Seeking tips re: USA travel itinerary :)

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Mardi

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In New York I love the AKA Times Square hotel - it is spacious and has a full kitchen and laundry facilities. We always stay at least 9 days and up to two weeks so the extra space makes our stay that much more comfortable.

Don't bother visiting the Statue of Liberty. TWO security checks, queues, queues, queues and you can't take water into the statue - we were there in the heatwave recently and after climbing ~160 stairs to not have access to water was torture. We bought a timed ticket in advance and went first thing in the morning - all things to minimise queuing - and I would estimate we still spent over three hours in queues or waiting vs about 30 minutes of actual "experience".

Citypass (citypass.com) is excellent - all the sights are well worth seeing and lots of queue jumping is included. You get access to the Empire State Building (we went early and there were virtually no queues), Met, American Museum of Natural History (meh), MoMA, Statue of Liberty or a 2 hour cruise - we chose the cruise and upgraded to 3 hours and bought SOL tickets separately so we could include pedestal access (crown was sold out), Top of the Rock or the Guggenheim - did TOR last time so went to the Guggenheim.

The time we did TOR we went at night, no queues and a fabulous view of the city lights.

We got an AT&T sim for free and signed up for a $30 data plan for our iPad so we could have data access for looking up maps etc when out and about.

IF staying near Times Square John's Pizzeria on 44th St (near 8th avenue) is EXCELLENT, we went back many times. Shake Shack has great burgers and I love the cheesy fries. And the plain cheesecake from Juniors is delicious :D

In DC we had the best meal we've had in a long, long time at the Tabard Inn.

Hope some of this helps!
 

timster

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Last day in LA: Book a hotel near LAX and the blue bus line to Santa Monica/UCLA (?). Four Points Sheraton was a good deal last time. Check out late morning and leave your luggage. Catch the blue bus to Santa Monica (pay by quarters only). Walk to Venice if you've got the energy or just hang around the mall in SM. Don't miss SM pier. Bus back to hotel in time to get hotel shuttle to LAX for your late departure. If less adventurous, just get Culver City bus to Fox Hills Mall for indoor shopping and eating.
 

brickmark

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Hi Chris,

Sounds like a great trip.

Sounds like you have some good tips. Here is a few of mine.

Las Vegas. I have stay at the Bellagio and Mandalay Bay. Mandalay Bay rooms are awesome each room is a suite with separate lounge room. It is quite a way from the centre of town. The O at Bellagio was amazing

NYC. I did NYC in March 2004 and stayed at the Waldorf and by coincident the rock and roll hall of fame was on at the same time in the hotel. Caught the lift with Chubby Checker and got to see Kid Rock etc. Since you are there in March that might be an option.

Toronto. 5th biggest city in North America (just another big city) It is worth considering getting a car and driving up to Quebec, that is a great trip. Magog was a great little town we found on the way. You should get some snow that time of year also. So an AWD will be worth the extra $$$ per day.

Vancouver: Victoria Island is worth drive around. We drove Vancouver - Jasper - Whistler - Victoria Island (via car ferry)

Driving. Must do in the US, and get a sports car or a 4wd. It sounds strange but if you do hire a car jump on the freeway straight away. It helps you get use to being on that side of the car and helps you get use to the width of the car

Flying: Most planes now have on board wifi. So take an iPad or laptop along to keep you busy as not many have entertainment anymore. Wifi is super fast also. When I was there last month AA had a special for the admirals club of $99 monthly pass with 1 guest allowed.

Have fun
 
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Tassie

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I'm in the US at the moment. Lived here for a year and come back every year or two.

Forget the shuttle from JFK. Take the train which connects to the subway or Long Island Railroad. Easy, efficient and much faster. (About 40 minutes as opposed to 90+)

Buy ten trip tickets on the subway in NYC

Take the Staten Island ferry. Free and fabulous views of Lower Manhatten and Statue of Liberty. (I don't rate going to the actual island to see the Statue either). When you arrive - unless you want to go to Staten Island) just get off and walk through and turn around to join the queue to get back on. And don't be discouraged if there is a huge queue - amazingly everyone will get on - it is a huge ferry.

