You Go

Forward planning is essential to any successful trip. Be prepared for all eventualities by considering the following points before you travel.

Passports and Visas

Canadians and Mexicans need valid passports to enter the US. Citizens of Australia, New Zealand, and the EU do not need a visa, but must apply in advance for the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) permit and have a valid passport. All other visitors need a passport and tourist visa, and will be photographed and have their fingerprints taken. A return ticket is required to enter the US. Entry regulations may change, so check in advance of travel with the US Department of State.

If visiting Mexico, you must take your passport for re-entry to the United States. Passports are now required for US citizens as well.


US Department of State

Travel Safety Advice

Visitors can get up-to-date travel safety information from the US Department of State, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.




Customs Information

Nonresidents will need to fill in a US Customs and Border Protection Agency form upon arrival to the US. Customs allowances for visiting nonresidents over the age of 21 are:

Tobacco products

200 cigarettes (1 carton), 100 cigars (except from Cuba)


1 litre (2 pints) of alcohol


Foreign visitors may bring in or take out up to $10,000 in US or foreign currency

US Customs and Border Protection Agency


Check that your cover includes emergency medical and dental care, lost or stolen baggage and travel documents, accidental death, and trip-cancellation fees.


No inoculations are required for visiting the United States.


Most retailers will accept card or cash payments. It is common to sign for your purchases rather than entering a pin into an electronic reader. Cities and most towns have ATMs Carry cash when traveling in remote areas as card and ATM facilities may not be available. .

Check your bank’s withdrawal fees before traveling; the ATM may also charge $2.50 to $3.50 per transaction. You will be able to exchange currency in the larger branches of Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Chase, as well as at bureaux de change. Prepaid currency cards can be used to withdraw money, and can act like debit cards in shops and restaurants.

Booking Accommodation

Booking a package deal or fly-drive holiday is often the most inexpensive way of visiting the Southwest. Websites offer air fares, hotels and car rentals. Book in advance to get the best deals, especially if visiting during spring break (March/April) or summer vacation (June–August). National park lodges have limited accommodations and must be booked well ahead. Prices also spike around holidays and local festivals and events.

Accommodations include luxury hotels and resorts, historic inns and B&Bs, dude ranches, and inexpensive chain motels. Campgrounds and RV parks are widespread. State and local tourist boards can offer a range of suggestions.

Travelers with Specific Needs

Hotels, restaurants, galleries, museums, and other public buildings, as well as public trans-portation, generally have excellent facilities for travelers with special needs. Some historic buildings and sites may have limited accessibility. Many national parks and archaeological sites have paved walkways suitable for wheelchairs. The National Park Service offers an Access Pass to US citizens and permanent residents with permanent disabilities. It is best to contact accommodations and attractions in advance to verify their ability to meet your specific requirements.

Access Pass


The official language of the US is English. Spanish is widely spoken throughout the Southwest, and bilingual signage is common in stores and attractions. Phone information usually has a Spanish option. You may hear a variety of Native American languages at pueblos and reservations.


Monday and Tuesday

Some museums close on these days.


Most banks are closed.


Businesses, restaurants, museums, and shops close earlier during the winter season.

Public holidays

Some museums close on public holidays. When a federal holiday falls on a Saturday, it is usually observed on the preced-ing Friday. When the holiday falls on a Sunday, it is usually observed on the following Monday.

Need to know Before You Go

At a Glance


US Dollar (USD)

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Average daily spend

Need to know Before You Go


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The Southwest averages 14–15 hours of daylight in summer and 9–10 hours of daylight in winter.

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Mountain regions average 36° F (2° C) in winter, 75° F (24° C) in summer; desert regions 70° F (21° C) in winter, 105° F (41° C) in summer.

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Short, heavy monsoon rains occur in the desert June to August. Thunder-storms are common.

Need to know Before You Go

Electricity Supply

Plug sockets are type A and B, fitting plugs with two and three flat pins. Standard voltage is 100–120 volts AC.

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Need to know Before You Go


Jan 1New Year’s Day
3rd Mon in JanMartin Luther King Jr. Day
3rd Mon in FebPresident’s Day
Last Mon in MayMemorial Day
Jul 4Independence Day
1st Mon in SepLabor Day
2nd Mon in OctColumbus Day
Nov 11Veterans Day
4th Thu in NovThanksgiving
Dec 25Christmas Day
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