My name is Tracy and I'm doing a solo trip to the states from the 20th December 2015 onwards till January 12th 2016, LA, NYC (for christmas and new years), then to Orlando (for Disney World) then San Francisco and back to Auckland. I had originally planned to go with someone but plans have changed since then and I'm flying out by myself. I was wondering if anyone knew cheap but decent places to stay while I'm there as well as things to do, but I'll definitely be doing research myself beforehand. My main concern is accommodation and I was hoping that meeting up with people while I'm there would not only be fun and a great way to meet new people and also make the trip 10x memorable when I've got great company and good vibes to keep me going! This is my biggest trip yet and although I'm brave for going alone, and not to mention that the drinking age in NZ in is 18, but I don't turn 21 until after my trip which I don't mind too much, considering it's 21 in America. If anyone wanted to meet up or just come along with, then please come with as I want to have the time of my life - regardless I most definitely will!
Bring lots of money. Be prepared for crowds. It won't all be fun.
You'll be arriving in one of the busiest travel periods of the year. Lots of people will be wanting to visit family and friends for the holidays. Airfares will be at their highest. There will be long lines at the airport. Planes will be packed.
Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco accommodations aren't cheap any time of the year. But you'll pay top dollar around the holidays. The theme parks in Orlando also will be packed. I know. I've been there around the holidays and vowed never to do it again.
The minimum drinking age in the U.S. is 21. In most states it is a crime for those above the minimum drinking age to buy or give alcohol to minors. In some states, it is illegal for those under 21 to even possess alcohol.
Good luck trying to rent a car in Orlando -- or any other place in the U.S. -- if you're under 21. It will be difficult, if not impossible, with the large rental firms. You might find success with smaller companies. But it will come at a hefty price. Those under 25 face daily surcharges, ranging from $25 to $100 per day. No credit card? That will be a problem. No insurance? That will be a problem, too.
Since you're from New Zealand, know that your dollar isn't worth the same as the U.S. dollar. As of today, it takes $1.52 NZD to buy $1 USD.
So do your research. Check the airfares. Check hotel, motel and hostel prices. Check the prices of theme parks in Orlando and Los Angeles. Yes, traveling with others can help lower your costs, particularly for accommodations. But you'll still need lots of money. Guaranteed.
Just FYI--if you could do this trip around Dec 7 or 8th, instead of over Christmas/New Year's the prices will be about 1/3rd of what you'll pay based upon your current planned dates.
Having said that, there are a few cheap things you can do--for example, go see the Rose Parade on Colorado Blvd in Pasadena, California on New Years morning. It costs nothing other than the fee to park and if you go the night before, the party lasts all night (though finding a place to use a restroom can be a challenge).
When going to Disney World, stay at a hotel in Kissimmee instead of near the theme parks will save you lots of bucks. Same applies to eating off-site instead of at the parks. Also, if you get a multi-day pass, it is the cheapest way to go. I prefer EPCOT and Walt Disney world to the adventure park or to the movie theatre park, but everyone has their own preferences, so get info on all the parks before you go.
In LA, stay near the beach, but not right on the beach--it is the safer options, and the cheaper ones. For San Francisco, stay south of town in a place like Millbrae (not far from the airport), and then take the BART system into town each day instead of trying to stay in town. Use the Metro rail cars to get around town instead of renting any car there, as a car is absolutely unnecessary in SF. LA is exactly the opposite--you have to rent a car to go anywhere as distances are huge. LA actually covers an area about 30 miles wide by 50 miles long--so as I said, just try to limit yourself to the Newport Beach/Costa Mesa/Anaheim area and maybe Santa Monica/Venice and skip the rest. Well, maybe go to the Huntington Library and Gardens on a good weather day (it's in San Marino but hard to find so make sure Google maps is working on your cell phone).
Enjoy your trip.
[ Edit: Edited on 26-Jul-2015, at 22:46 by Calcruzer ]