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Solo Aged50+ Amtrak tour- Then to SFOthen SDO - Luggage help

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1. Posted by blueheaven (Budding Member 4 posts) 8y

blueheaven has indicated that this thread is about USA

I'm planning to do the empire builder from chicago to Portland in August 08.
I want it to take 2 weeks and have worked all the things I need to see.
Rodeos and traditional American fairs etc.

From portland i lplan to Amtrak to SFO for a week or so - probably staying at the Green Tortouise (I'f heard so people rave about it.)
Then finally to LA and SDO.

As i said i'm a 50+ and not really very fit - My Doc says i should take the trip now before I get worst if u know what I mean.

My dilema is do i take a trolley case and small bag or a rucksack and bag - you see when i go on holiday in the EU i'm regularly charged extra baggage fee. so what will i be like with 6 weeks in the US?
Do i take a reasonable quanity and ditch the used clothes stuff at charity shops on the way and buy new from local stores?

Also I like being smartly dressed and planning to wear my kilt at every opportunity.... Do you think a 50+ Scotsman from Glasgow would go down well in America? - Or should i blend in with the rest of the tourists?

Also - should I take my laptop - or invest in a PDA?

Any suggestions will be greatfully received.

Thanks Charles Yates - Bonnie Scotland

2. Posted by GregW (Travel Guru 2635 posts) 8y

Amtrak's policy is two pieces of luggage as long as they are under 50 lbs, which means you'd be fine with either. A laptop bag is considered a "personal item" and NOT included in the 2 piece limit, so if you wanted 2 bags and a laptop baggage, you'd be fine. I would not expect that you'd be charged any additional fees. (Amtrak Baggage Policy).

In most places I think you'll find a roller bag is fine. There aren't a lot of old cracked or dirt roads you'll be rolling over. If you want more luggage, you can check a bag.

I don't forsee a problem wearing a kilt. One of the major groups to settle the USA was the Scots, so people are familiar with the concept of a kilt. You'll probably get some looks along the way, but a simple "I'm Scottish," would probably explain away any questions that anyone had.

As for clothes, you could take a weeks worth, and just wash them. Wash and fold services would be available in most places.

Laptop or PDA is a personal choice. WIFI is very prevalent and fast. Lots of bars and restaurants even offer free WIFI as an incentive to eat / drink there. It's pretty common to see folks sitting in coffee shops working on their laptops, so you wouldn't look out of place with it.

You could also skip the technology all together, and just use computers at internet cafes and/or places that you stay. Rates for internet at cafes tend to be around $3 - $4 an hour. Hotels and Kinkos charge more.

Enjoy America, you'll get a very interesting look at a lot of different pieces of it given the route you are taking.

3. Posted by Lugor79 (Full Member 70 posts) 8y

Check with your oversea airline for what you are allowed to bring. I've noticed that most domestic/low fare airlines have a one baggage 30-40lb rule. However most oversea/major carriers allow 2-3 bags and 50lbs each. I don't see an issue with the bags you want to bring, other then if you have too many, trying to move it between modes of transport and lodging would be tedious.

As for kilts, I don't see a problem. It all depends on the reaction you want, most people will look at you funny. Others will find you interesting and try to strike up a conversation. If you want attention it's a good way to do it, and I believe it will be more ambivalent/positive rather then negative.

Laptop or PDA? What do you need it for? What is your lodging conditions (hotels? Hostels?). I've traveled extensively in the US with my laptop, never had an issue in hotels and motels. Haven't staying in Hostel in the US yet, so I don't know what those environments are like. In my experience out right theft from your hotel room is pretty rare, most hotels have security boxes in the room or at the front desk. Though make sure to check the size of the box before you bring your laptop up front. We were once at a hotel and asked to store it in the front desk box only to find it was just large enough to store a wallet and passport.

Hope this helps. Have a great trip!

4. Posted by EaLaSpada (Budding Member 79 posts) 8y

The worst thing that will happen if you intend to wear a kilt a lot is that you'll make a lot more friends than you anticipated during your journey. Enjoy your trip (I hope to be traveling to your country in a couple of months)!

