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Thread: Advice on trip to USA

  1. #1
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    Default Advice on trip to USA

    Hey guys,

    I'm heading to US for a month long holiday.
    It's going to be somewhat like a "pre"graduation celebration trip.
    I will probably be making a cross-the-country trip from New York to San Fran.

    Is there any words of wisdom and advice I should heed?

    Backpacking, hitch-hiking? Or just take a bus/train across?

    Traveling alone, first time ever to the States.
    Would appreciate some help!

  2. #2

    Default Re: Advice on trip to USA

    In the US, they like to post questions in the proper sub-forum (in this case, Kopitiam)

    My advice, do your research and planning. And by that I mean read guides, read about where you want to go. Decide where you want to go and when, and how to get there, and how to get to the next place. Not just asking for advice from strangers on a forum.
    Last edited by kaikibbler; 23rd April 2009 at 05:31 PM.
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Advice on trip to USA

    What's the point of the holiday?

    Budget amount?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Advice on trip to USA

    Quote Originally Posted by kaikibbler View Post
    In the US, they like to post questions in the proper sub-forum (in this case, Kopitiam)

    My advice, do your research and planning. And by that I mean read guides, read about where you want to go. Decide where you want to go and when, and how to get there, and how to get to the next place. Not just asking for advice from strangers on a forum.
    Oh, sorry. I had the impression since photography trip, can put under photography talk.

    I have sort of an itinerary that puts me from location to location.
    This is already done by some guide books, official visit-xyz.com websides and such.

    However, nothing's really mentioned about the people, what places to avoid at certain hours, etc.
    I honestly didn't expect to leave tips for the waitresses there as their pay, until I talked to a friend.

    Quote Originally Posted by Parka View Post
    What's the point of the holiday?

    Budget amount?
    Photography and adventure? I'm actually heading there with approximately 2k USD and a credit card for lodging.
    I was thinking of taking bus and coaches from NY and slowly make my way to SF.
    At certain areas, I might stay a little longer, rent a car, and camp at places for the sunrise.
    Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Lake Tahoe, Yellowstone etc
    Last edited by tSkye; 23rd April 2009 at 05:41 PM.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Advice on trip to USA

    not sure if u know about this... u gotta give tips in the restaurant and pubs, and when u take a cab.. this is a common practice... or else they will ask from u... it's normally about 8 - 10% of the total bill. happy holiday!!!

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    Default Re: Advice on trip to USA

    Quote Originally Posted by fongi View Post
    not sure if u know about this... u gotta give tips in the restaurant and pubs, and when u take a cab.. this is a common practice... or else they will ask from u... it's normally about 8 - 10% of the total bill. happy holiday!!!
    Yea, thank you. I prepared about 10% more for such things.
    Apparently, they get paid via tips and not via a fixed salary.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Advice on trip to USA

    Careful, I think the going rate for tips at restaurant and other eateries (where you're served) is more like 15% nowadays. If you give 10%, it might give the impression that you're not really happy with their service, and some wait staff may actually ask you what's wrong.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Advice on trip to USA

    Quote Originally Posted by tSkye View Post
    Oh, sorry. I had the impression since photography trip, can put under photography talk.

    I have sort of an itinerary that puts me from location to location.
    This is already done by some guide books, official visit-xyz.com websides and such.

    However, nothing's really mentioned about the people, what places to avoid at certain hours, etc.
    I honestly didn't expect to leave tips for the waitresses there as their pay, until I talked to a friend.



    Photography and adventure? I'm actually heading there with approximately 2k USD and a credit card for lodging.
    I was thinking of taking bus and coaches from NY and slowly make my way to SF.
    At certain areas, I might stay a little longer, rent a car, and camp at places for the sunrise.
    Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Lake Tahoe, Yellowstone etc
    Seriously, not leaving tips can get you into trouble.
    Make sure the rented car has GPS; though I wouldn't recommend driving alone as the States is freaking huge. Drive on the correct side of the road! Some parts of the Interstate (highway) is pitch black at night yet people speed like mad. Fill up on gas in the city as petrol is a lot more expensive in the rural areas.

    I'd like to add Antelope Canyon in Arizona and Zion National Park in Utah to your list. Beautiful places.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Advice on trip to USA

    Thanks Gengh, I will take note. I envision to be in the Sienfeld cafe sitting there just wasting time away. LOL.

    cks2k, those 2 places seems interesting. I'll add it to my list and see if I'm able to head there as I cut across the continent.
    I have my own GPS unit which I can lug over and plug it into their car if I do rent one.

    Only concern is getting from place to place, ie New York City to Washington DC.
    I do believe there are bus rides and coaches, but have yet to dig them out.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Advice on trip to USA

    lodging-wise, you may want to take a look at Hostelling International for cheap hostel lodging. Check out the prices of the hostels in the area and compare with Hostelling International hostels. If you are going to stay in any of them, you may want to get their membership before you head overseas.

    for your rented car, make sure you buy some sort of insurance for your car.

    when i was at Yosemite, i regretted not being there on a full moon, taking pictures of "moon-bow". when you are at yosemite, remember that you have a flight to catch back, or you would just wanna stay there forever...

    For buses or trains to travel inter-cities, check out the websites of Amtrak and Greyhound.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Advice on trip to USA

    hypern, you are marvelous. Thank you.

    I wonder if Hostelling International accept International Students IC (ISIC) which I got from STA Travels.
    Trying to places where I can utilise it. It's useless after I graduate. LOL!

  12. #12

    Default Re: Advice on trip to USA

    The US is a big country with lots of exciting and interesting places. 1 month is not enough. You should perhaps indicate what sort of photography you are interested in. Architecture? Landscape? Wildlife? For 1 month of travel, you should limit yourself to two states. In terms of landscape, the states with the most breathtaking sites are: Colorado, California, Utah and Arizona. If I were you, I will limit myself to the diverse National Parks in California and Arizona. For Architecture, California and New York are probably most appealing. To save time, I'll advise you to fly from one state to another. Don't waste time on buses.

    Another thing: decent and affordable accommodation in some of the NPs require at least 6 months advance booking. For instance, in the Grand Canyon, you'll need many months of advance booking for the summer. Do not be a cheapo and stay in places that charge less than US$50 per night. They can be dangerous.
    Last edited by doodah; 23rd April 2009 at 10:44 PM.

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    Default Re: Advice on trip to USA

    OMG. I was actually budgeting US$50/night for my trip, figuring I'll just travel on a path cutting across and stop by any Motels in sight when it gets dark. Considering the fact that I like landscapes, and would probably get out to take night shots and sunrise at dawn, perhaps camping at certain grounds a plausible suggestion. Only issue, I'm not so sure if I can stay out at night at cities and parks, a friend says it's no problem just avoid dodgy areas and use common sense.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Advice on trip to USA

    Quote Originally Posted by tSkye View Post
    hypern, you are marvelous. Thank you.

    I wonder if Hostelling International accept International Students IC (ISIC) which I got from STA Travels.
    Trying to places where I can utilise it. It's useless after I graduate. LOL!
    you are welcome

    check out http://www.hisingapore.org.sg/membership.html

    hostelling international is actually an organisation where different hostels around the world form together to agree to give members a discounted price.

    nope ISIC card doesn't give you additional discounts, so you gotta get the HI membership.

    and I didn't get a chance to use my ISIC card when I was in the states... you may want to check out ISIC website for the places you can use the card

  15. #15

    Default Re: Advice on trip to USA

    Quote Originally Posted by doodah View Post
    The US is a big country with lots of exciting and interesting places. 1 month is not enough. You should perhaps indicate what sort of photography you are interested in. Architecture? Landscape? Wildlife? For 1 month of travel, you should limit yourself to two states. In terms of landscape, the states with the most breathtaking sites are: Colorado, California, Utah and Arizona. If I were you, I will limit myself to the diverse National Parks in California and Arizona. For Architecture, California and New York are probably most appealing. To save time, I'll advise you to fly from one state to another. Don't waste time on buses.

    Another thing: decent and affordable accommodation in some of the NPs require at least 6 months advance booking. For instance, in the Grand Canyon, you'll need many months of advance booking for the summer. Do not be a cheapo and stay in places that charge less than US$50 per night. They can be dangerous.
    I spent quite some time in Arizona and southern Utah. Don't go in summer as the heat can hit 40+ celcius! Other great places: Monument Valley (Utah), Arches to see the famous Delicate Arch (Utah).
    Oh BTW if you do go to Zion, drop by the town of Springdale. There's this famous landscape photographer (forgot name) here who shoots photos using a cowboy-era camera - those with the giant gunpowder flash. His work is really good.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Advice on trip to USA

    1 month for trip from SF to NY? Quite difficult. I spent 3 weeks on the east coast alone last Nov/Dec.

    Are you travelling alone? Are you from SG?

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Advice on trip to USA

    Yes and yes. Alone from SG.

    I figure my main areas are Washington DC -> New York City -> Las Vegas -> San Fran.
    I've got friends in SF and NYC, told them I'll drop by if I ever visited the US.

    Outside the cities, the places I'd want to see are Niagara Falls (Canada side), Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone.
    Apart from that, it's probably just additional bonus.
    I will have to check to see how I travel around, may have to take flights from here and there.
    Definitely will look forward to enjoying on this trip, it's probably once in a lifetime kind.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Advice on trip to USA

    I took 2 weeks just to check out NYC, grand canyon and south california...

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    Default Re: Advice on trip to USA

    Quote Originally Posted by Vulpix0r View Post
    I took 2 weeks just to check out NYC, grand canyon and south california...
    that's very similar. how was your itinerary and how did go about the country?

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Advice on trip to USA

    Quote Originally Posted by tSkye View Post
    OMG. I was actually budgeting US$50/night for my trip, figuring I'll just travel on a path cutting across and stop by any Motels in sight when it gets dark. Considering the fact that I like landscapes, and would probably get out to take night shots and sunrise at dawn, perhaps camping at certain grounds a plausible suggestion. Only issue, I'm not so sure if I can stay out at night at cities and parks, a friend says it's no problem just avoid dodgy areas and use common sense.
    $50 for a motel may not be enough in many places. This chain tends to be less expensive and it's reliable but it might break your budget still. I've used it across 4000 km of the country when I drove from Florida to California as well as Florida to New Jersey.

    Quote Originally Posted by tSkye View Post
    Yes and yes. Alone from SG.

    I figure my main areas are Washington DC -> New York City -> Las Vegas -> San Fran.
    I've got friends in SF and NYC, told them I'll drop by if I ever visited the US.

    Outside the cities, the places I'd want to see are Niagara Falls (Canada side), Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone.
    Apart from that, it's probably just additional bonus.
    I will have to check to see how I travel around, may have to take flights from here and there.
    Definitely will look forward to enjoying on this trip, it's probably once in a lifetime kind.
    It'll be interesting but you should plan about triple the time you have, especially, if you're talking about taking buses, as they will likely stop in every small town along the way. Think about this, it took me 3 15 hour days to drive across the country and I did this trip twice both ways.

    Amtrak is possible but it doesn't cover most of the U.S.A. so if you want to do more than NYC -> Washington D.C., it's going to be difficult. Besides that, it has a reputation for being as expensive as an airplane ticket for the same distance.

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