH tah... The hotels and exhibition in Nevada hosting this soiree will be happy to take yer money all the same! :)

If time permits, do make the trip to Grand Canyon during daylight hours. Absolutely amazing!


 3:41 am on Nov 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

A Canadian SEO related this horror story, which is relevant to conference speakers: [uscustomssaga.com...] and here is one of an attendee (not SEO conference) [passengershawn.wordpress.com...]

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