Going to the States

Discussion in 'Holidays & Travel' started by head80, Feb 10, 2014.

  1. head80

    head80 Member

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    Heading to the States in October,

    Looking at LA, Anaheim, San Diego, Vegas, New York and Hawaii.

    Been to Hawaii twice, never been to the mainland.

    Advice on good hotels, cheap flights and where to book them from? Went to the expo yesterday and wasn't impressed with what was on offer. I think I can get cheaper deals.
     
  2. 5tumpy

    5tumpy Member

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    What are your goals for your trip? What are you looking to do in LA especially... it's a big place, and there's not that much to do... If you're wanting to do Hollywood, Universal etc stay in Universal City... There's a few hotels to choose from, and it's a pretty good spot, I find Hollywood to be overpriced and overrated personally...

    Anaheim, I assume you want to head out there for Disneyland, and there is literally a thousand hotels in the vicinity of Disneyland, to suit all budgets... Personally, I like the Hyatt Regency Plaza at Golden Grove... Great hotel...

    If you're into sport, and want to see a Lakers or similar, you should really be closer to the city, or be prepared to sit in traffic...There are a bunch of hotels Downtown that are decent, but the place isn't exactly tourist friendly... It's safe enough, but it's primarily a business district, so can be a bit meh outside of business hours...

    What's the reason for wanting to go to San Diego? It's a nice enough town, but I prefer San Francisco to San Diego... If you're flying, I'd be looking north rather south...

    If you're going to San Diego, don't waste your time flying, it's an easy drive, hire a car and head down there... I also drive to Vegas too... You need a car to get around there, and it's significantly cheaper to drive than fly with gas prices in the USA...

    New York is amazing... If I was you, I'd be spending the majority of my time in the US in NYC and Vegas... In saying that, the flight is ~5 hours, so kiss a day good bye just going over there by the time you factor in the time difference...

    If I was you, I'd go HNL-LA-Vegas-NYC and then back to the west coast to SFO and then back to HNL for your return trip to Australia... If you really want to check out San Diego, drive down there between LA and Vegas... Flights to Vegas as usually not that expensive, so might be worth changing up your NYC and Vegas legs, and driving back to LA after Vegas...

    In terms of flights, it depends in what you want... Southwest is cheap, decent service etc, but have a "Large Passenger Policy" where if you look like you're going to encroach on another passenger's space, they force you to buy another ticket or forfeit your own on check in... And we're not just talking fat people either, a mate of mine who's a Rugby player, and built like a brick shithouse was forced to buy a 2nd seat because he was broad shouldered... If you're rake thin, they will be good for you... I flew Jetblue over there, great airline, but very basic... There are several websites available that will let you compare prices Kayak, Expedia, Webjet etc... Might also be worth your while talking to Qantas though, because I've heard of people being able to book SYD-NYC with a "stopover" in LA for a week for a fraction of the price of a normal domestic ticket, you could then use LA as your base for the West Coast, and fly to Hawaii on domestic airlines if you still want to head over there...


    Also, avoid websites like AirBNB for accomodation in NYC... It's illegal under Council Regulations, and could leave you homeless on the streets of NYC if you're one of the unlucky few who gets raided while they're staying in the apartment... It probably won't happen, but it could, not worth the risk IMO...


    Finally, think really carefully about the time of year you want to travel... Peak time for the USA is their "Summer Holiday" period in June/July...
     
  3. OP
    OP
    head80

    head80 Member

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    Thanks for the advice mate. Appreciate it.

    Starting off in LA, then take a bus to Anaheim, another bus to San Diego and another to Vegas.

    Flying from Vegas to New York and then from New York to Honolulu.

    That's the plan.
     
  4. 5tumpy

    5tumpy Member

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    Why the bus? Sounds like my version of Hell... lol... Why not drive?

    That is one long-arse flight... Any reason you're not having a West Coast stopover?
     
  5. Zee

    Zee Member

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    What's your budget, Head80?


    I'm with Stumpy. Best to rent a car, otherwise you'll have a freaking hard to trying to get from anywhere to anywhere. Apart from NYC, the rest of your destinations are a PITA in terms of getting around without a car.


    Also, what are you in to? I've have only spent a little time in LA, have spent a fair bit in San Diego and NYC, and may as well be a local in Vegas and San Fran/Bay area.

    You may be better off with San Fran over San Diego, but depends what you are looking to get out of your trip.

