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Planning a trip to the US? Here’s 5 things to consider
We’ve teamed up with An Post to help you plan your trip to the US.

WITH SUMMER JUST beginning to peek over the horizon, it’s reaching the time where people are looking at their holiday options for the year ahead. 

There’s a smorgasbord of options available to you, but one constant favourite of Irish people is a trip to the United States, whether that’s checking out New York, Boston, California or hitting up Florida to check out Disneyland.

Direct flights from Dublin to a large number of US cities has made it easier than ever to skip across the Atlantic for a few days and take in all of what America has to offer tourists.

But the sheer distance, cultural and financial differences as well as visa requirements can make the prospect of a trip seem a little daunting, and that’s why we’re here to cut through the noise and give you five things to consider if you’re planning a trip to the US.

Visa and Entry Requirements

First and foremost, Irish citizens planning to travel to the US must obtain a visa or an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) before they arrive. The one required will depend on various circumstances but in most cases, people planning a short trip for business or pleasure will require an ESTA. 

It costs $21 on the official US Customs and Border Protection website, but beware of third party websites which offer to submit your application in return for a fee, sometimes for up to $100. It’s straightforward to complete and the approval process is impressively fast.

For those travelling with children, each child will require their own ESTA which you can apply for on their behalf. And it’s also important to note that an ESTA is a pre-approval process that does not guarantee entry into the US and you can still be turned away at preclearance at the airport. So make sure to carry all your documentation and answer all questions truthfully and accurately.

Finances and Budgeting

When planning a trip to the US from Ireland, it’s important to consider budgeting and currency exchange. It’s a good idea to have some knowledge of the exchange rate between the dollar and the euro so you’re able to make informed decisions about the impacts it will have on your budget. 

One handy way of getting dollars prior to your trip is at any of An Post’s post offices around the country. There’s no requirement to preorder or prepay, just pop in when it suits you.

Finally, it’s important to be aware of any charges linked to your credit or debit cards when they’re used abroad. Some charges on debit cards can be as high as €3 per transaction when used in the US, and those charges can quickly add up to leave you out of pocket.

A good option for travellers here is The An Post Money Currency Card powered by Mastercard®, which will allow you to avoid these fees on point-of-sale and online transactions. You can get your Currency Card through the An Post app (available on the Play Store or App Store) or in-store at a post office, and it will allow you to have 0% commission on foreign currency transactions.

Tipping Culture

If you’ve never travelled to the US before, the tipping culture might seem a little overwhelming to you. Yes, tipping is a thing in Ireland and it has become more common in recent years, but in the US, tipping is an important part of the service industry.

In most cases, it’s expected that you tip servers, bartenders, hairdressers, and other service industry workers. The standard tipping amount is typically around 15-20% of the total bill, but it’s important to check for any specific guidelines in the area you’re visiting. As a guide, many establishments will include a suggested tip at the bottom of your receipt, or even include the tip in your bill.

While tipping is expected in most situations, it’s not mandatory. If you receive poor service, you may choose to leave a lower tip or no tip at all. However, it’s important to note that in some cases, service workers rely heavily on tips as a significant portion of their income.


Medical costs in the US can be astronomically high and if you’re unfortunate enough to have an accident while over there, you could be left paying hefty medical bills out of your own pocket. 

In addition to medical coverage, travel insurance can also provide coverage for trip cancellation or interruption, lost or stolen luggage, and emergency evacuation. Read the terms and conditions to make sure the policy covers the areas you may need.

While some people balk at the prospect of insurance because it adds cost to your trip, it can provide some peace of mind and financial protection in the event of an unforeseen emergency.


Public transport in the is US patchy at best, and downright lousy at worst. While buses and trains are available, they’re not extensive in some areas and outside of the downtown area of many of the cities, public transportation can leave a lot to be desired. 

Renting a car is a common option for travellers who want to explore the country, just be sure to brush up on their rules of the road in the US before your trip. You’ll see pretty quickly, Americans love their cars and much of their infrastructure is based around this fact.

Other options include taxis and ride-sharing services, but these can be expensive, especially if you’re moving around a lot during your stay.

Don’t forget to pick up your An Post Money Currency Card or dollars in cash before heading off. A must-pack travel essential! Check it off your list today at any post office, or head to to learn more.

An Post Money Currency Card is issued by PPS EU SA pursuant to license by Mastercard® International. PPS EU SA is authorised by the National Bank of Belgium and is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland for conduct of business rules. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated. An Post is authorised by the Minister for Finance to provide Foreign Currency Cash.

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