North America for 2 months - budget/advice?
Replies: 13 - Last Post: Oct 21, 2012 6:55 AM Last Post By: amerimex
Oct 19, 2012 4:13 AM
North America for 2 months - budget/advice?Hello Everyone!
After recently joining a forum for help with Glastonbury next year and seeing how useful they are I thought I would ask for help on this one for planning my travels
My boyfriend and I are planning on travelling North America for 54 days next year starting from around the 17th October and want to visit the following places
Seattle, San Francisco, Vegas, Sante Fe, Texas, Miami, Orlando, New Orleans, Chicago, Boston, Washington, New York (in that order)
We have budgeted for around $300 per day between us, that would be for travel between places, food, accommodation and money for sightseeing things, I have looked on booking.com and hotels.com for accomodation and the prices vary so much, we have our accomodation for Orlando sorted so its just everywhere else really! We are also thinking of doing a lot of the travelling inbetween states by air as they are so far apart, where is the best place for me to get cheap airfares?
I would like to know if our budget is reasonable or if we are going to need much more than that?
Oct 19, 2012 4:21 AM
It may help you to read FAQs 243 and 268.
There is no set "cheapest airline." We don't have "low cost" airlines like in Europe or Asia--any airline may be the cheapest at any time, dependent on dates, routes, etc.
kayak.com, itamatrix, cheapoair, farecompare, mobissimo, vayama, priceline, expedia, travelocity, orbitz, hotwire, the individual airlines, etc., etc., etc.
Make sure you compare prices like for like (some show subtotals, others totals).
It will take a lot of effort on your part.
And don't expect cheap last minute fares. Prices go up as you get close to departure.
And don't get suckered into the "Southwest is cheapest" myth that is repeatedly pushed here. They aren't any cheaper or more expensive on a regular basis than any other airline.
Some places, particualrly the northeast, would be better by bus or train. (Especially since some buses can be had for as little as $1 per leg when booked well in advance.)
Oct 19, 2012 4:32 AM
Oct 19, 2012 5:47 AM
Oct 19, 2012 5:48 AM
4Got a calculator handy? Peruse the Southwest Airlines site looking for direct flights from each city to the next and yes, you need to figure out where in the big state of Texas you plan to visit. SW is a cattle call which means you book in advance but get your boarding pass only 24 hours in advance by checking in online and THAT tells you what boarding group you are in. No assigned seats so best to in group A than group C. Best to have a carry on which you can do EVEN for 7 weeks. Once you've calculated what the get away tix will cost then start looking for hotels or better yet see whats available in each city via the airbnb website. Make sure if you see a place you like that there are at least 6 reviews, the owner's picture is on the website, not their pets AND have them give you an exact address so you can look on Google Maps to see exactly where it's located. This will help you see how close public transport options are. cafes, museums, etc.
Oct 19, 2012 5:53 AM
5Got a calculator handy? Peruse Southwest Airlines site looking for direct flights from each city to the next and yes, you need to figure out where in the big state of Texas you plan to visit. SW is a cattle call which means you book in advance but get your boarding pass only 24 hours in advance by checking in online and THAT tells you what boarding group you are in. No assigned seats so best to be in group A than group C. Doing this will give u an idea of airfares. Best to have a carry on which you can do EVEN for 7 weeks. Once you've calculated what the get away tix will cost then start looking for hotels or better yet see whats available in each city via the airbnb website. Make sure if you see a place you like that there are at least 6 reviews, the owner's picture is on the website, not their pets AND have them give you an exact address so you can look on Google Maps to see exactly where it's located. This will help you see how close public transport options are. cafes, museums, etc. Since you are going to cities opt for places closer to downtown so you can see the sites via public transport. October weather is some places will possibly necessitate bringing a waterproof jacket. Personally I don't think $300/per day will do the trick but that's just me.
Oct 19, 2012 6:08 AM
6To stay within your budget and timeline you probably have to drop some destinations simply because they are way off of the rest of your route (Santa Fe, Chicago, New Orleans and Texas). All of these destinations are great places on their own, but will take more time and money than you have available to visit them.
If you do that, you're left with more closely connected groups of cities and all within three regions of the U.S. (west coast, Mid-Atlantic, and Florida). You've wisely planned to begin your trip on the west coast. You are travelling starting mid-October and the first winter storms will be passing through the western mountains by then (actually, the Rocky Mountains will have had their first snows by then, but the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California should be snow-free still).
West Coast: You can rent a car and drive to Las Vegas from San Francisco and see Yosemite National Park and Death Valley National Park on the way. Or, just fly from San Francisco to Las Vegas, either way you should plan to see the Grand Canyon once in Las Vegas. You can travel from Seattle to San Francisco on the AMTRAK train, or watch for airfare specials (Allegiant Airlines often has them - Allegiant also periodically runs deals to Las Vegas). San Francisco has the BART public transport system, but Seattle has no metro/subway system and you have to rely on city busses or taxis to get around (except for the excellent elevated train between the airport and the downtown train station).