You don't necessarily need to do organised walking tours. Guidebooks - such as Lonely Planet - have ideas for walking tours of the neighbourhoods in NYC, but also you can just do it yourself. Try Soho, East Village, or Greenwich Village for great boutique shops and fun restaurants. Or you could do Little Italy or Chinatown depending on your food choices.

Also remember in Feb/March plans may be scuttled by snow at any time. Be prepared for the weather by taking - or (preferably) buying there - well-insulated and waterproof boots and coat. However, indoors the buildings are very over heated and I wear less clothes inside there in winter than in Australia.

I find Expedia has consistently best rates for hotels (and an Australian number to call if problems, though I have never had any) - unless you are prepared to wait for last minute. If you register with them and search for hotels on your dates, but then don't book, they will usually send periodical updates with specials for the dates you want. You can get really good specials that way. Last time I was in NYC, we stayed at the Salisbury - upper midtown/theatre district. The room was so big (considering most NY hotel rooms are shoeboxes), I asked if we had been given an upgrade. And the $4 breakfast (I was expecting the usual stale doughnuts, bagels and sweet OJ) was the best continental BF I've had in the US. Also great concierge service. If you don't stay somewhere with breakfast included, there are delis on every street corner in NYC. They look like corner stores or takeaways but most have seating upstairs where you can eat what you purchase. Most do cooked breakfasts - quality varies but is usually OK.

Also - if you do hire a car - remember to use an online booking service (eg Nova) that includes full insurance. If you get insurance from the hire companies it doubles the price of the hire and if you don't, you are not covered - despite what your travel insurance/credit card company says. (The US has no excess system - just full cost recovery)
 
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Tassie

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It sounds corny, but it is also still worth going up the Empire State Building if you get a clear day. If you get there soon as soon as possible after it opens, there are few crowds - later the line gets too long. Good to do on your first day to get your bearings in the city.
 

ChrisFlyer

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So as another update, I have contacted United who have agreed to comp me Mileage Plus Premier (Star Alliance Silver) status to cover this trip, so I may look at moving some domestic flights to UA to enjoy the status benefits if the prices are very similar (though definitely keeping the VX flight even with baggage fees and lack of lounge access - I'm very keen to check out their new-age fleet)! ... though I do remember United being almost twice the price as some of the other airlines on certain routes (on the dates that I checked anyway), so I'll have to go through and re-price (taking into account the 2x free checked bags per person) once we have the cities finalised!

To anyone with UA status, what has your experience been like with the 'Unlimited Domestic Upgrades' benefit? I realise that Premier is their lowest level of elite status, so I of course don't expect a free upgrade to First on every flight, but do I have any hope of securing even 1 out of 9 (or so) flights? ... or is it a bit like the QF points upgrade lottery? Having said that, I'm sure I could live with the free Economy Plus upgrade if First was full, though First would certainly be welcome (which I could combine with 'free' lounge access from Priority Pass where in the RCC where available)! :p

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Blackadder - Having not been to NYC before, one of the main selling points of the Hilton @ Times Sq. was that it is right near a number of the theatres... is this part of NYC generally 'safe' late at night? ... I would have assumed that it would be just like any other major city, where one should be alert but not particularly worried etc, but first-hand experience is always better than a presumption!

BrisVegas Traveller - Is this the correct Pastis? If so, it looks delightful! Pastis :: Home

parsonstrish - Thank-you again! I'll definitely look into Amtrak - I hadn't actually heard of that before, so it's definitely something worth me looking into!

Meggsy - ahhhhhhhhhhhh OK - makes sense! What I knew about hotel prices was quite limited compared to the same of airline prices, so after seeing just a few hotels charge more for the weekend, I just assumed that it was standard practice! Thanks for the clarification, and I'll see what rates I can find by changing days around etc!

