USA branch FAQ
Replies: 279 - Last Post: Apr 16, 2013 10:54 PM Last Post By: nutraxfornerves
Mar 13, 2003 12:38 AM
USA branch FAQThis branch covers: Mainland USA, Hawaii & Alaska
So many posts request the impossible - that a bunch of people who have never met you magically intuit how much you have to spend and what will make you happy on vacation, generally planning out your route for three months and helping you get discount flight reservations.
So, what can you do to get great travel advice?
1. Do your homework
The web is filled with basic information like how far it is from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon, or how to get from JFK to Manhattan (all major US airports have websites with transit info). Google is your best friend. See the list of indispensable sites below. Get your basic info first, then you can ask intelligent questions on the TT and pick the brains of the many knowledgeable locals who frequent this site just hoping someone will ask about a romantic B&B in New Orleans or a baseball game in Boston.
2. Do a Lonely Planet and Thorn Tree (TT) search
At least five posters a week ask what to do in NYC, whether to go to LA on their way around the world, whether it's possible to work under the table/overstay a tourist visa, and how to get to Miami Beach on a six-hour stopover. The road is well travelled. Find those threads, and add your question or 2c. You should also explore Lonely Planet's Destinations online, which has a wealth of key info and tips.
3. Be specific.
You might include: How much do you have to spend? Back country hiker or bargain shopper? Getty Museum or Old Faithful? Mexican taco stand or French bistro? Two days in Chicago or two months as a student? If you don't have a profile on the TT, make sure your post mentions anything about you that would be helpful to know. An 18 year old Brit on his first trip abroad usually wants different advice from a Italian family with an infant or a couple in their 50s from Ohio.
4. Be wary of mixing politics with tourism.
This board is about visiting the USA, a big, diverse country of over 300 million people. "Is it safe in Alphabet City after dark?"; is a tourism question "Is it safe in Disneyland thanks to your war mongering president?" will probably get you a fight, and no helpful answers.
Indispensable websites for US travel:
- Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
- TSA Blog - Informative, and often oddly amusing.
- Immigration & Naturalization Service (INS)
- Hostelling International USA
- American Auto Club
- For a comprehensive list of local public transit agencies, look at: www.apta.com/sites/transus
- Independent, private bus carriers: www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/5355/intercit.htm
Please feel free to add any other useful advice and insight you might have inside this thread. The more the merrier for all!
To get the latest updates to any of our guidebooks - or to add your own - visit the Guidebook Feedback branch of the Thorn Tree. See below for links to all the guides relating to the good ol' US of A.
A Alaska 9 B Boston 3 C California 4, , Chicago 5, Coastal California 2 H Hawaii 8, , ** K ** L Las Vegas 3, Las Vegas Encounter 1, Los Angeles Encounter 1, Los Angeles & Southern California 2 M Maui 2, Miami & the Keys 4 N New England 5, New Orleans 4, New York City 5, New York City Encounter 1, New England 4 S San Francisco 6, San Francisco Encounter 1, Santa Fe, Taos & Albuquerque 2, Seattle 4, Southwest USA 4 U USA 5 W Washington DC 3, Washington, Oregon & the Pacific Northwest 4
Chicago 4, Hawaii 7
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Mar 14, 2003 1:21 PM
1there is plenty to write about and much to do in Baltimore...
Start with a quick overview guide from Yahoo...
Then take a look at our local magazine online...in particular look at the FAVORITES SECTION: BEST OF BALTIMORE
Best of Baltimore
For a little urbanification check out our "alternative" City Paper for the week you'll be there...
Baltimore City Paper
Not to mention what LP has to say about Baltimore
Mount Vernon is also a great place to see, if you want to meet real Baltimoreans and get away from the more tourist laden areas. A stones throw north of the Inner Harbor...slightly eclectic, artsy(with museums, opera, plays, and depending on the time of the year, festivals), good coffeeshops/restaurants, and gay-friendly(and some just downright gay) pubs. Worth a check out as well.
