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- 05-12-2011, 13:55 #1
If you ask nicely...
I was having a brainstorm as to the knowledge I have to offer on this site, and as a rookie army wife there isn't a lot on that side of things. HOWEVER I have other skills (thank God!).
Growing up an Army brat in the USA and having a father with a fear of flying, I have road-tripped across America more times than I can count, lived in most regions, and at least travelled through most states. If you have any questions about the USA, lemme at em! Also, for the last 2 years I've been working as a travel agent for a well known national brand, and while I don't know everything about everything, I've learned some of the tricks and short cuts of the trade. I now feel knowledgeable enough to offer tips.
So if you have any questions, feel free to ask me and I'll do my darndest to be helpful and honest, including fessing up to an 'I don't know' if that's the case.
Happy trails!"The chaperon makes sure no-one else has any fun, but nobody chaperons the chaperon. That's why I'm so right for this job."
- 05-12-2011, 15:31 #2
what came first, the chicken or the egg?Could crop circles be the work of a cereal killer?
- 05-12-2011, 15:35 #3
My husband wants to know if you can still drive along route 66, and if so where can we hire the Harley's from.Carpe Diem
"Wit is educated insolence."
- 05-12-2011, 15:58 #4
Route 66 is still there, and in the words of the song, 'it winds from Chicago to LA'; you can go from LA to Chicago, if you wanted, but in my personal opinion, having been to both, the Pacific Ocean makes a better climax than Lake Michigan. Not that LM isn't great, but come on- the coast! You would want to fly into A and leave from B regardless, this is called an open-mouth ticket as far as the airlines are concerned. it has certain rules on the contract in regards to cancellations, delays, etc that simple returns don't have so read the small print!!!
As for renting the Harleys, there will be lots of vehicle hires in both cities that can help you out- BUT you are looking at a one-way drop off fee, unless you decide to ride them back again. it is over 2,000 miles in one direction, so the drop off fees are likely to be over £500- and that's before looking at the hire per vehicle per day, insurance, etc.
Be aware: route 66 is a 'historical highway'; they have built a modern interstate which is like a motorway, four to 6 or even 8 lanes in places, with fewer on and off ramps, along the same (ish) routes except it bypasses all the gorgeous towns, etc. That is for getting places quickly. The route 66 that you want to do is the historic one, more like an A road, it goes through all the towns. It is getting pretty touristy-fied as most locals use the interstate because it's faster. It is well sign posted, you should be able to get on and off without any trouble at all.
I've done that drive myself and it is amazing. Enjoy it when you go"The chaperon makes sure no-one else has any fun, but nobody chaperons the chaperon. That's why I'm so right for this job."
- 05-12-2011, 15:59 #5
Josephine: Dinosaurs laid eggs long before chickens existed, so I assert, the egg came first! :P"The chaperon makes sure no-one else has any fun, but nobody chaperons the chaperon. That's why I'm so right for this job."
- 16-02-2012, 14:33 #6
- Join Date
- Apr 2011
Mrs America me and the soon to be hubby want to do an American honeymoon. We were thinking (more him actually) about the east coast. New York, Boston etc.
Seeing as I know nothing (my geography is awful) help a girl out and advice me accordingly x
- 17-02-2012, 17:47 #7
hmmm, east coast! So, there's a lot of opportunity there. first question has to be, what sort of thing do you like to do while on holiday? hiking/kayaking/adventurous outdoor exploring? Or, a four or five star luxury city break with strawberries and champagne every night and broadway shows and shopping? Or, maybe, cape cod relaxing in a comfy beach front cottage followed up with a dricing tour of martha's vineyard.
