Solo traveler trip advice
Replies: 8 - Last Post: Nov 29, 2012 12:57 PM Last Post By: St_Stephen
Nov 21, 2012 12:34 AM
Solo traveler trip adviceHello all,
I am a 25 year old New Zealander travelling to the US for 55 days (between 4 Feb & 28 March). I'm flying into San Francisco from Auckland and returning from New York (via Los Angeles after a day layover).
I've never really travelled solo before, or even been to the US - so this is really daunting.
I haven't got a clue yet how to break up my time between my arrival and departure dates. My initial thought is 2 weeks in the San Francisco / San Jose Area, 1 week in Los Angeles, 1 week in Las Vegas, 1 week in Chicago, the rest of the time spent in New York.
Any advice or suggestions would be really appreciated.
Nov 21, 2012 1:54 AM
1Well done - a 55-day holiday trip to the US is a great privilege - even if you are travelling in the depths of winter (and US winters are tough, in general).
However I think your proposed blocking of time is really under-selling the place, and you can do much better indeed. Firstly however - how are you proposing to travel in the US? You can (as in NZ) hit the backpacker trail, and use Greyhound buses, trains, and the odd lift, and stay in good hostels in many places. Or you can fly a lot, or you can rent a car and do a couple of substantial regional road-trips. Your 55 days is a LOT of time.
Secondly - what are your main interests? The cities in the US are interesting enough, but they do not need to occupy a lot of your time - four nights (three full days) in almost all cities is sufficient (give New York 5-7 nights though). And outside of the cities - what do you wish to see and do? Do you like national parks, coasts, ski areas, wilderness, music, historical small towns - what? Are you planning to rent a car for any of this? If you do, roadside motels are very cheap indeed, even for a solo traveller.
And also - don't under-estimate the winter - it can get very cold in lots of the country away from the coasts, and where it is not icy-snowy cold, it can be wet and dreary. So plan your 55 days carefully by region ... and I would include lots of the Southwest deserts and so on ... deserts in winter are great. And if you like winter sports, look at Utah and Colorado.
When you arrive into San Francisco, you could stay at YHA Downtown, or the Green Tortoise Hostel - both will provide you with immediate contact with a lot of other travellers, and maybe you can hook up with others doing similar things to you. If you wish to get on a backpacker tour, look at Trek America or Green Tortoise ... but note that they have limited offerings in winter.
Nov 21, 2012 4:21 AM
What are your interests? History? Art? Shopping? Music? Food? Hikes? Bikes? Camping? Night clubs? Strip clubs? Remember, we don't know you, and what we like may be what you hate.
Are you able/willing to rent a car?
Can you handle winter (snow and cold), or would you prefer to avoid it?
What is your budget, in numbers (per night, per day, per meal, overall, etc.)?
Please read the FAQ OP.
Nov 21, 2012 4:40 AM
Nov 21, 2012 4:50 AM
Don’t be daunted.
Main problem with traveling in the US s the same as anywhere. It ‘s not “someone beat me up and took my wallet,” it’s “wow this is more expensive than I thought, I should have planned better..”
Second biggest is “Wow these places are really far apart and take a lot more travel time to get between than I thought.” (Think: Australia)
I understand that the west has some cities that are well worth visiting but the big attraction there is nature sites (Yosemite, Grand Canyon.)
Chicago is about enjoying the local culture. Fun place, (really), especially for low-end food, great local culture and high-end sports. I’ve been there many times but for me it is among the “if you have to skip somewhere then skip that one” locations.
NYC is a budget-buster. I live in the NYC suburbs and I love NYC, but it’s a money-sucker.
Washington DC is the cheapie place on the east coast, but it’s all about monuments and museums.
I don't know your interests so it's ahred to advise.
Nov 25, 2012 9:26 PM
5lucky you, 55 days is a LOT of time! you didn't mention what you like to do/see so it's kind of hard make recommendations. anyway, i've been to Las Vegas multiple times and i really don't think you need a whole week to see it unless you really like gambling/eating in buffets. 3-4 nights would be enough, that gives you the time to walk the Strip, explore all the free sights at the hotels(Bellagio conservatory and fountains are a must, as is the volcano eruption at the Mirage, and don't forget the Venetian), eat some crepes at the crepe cafe in Paris(by the buffet), maybe see a Cirque du Soleil show or two(we liked O at Bellagio and the one at the Treasure island), and maybe even take a side trip to see Hoover Dam. be prepared for a lot of walking, so comfortable shoes are a must!
San Francisco/San Jose area: personally, i'd skip San Jose and just concentrate on San Francisco for 5-7 days and then explore Highway 1(coastal drive) or drive to Yosemite National Park(waterfalls, lots of hikes, giant sequoias, lakes/mountains) or do some of both.
instead of spending 7 days in LA(which i hate btw as there is always traffic there), i'd spend some time in Santa Barbara(they have nice parks, visit the courthouse and take the elevator up to the top for an amazing view of the red-tiled roofs, mountains, Pacific Ocean). you can also drive to Santa Ynez valley from Santa Barbara if interested in wine tasting/beautiful scenery.
well, i hope this helps. have a fun trip!
Nov 26, 2012 10:50 AM
Nov 29, 2012 10:28 AM
7I'd agree that you don't need a week in Vegas. I spent 5 days and was wishing that it had only been 3. Use the rest of that week to see San Diego.
The San Francisco International Hostel is also great for meeting other travellers, and is in a fantastic location. As has already been said, I really don't think you need to check out San Jose.
New York is so close to some of the East's other renowned cities, it would seem a shame not to at least consider them - perhaps Philly, Boston, DC?
Nov 29, 2012 12:57 PM
8San Jose can be done in one afternoon; a week in Vegas would be hell for me, maybe not for you. But my main question (other than what are your interests) is how do you plan to get around. For example, if you say you want to mainly travel by train and visit National Parks, you are going to be disappointed. Need more info...
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