    As for hotels, this also depends on budget, I've done a fair bit of the accommodation spectrum, from couch surfing to high level room overlooking the fountain at the Bellagio.

    Generally speaking, I like the Hyatt offerings - 48 Lex in NYC is very nice, and quite well located, nice bed, and overall just a good place to be. If you are looking for budget friendly (48 Lex was about $400/night), I did spend a night at FIT Hotel, it's uptown, about 100th st (ish), and was $80 a night for a Double occupancy. The room is very spacious (for NYC) though kinda bare, the shower and toilet were fine, it was clean, wifi was quite good, though the place looks not quite finished outside the rooms. It is about as good value as you'll get in NYC - short of going for bunk beds in a hostel.

    In Vegas, I really like Vdara - clean,modern, well appointed, and you don't have to walk through a freaking casino to get to the elevators (this gets old fast). I've stayed at Manadalay Bay, Bellagio, Marriot Residence, and one or two others I can't remember - and Vdara wins overall.

    In San Diego, the place I liked most, I can't remember the name of, but it's near the city centre, and is a circular building. I'll name it when I remember it...

    San Fran (if this becomes and option for you), I personally like the airport Hyatt - mainly because it is the most convenient location for me, and is a reasonably nice hotel. the random events held downstairs can be interesting too. Android Dev conference one day, Cosplay event the next! You really need a car to stay here though... I've never stayed in the city centre in SF, so can't comment on anything in the middle of town...

    Hawaii... Argh... Expensive as hell, but make the effort to go to Opel Thai!!! So worth it!

    Z...
     
  6. OP
    OP
    head80

    head80 Member

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    Im not too keen on driving in another country fellas, don't really want to jeopardize the safety of my mrs and young daughter. Even though it would be cool.

    I've gotta wait until April to book everything, as Im eagerly awaiting the release of the NFL schedule. Want to go to some games.
     
  7. Zee

    Zee Member

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    Then skip Vegas and LA. They are epic pains without a car. Unless you just want to do Disneyland and walk down the Vegas strip...

    Z...
     
  8. 5tumpy

    5tumpy Member

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    Mate, it sounds a lot scarier than it is... The highways in the USA are 100 times easier to drive on than the ones here, and the whole "wrong side of the road" thing doesn't take much time to adjust too... You won't be putting your family at risk anymore than you do over here... If anything, I've found it easier to drive in the USA, because most people are so shit scared of hitting someone and getting sued, that they will run themselves off the road before they hit you... lol...

    How old is your daughter? Personally, a 7 hour bus trip from SD to Vegas sounds like a special kind of torture... Buses are the lowest form of transport over there, the people that use them are not the kind of people I'd feel safe being in close quarters with that length of time...

    I'd be looking at the Amtrak services before taking a bus...

    The cities you're travelling to, there's only 2 that have options for NFL teams, San Diego and New York... Depending on the game, tickets can be quite expensive and hard to come by, so get in as soon as you have your schedule!

    +1 to this... It is literally a nightmare to get around in LA and Vegas without a car... It's expensive, because you're going to be using Taxi's more than you expect you will, inconvenient, and at that time of year (NFL Season), both Vegas and LA are prone to inclement weather... It's a hell of a lot easier to get around in pouring rain with a car, than it is with a bus or train...

    Public trabsport from Anaheim to Hollywood for example, forget about it... It's a 40-80 min drive depending on the time of day, and pretty much your only option is a taxi, or like 5 buses...

    What are you planning on doing in LA? If it's just Disneyland and whatnot, it's do-able, but if you want to see any of the city, you just can't get around without a car, mate!

    The biggest thing you're not accounting for IMO, is shopping... The outlets over there are amazing... Nike runners are like $80 for pairs that you'd pay $300 for here, and that's just one example... When we go over there, we pack our actual suitcase inside a bigger one, and that bigger one gets filled with our shopping... Seriously, we fill it every time... I haven't had to buy clothes or shoes in Australia for 4 years because of the trips we've had over there...
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2014
  9. OP
    OP
    head80

    head80 Member

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    You've got me thinking about driving now. As I said wouldn't mind doing it, just gotta grow some balls to do it.

    I support the New York Giants in the NFL, really big fan to be honest, so I'll be going to a game, no matter the cost. Also, want to catch some college games where possible.

    San Diego to Vegas really a 7 hour trip?

