Transportation: You Gotta Have Wheels
I know that public transport bites in the U.S. It is a painful fact that at this point the best way to see most of my country is with a personal vehicle. So it is best to have this factored into your plans. With the exception of New York City, Chicago, San Francisco and Portland you will need wheels.
I will give you a few ideas that have worked for friends of mine that have visited the U.S.
1. If you have time and the adventurous sprit consider bike touring. I know that this seems crazy to many. It is one of the most interesting ways to see many places in the U.S. It is rich with cultural involvement and would make the trip of a life time.
2. Develop a friendship with an American and travel with them or borrow a car from them. We have traveled with many friends from outside the U.S. and it worked well for them.
3. Rent a car this is expensive but easy and reliable. There are many reliable companies and you can get them right at the airport where you land. (Most U.S. airports are NOT well connected with the cities they serve) This helps to avoid the hassle of getting into town.
4. Buy a used car and sell it when you leave. Many friends have chosen this option and for those with the temperament for dealing with the extra work it is a great option. You most likely will take a loss when you sell it but it comes out better than renting cash wise.
5. Rent a small RV/motor home. This seems to be more common among people that travel to the western National Parks. It allows you to save much of the cost of hotel rooms. You also do not have to keep packing and unpacking. You can also offset some of the cost by cooking for yourself. I have talked to many people from all over the world that have chosen this option and liked it. Not super cheap but it does have it's good points.
Well I hope this helps a bit.Related to:
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
When I first heard about Megabus I was extremely skeptical. Many reviews I read online made it seem like this was a risky way to travel, and that the buses were rarely on time and often several hours late... this couldn't be further from the truth.
I had been looking for a way to get from Michigan to Maine for as cheap as possible. Flying would be ~$300 one way and driving would be anywhere from $200-$250 in gas. So I was amazed to discover Megabus where I could get from Toledo to Portland for $41.50!
I could have booked: Toledo-Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh-New York, New York-Boston, and then Boston-Portland and completed the trip in just one (albeit LONG) day, but due to the bad reviews I read about buses being late, I broke the trip up into 2 days just to be safe. I booked Toledo-Pittsburgh and then Pittsburgh-New York for Saturday and then I took the train at Grand Central up to a friend's place in CT and then continued on the next morning taking New Haven-Boston and then Boston-Portland.
I had absolutely zero problems with the trip and absolutely COULD have completed it in one day if I had wanted to. All of my buses left EXACTLY on time. The one into Pittsburgh was about 10 minutes late, but the ones into New York and Boston were both 10 minutes early and the one into Portland was right on time. Basically, there were no major delays at all.
The best part was the price. I booked about 3-4 weeks prior to my trip and I got the Toledo-Pittsburgh AND Boston-Portland routes for $1. New Haven-Boston was $9 and Pittsburgh-New York was $30. There is a $0.50 reservation fee when you book online, so my total cost ended up being $41.50 (plus about $14 for the train from NY to New Haven, although buses from New York-Boston seemed to be less than $23 [the cost of NH-Boston + the train] so it could have been even cheaper if I had done the whole trip through MegaBus.
They advertise free Wi-Fi, although I didn't really test it much. I slept pretty much the whole way from Toledo-Pittsburgh. The bus from Pittsburgh-New York was a double decker and I did pull out my laptop for a little while on that. The internet connection worked fine (except media sites like YouTube were blocked - I guess those use too much bandwidth?) and there was a plug under my seat for power.
On the New Haven-Boston ride, one of the passengers complained to the bus driver that the internet wasn't working and she didn't seem to care. She just told him "it's turned on" and didn't indicate that she was going to look into it if there really was an issue. This was before we departed, so I dunno if it worked or not on that ride (I slept and never got my laptop out).
So basically, the internet worked the one time I tried it, but I only tried it on 1 of the 4 buses I took.
For the stops... they are hit or miss. The one in Toledo is really shady and hard to find. It's basically on some random street corner across the street from a McDonalds with no signs that tell you it's a MegaBus stop. The one in Pittsburgh is also similar except they actually had a MegaBus employee there to verify that it was the right place and make sure people got on the right buses.
New York was also similar, they just dropped us off at the corner of 7th Ave/28th St. The pickup was in a different location so I don't know how that is.
