Travelling around North America

Dec 29th, 2011, 01:42 AM
  #1  
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Travelling around North America

Myself and a friend from uni are planning on travelling around north America for 6 weeks starting at the end of June 2012. We were not sure of how much money we would roughly need for the 6 weeks?

To give a rough idea we are flying from UK to Boston then travelling down the east coast to New York, Washington D.C. and down as far asFlorida before we move across to the West coast where we plan to visit San Francisco, California, Nevada and a few other places a little more north.

Neither of us have travelled around a country before or been abroad for more than three weeks therefor any travel tips, advice and ideas on how much money to bring would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.
Emmas200 is offline  
Dec 29th, 2011, 02:17 AM
  #2  
 
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You are doing far too much for three weeks. And remember you must include traveleing time. Getting from Boston to NY or DC is not a problem, you should look at AMTRAK. This way you can go directly city to city without traveling to an airport and all the nonsense that comes with that.

Flights from the East Coast to San Francisco take as long as London to Boston. There are direct flights from LAX (Los Angeles) to the UK over the pole but most are expensive.

You need to narrow what you really want to see and then use travel sights like Expedia or Kayak just to see what your flight costs will be.
Aduchamp1 is offline  
Dec 29th, 2011, 02:41 AM
  #3  
 
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roadtripusa.com discoverypass.com amtrak.com for bakpacker style road tripping Exclusive of transport for budget stays and food no alcohol $50 per person per day.cheap budget hotels work better than hostels in the US generally but big cities have good hostiles. hostelbookers.com twizi.com 2 good sites.Per Aduchamp pare way back you are biting off lots more than you can chew. greentortoise.com some fun tours.

Happy Planning!
qwovadis is offline  
Dec 29th, 2011, 03:44 AM
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How are you planning on getting around. In the US trains don;t operate the way they do iin europe. They don;t reach many places at all, and the ones that do run are scarce and usually late - often hours late - since in most of the country tracks are owned by freight lines and the freight trains have priority. Traveling the NE corridor from Boston down to DC has reasonable service - but trains cost as much as flying, although they are more comfortable. Check out the Amtrak web site for info. In other parts of the country trying to travel by train is fatal. There are long haul buses - but stations are often in the wrong end of town and going more than short distances is not very pleasant. That leaves you with plane and car (the US government strongly supports car travel with low priced gas and massive amounts spend on highways). Look at Hosteling International or the Let's Go Guides for info on hostels that are reliable.

You can get decent hostels in large cities at about $40 per person per night for a bed in a shared dorm room. Food depends very much on what you want to spend - if you are willing to subsist on street food and take out sandwiches or salads from delis or markets and picnic you can eat fairly cheaply.

Agree that you are trying to do too much in 6 weeks - not giving yourself much time to get from place to place or see/do anything while you are there. Also - you have picked mostly places that are quite expensive. Suggest you look at the cost of activities in the places you want to go. For instance if you are thinking of Disney it is VERY expensive.

A final point - you don;t give your ages. But in the US you cannot drink or buy alcohol - even beer or wine - until you are 21 - nor can you even enter a casino - neve rmind gamble - and renting a car can be practically impossible,
nytraveler is offline  
Dec 29th, 2011, 04:10 AM
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Well, I read SIX weeks, and that seems plenty of time to do what they are doing--3 weeks on each coast, but maybe not "a few more places" in the west.
I fear for the amount of money you will need.
The question is IF you can rent a car--per the question about your ages. AND are you comfortable driving on the "wrong/right" side of the road.
There is little doubt you will need to fly to the west coast.
The distances in the US will be quite mind boggling long for you.
The bus system in the US is really awful and really not particularly nice.
You could probably do from Boston to NYC to Washington via AMTRAK with pretty good result. And you could probably get a fairly cheap air fare from DC to Florida. Not having to deal with a car in the large cities is a plus, and a money saver. What you want to do in Florida is going to need a car, I think.
Fly to LA for a FEW days, then fly to SF (it is a LONG drive between these cities).
You "might" consider flying to Phoenix and getting a tour to the Grand Canyon from there. Then fly on to LA and on up the coast.
From SF you might consider a tour to Yosemite. I think that will take up your time.
Gretchen is offline  
Dec 29th, 2011, 04:12 AM
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NYTraveler's advice is good, and in particular you need to think hard about your means of transport. I strongly suggest you go to the library or a bookstore & find a copy of a Let's Go guide, Rough Guide, or other as a starting point. They'll also have some suggested itineraries. You can see a wide variety of places & landscapes in the US in 6 weeks, but to do it, you'll need to budget for some flying from city to city.
tahl is offline  
Dec 29th, 2011, 04:58 AM
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Sorry, one additional point about car rental: The two age cutoffs that can make a huge difference are 21 (under which you may not be able to rent a car at all from the major agencies) and 25 (under which you may be able to rent a car but only by paying a significant daily penalty). I don't know the agencies' current policies, so some careful research would be needed.
tahl is offline  
Dec 29th, 2011, 07:16 AM
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You have 4 categories of costs - transportation, food, lodging, admissions/entertainment. I have a 21 year old daughter who seems to have perfected travelling inexpensively - so this includes some of her suggestions.

