Traveling from Taiwan to USA

Hi all, I’m here to ask for some help in my week long trip home back to the states. I’m mostly concerned about car rental and getting data on my phone. Both of the aforementioned should not be a problem when it comes to ID because I am holding a U.S. passport and U.S. driver’s license. The issue is I’ve been away for so long that I cancelled my phone plan back home and also sold my car.

Of course, one of the few important thing you need in the states is a car and a phone.

Car questions:

  1. I’m on a pretty tight budget, so I’m hoping to rent for a low fee and as hassle-free as possible (meaning no extra fees added onto the daily fee for the car). I’ve been looking at a website similar to air bnb (https://turo.com/), but I’d be open to any other suggestions if you guys have any.

Phone questions:

  1. Since I will need data right as I land to get in contact with the rental car person and my friends I’ll be visiting, I hope to already have data when I land. Has anyone traveled to the states recently and can suggest how I would go about doing this? I found some sellers on Ruten selling pre-paid 30 days T-mobile SIM cards, but they’re a little expensive.

FYI I will be traveling to LAX via SFO. Does anyone know if there’s a place I can get a SIM card inside of these two airports?

Thanks!

[quote=“ranlee”]
Phone questions:

  1. Since I will need data right as I land to get in contact with the rental car person and my friends I’ll be visiting, I hope to already have data when I land. Has anyone traveled to the states recently and can suggest how I would go about doing this? I found some sellers on Ruten selling pre-paid 30 days T-mobile SIM cards, but they’re a little expensive.

FYI I will be traveling to LAX via SFO. Does anyone know if there’s a place I can get a SIM card inside of these two airports?

Thanks![/quote]

As I recall the phone places at SFO didn’t sell SIM cards, don’t know if it is still true. It’s been 3 years since I my last trip through SFO, so…

I would order a prepaid card and have it shipped to your friend or the place you are going to stay (if you order it from Amazon, I think they do that). If you don’t need voice, you may consider this:

goredpocket.com/

Maybe I’m wrong and they have started selling SIM cards at the airport… but I wouldn’t bet on it.

For data, T-Mobile is the way to go, since they do SIM cards right. (Most other American phone companies are stuck in the stone age.) It’s about $60/month if I remember correctly. Of course, they have a range of packages.

If there’s a T-Mobile outlet at the airport, ask them.

[quote=“ranlee”]
Car questions:

  1. I’m on a pretty tight budget, so I’m hoping to rent for a low fee and as hassle-free as possible (meaning no extra fees added onto the daily fee for the car). I’ve been looking at a website similar to air bnb (https://turo.com/), but I’d be open to any other suggestions if you guys have any.[/quote]
    The larger rental companies, ie., Enterprise, Hertz, etc are pretty doable for a short time span (a week or less). If you go with one of those guys you would just need to take a shuttle to check in at their counter by SFO and wouldn’t need to call whoever to coordinate a pick up. Check out expedia.com/ (a quick search now yields anywhere from $20/day for a compact car to $50/day for a premium car, both with unlimited mileage)

[quote=“ranlee”]
Phone questions:

  1. Since I will need data right as I land to get in contact with the rental car person and my friends I’ll be visiting, I hope to already have data when I land. Has anyone traveled to the states recently and can suggest how I would go about doing this? I found some sellers on Ruten selling pre-paid 30 days T-mobile SIM cards, but they’re a little expensive.

FYI I will be traveling to LAX via SFO. Does anyone know if there’s a place I can get a SIM card inside of these two airports?

Thanks![/quote]
I know there’s a t-mobile store by El Segundo near LAX, but you probably don’t want to wander too far out before you pick up your car in SF. So once you pick up your car you can just drive to the nearest t-mobile store for a prepaid card (of course, search for the store address and save the directions in advance).

metropcs.com/

MetroPCS i have used for years. No contract. They sell cheap fones and expensive ones. They might even be able to use your phone with their SIM card.

AS for car rental, you do need to add the insurance if you don’t have insurance. And you can’t and shouldn’t drive without insurance in the USA. But all the major car companies (Enterprise is nice) have weekly rates that are quite good.

Reserve online

Thanks for all your replies guys. Very helpful.

I know driving in the states without insurance is a big no no, I really can’t think of a reason to not buy daily insurance from the big car rental companies. I’m actually not even sure how the turo website/app works because they make it sound all too simple (book, confirm, pick-up, drive, replenish gas, return). I assume the people renting our cars on the website assume you have car insurance bc you need a US driver’s license to rent from them. I’ll definitely flex my options towards hertz or enterprise. I’m not too familiar with LA roads and the driving conditions (probably not as bad as Taipei), but I may want insurance.