Mid-Atlantic: The east coast is far better served by rail service than the west and there are commuter trains as well as AMTRAK to get into Boston, Washington DC and New York City. There are abundant bus services between these cities as well and they all have good public transport once inside ot them. You will be pushing your $300/day budget in New York, but should be able to make it in Washington DC if you stay outside of the downtown area and use the metro to get around.
Florida: You'll burn through your cash quickly at Disneyworld in Orlando, but you should be OK with your budget after that. Don't forget Everglades National Park and the Florida Keys while there.
It's best to fly between the west coast and east coast destinations. You can take busses, trains or fly between Florida and the Mid-Atlantic destinations.
Oct 19, 2012 6:52 AM
7NYC and San Fran are expensive cities hotel wise, budget $350 night, also depends on the week, but this weekend for examplem NYC is all but sold out, and Boston too, and Wash DC/Chicago can be more that $250 for a hotel.
Florida you can take rentals cars oneway to most the major airports no charge, a great way see some sites. Keep in mind Oct/Nov is still hurricane season.
Oct into early Nov is prime time for fall colors and scenic drives, like the New England states north of Boston up the coastal areas, and also the eastern seaboard to the midwest, around Wash DC and Virginia is also very historic areas to enjoy by car.
Texas for me is boring and nothing worth going to other than Austin.
California should be a focus, drive oneway for 10 days between LA and San Fran.
The western national parks are excellent, and require a car, Grand Canyon etc, you can do a loop around from Vegas and up north and then back down the coast.
Areas to see a nice rural and old time feel of the country is Ashville NC, The Smokey Mountain National Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, Charleston SC, and Williamsburg VA, as well as all the seaside and coastal towns north of Boston MA.
I live in Chicago, allow at least 2 nights and 3 days for the museums and nightlife. Can be pretty cold and raw after Oct 20 or so.
You should use trains and busses for the NYC/Boston/Wash DC areas, and what about Philadelphia?
Tie New Orleans into Chicago, as Chicago has two airports and every airline serving both coast, its the biggest hub between the two coast, besides Atlanta.
Oct 19, 2012 7:23 AM
8For budget accomodations you should investigate hostels and budget hotel chains. Generally, budget hotels are located near major airports. Some chains to investigate are Motel 6, Super 88, EconoLodge, Holiday Inn Express, Best Western.
New York will be a problem. San Francisco too, but less so. In New York there's not much budget accomodation available and the airport is a long way away. I've rented an apartment on the upper east side of Manhatten for $275/night (split between my wife and I and my niece) which worked out pretty well, but adding in eating and entertainment and that will blow your $300/day budget (which you may make up at less expensive destinations).
Some hostels are pretty nice, others pretty seedy. Some have private rooms while many are dorm-style with bunks. One nice hostel that I'm, familiiar with is City Hostel in Seattle located in trendy Belltown with good restaurants and jazz clubs nearby and a few blocks from Pike Street Market - nice place with good reviews at approximately $35/night as I recall. Right at Pike Street market is the Green Tortoise Hostel, not as nice, but serviceable and in the middle of downtown.
Oct 19, 2012 7:37 AM
In some areas, the least expensive lodging is located on the outskirts of cities, and may not be accessible without a car.
One important thing--are either of you over age 25? If you are under 25, renting a car gets more expensive.
Oct 19, 2012 9:28 AM
10To budget, you'll need to look at each destination for the exact dates you plan to be there. Yes, hotel prices fluctuate between your different destinations, but they also fluctuate by exact date within the same destination. For instance, NYC hotel prices in early December are the most expensive of the year, later Dec is a bit lower and January has some huge bargains. The price can be half (or less) of what you would pay in December.
Boston hotel prices fluctuate in a similar manner, but the city has different peak demand times. It's actually easier to find an affordable hotel on public transportation in NYC than it is in Boston. Both cities can have big price fluctuations from one week to the next at any time of year.
I agree that Texas doesn't really belong on the list. With just a few exceptions, it's also a place where you would need to rent a car.
Why is your order Boston, DC, NYC? NYC is between Boston and DC. You'll be backtracking. (BTW, these cities have good train and bus transportation between them)
Since budget is a factor, you should research airfares between different destinations. Some routes are relatively cheap and some are seriously expensive. If it costs too much to fly from point A to point B, look at other destinations to see which are appealing and more affordable to get to, or look at altering the order because it may be cheaper to fly A->C->B than it is to fly A->B->C Surprisingly, distance isn't a huge factor in airfare prices.
I don't think $300 for the two of you, including food, transportation and entertainment is realistic, but somebody needs to gather exact info an prices rather than guessing at it. Then decide where you'll compromise to make the trip affordable. e.g. if you can't afford to travel to 12 different cities, go to 6 instead.
Oct 19, 2012 10:39 AM
Oct 19, 2012 11:06 AM
Portland, Oregon for one. I just did, plan to post something on it at some point. For now --
OPs, Portland's worth adding to your list especialy if you'll be without a car, and that lodging, while no great shakes itself and not in a particularly attractive neighborhood, is really convenient to Portland's superb surface transit and bike trail network.
Oct 21, 2012 6:55 AM
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