Help with itinerary for USA trip

Travel Forums North America Help with itinerary for USA trip

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1. Posted by sanbot (Budding Member 29 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Hi fellow travellers,

So my leave from work has been approved and I am all set to start planning for my US trip starting late august this year.

But I'm finding it difficult deciding which states I should include/exclude and how long to stay in each one and which order.

I've got about 4 to 5 months to travel and some of the things I want to fit in include (in no particular order):
- Mount Glacier national park (driving the Going to the Sun road)
- Mount Rushmore
- Route 66
- NYC over christmas and NYE
- Volunteer work: would be particularly interested in working with animals and church organisations
- Seattle
- Vancouver (open to suggestions for other parts of Canada)
- Colorado
- Yosemite national park
- Big Sur
- Grand Canyon
- Florida
- Mississippi
- Chicago
- Visiting "odd" sights e.g. America's Largest (insert some object), supposed UFO hot spots etc
- Any other national parks
- Scenic drives in mountain ranges, dense forestery areas
- Any other suggestions that will allow me to experience American culture.

I'm not entirely sure what order to do things in. I know I will be starting off in LA, where I will also be purchasing a car. I want to be able to fit in as much of USA as possible but at the same time I don't want to be spending too much time driving from destination to destination either and I want to avoid doubling up as much as possible.

In terms of accommodation I plan to utilise although I don't have any references so I don't know how difficult it would be for me to find people willing to host me? Are there other similar options? I am extremely keen to see what it would be like to hangout with an American family and to experience a glimpse into suburban life in USA and seeing life through the eyes of a local. I'm considering hostels as well, but I'm assuming they'd be filled with mainly overseas tourists?

Would love to hear suggestions? Or if you need me to clarify anything feel free to ask.

Appreciate your help all!


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3. Posted by katekendall (Respected Member 34 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

You can also check out if you don't have much look with Couchsurfing.

I would definitely add California to the list if you haven't already. San Francisco is a must-see, the Californian coastline is gorgeous and LA, well, it's LA but the home of many things.

If you go to Seattle, check out Portland. Also Victoria when you're in Vancouver.

4. Posted by Amydiaz11 (Budding Member 21 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Hi, there are many things that you can do in the USA, listing them all will be really difficult here. If you want to have some great fun and spend your money do visit Las Vegas!! You can find many streets -most of them come alive at night - that you should visit ; The time square, the golden gate, the bourbon street and Walt Disney World are a must visit. The couch surfing idea is really good! I m sure you will find many American families ready to welcome you. My friend had visited the US after she received American airways free ticket letter and she opted to stay with families. She just loved the hospitality and they were really friendly. They were also looking for cultural exchange by inviting people from different countries. share your experience after the trip, bye..:)

5. Posted by DaveinMD (Full Member 199 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Gotta ask: Mississippi?

6. Posted by DaveinMD (Full Member 199 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

I also think you are skipping a few must sees such as Washington DC and as mentioned California. The drive down the coastal highway between SF and LA is pretty special. As for Canada the Canadian Rockies are amazing if you have the time. The drive from Banff to Jasper will take care of your scenic drive through forests. On the way to Chicago (which I highly recommend) take a stop in South Dakota and see the Badlands.

But keep in mind the US is HUGE and there is no way around it, you will spend time driving from spot to spot. From Chicago to the east coast will be a decision. If it were me I'd just bolt as I'm not a huge fan of the midwest even though my family is from Michigan. But maybe a stop at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland? Love your idea of finding the worlds largest ball of mud or whatever, problem is I can't really help you in that department.

7. Posted by ElliotWebb (Budding Member 13 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

For a trip that long I would add Philadelphia, Washington DC, Nashville, New Orleans and San Francisco to your itinerary. Oh yeah and as posted above, if you're in Canada Banff is unmissable.

8. Posted by sanbot (Budding Member 29 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Thanks for the replies guys! I didn't mention places like Vegas, San Francisco and DC because I've already been to those places, but I do want to visit them again! I've put priority on places I havn't visited yet (with the exception of yosemite, big sur and grand canyon which totally blew my mind)

I remember someone once saying Mississippi can be a fun place to goto which is why I mentioned it. But I can't for the life of me remember why?!

But as some people said, USA is huge! So my biggest issue is what order should I visit places and given that I won't be able to see everything what things should I do and places should I visit?

I'm also mindful that some places can get snow early so I'll need to fit these places earlier (I'm thinking places like Canadian Rockies, The Glacier National Park or any other northern parts of USA).

Thanks for the suggestions guys, keep them coming!

9. Posted by Calcruzer (Travel Guru 2007 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

A third site to check out (in addition to couchsurfing. com and is

And yes, I would definitely get to the places in the north and in the mountains prior to mid-October. These places would be Montana (Glacier National Park), Canada (British Columbia, Canadian Rockies), the mountains of California (Yosemite) and Colorado (American Rockies), Wyoming (Yellowstone National Park), South Dakota (Mount Rushmore and the Badlands) and even Chicago--where winters can be brutal at times.

With this in mind, I'd start someplace like Chicago, travel west through South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, into the Canadian Rockies, then to Vancouver and Seattle, south to California then east to Las Vegas and Utah and Colorado, then back south through Monument Valley to the Grand Canyon then east to Santa Fe,New Mexico, down to Roswell, NM, through the Carlsbad Caverns and then on across the south and into Memphis, New Orleans and Mississippi before going onto Florida. Lastly, I'd go up the east coast with maybe a side trip over to Nasville and Atlanta mixed in before finishing up in NYC.

Since you have so much time, you could even start this trip in Boston, go to Montreal, then Toronto and Niagara Falls and then on through Cleveland (with a stop at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), and then onto Chicago--then do the rest of the trip as originally listed.

Have fun.

10. Posted by sanbot (Budding Member 29 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

I like your suggestion Calcruzer, only problem for me is that the friend that I am using his address to purchase a car lives in LA which means I wouldn't be able to purchase it in Chicago right i.e. I have to purchase the car in the state that I am using an address for? Or did I misunderstand Vegasmike's advice? Also, you mentioned mid october, isn't that a bit late? I thought places like the Glacier National Park closes some of its roads mid september? Sorry one more thing, have you or anyone else used globalfreeloaders before? How safe is it?

[ Edit: Edited on 04-May-2011, at 04:56 by sanbot ]