This is my first post so I'll try not to rant too much. Basically my wife and I are very keen to travel to the US & Canada for a white Xmas & New Years.. We are going through a tonne of brochures and are trying to decide what are the best things to do that interest us, and the best way of getting to all these places. Unfortunately is seems that alot of these things are all across the country.
Is it beneficial to take internal flights to hop around to all the different states we want to visit, or bus/drive. We are looking at 4 weeks in the states and 2 weeks in Canada. Ideally we would like to be in NY for a Times Square New Years, maybe Colorado for Xmas..
Also, do we need to apply for a Visa if we are looking at staying for 6 weeks??
If there are any Aussies reading this, is there a ball park figure that you could suggest we should be saving for airfares, accommodation & food for a 6 week period? I know it's an open ended question, just after some sort of rough figure if possible.
Winter is a great time to visit the States, but if you are not used to snow it can be hard to plan anything. In Colorado and New York for example there can be snow in the 'feet', not inches. The problem with driving is it can be dangerous, if you can you will need chains, and there can be delays. With flying, it is not uncommon for long delays, flights are constantly delayed due to weather. It is just too hard to predict. Also Thanksgiving (last weekend November) is a huge holiday here, and you can expect heavy commuting.
Colorado is beautiful, love it there. You may also be lucky as there may not have been much/ any snow (depending where you go). Research where you want to spend alot of your time. Colorado is spectacular, but no so big. Haven't done New York at New Years, but must say that I envy you guys!!
My advise is if your planning on going is change as much $AU into $US as you can. The dollar is hovering around the $0.82-0.84 at the moment. This will be way down by September. My guess is that it will be more like $0.72-0.75 by that time.
The US is incredibly cheap. For flights, check out priceline.com, kayak.com, expedia.com, etc. These are the best way to get cheap airfares. Also biddingfortravel.com is a good site.
Depending on what you are used to...hotels are reasonable. Same thing, check out the above sites. Budget hotels like Motel6 and Super8 range from $40-60nt...but are clean have tv and bathroom, basic motel stuff. If you stay at a Marriott or Raddisson you can expect to pay 3 times that. But there are good bargains on priceline. I got a $400 hotel in Tokyo last week for $200....so I recommend it.
Food is also cheap, and plenty of variety. Plenty of fast type food, burgers, mexican-especially good quality, and in New York great food-Deli!! Yummo.
If you dine, must remember to tip! Usually 15-20% on top of the bill. This is to be done at a bar, restaurant, dine in etc... No need at a takeaway place.
Be happy to answer anything else that you can think of. If unsure, maybe get a copy of Lets Go USA...can be useful.
As for Canada, if you're in New York I would head to Montreal. You can get cheap flights, or jump on a Greyhound...
All the best
Flying across Canada is definitely not cheap. Especially during the holiday season. Often it is cheaper to fly to the States than across Canada.
The Grey Hound would be an option, except that it will take days to get across Canada. However, the buses are extensive and pretty comfortable.
Driving yourself would probably be the best option except the weather could be very bad... especially if you're not used to driving in less than great conditions. But if the weather is good, you could go at your own pace, stop where you found interesting things, and probably save some money.
If you're planning 2 weeks in Canada, I'd suggest you pick 2 or 3 places to see, tops. It's a really big country, and as NateKristy mentioned it's very expensive to fly from one end to the other (often more expensive than flying to Europe) and it'll take days in what may be trecherous winter road conditions to drive. Instead, consider taking Via rail between major cities, or else book a bus trip. The road conditions may still be awful, but at least you won't be driving! In Ontario and Quebec, though, bad weather usually hits later on in the season.
As for accommodation, it'll depend where you stay and when. Christmas and New Years are high season for ski resorts, but low season in big cities. You can save by staying in hostels or B&Bs along the way.
I would agree with Tway when it comes to planning your Canada leg of the trip - choose a few destinations and take the train! Especially if you travel to Canada directly after New Year's. The NYC-MTL service on Amtrak is an easy - and affordable - ride, and while you're in Canada, VIA Rail will be happy to take great care of you. Just remember to book early for between-the-holidays travel!
You may also consider taking the bus from Montreal to the beautiful villages of the Laurentians - Mont Tremblant or St-Sauveur, for example. Even if you don't ski, strap on a pair of snowshoes and go get yourselves some landscapes.
VIA Rail Canada / Travel by train! Vacations, tours and tourism info.
Picking one region of Canada is definitely good advice if you only have two weeks to spend here. If it's skiing you're after, stay out west and spend your time in the area between Calgary and Vancouver. Banff National Park in Alberta is my personal favourite, however there are tons of great mountains in BC's interior too. You could easily ski at a different mountain every day for the whole two weeks if that's what you wanted to do.
If you're looking for more of a Canadian city touring experience, I'd stick to the area between Quebec City and Toronto. It's about an 8 or 9 hour drive between Quebec and Toronto and both Montreal and Ottawa are between them.
Quebec is Canada's oldest city (founded in 1608 - there are lots of 400-year aniversary celebrations plannede for next year) and Vieux-Quebec (the old, walled city) is one of the most (if not THE most) beautiful urban areas in North America.
There are lots of skiing options in Quebec (province) too, especially in the Laurentians north of Montreal and the Eastern Townships to Montreal's south-east.
Montreal is known for its restaurants, shopping and night life, and no trip to Montreal would be complete without a visit to the "underground city," especially in winter. While in Montreal, a visit to the Bell Centre to see the Montreal Canadiens play is a must. The Canadiens are (ice) hockey's most storied franchise, having won the Stanley Cup championship 24 times in the last 90 years (Toronto is second with 12). The Bell Centre is the National Hockey League's largest building and the atmosphere there is sure to please. Every game is played to a full house so try to buy tickets ahead of time. If you don't manage to do so there are always scalpers around before the game if you don't ming paying the "surcharge."
Ottawa is Canada's capital and if you think you'd enjoy a few days in Canberra (I did) then you should enjoy Ottawa too. There's parliament to visit, of course, along with a plethora of other government-related buildings. Ottawa also has a ton of museums, and no winter visit to Ottawa would be complete without a skate (that's ice skate) on the Rideau canal.
Toronto is Canada's biggest city and there are lots things to keep a traveller busy. The CN tower is the world's tallest free-standing structure, and standing on the glass floor 350m above the ground is quite a rush. Don't bother seeing the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team play, unless you're going to root against them. They are a horrible team! (LOL can you tell I'm a Montrealer?)
Niagara Falls is about 90 minutes from Toronto. I'm not sure what it's like there in winter, but they just build a huge new casino on the Canadian side, so there will definitely be things to do there.
As for getting around, driving is your best bet if you 're planning on staying in one area. While there's definitely always the chance of bad weather, even the worst storms are generally cleaned up after a day or two. As long as you build a little flexibility into your schedule you shouldn't have any problems. And snow chains will certainly not be required if you stay in Eastern Canada (Quebec-Toronto).
hey guys, North America is huge and 6 weeks doesn't give you much time. My suggestion is to get a open jaw ticket,fly into Montreal spend a couple of days and go up to Quebec city for christmas. Not only will you get a garanteed white christmas, but Quebec is the most beautiful and romantic place you could be in North America for christmas. There are lots of B&Bs or chalets you can stay in, and all the little towns around are both beautiful and have some amazing little restaurants. Having spent my last two x-mas in both brisbaine and Hobart i garantee you this will be a wonderful experience, completley different from the aussi christmas.
Then you can make your way down to ottawa, toronto, niagara falls and on to New York for new years. (and yes niagara falls is beautiful in the winter) Either by greyhound bus or train. I wouldn't be driving in winter if you're not used to it, and this will be a very affordable way to travel.
After New years in New york i'd take a plane to either Vancouver or Colorado or another city of your choice on the west coast and bus/train you way around that side of the country. Any of the mountainous areas will be picture perfect at that time of the year. then fly home from there.