    Thanks for the Amtrak tip also
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 13, 2014
  10. petercr

    petercr Member

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    Definitely check with Qantas as you CAN have a stop-over on the west coast and then continue on to the east coast via Qantas as long as you arrive on a QF flight. Bonus with it is that you fly with full international flight privileges (food, drink, entertainment, seating, baggage allowances etc) rather than the US domestic restrictions. When we did our flight this time last year, the difference between flying with Qantas all the way vs Virgin and then domestic was less than $100 pp. Total flight time on QF is also about 4hrs less each way.

    We did a planned 5 day (unplanned 6th day due to a snow-storm in NYC) stop-over in LA and spent a few days in both Anaheim and Hollywood with a day recovering, 2 full days in Disney and then in Hollywood doing a tour, visiting the Farmers Markets and the Hollywierd strip.

    The hotel we stayed at in Anaheim wasn't 5-star level but it was okay and being on the bottom corner of the Disneyland 'block' we didn't have to walk far and stayed at Disney from opening to closing time so the hotel was really only for breakfast and sleeping. Getting to Anaheim we booked a private shuttle, cost $130 but it would have cost us $90+ for 5 ppl on the bus (and had to stop off along the way vs straight there). Anaheim to Hollywood was done on Amtrak, cost us approx $15pp for the adults on the Pacific Surfliner.

    Hollywood was at the Magic Castle Hotel - amazing service levels and 60+% of their clientele is Aussie.
     
  11. OP
    OP
    head80

    head80 Member

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    Thanks for all the tips fellas. Really good to see helpful people here.

    Great forum this is.
     
  12. 5tumpy

    5tumpy Member

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    How old is your daughter? This will impact the recommendations too...
     
  13. MOIRAE

    MOIRAE Member

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    Some pretty solid advice on this thread eh.

    Really should give the car some thought Head....

    With a trip that length, a car would give you a lot more freedom and flexibility, especially with the youngin' in tow.

    Seriously who wouldn't love to drive out to Vegas! Sounds pretty freakin awesome to me.
     
  14. 5tumpy

    5tumpy Member

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    It's actually pretty boring... But it's one of those things you just have to do... It's awesome though if you're feeling adventurous and you happen on to a group of rich guys in sports cars who are hammering along... CA has a law that if you're keeping up with traffic, you can't be booked for speeding... The 1st time I was over there, I was in a Mustang convertible, with the roof down, and and found a group, nothing like cruising at 100mph in a converible in the middle of a 5 or 6 Ferraris, Porshes, etc at full song...
     
  15. Zee

    Zee Member

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    The easiest way to get the hang of it is to just go to some side streets and get used to being on the other side. the thing that usually gets you is that you will naturally look to all the wrong places for the mirrors -but apart from that, a couple of hours is usually all it takes to get the hang of it. You'll probably actually be safer, to be honest, as you'll be fully concentrating on driving, unlike here, where it is something most of us probably only give 60% of our attention to max...

    4 way stop signs will take a bit of getting used t, but basically, you go through in the order in which you arrive at the intersection, each direction taking turns going through a car at a time - it works quite well, actually.

    And yes, it really does take 7 hours to get to Vegas from San Diego on a bus, it's closer to 6 by car! Driving will end up being cheaper over the course of the trip.

    I was going to suggest heading over the border to Tijuana for lunch from San Diego - you really don't know how good Mexican food is until you try it in Mexico - most amazing tacos ever in Taco Alley...

    Having said that, it's about a 3hr wait getting back to the other side, which may piss off your wife and kid...

    Z...
     
  16. kesawi

    kesawi Member

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    In LA we stayed at the Residence Inn by Marriott at Gardeb Grove and found it really good. It is a family orientated hotel and unlike other hotels in the US they have suites with 2 bedrooms so you can have some privacy form your daughter at night. They are pretty reasonably priced. Breakfast is included, although it is kid orientated and the selection is basic but sufficient. The highlight for our kids was being able to make their own waffles every morning. Dinner is also included on Monday to Thursday nights, but again it is basic stuff and rotates each (hot dogs, burgers, mexican). If you're at Disney Land you probably won't get back for dinner anyway. The rooms and hotel in general are clean and self contained with kitchen area. There is a Target across the road and a number of restaurants and take-a-way places. There is a bus that runs to Disney Land every 15 minutes which costs around $10-$15 each for a 5 day pass and takes 10 minutes to get there. At the time we went they had a weekly rate which made it quite cheap.