RB - wow, sounds like you had a great time!! I also like the tip about bringing something from AUS - the guide may appreciate it more than just cash!

tuapekastar - thank-you very much for that! I usually always print all confirmations, and have a back-up saved in an email account and also in the TripDeck app on my iPhone (only the confirmation numbers, but better than nothing)! Perhaps I shouldn't chance it and should bring two copies of the shuttle booking just in case! ;)

rrian - regarding the TSA screening, you mentioned that you had toiletries etc confiscated. If these included liquids, did you present any liquids seperately in a clear bag as is required, or were there non-liquid items missing? Also regarding the vitamins/meds - were they liquid-like at all? ... I have a friend who works in international airport security, and he has shown me some of the advanced features on the x-rays once when it was absolutely dead and I was passing through - there is an option on some of them to show anything with mineral content in a green tone... he demonstrated this by putting his drink bottle filled with normal water through the x-ray, then a bottle of mineral water that he had - the mineral water was very different on the x-ray due to the content of the liquid... Not defending the TSA at all, but perhaps they thought something was suss about your pills/meds? (of course, even if that was the case, there's no reason why they shouldn't have questioned you as opposed to just stealing your stuff!) Re: Vegas, I'll definitely keep the bistro suggestion in mind - it could save us quite a bit depening on what is available!

harriaj - It's funny you ask - I am actually considering Montreal instead of Toronto, based on a number of pictures that I've seen... I just need time to go through the Torronto and Montreal Lonely Planet iPhone apps that I bought the other day before making a final decision, as I probably won't have time for both as well as Vancouver!

Bad Seed - I hadn't even thought of the Grand Canyon (whoops haha!)... being so close to CA and NV I might find a way of slotting it in - a helicopter ride sounds like a fantastic idea!!! I won't be visiting San Diego or Hawaii, but this won't be my only trip to the US (particularly if the exchange rate continues), so I'll save those comments for my next trip where I'll most likely only want to see NYC again (via LAX), and then all new cities inc. Hawaii when the weather is better! I particularly like your idea of the Staten Island ferry - and seeming as it's free, there's no reason not to!!! Also re: airport security - I have memorised every rule/procedure that could apply to me (I pass through airport security a minimum of 3-6 times per week in AUS, so the different USA rules only took about an hour to memorise)... I did this in the hope of using the faster Black Diamond lanes in airports where I wouldn't have access to a priority security queue through either status or class of travel :)

Juliesmac - Now that you've said that, I'm going to be hanging out for them to say "NO SOUP FOR YOU!!!" :p ... I am tempted to visit Ground Zero - has there actually been much progress with re-building, or is there just a 9/11 monument at this stage? I love all of your other tips, particularly the Central Park one... the only hard thing will be convincing my other half *not* to do the Empire State - it will probably be easier to just buy an express pass and prevent any possible whinging haha! ... though if she comes around, the Rockefeller Center does sound like a plan!

farawaymum - Thank-you very much for all of your tips, and for including the names of the tour operators and companies - it will make my life soooooooooooooooooo much easier - thanks again! :)

brickmark - thanks for the Alaska Airlines tip - I've just checked, and they offer Qantas Frequent Flyer points on their flights, so that could come in handy if they operate any of the routes I'll be flying at a reasonable price! :)

Mardi - I couldn't help but notice that your first post here on AFF was your comment in this thread - thank-you for such a detailed message, and WELCOME TO AFF!!! Regarding the AT&T SIM, you mentioned that it was on a plan - which makes me think of a lock-in contract... do they have open-timed plans over there, or were you just there for a particularly long time? And of course, if I can be of any assistance to you re: flights, hotels or what to do in Brisbane, please don't hesitate to contact me! (this of course goes for all of you who have so kindly replied to this thread, though I doubt how helpful I could actually be compared to all of you!) :)

timster - I hadn't actually considered Santa Monica, though I will definitely look into it!

brickmark - Unfortunately, I won't qualify for a international drivers licence until a few months after I return home (wasn't in a rush to get my licence when I was younger as the public transport was too good and I had no need for a car), although I did eventually bother to sit the test (had the required number of hours for a long time, and then passed manual the first time :D)... my partner has an open licence though, however I would have to look into the rental insurance waiver on my Plat Amex to see if it would cover her while in the US (as the additional cardholder and driver, as opposed the primary cardholder). Re: on-board wi-fi, I seem to have lucked out, in that only one of the flights (SFO-LAS) has wi-fi (of course, I'll probably play around with flights - particularly to add the Canadian destinations), but with free hotel wi-fi everywhere except for Vegas, I'm sure I can survive if I can't get wi-fi on a flight! Have you used the flight wi-fi at all on any carrier over there? If so, what was the speed like in comparisson to the plane's passenger load? ... I've heard that planes with satellite-powered wi-fi can be dreadful, but if their jets use ground-based technology, then I would happily pay!

Tassie - you seem to be an expert on the NYC subway! Do they have any kind of electronic ticketing at all (eg comparable to the Oyster Card in London etc etc), or is everything still all paper-based (thus the recommendation for a ten trip ticket)? I've found a great iPhone app for the Subway (the mxData one - they have one for London which was AMAZING!!! - doesn't require any internet for routing and line suggestions - only for service updates if you choose to download them), so in that sense, I'm hoping to get a lot of use out of the Subway (and I hear that the automated ticket machines take Amex, so even better!) Thank-you also for the weather tip - I'm hoping to see snow!!! (... just not enough to disrupt flights etc, as the airports should have learned a thing or two from that happened in Europe not too long ago)! I have found in the past that Expedia have the same price for Hilton Hotels as booking direct, although now that you mention it, I might check it before booking anything (just have to check the rules with HHonours Gold Elite perks and how the reservation is made - don't want to miss out on the free b/fast and wi-fi)! :) Also considering that about 1/3 of our time will be spent in NYC, I'll compare the Hiltons to the Salisbury in terms of room size - as that could make things a bit more comfortable! We'll most likely do the Empire State Building, but with an express pass ticket (I *HATE* lines with a passion - which is why United's offer of complimentary elite status for this trip (thus priority check-in, security and boarding) will probably net them the majority of my US/Canada travel)! :)
 
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timster

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... the NYC subway! Do they have any kind of electronic ticketing at all (eg comparable to the Oyster Card in London etc etc), or is everything still all paper-based (thus the recommendation for a ten trip ticket)?

The 1-day fun pass used to be the go in NYC for public transport, but now has finished. Unlimited Ride Metrocard now looks to be the best deal.
MTA/New York City Transit - Fares and MetroCard
MetroCard (New York City) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I have been to NYC many times but have never used the subway - always took the bus because you get to see the city (have used the same principle in Paris, London etc). Only use trains for speed. Get a bus map from JFK transport desk or in the buses (by back door I recall). Then you just have to figure out that the main arteries are one way, so you go downtown on one and uptown on another.

NYC is relatively safe at night, even Times Square since Disney-fied by Guliani. It is much safer than many cities. The dangerous reputation is long past.

Airport shuttles have always been fine for me. On arriving / leaving Manhattan you get to see different neighbourhoods as they do the pickups/dropoffs. Very easy to find at JFK. Then book at least a day ahead for return to airport.

Re hotels, you can pay a fortune in NYC. The trick for me was finding the many very decent hotels that have ultra-clean shared (but single-user) bathrooms. It took a 49cent exchange rate to push me to try one, but have never looked back. I now pay less for a room in NYC than most major world cities. Same clientele that you would find in any mid-range hotel.
 

Mardi

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Thanks for the welcome to AFF! I've been lurking around here on and off since we started planning a trip to NYC mid last year but that was my first post as you noticed. Having just returned from our second trip to the USA in less than 12 months the memories are fresh in my mind :)

Regarding the AT&T sim you can sign up for a month by month plan for an iPad (not sure about other devices) We paid US$30 for 2gb over 30 days. We weren't there 30 days so when we got back to Australia my husband went into the plan info on the iPad and cancelled it. We've kept the sim for our next trip (we've fallen in love with NYC). We used about 500mb in 11 days, mainly for google maps on the go as we had free wifi at the hotel.
 

Tassie

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Subway - I'm usually only there for a day or two, so just do the 10 trip, but you can purchase and top it up at the machines at the subway

Driver's licence - you only need an international licence if driving in a non-English speaking country. In the US and the UK you can drive - and rent a car - with just your Australian licence.