The thing about America is, it's really varied and whatever you want to do, you CAN do. here are a few general tips-
WHEN is your honeymoon? if you can go in October or November some time, there is fantastic colour in New England. Fly into Boston and do a self drive up through Maine, eat some lobster, and see all the beautiful leaves and trees. The price of the flights are decided by when you go- if the kids (and teachers) are out of school, the price goes up because there's more demand. You might get London to new York as cheap as £350 or pay as much as £750. And that's per person. Try to avoid summer, Christmas and Easter holidays, as well as half term. If you like to shop, a GREAT time to go (if you can make it) is Thanksgiving (end of November). There are Day After Thanksgiving sales, also known as Black Friday, that are every shopper's paradise. And if you're in New York anyway, you could see the Macy's Thanksgiving day parade which is an institution (televised nation wide) and VERY worth a watch.
Now, budget. It's an ugly word and nobody likes to talk about it BUT it's a serious element. In New York city, you want to be mid-town Manhatten, near Times Square and Central Park and Grand Central station. I know this because trust me, that's the only place anyone ever wants to stay. A decent 3* in that location will cost you approximately £200 per room per night. So three nights will be at least £600. If you want a week, I hope you have a big overdraft. so be realistic about what you have to spend and let that help you pick what you can do. You could do a self drive through the green mountains in Vermont in early december, see some really gorgeous stuff, take 2 just 2 nights in New York, and do better price wise having just as much fun.
The east coast is the poshest part of America. New York, Boston, and Philidelphia are where our big families like the Kennedies and Rockafellers still live. Everything costs more in those cities than anywhere else. Imagine the difference between the price of a pint in London and the price of that same pint in leeds. Big jump, right? So be aware of the price of a meal, shopping, etc so you allow yourself the right budget. Boston is less expensive than new York but only just. Other than Tokyo New York seems to be about the priciest place in the world to get a hotel (this may not be true, but it seems that way!).
So, come back to me with more details like budget and hobbies, when you're going, whether you'd be willing to get a car, etc, and I'll throw some more at you. hope it's helpful
- 17-02-2012, 18:02 #8
- Join Date
- Mar 2009
Mrs America I think I love you! That post has answered loads of questions I had, we're off to NY for a week after the hubby gets back from the sandpit November sometime, now decided Thanksgiving has to be done
- 17-02-2012, 18:58 #9
Can I just say, Boston is a lovely place... although I saw it in January.
Oh and I stayed in some back packer places (was surprised at the quality of some) so don't rule those out, lovely double beds for reasonable prices (although it was a while ago) and if you don't need 3 star hotels, it's a good option to consider.
Originally, I was using America as a required stop over on my round the world ticket and to see a few people I'd got to know/friends, but hadn't thought I'd be that impressed as a whole, (sorry Mrs America) but actually, in the end, I wished I'd had longer there.
Plus, there was a shop that sold the best Gluten free bread I've ever tasted.... and that was in 2006!
Enjoy, I'd definitely go there againNothing to see here, move on by....
- 18-02-2012, 08:25 #10
Not at all offended, Feisty! My homeland has a very bad international reputation, mostly due to a few very visible idiots that make the rest of us cringe, and I understand why a lot of people overlook it as a holiday destination. And you're right about the backpacker places!
Pixie, if you do end up stateside on Thanksgiving, do me a favor and have some pumpkin pie with cool whip, which I miss terribly! and then do yourself a favor and get a Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks. Those are HEAVEN. And enjoy yourselves. I can't say a lot about New Yorkers specifically, who have a reputation as a cranky lot, but Americans by and large are really polite and generally quite friendly. And we loooove the brits! so people should be nice to you.
- 18-02-2012, 11:11 #11
- Join Date
- Mar 2009
Have been to America a couple of times with family to see family so I quite like you Yanks
- 22-02-2012, 11:42 #12
- Join Date
- Sep 2011
Hey Mrs_America, it's probably not USA related, but where would you recommend going for some sun in april? I'd like to go all-inclusive as I've never done it before although it's no way crucial. I just need some warmth in my bones!
