Travel tips for the Southern US states
Replies: 13 - Last Post: Jan 29, 2013 6:50 AM Last Post By: offbyheartxx
Jan 20, 2013 3:27 AM
Travel tips for the Southern US statesHello, I'm travelling to America in March for the whole month flying into Dallas then planning to go to Louisiana (Lafayette, Baton Rouge, New Orleans), Mississippi (Natchez, Jackson), Georgia (Savannah, Charleston, Atlanta), Tennessee (Memphis) and then possibly the Carolinas and ending up in New York. I'm going for a month and travelling by myself, I'm 24 yr old Australian female and have never travelled overseas before so I'm wondering if anyone has any tips at all for getting in between places or good places to stay. Or any advice in general! I don't have a drivers licence so I'm planning to fly between states and bus or train it between places within the states I want to go. I'm trying to do a mix of staying at hostels and hotels, I'm happy to do things on my own and figure I will book most of the tours I want to do through local visitors or tourist centres once I get there. I was wondering what you think I must book in for before I go, is it better to book all my hotels now? And what about the tours? I have a pretty relaxed itinerary, if I like somewhere more than other places I have flexibility to stay or go so I don't know whether I should book in now or not because I might decide to go somewhere different. It is mainly going to be my own personal food tour as I love food so if anyone knows about amazing places to eat that would be helpful! Thanks!
Jan 20, 2013 4:55 AM
1I use http://www.hostelbookers.com and http://www.hostelworld.com which include hostels and hotels. Hostels usually do have tours or lots of information about local tours. New Orleans is already starting its Mardi Gras parties, so you really do need to make reservations early if you plan to arrive there before Ash Wednesday and Lent.
Jan 20, 2013 6:12 AM
2The south is best traveled by car.
Once you get as far north as Richmond or, DC, cars are for saving money on side trips, and it you're not taking any side trips, cars in the NE (DC. Baltimore, Philly, NYC, Boston) are a waste of money.
The south is known for it barbecue. Sometimes too sweet, but always delectable. Baltimore and Boston have the best seafood you can get anywhere in the world outside of Asia.
March is still a little early (READ: COLD) in the northeast but not intolerably so. It's a time when us "northerners" head south on vacation.
Umm what else can I say?
I've heard so much about Charleston (haven't been there yet) I consider it a "must do" location if you're in the area.
The south is a little like the west, it an be tough traveling without a drivers's license but it's not "undoable," it just that public transport there kinda sucks up all your time.
Beyond food, you didn't say what your interests are so it's hard to recommend locations.
Know that NYC is expensive and that the Wash DC hostel has strict rules about leaving and entry times. Except for the cost of housing, DC, is kind of a discount location.
I would book my first few hotels/hostels but otherwise remain flexible. If you are in to hiking and nature (remember it will be a little cold) there are a couple of trail heads in the Hudson Highlands, north of NYC (Bear Mountain for beginners, Breakneck Ridge for the more rugid), that can be reached by public transport. Of course I've mentioned those so many times the forum's regulars are kind of sick of me saying that.
Final thought. When i was 24 and travelling my morals weren't all that, but I'd seek out university towns and well, I had a great time.
Jan 20, 2013 7:52 AM
3I would not do this trip without a car, it will be a major pain. There are few hostels as well, amd that time year is nothing special. You can train between some of them, but getting about will not be easy.
Why dont you go to a more backpacker friendly area like Guatemala/Nicaragua or Costa Rica? 99% of travelers use the local buses, and lodging is cheap, with private bath. 99% of travelers in the region of the US you want o go, use a car.
Edited by: Yersinia
Jan 20, 2013 8:23 AM
4The USA overall is not a backpacker friendly country, hotels are very limited and then network of them is less that okay, add to this public transport, bus and train, is one the worst in the hemisphere, compared to EU, Latin America and Asia, awful.
These places you want to visit, would be best via car, they are not going anywhere, I suggest you come back when you have the means and time to properly travel thru them. Central America is 100 times cheaper and far easier and more efficient to travel via public transport, and is actually more exotic, the food more interesting on a budget, and the climate and tropics much nicer.
Jan 20, 2013 8:23 AM
Jan 20, 2013 8:33 AM
6You will have a very difficult time traveling around the South without a car. If you can stand the cold, you would be better of staying in the public-transit friendly Northeast.
What is your budget? All those flights and train tickets will add up quickly, as will hotels (again--few hostels outside of large cities).
Jan 20, 2013 11:58 AM
7OOOh Costa Rica.
maybe even, umm what's that spring break location in southern mexico?
Jan 21, 2013 4:09 PM
8As previously mentioned, your plan is just not practical without a car. Public ground transportation (except as mentioned below) will mean that you will get to see the shabby and not-too-safe downtown bus stations of many cities, and have to pay for taxis to take you to decent motels. Flying to all of the places you mention will be The Great Tour of Southern US Airports - since you'll spend the majority of your time there.
Even with a car, with only a month, I am not sure why a first-time visitor to the US would want to waste precious time in places like Lafayette, Baton Rouge, or Jackson (not that I hate these places - I have happy memories of the years I lived in Baton Rouge) - but they are just not distinctive tourist destinations.
Without a car, maybe fly to New Orleans (where you can get around on foot and public transport) - then see if you can fly to Charleston or Savannah (maybe need to go through Atlanta). Since C and S are so close, I think there may be tour buses that go between. Then fly from C, S or Atlanta to New York.
Needless to say, NO, Charleston, Savannah, and New York are culinary heaven. You don;t need to go to the swamp for the Cajun stuff - plenty in NO (and please, other posters- no going on about how the only authentic andouille is from that joint in Mamou. And there are different barbeque styles everywhere not just in Memphis (though the Memphis style is good)
Plus more than enough other tourist stuff in these places.....plenty of private bus tours for city and "hinterlands" tourist attractions, plus in New York, all the in-city pubcli transport to get around on your own.
By the way, in March you will have the bonus of the azlaeas being in full bloom throughout the Deep South.
Jan 28, 2013 3:17 AM
Jan 28, 2013 3:39 AM
10Also I'm not on a budget so flying between states in fine for me as well as staying in nicer hotels I was just wondering if their was many backpacking places as I am young and want to meet other young, single travellers. The reason I wanted to go to the South was to visit all the old plantations, the swamps and really relax and have a walk around and eat good food but I think I will limit the places I will go to spend proper time in one place and not spend as much time in airports or travelling. My itinerary has changed to spending about a week in New Orleans, 4 days in Memphis, 10 days in Georgia so I can visit Savannah and Charleston and surrounding areas if I like and 4 days in New York where I fly out of. I have an extra three days up my sleeve which I don't know where to go. Should I stay longer in Tennessee or Louisiana? I'm afraid after the above posts I will be wasting my time in Baton Rouge and Lafayette but I read they have good plantation and swamp tours that's why I wanted to go
Jan 28, 2013 5:18 AM
11I'll respond to this first:
Second, you can do fine in these cities without a car, if need be. However, to spend that long in each will require you leave and explore the surrounding areas at some point, which will be very difficult without a car.
A week in New Orleans but only 4 days in NYC seems like it's reversed. NYC has much more to do and much better transit.
4 days in Memphis could be split 2 days there and 2 Nashville.
10 days in Savannah and Charleston could be cut in half (2 and 3 days, respectively).
What to do with those extra five days? DC and Philly (3 and 2, respectively) would be a good use of the time. Each has great transit, and much more to do than Atlanta. Or you could go back to your original plan of visiting Lafayette, Baton Rouge, Natchez and Vicksburg (not Jackson) on your way to Memphis.
Jan 28, 2013 7:53 AM
12As a general rule the US northeast (Washington DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, NYC, Boston) is easily traveled without a car. The rest can be traveled without a car but that tends to suck up your time and money (show up 20 mins early to get on the tour bus etc.), but it's doable.
Distances here are like those in Australia, not like those in France,
so if you are not going to fly from place to place, be prepared to read on good book on a long bus or train journey.
Very close to Charleston is a place called Myrtle Beach which is known for it's . . . well, beach. March might be a little early for beaching and swimming, but if you desire that, either there or Savannah will pretty much be your best chance.
Jan 29, 2013 6:50 AM
13As I'm travelling from Australia to Fort Worth, Dallas with no stops on the flight over at all would it be a good idea to stay and adjust in Dallas for a day or two? As I mentioned above I've never been overseas before so don't know how I will bounce back after a 21 hour straight flight.
Also my mistake about Charleston, for some reason I thought they were in the same state as the impression I get is that they are both quaint Southern cities. I confess to not being overly familiar with American states as in Australia we only have 7 all up and the US has a lot more than that!
I have altered my trip to allow for more time in New York and for me to go to Charleston for a couple of days. The reason I'm not trying to squeeze in more places is that, like the above contributors have noted I don't want to spend most of my time in transit. This will be my first holiday in ten years and the sole purpose of it is to relax, sightsee, eat and take in a foreign culture/atomosphere. To try and travel to lots more places within the US would defeat the purpose of this whole trip, which is to take it easy and enjoy myself. I do plan on coming back in the future and seeing more! I just don't want to be rushing around worrying if I'm going to miss a plane/bus/train or not.
Also I know most people would find catching public transport a bit of a burden and a time waste, but I honestly don't mind. I'm seasoned in catching a variety of different public transport types in places I'm not familiar with. I always carry a good book and am open for chat or am just as happy relaxing and staring out the window at the landscape.
Thanks also to everyone for their opinions and advice so far it has been very helpful.
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