The Cultural District of Mount Vernon
Mar 16, 2003 1:03 PM
2Another good site to keep in mind for travel is City Search. You can find very detailed information about most major cities in the world. Listings include general information, entertainment listings, club guides, jobs, accomodations, shopping, etc.
Mar 17, 2003 5:57 PM
Mar 17, 2003 10:11 PM
4Local newspapers and community websites are an easy way to research current events, live music shows, festivals, restaurant reviews, and general goings on.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, these include
The San Francisco Chronicle (main daily newspaper)
The San Francisco Bay Guardian (alternative weekly)
SF Weekly ("alternative" weekly, good music listings)
SF Station (music and performances listings)
The most widely used website in the bay area is Craigslist where you can find an apartment, a job, a lover, a ride to LA, or an opinion on any of the above. Their websites for LA and NY are also very popular.
Bay Area Backroads is a local TV show with info on touring on their website.
Mar 19, 2003 1:45 AM
5I would add:
http://www.hostels.com/ not only for a list of independent hostels, but they also have a good links and resources section (such as transport options, how to buy and resell a car, etc.
Another question that comes up a lot is "what's the deal with driving someone else's car where I only pay for gas and a nominal refundable deposit". It's called a driveaway car, and this company is the most well-known (but not the only one, so you might also want to do a web search) www.autodriveaway.com
Mar 21, 2003 10:14 PM
6May seem obvious, but remember to use credit cards when booking flights (unless they're covered on your travel insurance) - airlines do fail occasionally, and if you've booked an expensive ticket you'll want to get your money back if they do!
Also remember that prices (hotels/flights/cars) are often dependant on when you travel. Some places are weekend destinations, others weekday - you can save quite a bit if you choose the correct times - generally tourist destinations are more expensive at the weekends, work destinations during the week.
If you have any photographic films remember they must go as hand luggage - there are powerful X-ray scanners in the hold luggage path of most airports. Generally a hand luggage scanner should be safe enough, but if you're in any doubt politely ask staff for more information!
Mar 24, 2003 3:28 AM
7People often ask for very specific Transit info ("where does the subway from JFK go to"? "can I get from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami airport"?). Here's a list of helpful transit links, many of which have "trip planners":
Miami/Ft. Lauderdale/West Palm Beach Rail (with links to connecting bus services)
Washington DC Metro & Bus
San Francisco/Bay Area Rapid Transit
Mar 26, 2003 3:18 PM
8For nightlife in NY City, here are a few sites to check out. There are so many bars, clubs and lounges, there really isn't one that is "the best" club. It depends on your personal taste, musical preferences, neighborhood, etc.
Paper Magazine's Bar Guide
Paper Magazine's Club Guide
Shecky's Bar Club and Lounge Guide
Time Out NY - click on "This Week's Picks" then "Clubs" for the top picks of the week
Club Planet -- good for getting on the discounted guest list for the bigger dance clubs
Citysearch.com's bar and nightlife listings
Mar 29, 2003 12:52 AM
Mar 31, 2003 4:31 PM
10Getting Around (by Plane)
What is the cheapest airline available? How do I find the cheapest airfare?
No one airline is THE cheapest as the fares vary according to demand on a constant basis. So at any given time, to/from any destination, any one of the airlines can be the cheapest. The below are some of the ways on how to find the cheapest fares to/from any destination at any given time:
Lower cost fares exist on almost every commercial plane, but they get snapped up early by those who plan ahead. To find the best fares on a trip, check at least a month before you plan to fly. Usually 7, 14 or 21 days in advance or 30 days for international fares is when the lower fares are most available. If you see a great fare earlier, take it, it's more likely to increase in price before it gets any cheaper. The disadvantages are restrictions. The tickets are usually non-refundable and will cost $50-200 just to change it and any fare differences added on top. Others are simply "use it or lose it", NO changes allowed. Be sure to read the terms of carriage and be certain that you can commit on using it before giving your credit card number. Flying at the last minute, especially showing up at the airport without a ticket is usually (and becoming) the most EXPENSIVE way to fly. If you HAVE TO travel at the last minute look on BestFares.com, Airtech.com, LastMinuteDeals.com, and Lastminutetravel.com to see what's offered at least three days before departure. For going to funerals or saying final good byes to someone at a nursing home or hospice care, phone or look on line if they offer bereavement or compassionate fares which can be lower or higher than last minute fares. They may or may not ask for documentation (ie death certificates, invitations, your relation to the ailing, etc.) They keep records on how many times the same person asks about bereavement discounts so that people aren't just pulling names off the obituaries.