As for the SIM card, I definitely assume the worst and say that most US airports do not have service provider kiosks in airports. I mean…that would be way too convenient (Taoyuan Airport: 1 US airports: 0). I just found this https://prepaid-phones.t-mobile.com/prepaid-internet and it seems like the 30 day one isn’t really that bad, but why does the page market a tablet? Is anyone aware whether Tmobile pre-paid SIM cards allow hot spot sharing?

I think if I figured out how I’m going to rent a car, SIM card may not be as big of an issue as I think it is bc I’m leaning heavily towards T-mobile, my mom is in and out of the states often and doesn’t have any issues with her pay as you go SIM card from t-mobile.

Tmobile bought up MetroPcs. I am using Tmobile now. But far as I know , you cant get pay as you go now with them. If you already have them you can continue but I heard that its not available now for new subscribers.

MetroPCS is a month by month and they now use Tmobile network so they are just as good .

Do an online check of prices of the rental car branches near the airport and compare with the branches at the airport. Sometimes the savings can be quite substantial. You will have to find transport to those locations which can be inconvenient. Offsite Enterprise branches sometimes offer pick up service but it won’t include the airport. You can take public transport to the nearest location offsite and get picked up there provided it’s within their area of service.

Ok, so luckily, I had a family member travel to the states for business and asked them to pick up a SIM card for me so I could have a US phone number/data when I landed. That’s all set.

As for the car rental, I went with Turo. It’s like Airbnb, but for cars. The company itself has a lot of cars in it’s lot and are very very well priced, however, it was near impossible reserving them because of their low price and were pretty high end cars. So, I went with a private owner. I think what I like about Turo is you get to pick the exact car with the features you want and do not want for your rental. I know many major car rental companies, you mostly get to pick the car category and that’s about it. (Correct me if I’m wrong because I’ve never actually rented from a major car rental company, but going through the processes online, it didn’t seem like I had much of a choice when picking the cars)

The process for Turo was a little annoying at first. In order to be verified, you have to input your credit card info, take a pic of your credit card with the last 4 digits, take a pic of your driver’s license, take a pic of you and your driver’s license. That part was easy, but my US credit card for some reason kept getting rejected and even though customer service was quick in responding, there was nothing they could’ve done about it. I eventually used my TW credit card and things went smoothly.

A lot of the members of Turo all have pretty great communication and once you are approved for a car, you can PM them and figure out the best way to do pick-up and drop-off of the car. Sometimes it’s at their home, sometimes they deliver, sometimes they will meet you in the Turo office parking lot.

This is all new to me, both renting a car AND renting with Turo. I’ll report back when I come back from my trip about the experience.

Wow, you have shared a really nice story about your tour, ranlee! I like to share with you. I like to share with you I feel sad about it because I have never take any chance to go like the USA to Taiwan. So after reading your post I feel some thing like this try in my future life. :ponder:

All of you shared really nice information about this tour. But I feel bad to tell you that I have never taken any tour like this. After reading all the post, I have decided I also take this tour at least one time in my life. Therefore, I want to know about ome attractions names which I could explore there.

I’m flying out to Seattle on Wednesday, so of course it only hit me late Thursday evening of last week that I would need a SIM card in the US. (I thought I had read somewhere here on f.com that I could buy a Tmobile SIM at TPE. Thank God I double checked and learned that I was fucked if that was the plan.) :upside_down_face:

Anyway, did some furious online searching and found Klook.com, which offered home delivery no sooner than today, Monday 9-Sept, which is only two days before my flight. I was worried sick about this over the weekend as services like Lyft and Uber and maps and perhaps survival itself are pretty much impossible without a functioning smartphone these days. US airports don’t offer these, so my only choice would be to buy here in Taiwan or physically visit a Tmobile shop which ime is only a slightly better experience than visiting a DMV office.

Anyway, as promised the SIM arrived today. Unlimited data, unlimited calls in the US for NT$1,235 (15 days). This will give me some time to visit the retail hellhole of a Tmobile shop and learn whether I’ll need a new SIM once I’m back in the US, or if the one from Klook will do the job.

I’ll try to check back in and let youse know how it works out. While it’s not inexpensive, I have to say this has worked out far more smoothly than I had thought it would. I’m impressed so far with Klook.

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I’ve had a bunch of friends use Klook and I myself used it when going to Japan for vacation. However, I used it for the unlimited JR pass, not internet.

I also had a colleague go to Europe for business and said that she is using Klook for internet.

Seems like Klook is reliable, fast and good value. Looking forward to hearing about your experience.

just go to Walmart and buy a $45 Straight Talk sim card and pop it in your phone. It’s unlimited calling, texting, and data. I always do this when I go back to the States. the airport will have wifi you can use so you’ll be good until you can get to a store

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US airports have free WiFi?

yes, so do McDonald’s, Target, shopping malls, major grocery stores, etc. etc.

All I remember is Newark, JFK, Laguardia never had free WiFi.

I remember flying through SFO once and having free Wifi, so I believe you :smiley: