Going on A J1? The Bare Essentials For A Dream Summer

Going on A J1? The Bare Essentials For A Dream Summer

7 min read

Having helped Irish students experience the US for decades, we like to think we know a little something, something about making your adventure to the US a truly unforgettable experience. We want you to have the time of your life, and you will.

“First things first though, having taken feedback from thousands of past J-1 Visa students we’ve provided you this Definitive Guide to the Bare Essentials that will maximise your fun and minimise your stress”.

Your J1 Documents, Look After Them!

Your passport (Obvs!), your DS-2019 and your J-1 Visa are the Holy Trinity upon which your trip depends. Short of surgically attaching them to your person, you need to be a real chief and have them close by at all times.

Your DS-2019 is the certificate of eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status. The DS-2019 is the official document that allows participants to work legally while on the J-1 Summer Work and Travel Programme.

It’s absolutely worth making hard and soft copies of where you’ll be staying upon your arrival and the streetwise J1-er will also have a copy of directions from the airport (Google Maps) close by. Your housing address will be key in getting you through immigration without a hitch so memorize it like it’s your wedding venue and just in case have it written down somewhere as backup.

Our Top J1 Documents Tips:

  1. Photocopy all your documentation and have it with you. You should save them as soft copies and put them in the Cloud (Google Docs, Email, Dropbox, iCloud) allowing you access to them at any stage
  2. Leave your flight details with your family
  3. The pen is mightier than the sword! – we bet you’ll need one at some point on your journey so pack one in advance.

Finances – How To Look After Them Dollar Bills

There’s more to this than stuffing some cash in your new mattress for the summer. You’ll need to have proof of funds ready & access to your online banking in case you’re asked to prove your funds going through immigration.

You’ll need more than $800 unless you plan to sleep on the beach for the summer (Tempting, but not when you wake up with a mouth full of sand). Don’t keep it all online for the journey, bring a small amount of cash with you for taxis, food etc before you get set up in your new abode.

An Post PostFX™ Dollar Currency Cards

Our past J1-er’s swear by using the An Post PostFX™ Dollar Currency Cards as they can be used anywhere you see the MasterCard® Acceptance Mark, so most retail outlets and ATMs.

On top of the handiness, the Currency Cards charge 0% Commission every time you top up in the Post Office or online, there’s no charge to use them to pay for goods/services in the US and because it’s not a credit card, you choose how much to load, helping you budget for your trip.

“Those extra few dollars could be the difference between a champagne swansong or drinking cheap beer out of a shoe at the end (or beginning/middle) of your summer”.

Even better, if you lose it, An Post will replace it for you or get you emergency cash up to the available balance. Pretty legendary stuff if your card takes a walk (or a swim).

Getting your Currency Card (They’re Free!)

  1. Visit your local participating Post Office outlet
  2. Bring a Valid ID (passport, EU driving licence etc) & proof of address (bank statement or a household bill in your name)
  3. Load & Reload your desired amount
  4. Top Up whenever you need @ postfx.ie 

Benefits of your An Post Currency Card

  1. Free to get at any POST Office. No charge for the card!
  2. Acts like a Visa card and a great backup to have while travelling anywhere
  3. Backup source of funds not linked to your bank account
  4. Load any amount onto it
  5. Top up online at www.postfx.ie 
  6. Use in any retail location worldwide free of charge
  7. Check your balance online

J1 Finance Top Tips

  1. Get An Post PostFX™ Dollar Currency Card
  2. Bring a little cash for your arrival Stateside (not Euro!)
  3. Have proof of funds handy for immigration & online banking access
  4. For more information about An Post PostFX™ Dollar Currency Cards visit anpost.ie/fx. Find out more about applying for a J1 Visa at www.j1online.ie

What Should I Pack? J1 Packing Hacks

“If you think that getting cheap bikini’s or trunks when over there is going to happen then forget it, Penny’s is a mythical store in America”.

Listen, if your friends warn you that those pants are a crime against fashion then maybe you shouldn’t take them, it’s your call. Having asked countless of our J1 Visa participants on what to bring and advice to give to future the J1 Summer Work & Travel brethren, the same tips kept coming up.

You’re not off to Carlow for the summer, so you better pack some swimwear. Stock up before you go, not least as your Penny’s finest will show off the Irish in you (always, always a good thing in the US) and if it has to get chucked for some sweet new Abercrombie threads for the trip home, then so be it.

Plug converters, plug converters, plug converters. Did we mention about bringing plenty of plug converters? Don’t be stingy with packing them. You might think it’s just for the phone but what about laptops, iPads, hair straighteners, beard trimmers etc? Don’t buy them at the airport because you’ll get ripped off and buy at least one extra because everybody loves the legend who just brought their dead phone back to life – friendship goals!

Our Top J1 Packing Tips:

  1. Get kitted out for the beach before you go
  2. Weigh your suitcase the night before to make sure you’re safe from nasty charges
  3. You’re not making us mention the plug converters again, are you?!
  4. Pack some layers, it’s not as hot at night time.

And if that wasn’t sufficient wisdom for all your intreped J1 explorers…

Been There, Done That – Last Year’s J1ers Share Their Top Tips

*Terms and conditions apply see anpost.ie/fx for details. PostFX™ Prepaid MasterCard® Currency Card is issued by R. Raphael & Sons plc, pursuant to license by MasterCard International Incorporated. MasterCard® is a registered trademark of MasterCard International Inc. R. Raphael & Sons plc, trading as Raphaels Bank, is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority in the United Kingdom and is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland for conduct of business rules. Head office and registered office at 19-21 Shaftesbury Ave, London W1D 7ED, company registration number 01288938.