Sometimes an all inclusive package to include hotel stays (3-5 star properties) and/or car rental can come out comparable to just the plane ticket itself or a few dollars difference yet cheaper than booking each separately. So be sure to compare the packages vs airfare only.
Fares change constantly throughout the day - major booking systems receive price updates on an ongoing basis. Check for low fares throughout the day and into the evening. Prices often seem to creep up during the business day and fall back to more reasonable fares late at night. To really find the lowest fares, search at odd times. Usually on Tuesdays and Wednesdays evenings. You can have them (airlines, travel agents, online search engines, etc) help you by signing up on their e-mail notification so when something comes up it automatically notifies you by e-mail, follow them on Twitter and receive tweets from them, and /or 'like' them on Facebook and receive notification that way too.
Your local or corporate travel agent can often get you better fares than you can find online and a person on the phone is guaranteed not to crash your operating system. Travel agents often have corporate deals with the major carriers that allow them to offer lower prices to their customers and are experts at combining hotel and other costs into packages that can save you money and time in the long run. For international fares, also check with travel agents or ticket consolidators that market to certain ethnic groups like a Chinese agent in Chinatown for a ticket to the Asia/Pacific region or an Ukrainian/Russian agent who serve a sizeable Russian/Ukrainian population (like in Chicago) for travel to Russia, Central Asia, and/or Eastern Europe. Their services may also include arranging visas and invitations (as in the case with travel to Russia and some of the former Soviet states) for a small fee or for free if you buy the ticket from them. They usually advertise in local ethnic newspapers and are not necessarily known by the mainstream public outside their respective enclaves.
Combining the expertise of a travel agent and online sources could also yield some good fares too. The below are some aggregate sites that search multiple sources such as Cheaptickets, Orbitz, Expedia, CheapoAir, Hotwire, 1travel, Priceline, Vayama, Travelocity, the airlines themselves, each other, etc. and return the totals to include taxes & fees added into the price they give. Click your choice and the aggregate site redirects you to the other source offering the fare. They are on:
Google flights can now be 'Google Searched'.
Bing.com a rival to Google.
Kayak & Sidestep
Lonely Planets in-house booking
Globester.com which specializes in consolidator tickets. Airlines sell blocks of tickets at discounted prices to consolidators which are then sold to consumers through travel agents. Globester sells these tickets over the Internet thereby eliminating the significant expense incurred by traditional retail channels.
Airwatchdog.com This site also have more answers to FAQ's from travelers as well as a blog on airfares. Take a look.
Market America An aggregate site that pays you 2% cashback when you buy through them or their linked partners. Their linked partners include Southwest Vacations, Carrental.com, Travelocity, Holiday Inn, Coach USA Mexicana Airlines, amongst others. Doesn't have to be travel related purchases either. Their travel site runs on Travelocity.
See Post #120 of the FAQ thread above the UK & Ireland Branch for additional search engine links if searching from the UK or Ireland
Once redirected be sure to google search for promo or coupon codes of the offering site. It might be worth a 5-15% discount by entering the code when booking your choice. For example, google search "promo codes for travelocity" or "promocodes for southwest airlines" and see what comes up as the promo codes are displayed openly online. Some work while others don't.
