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Trip to USA - some basic questions

Crowborough, United...
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Trip to USA - some basic questions

Its been a while since I have been away, so have accumulated a few questions.

1. I bought an adapter plug so my UK power adapters fit into a USA style plug socket. However, are there going to be any issues since they use a different voltage out there? I am worried I might blow my tablet, S5 etc.

2. If going to the USA, what should I do about my phone SIM? My understanding is that calls out there using a UK SIM cost a fortune or am I wrong? What if someone sends me a text from the UK or I send one back? Is that expensive?

3. My phone and tablet have "airplane mode". Do the airlines allow you to run it in that mode? Do they allow you to run them with that mode switched off?

4. Should I tell my bank I am going to the USA so they don't block my credit card purchases out there, or is that unnecessary?

5. Where is the best place to exchange £ for $?



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1. Re: Trip to USA - some basic questions

Lots of questions, and not all of them are directly air travel related, so some should probably have been posted separately, in a different forum... but I'll have a go at those I'm able to answer.

1. Modern electronic equipment is usually designed to run on anything between (from memory) 110 and 230V - just check the label on your equipment. If your equipment is not designed for the lower US voltage then it simply won't work - you're not going to blow it up (that only happens the other way round, i.e., if you try to use US equipment in the UK)

2. Your phone provider will be able to answer that question. In fact you will normally get a text with a list of charges on arrival. If you expect to use your phone a lot get a local SIM (I normally do, and put it in a different phone so that I am still reachable on the UK number).

3. Yes to the first part, no to the second part. Some airlines require you to switch the phone off completely for take-off and landing, most now allow it to stay on throughout the flight.

4. Accepted wisdom is that you should - though I've never done it, and never had any problems. Best to be safe than sorry.

5. Suggest you shop around. I normally get a small amount from my local post office and then use my ATM card. (The post office may not be the cheapest, but it's convenient... I can walk there)

London, United...
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2. Re: Trip to USA - some basic questions


1/I've never had a problem, the voltage is lower I think, so I find my hair appliances heat up not so much or not so quickly.

2/depends on the contract with your phone supplier. Contact them and ask the charges. Yes, it will be more expensive.

3/ they need to be switched off for take off and landing, but can be used in airplane mode at other times.

4/ I don't know who your bank is or you history, but I don't and have never had a problem.most don't want to know now.

5/ not sure, possibly the post office if you mean the best forex rate by the term the " best" personally I just do it at the airport or my bank, as for me the "best"place is usually the most convenient one not who necessarily provides the best exchange rate.

Edited: 6:41 am, July 13, 2014
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3. Re: Trip to USA - some basic questions

Question 5

Obtain a "Halifax Clarity Credit Card" and save a lot of money and obtain your currency in the country you are travelling in. I recently spent 23 days in 4 US states and saved around £200 using it when compared to other methods of exchange. Over the past 3 years we have saved over £500. Not to be sneezed at.


Edited: 7:04 am, July 13, 2014
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4. Re: Trip to USA - some basic questions

Your phone must be tri band and unlocked for a local SIM to work. You can buy SIM cards at any deli in the US

Chicago, Illinois
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5. Re: Trip to USA - some basic questions

I would tell your bank. I've had my ATM card turned off when I did not tell them and they saw unusual charges on it. It was a pain to get it turned back on from overseas. I've had it happen to relatives, too. Now I always call every credit card and ATM card that I'm taking on the trip to let them know. Some let you do it online.

If you travel overseas frequently, like some regulars on this forum, then when you take cash out in a foreign country, it's nothing unusual and the bank does not question it. But if you rarely travel overseas or are going to a country you've never been to before and suddenly start taking out large withdrawals from an ATM, it can trigger their fraud warning software and they'll shut the card off first and tell you later.

Atlanta, Georgia
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6. Re: Trip to USA - some basic questions

I'm chiming in to repeat what Wes032 said. I've have my card blocked by the fraud detection department at my bank when I did not tell them I was traveling. I had not brought much cash, planning on using the ATM on arrival, and it made for a sticky morning while I was sorting everything out.

I've always found the best rates are with ATMs, though you'll need to factor in any ATM charges your bank levies.

Re: your phone, you'll be able to purchase a SIM card on arrival in the US, assuming yours is a phone that allows you to pop the SIM card in and out. You will need to talk to your carrier to UNLOCK your phone first (at least I've had to do this with my phones.) If your carrier happens to be T-Mobile, you may get free international texting and data, and for my plan at least the cost for phone calls is minimal. Check with your carrier. I don't bother with buying another SIM card for this reason.

Edited: 6:02 pm, July 15, 2014
Hampshire England
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7. Re: Trip to USA - some basic questions

1) another thing to check is the frequency, measured in Hertz. USA produces 110 volts at 60 hertz, UK has their voltage at 50 hertz. Not a biggy, but your clock will run fast for instance.

2)For the phone, I recommend installing an app like Viber, which allows you to make calls and texts over the (free) wi fi that's available everywhere. So you leave your phone in flight mode all the time then apart from picking up messages if you *really* have to.

4) Yes, tell them.

5) look on money saving expert for the *best* way.

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8. Re: Trip to USA - some basic questions

1. I woud be shocked if you tablet etc. didn't say input 110-240V. It would say it on the box thing that goes into the outlet. If it only says input 220 V you would need a step up converter. ( which changes current from American 110 to European 220. As someone said, unlike the reverse where you fry electronics the worse is, is will not work. Also, be aware, that even with the 110-240 input things will move slower and take longer to charge.

2, Get an American SIM. Also be aware that in the US we get charged for INCOMING, as well as outgoing texts and calls. Whatever company in the US is carrying your calls/texts will be passing that charge along. --While not relevant to your question, the other side is--when I call a friend's cellphone, there is no surcharge on MY bill.

3. Yes you can use it, except when take off and landing. You are not supposed to run it with that off and there would be no advantage to doing so. Airplane mode prevents you from accessing other signals--there is no wifi anyway ( unless you are paying for it on a handful of airlines and then you don't need airplane mode)

4. Yes

5. ATM machines--but since you are British, double check with fellow Brits.

Portland, Oregon
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9. Re: Trip to USA - some basic questions

I also had my debit card switched off a few years ago when I visited eastern Europe. It was a pain. So I **always** call my bank to let them know that I'm traveling and to where.

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10. Re: Trip to USA - some basic questions

Harry, getting a SIM card at a deli may be possible in some urban locations, but I've never seen a deli here or in the Midwest that had them. Possibly in a convenience store, though.