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Travel Forums North America Preperation

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11. Posted by Skangie (Budding Member 3 posts) 3y

I received an email notification on your question a few days ago- without logging in to read any responses. Oops!

I know nothing about hostels and little about travel options. I’ve traveled a lot in the USA and Canada in the past 13 years but mostly by CAR. I have occasionally used buses and trains. Greyhound is the best bus chain. I've been on a plane six times in my life. United's the best.

ACCOMMODATION
Be flexible. I see you plan to use hostels for most of the trip. I've never stayed at one. I’ve probably stayed at a thousand hotels though. Unless I was with a group, I rarely reserved a hotel in advance. If I did reserve one for a night, it was that morning. I never knew where I’d be each night on my unplanned trips. I just winged it. I’ve never had to sleep in a car. I have had to pay some high prices and/or sleep in not-so-nice rooms though. Unless something major was going on in a city that I knew nothing about (producing high rates or no vacancies), winging it often worked for me.

Sometimes you can get a lower rate at the front desk than online. Other times, they’re the same rate. If you know where you plan to be each night, you can check hotel options and rates online in advance. Then call ahead and see what rate you get. If it’s lower on the phone, you might want to take it. Calling ahead also lets you know if something major is going on in a place (festival, wedding, etc). If you travel there and find someplace else to stay, you usually have until 6pm or midnight to cancel the other room without being charged. But check online or via phone first!

If a hotel chain you stay at asks if you want to join its rewards program, say yes! If you get enough points for each night you stay at that chain, you’ll get a free or discounted night eventually (depending on the chain). Hotel rewards programs pay off in the long run.

I’ve stayed at some really nice 3-star hotels for less than $100, sometimes less than $70. My mom uses AAA and senior discounts. We also pick up hotel coupon books at state welcome centers and rest areas. My favorite chains are Marriott (Fairfield, Courtyard, and Residence), Holiday (Express, Suites), and Hampton (Suites). I’ve stayed at Country Inn too. They have free books and DVDs during your stay, plus a full-course hot breakfast. Even Best Western is coming up in the hotel world. One north of Charlottesville, Virginia, is nice and new, like a lodge. Basic hotel amenities for me are a nice bed, good lighting, a hair dryer, a hot shower, cable TV (at least 50 channels), and a decent breakfast (more than continental). The hotel has to be clean!

DESTINATIONS
Back East is much more populated, so you're going to find a lot more accommodation options in most towns and cities, even the smaller ones.

I haven't been to Yosemite. Yellowstone - I stayed in Bozeman, Montana, the night before (back in 2002). The nice 3-star chain hotel was reasonably priced. The drive into Yellowstone wasn't much more than an hour.

I've been to Montgomery only once. I didn't visit Rosa Parks' place but this was a Sunday, with everything closed. I did visit F. Scott Fitzgerald's place that afternoon though. The town also has a Hank Williams Museum.

Chicago - I used to live 3 hours away so I visited often. I loved Lakeshore Drive and the Arts Institute, which is FREE on Tuesdays. :)

Washington, DC - I used to live half an hour away (and worked there), so I visited often on weekends. The Smithsonian museums, zoo, National Arboretum, and presidential monuments [all free] are the best and most beautiful part of DC. I also like Arlington National Cemetery across the Potomac, which has a Robert E. Lee house/museum.

Philadelphia - you gotta visit the revolutionary era landmarks and buy a philly cheesesteak! :)

Niagara Falls - the Canada side has the best views and you can get closer to the falls. The USA side requires a lot of walking and you can't park close by.

Have fun! :D

12. Posted by Calcruzer (Moderator 1989 posts) 3y

Sorry if I was a little tough with some of my advice on booking early for Yosemite and Yellowstone (and Lake Powell), but people don't realize just how difficult booking campsites inside these parks can be.

Here is advice from the US National Park Service's Yosemite website on getting a campsite there: http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/camping.htm

At this website it says: "Be aware that nearly all reservations for the months of May through September and for some other weekends are filled the first day they become available, usually within seconds or minutes after 7 am! For your best chance of getting a reservation, be sure your clock is set accurately and start the first few steps of the reservation process at www.recreation.gov before 7 am Pacific time."

13. Posted by Arharrison03518 (Budding Member 4 posts) 3y

Thank you all!

I shall take all this into account!

I've decided to take Yosemite off my trip and have found reasonable accommodation for Yellowstone so as soon as my dates become available I will book this.

Happy Travels everybody!

14. Posted by Ravinder10 (Budding Member 7 posts) 3y

When I went to the States last year, I spent ages planning it but it started to stress me out so in the end I thought I'd go with the flow. I had a rough idea which cities I was going to visit. I booked my flights in advance to New York and return flight from San Francisco so I knew by 1st Nov I had to be in San Francisco and I also booked my first 2 locations in advance and the rest as I went along about 2-3 days in advance of my next destination. I didn't really find it a big problem finding somewhere to stay. I personally wouldn't book much in advance as then you have deadlines and you may feel rushed into your trip worrying about getting to the next place on a certain date.
Some good advise given about booking the National Parks in advance. Unfortunately I never visited any on this trip but plan to do so on my next so I will be booking that in advance so it's not sold out etc. Good luck.

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