Being flexible about the travel dates in traveling a day or three early or later can save some considerable cash. Thus, extending or shortening the length of the trip. Usually flying midweek (Tuesdays & Wednesdays) is the best and Thursday-Friday and Mondays are the worst. Weekends varies depending on which time of the year and destinations involved. It's all subjective. Even some of the sites are displaying your options to show what the fare would be a day or two earlier or later. This thread explains more.
"Being flexible" also means traveling from/to a different airport than the one nearest where you intend to go or originating from. In some cities, there are multiple airports such as Los Angeles (Burbank, Long Beach, Santa Ana, Ontario & LAX), , New York (JFK, LaGuardia or Newark), Miami/Ft Lauderdale, San Francisco Bay Area (SFO, San Jose or Oakland), Houston, Chicago (Midway & OHare), Dallas (DFW & Love Field) etc. 'Multiple airports' can also mean traveling further from one city, by bus or car, to another. For example, someone going from Sioux Falls, IA to Sacramento, CA might drive or take a bus to Chicago to catch a direct flight to San Francisco and than drive or another bus from San Francisco to Sacramento for $225RT versus flying from Sioux Falls to Sacramento for $700RT. On the west coast it could also be cheaper to fly to San Jose (SJC) instead of SFO from Chicago. This is where bus comes into context in long distance travel. Take the bus (like Greyhound) from City 'A' to 'B', fly from 'B' to 'C', and, another bus to 'D' (if 'C' is not the final destination). Willysnout explains more on post #242. So if driving to a distant airport check out ParkSleepFly.com which books hotel rooms AND parking on the hotel's parking near the airport which can come out cheaper than booking the parking alone.
Airlines often partner to offer tickets on planes that fly other corporate colors. For example, American code shares with Alaska Airlines for traveling north & south along the west coast like between Seattle and San Diego. Meaning flying on Alaska Airlines on an American or Delta ticket could be cheaper then with an Alaska ticket on the same flight (or vice versa). Even foreign airlines, like Qantas, codeshare with US carriers for a domestic leg to/from cities they don't serve. For example, to fly from Portland, OR to Sydney,NSW Australia on a single Qantas ticket, one travels from Portland to Los Angeles on Alaska Airlines (with a QF flight number) to catch an actual Qantas flight for the onward trip to Sydney. Furthermore there are worldwide alliances on the following involving US and foreign carriers for continuous travel around the world:
One World (American)
Star Alliance (United, US Airways)
Remember, some carriers like Alaska are not part of the above alliances but they still have partnership agreement with a variety of other US and foreign carriers to places they don't go to themselves
Most major airlines, including United, US Airways, Delta and American, charge $25 for the first checked bag and $35 for a second checked bag (some offer slight discounts for paying online). Southwest does not charge for checked bags; JetBlue does not charge for the first checked bag.
You'll avoid the baggage fees by going with carry-on only (except on the much-criticized Spirit Airlines that will charge for carry-on items).
There are also fees for other things that used to be free like pillows, drinks, snacks, blankets, extra leg room, seat selection, priority boarding, etc. See Farecompare.com for a list or table of fees and hidden charges involved.
The airlines are also doing what they can to cut out the middle-men (IE travel agents) and avoid having to pay a commission. In fact, some such as Allegiant, Southwest , Vision and the other smaller regional or commuter carriers are not syndicated on other travel websites such as Kayak, Orbitz or any of the above and must search separately. American Airlines fares are no longer shown on Orbitz and Expedia while Delta had pulled theirs from CheapOAir, BookIt.com and OneTravel.com.
Alaska Airlines (AS), Horizon Air
American (AA), American Eagle, American Connection (Plans are underway for a merger with US Airways)
AirTran(FL). (Plans are underway on the merger with Southwest Airlines)
Delta (DL), Northwest(NW), Delta Connection, Comair
Direct Air is no longer flying and is offering refunds for unused tickets.