- 22-02-2012, 13:35 #13
Well, as a travel agent I worked in a long-haul center, which means I didn't get to know too much about the near stuff (being, basically, Europe). So i can't be too specific but BASICALLY
there are two types of flights: Scheduled and chartered. Scheduled flights, like busses, go on schedule even whether they are full or empty and more or less, the price doesn't change. That's all your major airlines with long haul flights, from British Airways and Virgin, all the international American carriers, etc. Whereas chartered flights are run as part of the package holidays as done by Thomas cook or Thompson or whoever. And when it gets close to them getting ready to go they want to fill those planes because every empty seat is a loss. That's why, for package holidays, there are last minute bargains. There are NOT any for scheduled flights.
Location wise, if I had a big budget and I wanted to go all inclusive, you would find me in the carribean somewhere, or Cuba, or possibly Thailand in a Mandarin Oriental resort. Or you could try Dubai which also has amazing high quality all inclusive resorts.
I don't know what your budget is, but it'll be a lot less money to do something short haul, meaning Europe. Like I said, this was not my area, but I do know that you're best to AVOID SCHOOL HOLIDAYS like the plague. There's so much competition for those dates, with families and teachers all wanting to get away that the companies can name their price and people will pay.
Best for sun- people liked Egypt until the revolution and it is still a bit dicey there, so Sharm El Sheikh if you've got bottle. Greece has weather but it's also full of unrest. You're probably best doing Cyprus or Spain or Turkey, for those reasons. They are all relatively affordable with a selection of decent resorts.
What you can also do is pick dates, a destination and a resort you like and then ring up the company I used to work for (I'm sure i'm not allowed to tell you that it's NETFLIGHTS, an independent company recently that was bought by Thomas Cook while I was there) and they will package it together for you, with any transfers or car hire or extras, so that it's all package protected. All ABTA and ATOL protected too. You can go into a Thomas Cook shop and speak face to face with an agent and they can do the same thing for you in person but they will be calling Netflights to package it themselves.
Is that helpful?
- 22-02-2012, 14:20 #14
- Join Date
- Sep 2011
Thank you so much! That's really helpful, unfortunately we don't have a choice as to not go away in the school holidays, hubby has a week at easter, 2 weeks in August and then Christmas. It's really annoying as there's no cheap deals for us! I think the April one, the budget wouldn't be "all out" as it's so soon, probably 750 between the 2 of us (although to me that feel like a lot!) and the August one we could save for but everything would be hiked up massively! I did think of Cyprus, but I thought there wasn't really anything going on there that time of year?! When do you think would be best to book, for good savings but without too much risk of not going anywhere?
- 22-02-2012, 15:38 #15
For best price, what my mother-in-law does (to very good effect, I might add!) is she walks into her local Co-Op (but pick your favorite travel shop) and she sits down and she says, I want to go away in 2 weeks time. I want sun and four stars and full board. My budget is X. What have you got? And the agent knows she gets a commission if she can make a sale so the agent is willing to cut some of the price.
Also- this will sound cut throat- travel agents work on commission on a monthly rate, from the first to 30th of the month, so the closer you are to the end of the month the more desperate the agents will be to close that deal before month end to get higher numbers on their next pay check.
I would say to wait about a month before intend to travel to get your last minute bargains on package deals. And the thing about time of year is, at most resorts the 'scheduled' entertainment is the same year round and it's just how crowded and busy they are that varies.
let me know how you get on
- 24-02-2012, 10:49 #16
- Join Date
- Apr 2011
Mrs A I think I love you!!! You should charge for this kind of info - Just not until i'm done for free!!
So this is what we think we would like to do..........
We were thinking of going around September as we would like the weather to be nice but not too hot that we can't enjoy it. We thought about doing Washington, New York, Boston and Maine.
We like a little bit of everything so food, drink, shopping, sightseeing etc are the things we'd like to do most of (maybe not shopping Mr B dislikes shopping unless its for him!)
It seems most of our guests will be getting us vouchers for a wedding pressie so we were thinking of asking for Virgin vouchers. Is that a good idea or a bad idea? Would we be better off booking things like flights and hotels seperately?