The further north/east we got, the better it was though. The pickup spot in New Haven was right outside the train station (Union Station), and the guy working at information inside the train station knew about it and explained where it would arrive, etc.
Boston was the best, it was actually inside a bus terminal and there were screens on the walls by each door indicating which bus went to which location. This was serviced by multiple buses, not just MegaBus, but they obviously were included. The stop in Portland was also at a bus station with parking and an indoor area as well.
So overall, the stops were hit or miss. If I had to rate them in order, Boston was the best, followed by Portland, then New Haven, then Pittsburgh, then New York, and Toledo was the worst. Boston, New Haven, and Portland all had places to wait for the bus INSIDE while Toledo, Pittsburgh, and New York did NOT.
That's about all I can think of for the review. I guess one more thing to keep in mind is that you can only have one piece of luggage + a "carry on" bag. So don't expect to bring too much with you.
Unfortunately Megabus only serves the Northeast/Southern part of the country. If you are heading West past the Mississippi River, MegaBus is not for you. But if you are heading to the Northeast or even all the way down to Florida, it's definitely a good option.
Overall, it was great. Again, the buses were on time and the prices were GREAT. I would definitely recommend this if you don't mind long bus rides.Related to:
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
AirTran Airways is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Southwest Airlines, but it avoids some of the minor annoyances that plague Southwest. Of course, Southwest just bought AirTran in late 2010, so chages may be in the works. Examples of why AirTran is better than Southwest: actual seat assignments, you can book flights through regular travel websites like Expedia. Southwest is known for its top-notch customer service and "bags fly free!". Maybe we'll end up with the best of both worlds. The new Southwest is now one of the largest U.S.-based airlines in terms of domestic market share.
AirTran was founded in 1992 as ValuJet Airlines. The company barely survived when one of its planes crashed in the Everglades in 1995, but a merger, a name change, and new aircraft gave the company new life. Prior to the $1.4 billion acquisition by Southwest, Airtran had grown to operate about 700 flights a day.
Getting to and from the USA by air.
Air New Zealand is rapidly becoming my airline of choice. It's just unfortunate they don't fly to many places in Asia and Europe!
Saying that, however, for people living in NZ or the UK, Air New Zealand can get you to the west coast of the US in comfort. Air New Zealand provides services to/fromLondon and of course Auckland, via Los Angeles. The 747 and 777 fleets are equipped with in-seat entertainment systems that are top notch. Air New Zealand also flies between Auckland and San Francisco now with its new 777s. Pictured here is ZK-OKB at SFO, readying to depart for the nearly 13 hour ETOPS flight to Auckland.
Air New Zealand's inflight service has improved hugely from my experiences on four recent long-haul flights with them in 2006. They definitely do deserve your consideration if travelling to the west coast of the US from Oceania.
Taxi from LAX - DON'T DO IT !!!
As obvious as this tip may sound (and feel assured that I feel very much the fool for even having fallen for it), however desperate you are to get into LA from LAX airport; Don't catch a taxi !!
We were supposed to have been picked up by The Banana Bungalow hostel we had prebooked with but they no-showed. We let the fact we had just arrived in the States with no transport to take us to our beds overwhelm us somewhat and made a beeline straight for the taxi rank.
This moment of stupidity cost us $56 before we had even had a chance to see our first sight !! As I said, it's a very obvious tip but I just want to drum in to anyone planning to visit LA that there are many other better ways to get from the airport to the city including shuttle buses and public transport buses.
$56 is a bad fare in anyone's language but it's made even worse in the States by the fact that they want a bleeding tip as well !! I politely told him my tip to him was that maybe they shouldn't charge so much...
I felt ashamed... LOL
- Budget Travel
Tips when hiring cars
When you book your rental car from outside the US make sure you book the cheapest and smallest car you can. When you arrive in the US first of all they don't have any of those tiny two door cars so you automatically get upgraded (don't pay for this, just say you're happy being cramped becasue it makes for a cosy ride, they'll try anything to make you pay for the upgrade they're going to give you anyway). If you do want a bigger car or a convertable then pay for it as an upgrade. If you've booked the cheapest tiniest car all upgrades are now negotiable. You'll only pay a few dollars more for a much bigger car, certainly a lot less than it would have been online or through an agent back home. Oh and the other tip is to make sure you get the correct insurance. I always think its best to scrimp on the car but make sure the insurance is fully comprehensive and not just third party. Last thing you want to be doing is worrying about a stupid hire car while you're on holiday.Related to:
- Budget Travel
Go to http://mpdining.idine.com/site/learn_more.jhtml to find out about a plan where you can earn 10 miles for every $1 spent at lots of restaurants.