Transportation - not any real way to economize here. Trains in the US, except perhaps on the east coast, are not efficient or cost-effective. Renting a car has been discussed above; and flights coast-to-coast you just shop around until you find the best fare you can. Transportation within larger cities - Boston, NY, DC - is good and reasonably priced.

Food - if you are looking to economize, I think you can eat for $25-40 per person per day and still have reasonable meals. Breakfast at a take-out place or small restaurant is going to cost less then $10. Same for lunch. Two things to consider - except in places where you do not eat the food there, expected tip/gratuity is 15-20%. And alcohol is more expensive here than in many other countries - $4-8 per drink.

Lodging - you can look for hostels or less expensive hotels, as long as you check out location to make sure they are in safe areas and for cities that you can actually get someplace from the hotel - that you are not so far outside the city that it is very difficult. This will vary a great deal - from $40 for hostels to $150 for even a lower end hotel in a large city. Hotels also like to add on all sorts of taxes and fees - so make sure you figure that in.

Entertainment/Admissions. Many cities have lots of fun free or inexpensive things to do in thge summer - outdoor concerts, festivals. Museum admissions are going to be $10 and up. In this category you can spend a lot or a little.

Hope that gives you a general idea of what things cost. Many here will be happy to be more specific if you ask.
gail is offline  
Dec 29th, 2011, 08:44 AM
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"we plan to visit San Francisco, California, Nevada and a few other places a little more north. "

This is a a bit nebulous. SF is a city . . But California and Nevada are very large states. To give you an idea, San Diego to Crescent City (southern and northern tips of CA) are exactly the same distance as Land's End to John o'Groats (850 miles)

There is enough to see in CA alone to fill many weeks. But a basic look-see of Los Angeles, maybe Disneyland, some beach towns, San Francisco and perhaps Yosemite would be a pretty rushed 10 days- and only possible w/ a car really.

North of CA is Oregon and Washington State - did you mean north of California or just a bit north of San Francisco. You don't need a car for just San Francisco though (nor in places like Portland or Seattle if you meant north of CA).

And by Nevada - do you mean Las Vegas? Or maybe Lake Tahoe??
janisj is online now  
Dec 29th, 2011, 09:00 AM
  #10  
 
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There's no way we can possibly tell you how much money to budget with such a nebulous plan at this point. You need to first organize your itinerary, figure out what you'll pay for in advance and then figure out what the rest of the cost will be OR, set a budget for yourselves and work the itinerary around that budget. Someone from another forum has done a study of the various ways to "bring" or access money and has said recently:
"The best exchange rate without any fees is a MetroBank Debit Card or a Norwich & Peterborough Debit Card, closely followed by a Nationwide Debit Card or a Santander Zero Credit card or a PrePaid Credit Card,"

To travel along the northeast corridor, while the train is the most dependable, Boltbus.com and megabus.com are lower cost, safe and connect, Boston, NYC, Philadelphia and Washington DC. Places you might want to see between Washington DC and Florida are Charleston, NC and Savannah, GA. Have no idea what the best mode of travel would be. Your other option is to skip Charleston and Savannah and just fly from Washington to Florida.
mclaurie is offline  
Dec 29th, 2011, 09:01 AM
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I disagree with others posting here.

This is what I would do.

Do the east coast and Florida with a rented car. Once you're done buy www.amtrak.com train ticket to get you to the west coast. It will be late, no doubt about that, but it will save you money and you'll get 2 nights off from your busty schedule. Think of it as a vacation during a vacation . Rent a car once there and do drive up the coast. You have plenty of time.

