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Travel advice - usa

Discussion in 'The Pub' started by Orb, Feb 26, 2012.

  1. G'day guys and girls. I'm planning a two~three week trip to the usa to see a friend - so accommodation is one thing I don't have to worry about.
    Passport is on the way, I should be able to get in under the visa waiver program.

    Booking flights, what's the best way to go about this? Looked at the Qantas and a few other websites, not sure if these are actually decent prices though. Also, not sure If I need the VMP or the airline tickets first. Travel insurance I think I will do through work (ozy post). Planning on seeing the doc as well to find out if I should have some jabs before heading over.

    So if anybody can recommend a good airline, source for tickets and a bit of advice for organiseing the rest of the paperwork?
    Hell general travel advice as well, I've never been outside of NSW before 8-[

  2. I flew with Delta. They are America's largest airline apparently. I flew with them because they were the cheapest for me at the time. Qantas didn't even come close in terms of $$.

    I went to LA, Vegas and Anaheim (Disneyland). I found America to be the best place I have ever visited, and I've been to a few places. Everything I thought was reasonably priced, even after tipping. I would happily live there in a heart beat and actually felt safer walking the streets there than I do here.

    Think we got our tickets online, you know one of the webjet or easyjet such and such.
  3. No need for any vaccines. Enjoy the trip.
  4. there is the anti ****wit jab ive heard it doesnt alyways work though
  5. If you get your ESTA, you're laughing. Make sure you book off the link on the Foreign Affairs website. There's some shonky ones that charge you more than going straight through the state department.

    I flew Qantas and they were really good. The A380, as long as it is still airborne, is an easy flight to do. But it is only 16 or so hours... You can soldier through any airline alright.

    While I was over in the states I flew internally with Southwest. Cheap as chips but really good.
  6. i know deleted for something or other
  7. You don't need jabs or visas for the USA if you are an Australian citizen.

    Generally speaking avoid US airlines. They tend to make Jet* look like luxury.

    Good to see you are getting travel insurance. You probably won't need it but if you do, America is an expensive place to get sick.

    Where in the US are you heading?
  8. Contrary to what people generally think - the Yanks are some of he nicest, most hospitable people you'll meet.
  9. Try http://www.airfaresflights.com.au or webjet or zuji

    Book your flights online, make sure you have insurance as medical expenses are a killer.

    It's a pretty easy place to get around. Just make sure you know how to get where you want to go AND how to get back. It's easy to walk into the wrong neighbourhood. A mistake that can be fatal.
  10. Cheers everyone, will check out those websites, Not sure If I want to go cheap with a usa airline and risk not getting on because of overbooking (apparently they do that a fair bit?) or pay a bit more for (hopefully) better quality and service. For a couple $$$ I recon travel insurance is bloody cheap.

    Heading for Boise, Idaho... seeing if there's "anything" between me and a girl I've been talking to over the last year or so.
    I think the hardest piont of the trip will be getting up to sydney airport on time. Then it's a flight to LAX and onto Boise itself, doesn't look like anybody flies directly there.

    What's actually involved with running around an airport? Never been inside one and I get nervous in large crowds 8-[
  11. The prettiest girl I have ever seen was working at a gas station up in the Idaho panhandle. It was a little family operated station and she can't have been more than 18. If I wasn't in a hurry to get to the eastern side of Montana by sunset I probably would have asked for a pic.

    You can drive Boise to LA in 2 or 3 days depending on the roads you take.

    Much of Idaho is high desert but it has a few interesting things. It is home to one of the most important nuclear research facilities in the world but they don't seem to allow visitors.

    Craters of the Moon National Monument is an interesting volcanic landscape. You would pass it on the way to Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone is worth taking a couple of days to visit. If you have decent wheels, the road north from Yellowstone into Montana really is one of the most spectacular drives in the world. It goes through Beartooth Pass. Here is a map:
    America does have some good twisty roads:

    South-west is Nevada. More desert and some interesting "old west" history. Virginia City:

    West you have Oregon and Washington state. Venture into the Cascade mountains and see some Volcanoes like Mt St Helens and Crater Lake. Crater Lake is very scenic while Mt St Helens has a great visitors centre and it is quite fascinating to see the after effects of the last eruption and the way the landscape is healing. There are also some fantastic roads that go into and across the Cascades.
  12. Think delta are going bust... check with expedia.com or opodo.com or kayak.com for best rates
  13. Everyone has to start somewhere mate.

    If it's the first time, get there super early, just to help reduce stress. Read up on what you are allowed to take on the plane. Tell the cabbie to take you to the international terminal, not domestic. Your hand luggage should contain enough stuff to keep you comfortable for a couple of days in case your checked luggage gets temporarily lost (happens a lot). Bring a book.
    Some airlines require you to confirm your flight over the phone 24 hours prior (check).

    Find the check in queue for your airline check in (couple of hours early on a busy day), check in your main luggage which you will not see until your destination. They'll want to see your passport, and they'll give you your boarding pass(es). Keep it safe. Keep your hand luggage with you AT ALL TIMES and NEVER leave any bags unattended.

    They may ask if you want your luggage checked through to your final destination. My preference is to physically pick it up at each change of plane, but it depends on the circumstances.

    Then line up to go through security (put all metal objects bigger than a coin, and your hand luggage, into the tray for x-ray, and walk through the body scanner when requested. Don't freak if it goes off (quite normal).

    Customs will check your passport on the way out, too. Immigration at the US end is more involved. They may ask you a lot of questions, just answer them honestly (they probably already know some of the answers).

    Get some local cash as soon as you arrive (not too much), or earlier, even.

    Everyone in America expects a tip - 10-15%. If they pick up your bag at all, you should tip (dunno what the rate for that is now).

    Americans are actually great, for the most part. Just can't handle their drink, so watch that.

    Good luck, you'll have a ball.
  14. ^what he said!
    I hate everyone & everywhere, but LOVED the USA. Went to LA & Vegas and didn't want to come home!
  15. I would get US$500 (at least) before you leave Sydney Make sure you get some low denomination notes. Last year I found 2 places (both in convenience stores) on George Street up near Central that do fantastic exchange rates. There was less than 1% difference to official rates and no exchange fee.

    Don't stuff about with travellers cheques. Set up a "cash passport". It is basically a debit card facility that almost any bank can set-up. Once set up you can transfer money in and out online. Operates like a normal credit/debit card and can be used at teller machines cheaper that credit cards. The bank will give you two cards, they have separate PIN numbers so stash the second one in a safe place with your back-up documents.


    If you take a phone, get a cheap sim card in the States. You do not want to pay the outrageous roaming costs of an Australian provider. Last year I got one from T-mobile and didn't use half of the credit. When you set up the account you can easily keep track of your credit online or via the phone.

    If you have a smart phone or are taking a laptop/iPad, you will find a lot of places with free wi-fi. Very handy for making accomodation, tour and car hire booking.

    Car hire in the US can be cheap. I've had a few people tell me it is cheaper to hire online via uk websites than Aussie or US ones. Haven't tried it myself. Book just before you need a car and check the deals. If you drive, get a SatNav, especially if you are driving around large cities. Also, I find it easier to drive auto in the US even though I normally drive manual. I know manuals are rare in all but the cheapest US cars but it is one less thing to worry/think about when you are driving on the wrong side of the road. First time I drove in the US I had the friend I was staying with accompany me around local roads, explaining some of the rules (4 way stop signs are common, roundabouts are very rare) and reminding me to keep right.

    I'm a bit of a random traveller. Before I leave I book the first place I will stay (you have to declare it on the customs form) and the hire car and tend to do the rest after I arrive. If you are staying privately that makes things a little easier. Airports and roadside rest stops often have good discount booklets for hotels, motels and tours and sometimes cars.

    Last time I hired on the mainland I found a discount voucher in Springfield Massachusetts that got me a Mustang from Thrifty at LA airport for $45/day all up (excluding fuel).
  16. Cheers, more great info.

    More of a "personal" visit than a tourist trip, not sure we will do much sight seeing when I'm there... maybe some camping though.
    I don't drive and I don't think P2's for the bike will get me anywhere in Idaho (couldn't find anything saying yay or nay before).

    For luggage, mini laptop and my good cloths are going in the carry on, rest will be things I wont miss... just got to try and not look like a drug dealer 8-[
  17. I know I'm the third one to mention it, but before you do ANYTHING else get your ESTA. You must apply on line before you leave and if you don't you'll be on the next plane home. It's valid for two years so do it as soon as your passport turns up
  18. Will do as soon as we settle on the dates.
  19. I spent 3 weeks in the us at the beginning of the year and was an absolute blast did LA,Vegas and Hawaii did all the theme parks in LA and loved the roller coasters they shit all over what we have here....the hospitality over there is great and you will eat for peanuts....I also hired a bike in Vegas for 24 hours (2011 HD heritage softail) for $110us for the day and did the valley of fire and Hoover dam....I wouldn't do Hawaii again just wasn't my thing I guess...The US was an experience to get into they take all your fingerprints and photos they are very strict....One thing I will say is we are at least 5-10 years behind the US with technology etc.....