Frontier(F9), Lynx(L4), Midwest(YX) (a subsidiary of Republic Holding still operating its own brand)
Great Lakes (ZK)
Southwest(WN) (Does not display their fares & schedules on other third party sites)
United(UA), Continental (CO), TED, United Express
US Airways(US), US Airways Express, America West(HP)
Vison (V2) operates limited number of regularly schedule routes in the southeast. They also offer overflight and other tours to the Grand Canyon from the North Las Vegas Airport as visionholidays.com.
Peppermill Resorts offers chartered flights to their casino resorts in Wendover, NV from various places while Harrahs charters to Atlantic City, New Orleans, Laughlin, Reno and Tunica, MS from various places.
The following are commuter airlines operating as American Connection, Delta Connection, United Express, US Airways Express, and/or Alaska on an outsourcing basis or on their own names for the shorter routes between smaller cities/towns and a major hub city. Some do offer international flights to Canada, Mexico, and/or the Caribbean as well. Except those operating on their own name see the above links to book flights for the below:
Branson Air Express (operates on their own name between Austin, TX; Branson, MO; Milwaukee, WI; and Nashville TN for now)
Cape Air(9K) (operates on their own name)
Republic Airways (RW), Chautauqua, Midwest, Shuttle America, Frontier
SeaPort(K5) (operates on their own name in various parts of the country on shorter routes to adjacent states than across the continent. Operates as Wings of Alaska in Alaska)
Skywest (OO), Atlantic Southeast
Then there are other smaller regional/commuter carriers operating intrastate and/or to adjacent states on smaller non-jet planes. Most operate on their own names rather then under the names for the bigger carriers and some do not appear on third party sites like Orbitz.
Alaska is the only large company offering intrastate flights on jet aircraft. (Boeing 737)
Era Alaska(7H), Frontier Flying Service, Hageland Aviation
Wings of Alaska, SeaPort
Air Sunshine(YI) goes from Ft Lauderdale to the Caribbean w/ a second hub in S Juan, PR.
Gerogia, Kentucky, Tennessee
Georgia Skies (flies between Atlanta, Athens, GA; and Macon for now)
Kentucky Skies, Tennessee Skies (flies between Owensboro, KY; Nashville, TN; Jackson, TN, & Atlanta)
(The above two are subsidary carriers of Pacific Wings)
New Mexico Airlines
Puerto Rico (not quite a state but still a US territory)*
Vieques Air Link
Cape Air(9K) flies between Puerto Rico, American Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.
United (formerly Continental Micronesia)
Cape Air(9K) operates as Continental Express in Guam.
Fly Guam charters with Skyking to go from Guam to Palau, Northern Mariana Islands (Saipan), Nagoya, Japan; Hong Kong, and Taipei, Taiwan.
Catlin Flying Service
Before finalizing the ticket purchase some of the above links have a line in their website that allows the user to enter in a coupon or discount code. By entering this code, if it works, it can be another 5-25% off the fare you're about to buy. Some of the coupons codes are valid while others are not. The following are sites that provides coupon codes, to name a few:
Or simply 'google search' the terms like "Southwest Airlines coupon codes" or "Kayak discount codes" and see what comes up. This also include car rentals, hotels and anything we can buy online like da book.
Charter carriers are contracted with another entity to provide specific air transportation for a group of passengers. The other entity can be a tour operator, another airline (on a wet lease), casinos (to/from Nevada or Atlantic City, NJ) or a travel agent who, in turn sells, the seats to the public as part of a packaged deal. Others such as the government, sports teams, VIPs, etc could also charter planes for their own use. In recent years charter airlines have opened up their ticket sales direct to the general public as 'public charters'.
When purchasing a charter flight one can receive some amazing deals by buying independently, and waiting until the departure day is very near. This strategy requires a great deal of flexibility in scheduling, but the ticket price can be well below cost for the airline. While scheduled airlines can charge a premium price for tickets purchased a few days before departure, secure in the knowledge that seats will continue to fill to the last minute, charter airlines are faced with the opposite situation. Most people purchasing charter tickets buy well in advance. With a slimmer profit margin, as the departure date nears, the charter flight will scramble to fill empty seats, offering drastically discounted fares.