It's a great deal.
The above link will take you to United's enrollment page; I signed up through United's website. You have to join United's Mileage Plus Program and then sign up for iDine. You will need the account number from Mileage Plus to join the iDine program.
You can spend $50 at a nice restaurant and get 500 miles! A key restriction is that you only get miles for your first purchase every month at each participating restaurant.Related to:
- Business Travel
- Budget Travel
New York's John F. Kennedy Int'l Airport (JFK)
John F. Kennedy International Airport is the premier gateway airport to the United States. It serves airlines from just about every country you can imagine. I have passed through here 8 times, never out of want, but out of necessity. I don't like JFK airport because it is too spread out. The free red shuttle that stops at each of the terminals helps a great deal, but you had better arrange a layover of at least 3 hours for domestic flights and 4 for foreign ones (factoring in the new security measures), if you have to go to a different terminal.
New York's LaGuardia Airport (LGA)
La Guardia Airport is New York's domestic-only airport. The reason for that is simply a question of runway length. The end of the runway is the Long Island Sound. For international flights, you need a longer runway from which to take off and on which to land due to the size of the aircraft required to hold the necessary fuel to travel internationally. I have only been into and out of here twice (1986 and 2007). The first time, we had to take a bus to Kennedy Airport to catch our flight to Europe. The second time, I flew out of here in a most indirect route from Richmond to Quito. I find the airport way too spread out for anyone to make a connection with a layover of anything less than an hour.
Getting the best price on a car rental
Usually car rental makes a lot of sense for travel in the USA unless you just plan to visit a large city or two.
But, for example, if you are just going to Anaheim, you might forget the car business. This is a city with lots of provision for tourists.
You have to be of a certain age to rent a car (I think under 26 can be a problem.), and it is almost impractical without a credit card due to required deposits, etc. I am not sure about credit cards from outside the USA, or about making reservations from outside the USA by internet or phone. This is certainly something you should research before your arrival in the USA.
Definitely book in advance if you find the right price. The walk up price is certainly going to be much higher than a pre-arranged price. Also be sure whether or not your credit card or home auto insurance company covers you during a car rental. There is lots of competition between different companies but most big promotions do not extend to the larger vehicles, so just because a company is having a big promotion it does not mean it will have the best pricing for larger or specialty vehicles.
In general will find non-airport office to same office has the best price, airport to same airport next, airport with dropoff at different airport next, and office to a different office or airport the most expensive. The 'Enterprise' company advertises their willingness to pick you up at your hotel for free. Budget (now part of Avis) and Thrifty are national companies that tend to compete on the low end of prices. In individual towns you can find even cheaper independent rental services sometimes using slightly older cars that might be considered for longer term rentals.
If you find a car and car company you want on one of the general car rental websites, be sure to connect to the specific website of the company because you may find the rental cost even cheaper when purchased directly.
Read more: http://forum.virtualtourist.com/forum-750776-1-Travel-Anaheim-1-forum.html#ixzz1H97c8SDe
drivers license IDP OR IDL
Jonelis...........even though I find the driving requirements on government web sites, it has to be enforced...yet it is not. I rent cars all over the world without a IDP or IDL because the laws are not enforced...Grumpdiver is right and here is a clip from USA.gov and other official sites.
An International Driving Permit (IDP) translates information contained on your driver's license into 10 languages so that officials in foreign countries are able to interpret your license. An IDP supplements a valid government-issued license--it does not serve as a replacement for a license. If you are stopped by law enforcement, you will most likely be asked to produce both your IDP and your official driver's license. The United States does NOT issue International Driving Permits to foreign visitors, so you will need to obtain this document before traveling to the U.S.
What's an IDP?
