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travelling through USA

Travel Forums North America travelling through USA

1. Posted by gracexx (Budding Member, 19 posts) 20 Aug '13 09:49

Hi everyone

So i'm leaving for the states in just under a month :D exciting times, I have 5 nights in NYC and 5 nights in Washington which is sorted. But I have 31 days to do the east coast, so the stops I want is San Fran, Yosemite park, UTAH, Grand Canyon, San Dieago and LA. I need advice on how to tackle this the greyhound won't include Yosemite park, if I had buddies a car would probably work but I wondered if anyone could shed some light for me :)

Thanks Guys
Grace xx

2. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru, 3533 posts) 21 Aug '13 10:37

Grace,
You can get close to Yellowstone NP via bus. I called around and Salt Lake Express will get you to either Jackson or West Yellowstone. There are daily tours out of West Yellowstone and Jackson. There are also daily tours from SLC. Or multi day tours if you have the time/money.

Good luck with your planning.

[ Edit: Edited on 21-Aug-2013, at 10:39 by vegasmike6 ]

3. Posted by Dodger (Respected Member, 860 posts) 21 Aug '13 19:11

Mike she hasn't even mentioned going to Yellowstone.

Grace, first off, you do know all those places are on the west coast not east? Just a typo I'm sure.

There is a bus company that I used many years ago called Green Tortoise It was a real hippy bus back then and broke down all the time and had to be pushed up hill! Great experience though, but looking at the website they now seem to have gone a bit mainstream. But they do offer one, two or three day trips to Yosemite out of San Fran..the west coast one! :)

I'd bet though that there are loads of hostels in San Fran that are also offering mini bus tours much cheaper. You'd probably get more information posting your question on the Tripadvisor travel forum, or Lonely Planet forum. You might also want to try posting on Craigslist rideshare Just be careful with that as it attracts a lot of nutters!

Enjoy your trip whether its east or west coast!

4. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru, 3533 posts) 22 Aug '13 10:07

Roger,
You are right! I read 'yosemite' and my brain is thinking 'yellowstone'. Plenty of day or multi day tours of Yosemite NP from SF. Since Grace has 31 days on the 'west coast', maybe she will want to do Yellowstone after all!

Grace, if you hit Las Vegas, give me a shout and I will get you a FREE show. It won't be Celine Dion, but I can always get something worth seeing. Good luck with your planning.

5. Posted by The Tipsy Gipsy (Respected Member, 34 posts) 23 Aug '13 09:45

--Ah I lost my post, I guess that's what I get for typing on my phone and using bus wifi :)

Hi Grace,

I am in the middle of my US adventures at the moment so I thought I would share a little about what I have done/am doing.

First off, exciting, it is such a fun place to travel, it's lots of fun and lots to see and do you will have a blast. Just bring loose fitting trousers :)

As Dodger said, The Green Tortoise is a good option from San Fran, I stayed at the hostel and flicked through the brochures, lots of day trips and a few longer ones. Yosemite is one of their major places.

As you probably noticed while researching it is a massive country and the transport is not great, especially once you leave the coast, so I have done a combination of riding solo especially in the bigger, more well connected cities and after contemplating a car for a while, I ended up booking a tour to take me to to the middle.

Tours aren't for everyone, and they get dissed a bit but I think they are great, good value, lots of fun and a stress free way to see a lot in a short time.
There are lots of companies doing tours from a few days to a month or two long. They are especially good to get out and see the National Parks, there are heaps around the West Coast that take you out into the desert and the parks. If you are willing to camp you will get an even better deal and especially great if you want to see some nature, ie. campin g at Grand Canyon instead of stopping and looking. Have a look at Topdeck, Contiki if you want to do an 18-35 type tour or G Adventures, Trek America, Intrepid and Green Tortoise's longer ones which area bit more open aged.

If you want to do it on your own.

Amtrak is the rail system. For the most part I have found it entirely useless. I have used it on the East Coast a few times. It works well if you are going up the coast, but the price and time it takes to me personally isn't worth the money. They take longer than a bus a lot of the time. But it is more comfortable and if it works out well then it's ideal.

The Greyhound has the best network. It has a bad rep but if you go in and expect a full bus and a long journey it really isn't bad at all, I found it quite roomy. And the stations are usually down town which is handy. Booking online and in advance saves you $.

Megabus, which was a staple of my UK travels has a US network, I think it is growing, but if it happens to work for you, it's super cheap especially in advance. I did LA to San Fan for $15. I know it also goes to Vegas from LA> www.megabus.com On the longer trips they usually make a lunch stop.
Also on the no frills bus trips, Bolt Bus connects the North West. There are also a bunch on the East Coast like the Chinatown buses. Get in early for a bargain. It's mostly students, so they usually connect college cities. They are budget but they have plenty of room and wifi and much better than you would expect.

Flying is a bit of a hassle at times, but the US has such a massive network and so many airlines it is really competitive and so the prices are really reasonable. Again especially in advance. Before you book a bus/train check the flights online, they are often cheaper and you can save yourself hours and hours. Just do a quick skyscanner.net search of your destinations for a ballpark figure.

Hiring a car is a great way to see the US because the little towns in between are often a highlight for me, i'm not a big driver, but I wish I was.

Google tours from Vegas and from San Fran to find local companies doing day tours or over nighters. Hotels especially usually have connections. I know there was some Grand Canyon ones from Vegas but I can imagine they are fleeting and expensive but if you just want to take a peek it might be ideal. You can take a helicopter there from Vegas :)

I can't remember what else I wrote the first time.

Have a great trip, I only have 2 weeks left of my adventures :( Happy planning.

6. Posted by gracexx (Budding Member, 19 posts) 23 Aug '13 09:53

Guys your comments have been great I really appreciate it!!!

7. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru, 1940 posts) 23 Aug '13 10:13

As the Gypsy stated, without a car you're really more or less disabled in the USA, and trying to see so much of it in one shot is next to impossible. If you're young, then Green Tortoise seems the best solution and you'll have plenty of company and be able to party at the same time. Don't worry too much - the fact is that very few Americans have seen it all either!

8. Posted by Jonell (Budding Member, 24 posts) 23 Aug '13 12:00

Renting a car is probably one of your best bets when it comes to the west coast, but you might get lucky and get some decent public transit in the cities. I'm in San Diego and the city is pretty good with getting you from one place to the other, but I think Yosemite will pose a problem without a rented car.

9. Posted by Dodger (Respected Member, 860 posts) 23 Aug '13 16:54

I just happened to flick through that link I gave you to Craigslist and whada ya know, this trip to Yosemite would have been perfect for you. Sounds like he is a local and will go again. I'd suggest you contact him and give him the dates you will be there and see if he will go again or postpone his trip until you arrive. I'd also suggest making a photo copy of the information page of your passport and emailing it to him once you have a conversation going and ask him to do the same with his driving license. It might sound a bit over the top, but if he is legit he will understand and should be willing to do this.

Ah no forget what I said, he is on vacation. Still obviously is a great resource to keep checking in on.

[ Edit: Edited on 23-Aug-2013, at 16:56 by Dodger ]