Car insurance - sorry to harp on about this but it is a big bugbear of mine. You will almost certainly not be covered with any travel insurance originating in Australia (or anywhere other than US). They will tell you that you are covered for the US, but you aren't. Our travel insurance covers us for excess. There is no such thing in the US. You do $50,000 worth of damage, that is what they expect you to pay. I always use Nova, but there are other companies that people have recommended on this site, as they include complete insurance for USA car hire. (If using Nova, ignore the bit where they ask if you want to purchase extra insurance and check the rental company conditions which you will find in the booking quote - and you will probably find that all insurance is covered with no excess)

This will probably backfire on me one day but I have also decided that compact and economy rental cars do not exist here! I always book a compact and I have hired cars in MA, CT and NY (about a dozen times) and each time have had a free upgrade to a midsize car. Even though the last two times I got a lecture about how I had chosen a small car and was I sure I could cope because they had some great update deals. I refused and when I got to the parking lot - there were no small cars to be seen, so I got offered a mid-size again!
 

brickmark

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Hi Chris,

No international drivers licence needed for US. I agree with TASSIE and suggest you get insurance from rental car company and not reply on CC insurance - especially in the US.

I think you will find that the majority of airlines are adding WIFI every day to all their planes. I would be surprised if most of your flights don't have WIFI my March 2012 They have to so they can get the customers and keep up with the others. Due to the competitiveness nature of US domestic travel I found I got better/friendlier service than Qantas Business International - but that is a story for another day. On the ground you wont have trouble finding free WIFI - it is everywhere ie coffee shops, Starbucks etc.

P.S Westin St Francis on Union SQ is a great hotel in SFO if you are looking.
 

Alanslegal

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or that could unlock some great experiences in the cities we'll be visiting that may not be incredibly well-known!

You arrive into the USA one week too late for Pride Week 2012 in New Orleans. Having been to NOLA (New Orleans, Louisiana) I would love to go there during their Pride Week part-ay. And their southern food is ....... damn goood! Cajun Shrimp and char-grilled Oysters ..... yummm yummmm yummmm *mouth watering*

This is a very old trip report of mine, if you want to flick through it.

http://www.australianfrequentflyer....s-and-trip-photos/up-up-up-away-im-17557.html
 

serfty

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Car insurance - sorry to harp on about this but it is a big bugbear of mine. You will almost certainly not be covered with any travel insurance originating in Australia (or anywhere other than US). They will tell you that you are covered for the US, but you aren't. Our travel insurance covers us for excess. There is no such thing in the US. You do $50,000 worth of damage, that is what they expect you to pay. ...

Hi Chris,

No international drivers licence needed for US. I agree with TASSIE and suggest you get insurance from rental car company and not reply on CC insurance - especially in the US. ....
This is correct, most Oz TI or CC insurance car hire cover does not do much in the USA (or most countries outside on Oz and NZ).

For car Hire I suggest you book a pre-paid deal, like the one I mention in this thread: http://www.australianfrequentflyer.com.au/community/car-hire-taxis-and-limos/lax-car-hire-23922.html

These suppliers generally include ALL insurance - DO check before, during and after booking.

Also read that thread for other tips and pitfall; in fact do a search on USA car hire in the forum:

Car Hire, Taxis and Limos - Page 2
 

Mr Buff

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Hi

Firstly I apologize if some of the things I mention seem toooooo obvious but then again ;),

1: Travelling by car and you have an iphone or own phone from Australia ? Take your car charger, yes it does work in the US, car
batteries are the same in the US as Australia, hence your iphone (or other phone) will charge in the car ;), sounds simple I know
but......

2: Supermarkets (& Walmarts) generally have prepacked food IE rolls, sandwiches etc, good either for stocking up for a road trip
or just grabbing something quick to go on the run, usually better and cheaper than chain burger joints, well maybe not cheaper but
better

3: Take collapsible esky, one of the elcheapo ones that you may have at home or just buy one from Bunn....or your local supermarket,
again, they collapse into nothing in your suitcase and can be filled with ice before you jump in your car, for use with # 2 or your favorite
beverage

4: Sygic US Road Map Download from the Apple App Store, expensive but worth it

5: NYC: Where do I start:

Airtrain from JFK into NYC, connects to either subway or LIRR, you cannot get lost & they have the bonus of real customer service people who will
help you buy a ticket from the machine to get into the city once you arrive at the 'city' end of the Airtrain