The United States is a party to a United Nations treaty that gives residents of one country the right to drive in other countries using the driver's license issued by the government where they live. This treaty created the international driving permit to make this arrangement easier. An IDP translates your state-issued driver's license into 10 languages so you can show it to officials in foreign countries to help them interpret your driver's license. If you're a U.S. resident, an IDP is useless within the U.S. IDPs are not intended to replace state-issued driver's licenses and should be used only as a supplement to a valid license when traveling in a foreign country. In addition, IDPs are not proof of identity.
The U.S. Department of State has authorized only two organizations to issue IDPs to U.S. residents. The organizations, the American Automobile Association (AAA) and the American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA), are permitted to sell IDPs only to people who are at least 18 years old and only to those who have a valid driver's license issued by a U.S. state or territory. The AAA and the AATA charge $10 for each IDP.Related to:
- Road Trip
You should be able to get a direct flight to Los Angeles or Vancouver. Are you going to Vancouver BC or Vancouver, Washington? I would assume it is BC. I know I flew frm Tipei to Los Angeles direct.
What states are you planning on visiting. I am born and raised in Alaska so hit me up if you want any information about this beautiful state. I also have infomration on my page, check it out.
The Great American Road Trip
The USA is not noted for its mass transit despite train lines that cross its expansive horizon. Getting from one remote area to the next is just about impossible. Few of the countries National Parks are serviced by bus and if on a long trip, carrying all the camping gear you need to make a trip like this affordable would be a daunting task. I have been on extended trips around the country five times and always in a car. I carry gear for hiking, backpacking, kayaking/canoeing as well as all my camping gear so a car is pretty much the only way to go. You don't need a big SUV either. I did most of those trips in a small Honda Civic Hatchback which was great on gas.
It's one big country with lots of very open roads once you get "out west." It's a joy to drive in these areas so enjoy it while you can.Related to:
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
new york to california
if you want to visit both east and west coasts, i would purchase a round trip flight through virgin airlines. they usually have really low fares between major cities. but if you don't fly, i agree with the above posters: you're going to spend your entire trip on a train or in a car if you rent it, and spend way too much money on gas.
if you go to the california forum, you will find tons of advice on itineraries and things to do. (you could search for specific cities and find out that way as well).
Budget travel from the US to Mexico
-->From So. Cal/LA area to Mexico
It is quite possible to get cheap airfares from Southern California/LA area to Mexico via low-cost air carriers such as Viva Aerobus & Volaris. Check out their respective websites. I believe Viva Aerobus has flights from Tijuana to the rest of Mexico, and it looks like Volaris will have a new flight segment soon from LA directly to Guadalajara.
This is what you'll need to do:
1.) Take the bus, train or drive a car rental between LA and San Diego.
2.) From San Diego, go into the border to enter Tijuana.
3.) From the border, take a taxi to the airport.
4.) Viva Aerobus flies out of Tijuana Airport, then goes to its hub in Monterrey, Mexico.
5.) From Monterrey, Mexico take a connecting flight to Cancun (or other cities) via the same airline.
Take a look at flights from Volaris for an alternative option.
-->From the US to Mexico
Most people in the US visit Mexico via these states: California, Arizona or Texas.
When people visit Mexico, they mostly use their cars, and depend less on the bus. If you're a backpacker, then the bus will be a good way to "rough" up your trip, and it is obviously the cheapest mode of transportation. You may want to check bus options from California or Arizona, which I think are less than those offered by way of Texas.
In case you don't make it to California, there are several low-cost air carriers in the US that will allow you to travel to Cancun since this is a really popular destination. Check out these LCCs for more info on US-Mexico flights for a sampling of fares:
Also, check those Mexican LCCs I mentioned above for more information on their destinations. I believe VivaAerobus flies out of Tijuana, Las Vegas, and McAllen, Texas, while Volaris flies out of some Californian cities and Las Vegas.
I'm afraid there aren't too many budget flight options other than the ones I told you, unless (of course) the major air carriers decide to have their sales or fare wars with the LCCs.
By the way, regular meta-search sites like Expedia, Travelocity, etc. do not typically publish the fares of low-cost air carriers.
Good Luck & Enjoy Your US-Mexico Adventure!Related to:
- Budget Travel
United States of America Hotels
This is a Hotel /Bed and Breakfast. It is a oasis in the middle of Times Square. It is quiet inside...more
We did an international phone call from this hotel and when we were leaving we ask for the bill of...more
13163 US Hwy 12, 98361
Good for: Business
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