A charter flight usually has much stricter penalties than comparable scheduled flights, often with little or no refund on cancellations. Many charter airlines mitigate this by allowing you to transfer your ticket to another person for a small penalty. See above airline list (under "Ask them yourself") or contact or look up a travel agent, casino or tour operator.
Airport information such as flight information, list of available services, ground transport, etc can be found in the below links for:
Or search the below for an extended list of additional cities:
See the following on onward ground transport:
If you have a pre-booked hotel room they may also have a shuttle bus or van or contract with another company (along with other hotels) to bring guests to them from the airport. The shuttle can be arranged prior to arrival, called for upon arrival, or running on a scheduled fixed route basis. Ask. The cheaper hotels, motels, and hostels may also offer the same service so ask. They can be free or for a low cost. Same thing with car rental companies located in a separate location from the airline terminal(s) or somewhere off the airport grounds.
For those of you serving in the U.S. armed forces or dependents of someone serving in the U.S. armed forces there are USO offices, lounges, or other facilities at the airports that can provide information and help make arrangements for onward travel. They are at your service and be ready to show valid military ID card or other DoD authorized documents.
Getting There & Away (by Plane)
All passengers arriving on international flights and connecting to onward (domestic AND international) flights are REQUIRED to complete U.S. Customs and Border Protection entry procedures at the first port of entry. They must reclaim all their luggage after passport control, even if the luggage(s) is/are checked all the way to the final destination, and pass them through US customs for inspection on the way out. A connecting baggage desk is located directly outside of the customs exit with an agent checking the tags and putting the luggage on the conveyor belt. If an agent or desk is not available, or baggage is not tagged to its final destination, passengers should visit their airline’s front check-in/ticket counter in the departures area (located upstairs in most places). All international arrivals must pass through TSA security screening to get to the next flight which means any liquids over 90ml or 3fl oz (booze from the duty free store, personal toiletries, etc) must be in checked luggage or they will be confiscated at security. Please note that there are NO secured transiting for passengers transferring from an international to a domestic or another international flight. See posts #252 regarding entering on the visa waiver program and #254 on non-imigrant visas. Domestic arrivals deplane directly into the secured departure areas and would not require security re-screening unless the passenger leaves the secured areas into the public areas and than try to get back in. In most airports there are corridors, pedestrian conveyors and/or shuttle trains that allow to (domestic arrival) passengers to transit between concourses or between terminals behind security thus eliminating the need to go through security. Click here for a YouTube video by Delta Airlines on arrival to the USA by plane. The procedures are similar with other airlines.
Or see the following:
CBP.gov (US Customs and Border Protection) regarding passport & visa requirements for short term stays (90 days or less).
Click here for non-U.S. residents/internation visitors including links to the visa waiver program and other information you may need regarding entering the United States. If you are entering on the visa waiver program you still have to pre-register on the Electronic System for Travel Authorization on https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/ BEFORE travelling to the U.S.
Click here for US citizens and other lawful residents about returning to the U.S. The pretains to customs regualations as to what can and cannot be brought into the U.S.
For those of you seeking to stay on a long term basis to work, study, immigrant, as refugees, etc there's another site by the US Citizenship & Immigration Services which manages and enforce the laws regarding long term stays. On UCIS.gov
For Americans looking to fly out to Mexico, Canada, Bermuda, or some of the Caribbean, passports are now required for return to the US. See Getyouhome.gov or regarding the changes in the rules and the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) and additional requirements to be implemented in the coming years for surface travel. Note that a full passport book IS required to enter the countries in Central and South America and some of the Caribbean countries like Haiti and to fly between the USA and Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, Bahamas and some of the Caribbean Islands and back. Any document the US or state government may issue (Enhanced Driver's license, passport CARD, Nexus card etc) are NOT valid for entry where a full passport BOOK is required. In some cases a visa is required prior to travel like to Brazil, Paraguay or Bolivia.
