7 things to plan for when parents visit USA !!!

We all have grown up being very close to our parents. Being in US and thousands of miles away, how we wish we could spend more time with them. As we start planning for our parents’ visit, we are often faced with a lot of questions and queries: how to apply for their visitor’s visa, how and where to buy visitor’s insurance from, how to plan travel with them, are there travel packages that they can independently go to, how to subscribe to Indian TV channels. This post should help you answer most of these questions.

  • How to Apply for visitor visa – Start by filling out DS160 form with their personal, education, work background etc. It is very important to enter the name exactly as in the passport. Create a profile and pay the visa fees on www.usatraveldocs.com/in. Schedule the two step interview – biometrics and personal visa interview. I have documented the step-to-step guide to filing visa and the documents required here.
  • How to choose visitor insurance – You should be careful while choosing a visitor insurance as the medical costs can be pretty high in US and if you parents are carrying an initial pre-condition, most of the insurance do not cover them. From my experience, VisitorCoverage.com ‘s Atlas America and Patriot America Plus are really good plans and coverage policies (including pre-existing conditions), though a little higher premium charges. Read this post to know more about all the various different options available.
  • Where can I find a travel companion for my parents – You can opt for wheel chair assistance which is offered by all the Airlines today. It will not only help them during airport transfers, but also assist them during Immigration interview at the port of entry, give them preferred boarding, help with baggage claim. But since this service is limited per flight, you should look to book early. Alternatively, you can look for travel companions flying by the same flight. I came across this website which should help you finding one.
  • How to subscribe Indian TV channels – One of the ways to keep them entertained and occupied is to subscribe to Indian TV channels. There are bunch of options available for online viewing like SlingTV, YuppTV, Jadoo TV and others. Each of them have their own pros and cons. You can look up the details in the post here.
  • Places to visit with parents – You should start by taking them to local tourist attractions. They usually love going to local farmers market, lakes, beaches areas or mountain peaks which are accessible by cars. Apart from these, you would want to take them to the famous tourist places like NewYork, LosAngeles, Miami or Las Vegas. Most of these places have good options for desi restaurants and hotels.
  • Travel packages for parents – Did you know there are travel tour operators who organize multi-day tours which includes sightseeing, hotels to stay, food (in some cases), transportation, airport transfers etc. OpenWinds.comTakeTours.com, Tours4Fun.com, KesariTravels are some of them. If you cannot afford to take time off to accompany your parents to take them around, these tour operators are a great help. I have reviewed each one of them in my blog post here.
  • How to extend visitor visa beyond six months – Most of us are not aware that visitor visa can be extended beyond six months upon approval. In most cases, Indian parents get the extensions without any issues and it doesn’t impact future visits too. You will be required to fill in I-539 form to request the extension. Read more about it in the blog post here.
  • Tips to avoid Jet Lag – Jet lag is inevitable in most cases and it usually takes upto 2-3 days to wear off. However, there are few tips and tricks to help prevent or reduce symptoms of jet lag. The key is to staying and eating healthy while travelling – like avoiding excessive caffeine and alcohol. Here is a link that I found quite useful.

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