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1st time travelling, USA, Advice needed

Travel Forums North America 1st time travelling, USA, Advice needed

1. Posted by Steenie (Budding Member, 2 posts) 30 Jun '13 04:29

Hello,
My partner and I looking into travelling to the US for a holiday. Neither of us have been out of Western Australia, this will be our first time travelling and we would like some advice. We have researched it a fair bit but there is A LOT of information and it's starting to be overwhelming!!

Of all the research we've done we have worked out that we would like to visit:

Los Angeles the 'usual' touristy attractions, e.g. universal studios, warner bros studios, A Ducks Ice Hockey Match

San Diego The Zoo, Japanese Friendship Garden,

San fran Alcatraz, Yosetime National Park, Sequoia National Park, Muir Woods

Vegas Cirque de solei, Stratosphere, Adventuredome, hopefully a UFC match, shooting range

Oregon Thors Well, Drift Creek Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Drift Creek Falls, Horsetail Falls Loop, Proxy Falls, Crator Lake, Diamond Lake, Watson Falls (any advice on any coach tours that visit these?)

New York Times Square, Broadway, Toys R US times square, Niagra Falls

Florida Palm Cottage, Harry Potter Universal Studios, Wet n Wild, Sea World, Kennedy Space Centre, Orlando Magic Basketball Game

Hawaii Pearl Harbour, Volcanos,

Questions; Could all this be achievable in 6 weeks? Is March/April/May an ok time to travel in terms of weather and crowds? In which order should we visit these destinations in terms of cost and travel time? We are thinking of either driving or train/bus between some of the cities and internal flights for the further distances. Could it be done under 25K? Accommodation we're looking at is 3star hotels. I have noticed that there's a Madame Tussauds Wax museum in LA, Vegas and New York, which will be the better one to visit?

Any advice or info on this would be greatly appreciated. Sorry for bombarding with this

2. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru, 1934 posts) 30 Jun '13 12:30

March will be a bit early for northern points (Yosemite will still be snowbound, but still open in some lower elevation areas). Here in Oregon, March is really the end of winter (weather unpredictable, but not too much sun, and snow in the Cascades - not exactly beach weather!)

I would say that 6 wks is possible, but the USA is really really big, and considerably more crowded than WA. I was in Perth years ago, so I know just how much of a shock you are in for.

I personally find LA to be the world's worst disappointment - maybe you will like it more than me?

San Francisco, on the other hand, has to be our most beautiful city, and very diversified and interesting (our most Asian city).

Although I love Hawaii, you might consider leaving it for another trip if you run out of time in your planning.

PLEASE, PLEASE, please learn how to drive American style in a small community - it could be rather dangerous to learn on the freeways of LA going 80MPH!

25K ? - are you planning on a first class trip? (prices here do compare to AU, except that I believe we have to tip more here - 15-20%)

I think I would start in Florida, then New York, Vegas, San Diego, LA, SF, Oregon. I would fly between NY and Vegas, drive up the W. Coast, and for Florida-NY it's your choice between driving, train or plane. Remember that car rental drop charges can be VERY EXPENSIVE.

[ Edit: Edited on 30-Jun-2013, at 12:59 by Daawgon ]

3. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru, 1934 posts) 30 Jun '13 20:26

The Pacific Coast in Oregon and California is some of the most picturesque real estate in this world. Plan to take the time to see it and don't rush from city to city on the Interstate highways, or you will bypass this awesome area. In Central California, take Highway #1 to see Big Sur, Monterey Peninsula and Monterey Aquarium, Carmel and it's awesome neighboring golf courses (Pebble Beach, etc.), and north of SF to see Point Reyes and the Marin/Sonoma Coast and Napa Valley, In Oregon, take Highway #101 and see the lighthouses and spectacular beaches (much too cold for swimming) - you can rent a dune buggy near Florence, sample cheese and ice cream at the Tillamook Dairy in the town of Tillamook, and sample great seafood near Astoria.

(the ocean temp might be warm enough to swim in SD or LA, the Pacific can be a very cold ocean)

4. Posted by Steenie (Budding Member, 2 posts) 30 Jun '13 21:20

Thank you for the advice. We're actually not that interested in seeing beaches because we have plenty of awesome ones here.
Would there be much difference in the weather in April and May compared to March?
I spoke to a travel agent who said I would need at least 30K for this trip, I thought it was a bit over the top.

5. Posted by Calcruzer (Moderator, 1838 posts) 1 Jul '13 12:25

Excellent advice from Daawgon.

About the only other thing I might mention relating to the trip route is that the California coastline is all wine-growing country, so the chance to stop and sample (preferably when you are near a destination where you plan to spend the night) is one thing to definitely add to your plans (I suggest a stop at Santa Barbara or Paso Robles for this reason). And the same applies to micro-breweries once you get up to Portland (in Oregon).

Also, this would be a great way to meet people along the way.

As far as April and May versus March--yes, the weather will be far better for most of the spots mentioned (particularly, New York, the northern part of California and the Oregon coastline).

As far as the $30K number--it's way too high. I could do this same trip for $10-$15 K and still stay at great places and eat at most of the top restaurants along the way (although I suppose you will probably spend at least $6K on airfare just getting here). Budget $20K to be on the safe side and even after staying at the Marriott in SF and NY you should still go home with money to spare. The one thing that might bump the cost way up would be the trip over to Hawaii and back (another $4-5K during the Feb-Mar timeframe; the prices will go down if you travel in April-May).

A few last things--while the urge to have the freedom to roam at one's own pace is a great thing, some of the small towns or resort spots (like San Diego and Las Vegas) along this route will book up early on weekends--and the same applies to some tourist destinations (like Hearst Castle on the California coast). For these places only, book early. The one other thing to book early is your flight from New York to Las Vegas. Book this at least two weeks early and fly this route on a Tuesday or Wednesday to save money. Also be aware that the last Monday in May is a holiday in the US (Memorial Day) so travel over that weekend will be more than if you can finish your trip prior to that time.

Enjoy your trip.

[ Edit: Edited on 01-Jul-2013, at 12:28 by Calcruzer ]

6. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru, 1934 posts) 1 Jul '13 12:47

Quoting Steenie

Thank you for the advice. We're actually not that interested in seeing beaches because we have plenty of awesome ones here.
Would there be much difference in the weather in April and May compared to March?
I spoke to a travel agent who said I would need at least 30K for this trip, I thought it was a bit over the top.

The beaches I speak of are considerably different from those in WA. Have you never seen pictures of Pebble Beach (world class golf) - I urge you to do a Google Image search. The word is picturesque! I personally have no interest in golf (I find it a tad boring and only for the rich), but there is no denying this area's beauty is WORLD CLASS