Buses and trains and adventures... Oh My! 11 weeks in USA.
Replies: 34 - Last Post: Dec 7, 2012 3:28 AM Last Post By: bzookaj
Dec 6, 2012 7:50 AM
Dec 6, 2012 7:52 AM
16I like Ian's idea of Santa Fe, New Mexico, has several hundred art galleries and 4-5 museums and also some nearby Pueblo Indian reservations which you can visit with a rental car. Terrific and unique regional food. Been there 3 times and loved it. Try and also get to nearby Bandelier with good hiking and you can see the cliff dwellings there.
Skip Cedar Point and see Six Flags Magic Mountain with 17 roller coasters when you are in LA (only open on weekends in fall and winter and you need a car or a tour, public transport involves at least 3 changes of buses).
For car hire, check out traveljigsaw
Dec 6, 2012 12:37 PM
17$200/day for hotel, food and all of your admissions fees will be very challenging. You will spend nearly that for a hotel room in many of the areas you've listed. In some areas you can stay in a hostel (shared bunk dorm with shared bath) but many areas don't have that option.
Some of your areas are well served by public transportation to get around once you are there, but many are not. You will need a rental car during your stay in many of these places (not just to get from one place to the next).
Have you done the math for car rental fees and one-way drop off fees to come up with the $3000 car + train budget? I don't think anyone here can confirm that your budget is realistic. It will take a lot of specific research. Sometimes people don't realize that picking up a car in one location and dropping it off in another is tricky and can be expensive.
Dec 6, 2012 2:45 PM
18Hi there everyone. I got my prices for car hire from kayak.com. It seemed to have all fees included even when I went through to the rental car websites... So I hope they are the right prices! In Australia you cannot leave out fees like that from online bookings, is it the same in the US?
Santa Fe does look lovely, and we will probably skip Tucson if we don't take the train in. I guess we can't fit it all in.
We saw monument valley and glen canyon on a travel show and they looked amazing. I honestly haven't researched a great deal in the area so thanks for the tip about all of the natural parks. :p
I also used kayak for hotel prices, as well as airbnb and Priceline. It seemed like we could spend $100 or less in most (not all) places on reasonable digs near transport, or walking distance. We don't mind walking several miles a day.
We will review your suggestions and see what we come up with, thank you very much everyone. :)
Dec 6, 2012 2:50 PM
Just a bit of persuasion.
Dec 6, 2012 3:07 PM
Dec 6, 2012 3:29 PM
21NYC prohibits the short-term rental of apartments where the owner is not a resident of the property. I haven't heard about this happening in other cities but it may be worth investigating before you commit $$.
Monument Valley is the Disneyworld of the Red Rock Desert. There is a driving route that takes you past the rock monuments but everyone is on that same loop. You are one in a long line of cars. You end up driving from rock-to-rock, getting out of the car to snap a picture, and then returning to the convoy. For me, at least, it made for a surreal experience but one in which the magic of the landscape was diluted by being among too many cars and people. It is possible to take back country jeep or horseback riding tours, which are likely more engaging. My friend did the horseback at sunset tour and had an amazing time.
Visiting a National Park will allow you to customize your sightseeing to your desires by combining driving, hiking, and camping. It will also be easier to get away from crowds. In a place like Zion there are several trails of varying difficulty, which thins the crowds out somewhat. Good luck!
Dec 6, 2012 3:29 PM
That's how you know.
Dec 6, 2012 4:07 PM
Dec 6, 2012 4:20 PM
24We have rented a couple of cars prior to travelling from Australia to North America - using carhire3000.com (based in the UK).
They are very intelligent to deal with - good service. The quotes they provide are very competitive, and include the various insurance and Collision Damage Waiver on-costs. However they do not include any one-way drop-off fees (which they are up-front about), but you can find that out by going directly to the rental company website where they have sourced the car (often Dollar Rent-a-Car).
Our trips have been based on a small to mid-size sedan, often driving long loops, but not always. We stay in hostel private rooms where we can (usually HI hostels - we are YHA life members, but others too), and then the budget motel chains out on the road, and in smaller cities.