If you need a passport the U.S. State Dept. issues passports click here to see what the regulations are and the necessary forms. If needed they can be applied for, locally, at the post office (not all branches though) or the local county/parish courthouse. They have one or two people authorized to check and witness your signature and vouch as a witness that they verified your identity prior to acceptance of the paperwork.
Apr 5, 2003 2:49 PM
11There have been many questions recently about the availability of tours and attractions, and access to museums and monuments in Washington, DC due to increased security levels. Below is a short list that may be able to answer some of your questions.
Tours of the Pentagon, FBI Building, and the White House are no longer available.
As of March 21, 2003, public tours of the Capitol have been suspended. Construction is currently proceeding on a new Visitor's Center which is scheduled to be completed by January 2005. You can still get a minimal tour if you sign up in advance through your congressional representative's office. This can only be done if someone on his/her staff is available to give you a tour on the day you want one. These requests should be made several weeks in advance.
The American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery are closed until 2006 for renovations. Some exhibits from the American Art Museum have been transferred to the Renwick Gallery.
The National Archives building housing the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence is also closed for renovations. It is supposed to reopen sometime later in 2003.
The Museum of the American Indian is still under construction.
The Newseum closed in March 2002 in order to move to a new site in Washington, DC. The NEW Newseum will be located on Pennsylvania Avenue near the National Mall, and is scheduled to open in late 2006.
All other museums are open. All monuments and memorials are accessible to the public as well.
Please be prepared to show identification (driver's license or passport is preferred) at government facilities, including some museums, and to have bags and pouches inspected if a metal detector is not in use.
Apr 10, 2003 6:28 AM
Apr 11, 2003 8:58 PM
13Entering from another country? Since it's often asked, here are links to the US immigration website regarding the terms of the Visa Waiver Program, who is eligible, and what you need to do to extend your 90 days.
(The URL has changed from ins.gov; the INS no is now part of the new dept of homeland security.)
visa waiver program
What about customs regulations? Check out the Customs (not Immigration) website.
prohibited and restricted items
Customs' "know before you go" for US residents
The department of state website is another good resource. This is information on obtaining a TN visa, which allows Canadians and Mexicans to apply for temporary work permits.
An excellent commercial website with links to many FAQs (from buying a car to the visa lottery system) is
Apr 13, 2003 1:59 AM
14What about getting to/from the airport?
This question comes up regularly as well. A good starting point is to either look at the website for the relevant airport, or to check one of the many online airport guides. Here's a link to Google's Airport Directory, which includes categories for particular regions as well as world guides (these are also good for finding out what shops and services are available at airports):
Google's Airport Listings
Most major airports in the US have a shuttle service for those who are operating on a budget. Super Shuttle is one of the big companies, but individual airports may have different operators. A shuttle is a shared ride service, where you have a seat in a van and are dropped directly at the door of your hotel. It will generally take longer than a taxi, especially if you are the last person to be dropped off. You don't usually need to book these ahead of time for arrivals (look for signs for ground transportation upon arrival), and for departures, your hotel/hostel will usually be able to arrange it if you ask them the day before (or alternatively, book it yourself online or by phone).
Super Shuttle's Website
The shuttles are a good deal if you are travelling alone and don't want to negotiate public transport with a suitcase. However, if there is more than one person, you should check the airport site for estimates of taxi costs as it may be cheaper to take a taxi. I have caught shuttles from several US airports to a major destination (eg. Newark -> upper west side of manhattan, SFO-> North Beach) and it has generally cost between US$17-25 inc tips.
Los AngelesBook now
(3 star Hotel)
From US$194.75 per night
New York CityBook now
(5 star Hotel)
From US$1250.00 per night
San FranciscoBook now
(3 star Hotel)
From US$285.00 per night