    Unless you're doing tours or going to the major attractions I agree with what everyone says, you need a car in LA. Most tours and theme park packages will pick you up from a hotel or one within easy walking distance. We drove to Hollywood from Garden Grove (around 1 hour each way in peak hour), parked on Hollywood Blv at TCl Chinese Theatre (valet parking cost $15 for the day) and then used the Hop-On/Hop-Off buses to get around to the sites. It is dirty, run down and overhyped, but in the end I'm glad we went. It was worthwhile to have lunch at the Cheesecake Factory in Beverley Hills and see the museam at the Le Brea tar pits.

    In Vegas the only time we used the car was to get there and back from LA. We just walked up and down the strip, but were staying centrally so it wasn't too bad. Personally I think the drive between Vegas and LA is part of the experience. If you do drive I recommend you stop in and have lunch at Peggy Sues 50's Diner which is about half way. As you are travelling with your daughter I wouldn't stay too long in Vegas unless you want to pay for a baby sitter. We had three nights and we were all glad to get out of there at the end of it. Definitely take a trip to the Grand Canyon and all tours will pick you up form your hotel. Stay mid week in Vegas as the accommodation prices go up on weekends.

    We only went to Legoland and didn't go in to San Diego itself. The drive was around 2 hours and being the second week of September the park was empty so we got through everything by just after lunch. The rides are pretty tame and designed for under 10s, although there is a big water park which the kids would have enjoyed had we brought their swimmers. You do get sick of looking at stuff made out of lego by the end of the day.
     
  17. Zee

    Zee Member

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    As I said, really depends on what you want to do in Vegas. Red Rock Canyon is about 20-30 mins drive, and the Valley of Fire is about an hour away - both very worth while. Mt Charleston is also kinda cool, for those that did not know you can actually go skiing about 30 mins out of Vegas.

    To be honest, I find Vegas itself interesting for about a day or two, but the surrounds are just awesome period - and could spend a year exploring the area.

    Z...
     
  18. kesawi

    kesawi Member

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    Cool, didn't know about those :thumbup:
     
  19. 5tumpy

    5tumpy Member

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    For me, it all comes down to how old the kid is in Vegas... My daughter was 10 months old when we were in March last year... We just drove to the casino we wanted to explore, parked in the self parking, chucked her in a pram, and explored... She loved it... When she got tired, she'd sleep, when she was awake, there was always something to look at... Her Mum and I could still have a couple of drinks with dinner etc, but obviously unless we separated gambling/bar crawling was out of the question... Shows were also out of the question though, and that is something you simply have to do in Vegas...

    If the kid is old enough to behave herself and enjoy Cirque Du Soleil, or you're comfortable leaving her with your Hotel's babysitting service, then great... Otherwise, the stuff Zee has mentioned is the draw card...

    The other thing is with Hotels, and it depends on her age again, is the type of accomodation you get... There are options for families at a lot of hotels, but if she's under 2, chances are you're going to just want a cot in your room... In that case, all you need is a 1 bedroom apartment, and those can be had a reasonable price pretty much all over America, if you look hard enough...

    In Anaheim, I recommend the Hyatt Regency Plaza at Golden Grove... Fantastic hotel! The times we've stayed there, a $10 tip to the bell boy has netted us free breakfast vouchers...

    In Vegas, I recommend the The Signature at MGM... It's completely separate to the casino, but there is an underground tunnel to the Hotel, so you avoid having to walk through smoke filled casinos whenever you come and go... Big luxurious rooms with features like Marble bathrooms, "Sub Zero" fridge and a full kitchen in case you want to cook for your kid rather than pay someone else to...

    For Hollywood, like I said above, I recommend staying in Universal City... It's a short walk and a subway ride away from the Strip, and much cheaper than staying in Hollywood... We stay at the Hilton when we're there... It's also a 5 minute walk to Universal Studios...

    For San Diego, I stay outside of town, because I have a car and crossing the border into a 3rd world country doesn't really interest me... The Hotel we use is the West Inn and Suites...

    New York, there is simply too many options to name... Get on Trip Advisor and find one that suits you is my best advice!
     
  20. Zee

    Zee Member

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    Actually, I have not yet been there, so would be curious to check out the Signature @ MGM, sounds very similar to Vdara (in terms for kitchen, lounge room, bedroom etc), shame it looks like I won't be able to try it out, looks like the GF's office is moving to Florida...

    Shame, I was really enjoying my day trips to Valley of Fire. - speaking of which, I'll probably be posting pics of that fairly soon in the gallery OP, so you can see if they are the types of places of interest to you.

    Z...
     

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