Kick Lite download from the Apple App Store, great free NYC subway map, you can pay for the full price version but I found the free version more
than adequate

Have you thought about staying in a bed & breakfast in NYC, admittedly you dont get points per se, but the bonus is you get to meet real people
and its more personal (bedandbreakfast.com)

Yankee Stadium, you can do a tour but you could also try just wandering in (dumb aussie abroad etc ;)

6: Yelp.com, awesome user generated review site covering most major US cities broken down into food, drinks, accom etc, admittedly they have
been sued (its the US so expect that) for putting paid or sponsored good reviews up for places etc but have found it to be consistently good and
more inportantly accurate

7: Dont buy duty free booze flying out of Australia and into the US, it is miles cheaper in the US & a massive range to boot, beer in the supermarkets
is literally cheaper than coke

8: Inn N Out Burger in LA or Vegas, sublime burgers not available on the East Coast & no I havent had 5 Guys so I cant compare

9: Remember the US isnt the airports so try not to let (bad) experiences influence you

10: One more thing, Vegas has a free street weekly that comes out on a Thursday (?), great for club/dance/band listings etc and alternative news
you might want to see if you can get a copy while in LV, probably have more local stuff in it than tourist stuff, just a thought
 

ozbeachbabe

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Forget the shuttle from JFK. Take the train which connects to the subway or Long Island Railroad. Easy, efficient and much faster. (About 40 minutes as opposed to 90+)

The surpershuttle suggestion by obb is a good one, but just a cautionary note. I booked one in the morning from a LAX hotel for arrival at JFK later that day. I got an e-mail with a confirmation number. didn't have a printer, figured the confirmation number would be fine. As we (it was chockers) were travelling from JFK in to Manhattan the driver asked for my printout. When I said I just had the confirmaton number he said I was going to have to pay him cash - he had to have the printout in order to be able to collect his money. Well I wasn't going to fork over, so with the kind agreement of the other pax, and the great service from the checkin guy at my hotel, he waited outside the 5 or so minutes it took me to get on the net and get a printout of the e-mail.

When I followed up with the company, they said the driver should be easily able to tell via his 'device' (sort of like a mobile phone, but not) that I had paid and he would be able to get his money. I still don't know whether he was genuinely ignorant or trying to rip me off.

I think it really depends on what time you arrive in JFK as to how long the journey takes. As we were arriving quite late 2250 I didn't know what trains were going to be running then & I knew the shuttle was door to door & I didn't have to change anywhere along the way. By the time we disembarked & collected our bags we got into the shuttle at 2330 & were dropped off at our hotel at 0030. It didn't seem as long as one hour as even though we dropped a few people off along the way, it was at suburbs we were passing through anyway.

I didn't print out my confirmation (although I will next time - just in case) but I would think if the drive had any doubts as to whether the fare was paid he could have called his company on the radio or mobile phone who could clarify it for him).

Again, a big thank-you to those who have generously given quantities of extremely helpful information!!! My apologies for being slow to respond - things have been a bit hectic lately! As a bit of an update, I'm also looking to include Toronto and Vancouver into the itinerary (Toronto probably after NYC, and Vancouver before the west-coast USA cities - most likely extending the itinerary as opposed to cutting other cities)... though this does mean I'll officially be entering the US 3 times on the one visa waiver (once from AUS, twice from Canada)... I'll just be sure to keep my full flight itineraries with me to show that I am actually headed back to AUS before the 90 days is up!

I realise you are going to/from the States on QF however one alternative for other people who buy airfares in reverse eg travel SYD/LAX on a JASA redemption then purchase a LAX/SYD/LAX ticket thereby having a return sector up their sleeve for next time is to buy a CX ticket ex either JFK/YYZ/YVR/SFO/LAX via HKG to Aust then Aust/HKG/USA within 6 months which is around USD1598.00 plus taxes. CX also fly JFK/YVR & I'm assuming that they would be able to fly you on that sector if you were continuing on to HKG on CX.

You could always get the train NYC via Niagara Falls to YYZ then fly out of YYZ to HKG then Aust or alternatively fly JFK/YVR on CX, stopover then YVR/HKG/BNE for example.
 