Thanking you kindly Mrs A xx
- 24-02-2012, 13:08 #17
It seems like what you want to do is a self drive, and I wholley approve, it's a brilliant way to see the states. First piece of advice- do NOT fly in and out of new York. use Boston or Washington DC instead and you will save yourself some money.
Second point: with a self drive, there is the price of a hire car. Generally affordable BUT remember the one way fee! The further point A is from point B, the more it will cost. I have seen a one-way drop off fee of £500. BE AWARE. If you can work your route into a loop, that will also save cash.
The other thing is Boston, New York and Maine are all in the new England area, DC is a lot further south. i think you can get a train from NY to DC so that might be better than driving all that way yourself (especially if you would then drive back!).
I would book the flights as early as you can, and of course Virgin are great so feel free to ask for those vouchers. The hotels though- you'll want to pre-book a few locations, like down town new York and Boston. But you might want to leave th eother hotels to chance and choice! Say you leave Boston and head up towards maine and you see a gorgeous little family run B&B near the coast. Stay there! I think a lot of the charm of the Great American Roadtrip is the freedom to drive into the night or stop at lunch time and explore. Don't feel you have to prebook every detail. Go where the mood takes you.
Flights are always, always cheapest when you buy from the source, but if you're doing packages with car hire and hotels the situation changes. Consolidators like netflights have negotiated contracts with the car hire companies and hotels as well as the flights. So a company might add £20 to the price of a flight, but they may have special contracted rates with the other elements that save you £100 off the total. The other benefit of a consolidator is, they can package the whole thing so it's package protected. That way if there's an act of god and you're late to your next hotel, you're taken care of rather than marked as a no show.
Virgin does have it's own consolidating department so give Virgin Holidays a ring, if that's who you want to go to, and they should be able to set you up. I don't know how they are on new England deals but I DO know they do about the best Orlando packages going, so they are good.
Just a quick suggested itinerary: Fly into Boston. Go north, via cape cod into Maine, then head west through the white and green mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire. When you hit the Great Lakes, follow the coast south until you get to Niagara falls. From there, you can head right to new York Or DC, and then mosey on back towards Boston for your flight home.
- 24-02-2012, 14:27 #18
Mr S's parents often do the fly drive thing, in the USA they usually book first and last night, and the rest is wherever they might find along the route.
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- 11-04-2012, 13:38 #19
- Join Date
- Apr 2011
- Blog Entries
Mrs America!! Please be my Knight in shining armour! Me and the OH are planning one if not two American adventures this year so after so of your lovely advice.
First up. New York. Looking to go end of Nov/Dec time for his birthday, trying to go as early as possible to avoid all the Christmas madness whilst still expereincing some of it. Unfortunately we can't go for thanks giving due to a wedding so looking for the weekend after or the 1st weekend of December. I've read above about the location we need to aim for - any hotels that you'd recommend in particular? Just after a standard 3* hotel really as we're only going to be sleeping there. I've looked at lastminute.com and its all just a blur! Also how long would you say is necessary? Neither of us have been before so we'd like to do the tourist things and a spot of shopping too. We're budgeting £2000 for the both of us for flights and hotels - reasonable?
Next. This summer. We were contemplating Mexico but its turns into the rainy season in June, although it wont be like the UK, we've started to think about elsewhere. Again, it'll just be the 2 of us. He's been to LA before and loved it, however I am keen for us to go somewhere else despite wanting to go, he just might as well see somewhere new. So where? We're after beaches, day trips and fun times. America is completely new to me so I haven't got a clue about any of it so do not know where to start so please help me make a start. We'd be looking for 10nights - 2wks. Maybe go to 2 places, maybe road trip - thats even a possibility? I don't know! HELP! Budget wise, hmm, no more than £2500, lesser the better, we need to buy a house this year too.
Hope Germany is treating you well
- 18-04-2012, 08:23 #20
- Join Date
- Jul 2011