I'm assuming that you'll be flying home from the west coast?
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Dec 29th, 2011, 09:18 AM
  #12  
 
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AA: Your plan only works really IF the OP and her friend are both over 25. Well possible but expensive if under 25, and impossible if either one is younger than 21. If one is old enough and the other isn't . . the the 'old" one will have to do 100% of the driving.

So maybe we need more info from Emmas200 before we can give any sort of useful advice.
janisj is online now  
Dec 29th, 2011, 09:31 AM
  #13  
 
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I could not disagree more about a car on the east coast. In Boston, NY, Philly and DC a car is a complete nonsense. Rentals are expensie even if you qualify ($100 a day or so), there is no place to park it (overnight garages ar $35 to $40 and you can;t drive around the cities due to the traffic. In all of these cities best transit is foot or subway (or Metro or T or whatever it is called in each city)

If you want to see other cities on the way from DC south to Fl agree that a car would be a big help. If you need one in FL or not depends on where you will be staying. Toruing the west/west coast without a car will be extremely difficult.
nytraveler is offline  
Dec 29th, 2011, 09:40 AM
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You guys are really selling Amtrak short. Yes, it's likely to be late, but if you book far enough ahead it can certainly be cheaper than flying, depending on the route and whether you insist on a sleeper.

I'd suggest flying into Florida, rather than NY or Washington, as you can't take the train cross-country from Florida. Then train up the east coast to Washington and NYC, and across country via Chicago. Then you can train up the west coast. Check with Amtrak about passes for foreigners.

I'm planning to go cross-country by train myself this spring: New York to Chicago to San Francisco, up the west coast and back across Canada. I did find that the cheapest sleeper tickets for May on Amtrak were already almost gone in early December....
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 29th, 2011, 12:20 PM
  #15  
cw
 
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Not knowing your travel style, it's hard to tell you how much money you'll need, but I think if you figure out how much it would cost you to do what you're doing in England, that will translate to how much you'll need here.

Figure 1 GBP equals $1 for that purpose.

One difference here, is that museums charge a hefty admission unless you're in Washington, D.C., where most are free. You can check museum websites to find when and if they have free hours.

I think six weeks is enough to do what you want and buying transportation tickets in advance will cost less.
cw is offline  
Dec 29th, 2011, 12:51 PM
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One method of cheap travel between many cities is bus. Megabus and Bolt both have inexpensive fares, as low as $1 if you book far in advance, between many cities in the northeastern US and mid WEst (megabus) and are perfectly ok.
Vttraveler is offline  
Dec 29th, 2011, 01:51 PM
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"You guys are really selling Amtrak short." - if only I could make such an investment.

Look: Amtrak sucks. Service is bad, the train is invariably late, and it's just as dependable as the average Yugo.

Buses suck too, but it's a matter of degree.

If Emma and friend are 25+, they should rent a car once out of the Northeast (where Amtrak service is decent). If not, consider looking into cheapo airlines. There are many (Jet Blue, ATA, SW).
BigRuss is offline  
Dec 29th, 2011, 02:20 PM
  #18  
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Thank you all for your help, I think we need to sort a definite itinery before we go any further with the organisation. I am 22 and my friend is 21 therefore I don't think driving is going to be an option. I had looked at the megabus as we would use it quite a lot in the UK and has always been reliable. However it seems my perception of public transport does not seem To be reflected by the comments on public transport in the US. We may have to re think a few things. Thanks again.
Emmas200 is offline  
Dec 29th, 2011, 03:51 PM
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I have not used megabus myself but my two sons age 21 and 25 have used it frequently and have had no problems with it. Not sure why others make the sweeping comment that "buses suck."
Vttraveler is offline  
Dec 29th, 2011, 04:06 PM
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Personally - I would bag Florida in favor of spending more time in California, and fly to SF and work your way south, or vice versa. I would allocate a week or so to San Diego (less expensive and easier to get around than LA) - a few days in LA, and if you can - rent a car and drive the beautiful Coast up Hiway 1 (taking a couple of days) - and spend a week or so in SF. Or - you could fly from LA to SF (as well as from SD to SF, if you flew into LA from Florida, etc).
Tomsd is offline  

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