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kiwitripper64

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Sounds like an amazing trip
We tried Rays B and B in Chicago. We loved the catered breakfasts at the communal table to chat to people in the morning and swap ideas. Ray's Bucktown B and B - Unique Chicago Bed and Breakfast

San Francisco you must go to Ghirardelli Chocolate Company Home

Grand Cayon is an American cliche, but it is bigger than can be described. The girls also loved outlet shops in LV. Also in LV there was a bufet promotion for a few days of buffet for $x per day. At the time we thought how horrible, eating 3 buffet/ day, but it would have been a cheaper option with better food than some of the other places we tried.

LA try the Getty museum. The architecture is as good as the collection.

Alaska air did not let QF gold use their lounges ( only plat) this may have changed?

have a great trip
 

Fantic125

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As mentioned previously, the Amtrak is a good way to get from NY to Washington. From Penn station to Washington took about 3 hours.
I had a Continental Presidents Card at the time, which allowed access to the Acela Lounge prior to departure and also booked my points to Continental.
Once they make the boarding call you need to go through the gate and down some escalators. If you travel economy there is no allocated seating so the cars tend to fill up fairly quickly close to the escalators - walk further up the train and you'll find seats fairly easily.

In NY, 5th Avenue is the "spine" which runs along the length of the island. The Streets run at 90 degrees to 5th Avenue and change from East to West at 5th. So if you're looking for #340 W 50th Street then it will be on the 6th/7th Avenue side (Westside) whereas if you were looking for #340 E 50th Street it would be on the 3rd/4th Avenue side (Eastside). Usually when you're given directions you'll be told the Avenue then Street (e.g. near 6th & W23rd).

Another good place in NY for cheap (but good) food is Cafe Au Bon Gout on the cnr of 5th & 30th. An amazing array of foods, as well as a hot and cold buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner. A decent meal for 3 of us was usually between $20 ~ $30 total.
 

bdl

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Posts
55
This will probably backfire on me one day but I have also decided that compact and economy rental cars do not exist here! I always book a compact and I have hired cars in MA, CT and NY (about a dozen times) and each time have had a free upgrade to a midsize car. Even though the last two times I got a lecture about how I had chosen a small car and was I sure I could cope because they had some great update deals. I refused and when I got to the parking lot - there were no small cars to be seen, so I got offered a mid-size again!

haha when I was in SF in July I ordered a compact car and the only vehicles the rental branch had were a Ford Expedition and a Toyota Camry! ... The Expedition was so big I thought the Camry was a Corolla at first glance! :)

bdl
 

drron

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 4, 2002
Posts
30,358
For your next trip to the US do consider hiring a car.There are lots of great experiences outside the big cities.Yes you only need an Aussie drivers licence.I used to use some of the consolidators/discounters reccomended here but now I always check the UK majors web sites.Currently using Avis as they are treating me OK with upgrades and posting of airline miles.Booking on avis.co.uk you get rates that include all insurances and 3 out of 4 rentals on our upcoming trip their rates were cheaper than the consolidators-and i get to put my Avis Preferred number in.

NYC-the metrocard can be used on both subways and busses.The 10 trip card is good value.
NYC is generally safe.We often wandered around after midnight with no problems-our son lived there for nearly 6 years.
In NYC there is also the Big apple greeter service.Really good.A couple of the local destination experts on TA are BAGs.Take something from Australia.We actually had found some chocolate covered macadamias that were labelled Queensland nuts instead of macadamias-they went down well-cant remember where we got them though.Our greeter stayed with us most of the day-the deal was for Harlem but did down the west side as well as our greeter lived near the Lincoln Centre.
 

cove

Enthusiast
Joined
Feb 15, 2008
Posts
14,749
On car hire I have been using the Gold section of the Argus Car Hire trawling site. Tomorrow in Los Angeles I will get a Dodge Charger for $390 Australian for 10 days which includes insurance. With the GPS if you buy one rather than hire one you will be in front in two weeks of car hiring.
 

Tassie

Junior Member
Joined
May 26, 2007
Posts
16
I checked the Argus site after the recommendation by a previous member. I put in the same parameters as my current trip (compact car, 19 days, full insurance) and my deal from Nova was still cheaper (AU$600 total) than anything found by Argus
 
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