5. Posted by willie3333 (Full Member 14 posts) 8y

Sounds like a great trip! You say quote, "traditional American fairs". Well, it is Great Minnesota Get-Together. I don't know what your thinking, but the Minnesota State Fair is almost a World Known Fair. Its August 24th-September 1st, and it attracts a huge amount of people a year. It may sound corny, but its the highlight of my summer. It has grandstand concerts, pronto pups, everything minnesota, and you can find any food you want there, and Its of a Stick! It is so huge, it is hard to cover in one day. I highly recomend it.

I don't know what route your taking but its always great to see Minnesota. Chicago is also a great city. I don't know your Amtrack route, but the mountains are very nice to see. There is something great about every state (besides Iowa, nothings there, don't waste your time).

Have Fun
Willie

6. Posted by blueheaven (Budding Member 4 posts) 8y

Thanks for all your suggestions guys & gals.

As for luggage - I think i'll go for a combination of rucksack & wheels -.
I think i'll ditch the laptop for a quad bandphone with email.

As for wash & fold - a good idea - but i like to be smart and i can see me buying new and ditching the old stuff.

I like the idea of the Minnesota fair and I've emailed them with some questions - there website looks cool.

As for the kilt....... a big big yes.........

For this 6 week trip i have decided to treat myself and with the GB pound strong i should have $50k
to spend on my trip.
This should be enough for my trip of a lifetime.

Well guys if see a short fat balding kilt wearing Scotsman on your street, please say hello and we can go for a drink or two, or three or four............................or ten.

King Regards - Peace and Love to All

Charles aka Jock

7. Posted by GregW (Travel Guru 2635 posts) 8y

Holy S**t.

50K you'll be able to buy half of the USA, though you'll have to outbid the Chinese for it.

Have a great trip.

Greg

8. Posted by Isadora (Travel Guru 13926 posts) 8y

Hi Jock!

I agree with willie3333 about the Minnesota State Fair. It is considered one of the best state fairs in the nation. (Grew up In Minnesota and went to the fair every year.) You will also be arriving in time for both the Illinois State Fair (Aug. 8-17) in Springfield, Illinois and the Iowa State Fair (Aug. 7-17) in Des Moines, Iowa. Both are accessible via Amtrak. I've been to the Iowa fair and it's pretty comparable to Minnesota's. I have not been to Illinois' (and I live here - go fig).

Here's an interesting website for those odd out-of-the-way sights to see. Roadside America has a drop-down menu of the states so you might find something fun that's along your route(s).

Have a great time!!

9. Posted by Mandy32 (Budding Member 5 posts) 8y

Quoting GregW

Amtrak's policy is two pieces of luggage as long as they are under 50 lbs, which means you'd be fine with either. A laptop bag is considered a "personal item" and NOT included in the 2 piece limit, so if you wanted 2 bags and a laptop baggage, you'd be fine. I would not expect that you'd be charged any additional fees. (Amtrak Baggage Policy).

In most places I think you'll find a roller bag is fine. There aren't a lot of old cracked or dirt roads you'll be rolling over. If you want more luggage, you can check a bag.

I don't forsee a problem wearing a kilt. One of the major groups to settle the USA was the Scots, so people are familiar with the concept of a kilt. You'll probably get some looks along the way, but a simple "I'm Scottish," would probably explain away any questions that anyone had.

As for clothes, you could take a weeks worth, and just wash them. Wash and fold services would be available in most places.

Laptop or PDA is a personal choice. WIFI is very prevalent and fast. Lots of bars and restaurants even offer free WIFI as an incentive to eat / drink there. It's pretty common to see folks sitting in coffee shops working on their laptops, so you wouldn't look out of place with it.

You could also skip the technology all together, and just use computers at internet cafes and/or places that you stay. Rates for internet at cafes tend to be around $3 - $4 an hour. Hotels and Kinkos charge more.

Enjoy America, you'll get a very interesting look at a lot of different pieces of it given the route you are taking.

I will Think you will do find on your trip. Just remember to enjoy your self and not worry so much. You don't have to Blend in with the tourist there are some CRAZY people in america and no one really cares if you look differnt. In fact I am sure they have seen worse! Just be your self and have fun!

10. Posted by Calcruzer (Moderator 1989 posts) 8y

Well, just be sure to bring travellers cheques or credit cards and not all cash. There are ATMs everywhere here if you need to access cash on your way.

I'm sure you'll find lots of people who will be intrigued by a true Scotsman who wears a kilt regularly. But be prepared to be asked what you wear under that kilt by a few ladies. They'll want to know if the rumours are true.;)

Enjoy your trip