Having a rental car saves you money, since you can find a Super8, Comfort Inn, Days Inn, or Motel6 just about everywhere, but you normally need a car to do it. And the rooms are very good value, with lots of facilities. Also a car allows you trips to the markets and supermarkets, and you can carry a lot of food with you (plus we take an Esky) - we self-cater a lot (picnics at lunch-time in parks, dinner and wine watching sunset, etc).
This is of course all problematic if you have a combination of train, bus, and car. But for us, $200 a day is plenty enough to really enjoy the place ($30 car, $20 fuel, $80 room, $30 food, $40 everything else). And buy a national park pass for a year the day you arrive - $80.00.
Dec 6, 2012 5:41 PM
25Sounds exciting. I have some suggestions. Buy the football tickets online on stub hub or other discounter if you want NFL. You could have fun at a college football game for a lot less money. See if you can meet someone who will invite you to tailgate before the game. High school football is usually Friday, college is Saturday and NFL is Sunday. Consider getting tickets to northwestern university game in Chicago area or Purdue. Madison WI is a great college town to visit near Chicago. Go to student union for a beer and michaels for frozen custard.
Lots of free things to do in Washington dc at smithsonian complex of museums. Tour congress and go to performances at museum of American Indian. Great subway system. Baltimore has the national aquarium on the waterfront and nearby food markets with crab cakes.
If you are going to see the devil's Tower in Wyoming, consider driving on to black hills of South Dakota, America's most amazing wildlife in Custer National Park, fabulous caves, mt Rushmore and nice people. Very sacred area for native americans. You can stay at national parks.
I like Philadelphia as well as New York and it is easy to get there by train. Great food at the city market near convention center and art museum as well as lots of history. Driving across Texas is not exciting. I agree new Mexico is better. Consider going to Chaco canyon or Mesa verde or Durango Colorado (near Mesa Verde). Take tour of Rockies via train from Durango for great scenery.
In Massachusetts (Boston) consider Fenway Park- great ball stadium. But book tickets early online.
Dec 6, 2012 6:03 PM
26Austin is a great town for texas and so is San Antonio. Visit the Alamo or rock out to great music and eat Tex Mex food.
Consider flying southwestern airlines or allegiant air or air tran. They only fly between certain cities, but much cheaper tickets. No frills. They tend to fly to and from Orlando.
Suggestion to stay at low cost chains like red roof inn is solid, but try using sites like hotels.com or kayak for bookings that sometimes have good discounts. You can get a frequent stay card and might get some night free.
Air bnb may not be legal in new York, but might still work for you in other towns. Try craigs list for some places as well. Las Vegas is cheap to fly to because of gambling tourists and you can book some cheaper luxury stays.
Charlottesville va is a lovely town with Monticello nearby and gentler mountains.
Dec 6, 2012 6:08 PM
Dec 6, 2012 6:49 PM
28Last time we were in the US, granted it was 5 years ago, we spent much less money than we expected. I guess because we are happy just to wander around places and see what is happening, and go to free or low cost places like museums and galleries, etc. We don't mind self-catering in some places also.
I like the look of Hotwire.com for deals on hotels as it seems like you can choose a mystery hotel down to the neighbourhood and star/review rating. Seems like a good way to get a cheaper room. :)
Dec 6, 2012 7:50 PM
29Don't be alarmed at the talk about airbnb being illegal. There are several people on here that try and scare tourists away from airbnb. There is nothing illegal about airbnb and you as a renter are doing nothing illegal. It may be a violation of a housing ordinance for the dwelling owner to sublet their place but you as a renter have no culpability. No one will arrest or harass you and if you rented through airbnb and paid through their site your money is guaranteed, and they will find you another place on the very slight chance you are locked out. It is up to you to talk to the owner and look at the info and decide if it is a straight deal or not. I have used airbnb several times and never had a problem at all. I choose airbnb because I can see the place ahead of time and I can choose the owner that I like best and communicate with them. We have been extremely happy with our choices, the great people we got to stay with and the great prices we paid for places in New York, London, Boston, Berkeley etc. It is a great site and I recommend it Wholeheartedly. Hotels are typically over priced and very boring, staying with "locals", while a little more work is well worth it.
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