Re:help from people from U.S.

A

argykrav

Guest
Oh my God, very useful information for someone from Europe like me who
wants to travel in U.S.
I'm thinking of visiting west coast for just one week. Is it better to
visit San Francisco for a couple of days and then go to L.A. by car? Any
reccomendations for just one week travelling?

>>Wow! That'll be quite a trip! Need a valet? You might want to check out an >>unlimited pass with the airlines. I met an Australian last year that could >>take any United flights he wanted for a 6-month period. He didn't say how >>much it cost, but with all the legs you've mentioned there, it might be worth >>checking out.

Also, the sooner you book your flights, the more likely you are to get a good price. There's a 3-month window, a 1-month window and a 2-week window. In exchange for lower prices, there are generally restrictions on changing the flights, but if your plans are pretty set it'll be worth it. If flights aren't close to selling out, you'll occasionally see lower prices closer to the flight date, but it's pretty rare these days due to the state of airline scheduling over here. It's a gamble. I'd book sooner than later, but that's me.

It might be worthwhile to get travel insurance for these flights, as well. A bunch of these airlines are in dire straits, especially US Airways. There's just less planes/crews on standby to keep flights going out on time. If there's a storm near one of their hubs, air traffic across the whole country tends to get snarled (often for a whole day), especially at Chicago, Philadelphia, Denver and Charlotte. If you're booking with multiple airlines and have the multiple connections you've outlined, it could save your trip if something goes horribly wrong.

Along those same lines, allow yourself plenty of time for making connections if you book non-direct journeys, especially if the legs are on different tickets. Flights often get delayed either at take-off or in holding patterns at the destination city, so giving yourself an extra hour or two might save you from getting stuck overnight in say, Atlanta with nowhere to stay. If you provide your full information for your other tickets, the check-in agent should be able to get your bag tagged for transfer, but keep in mind this is a courtesy, not an obligation and if you catch the wrong agent on a bad day, they do not *have* to do that for you. I'd try to avoid booking multiple tickets if at all possible. You'll get more rights/better service that way if you run into delays.

Make sure to carry (and pack into any checked luggage!) printouts with:
- all of your flight information (flight numbers, dep/arr times, ticket numbers, confirmation numbers),
- 800 numbers for all airlines, travel agents and/or travel websites involved,
- contact info (names, addresses, phone numbers and dates) for all the places you'll be staying along the way
- your cell phone number (assuming you're securing cell phone service in the States for such a long trip.)

This will help you deal with check-in agents easily and if your baggage gets lost, you will have a better chance of getting it back efficiently. Last week at the Philly airport there was a Christmas/union meltdown. Baggage was left out in the rain for hours, many of the baggage tags "melted" off and they had them stacked in the arrival terminal in the thousands. If those folks had their travel info inside the bag, they had a much better chance of getting it back. I'm certain hundreds of those bags will never be returned.

Here are some travel websites I keep bookmarked and which you might find helpful:

http://www.vegetariansabroad.com/links.html
http://smarterliving.com/ (Air, Hotels, Auto. Thanks Jess!)
http://travelocity.com/ (Air, Hotels, Auto)
http://www.orbitz.com/ (Air, Hotels, Auto)
http://www.expedia.com (Air, Hotels, Auto)
http://www.hotwire.com/ (Air, Hotels, Auto)
http://www.priceline.com (Air, Hotels, Auto)
http://jetblue.com/ (Sort of like Ryanair)
http://www.southwest.com/ (Was like Ryanair before Ryanair existed)
http://amtrak.com (Just in case you fancy taking a train!)

Here are some blogs/info sites/publications which cover some of the cities you mentioned:
http:pollstar.com (Concert info for any city)
http://www.taleoftwocities.org/
http://www.gothamist.com/ (with links to the Chicago, LA and San Fran editions at the top!)
http://www.thecrutch.net/ (Chicago music scene)
http://www.j3n.net/food/ (Veggie restaurants in Chicago)
http://www.nycbeer.org/toc.html (NYC Beer Guide)
http://www.mta.nyc.ny.us/nyct/maps/subwaymap.pdf (NYC Subway Map)
http://www.papermag.com/cgi-bin/frameset/paperdaily.cgi?today/index.html (NYC Doings)
http://www.brooklynvegan.com/ (Brooklyn and Manh. Doing plus great veggie links)
http://www.manhattanusersguide.com/
http://www.ohmyrockness.com/ (NYC Indie Concert Listings)
http://www.sliceny.com/ (All about NY Pizza)
http://www.villagevoice.com (NYC Free Weekly Newspaper which'll have listings for goings-on, restaurants, concerts, movies, etc.)
http://www.commondreams.org/weeklies.htm (Links to the more popular of the Village Voice-like alternative weeklies across the States)
http://aan.org/gyrobase/Aan/publicationDirectory (Links to most of the Village Voice-like alternative weeklies across the States, including more obscure cities)
http://othermusic.com/ (One of my favorite record stores ever!)
http://amoebamusic.com/html/ (Another of my favorite record stores ever!)

Ok, that should set you on a good path. I travel a fair bit for work and worked for an airline during the summers in university, so let me know if you have any other questions. I hope your trip kicks ass! You picked some great cities to visit, though you are missing one...If you decide to stop in Philadelphia, let us know!

Best regards,
BlueGirl

P.S. If you drive, I hear the view up the coast from LA to San Fran is well worth the trip. I've done the trip up as far as Santa Barbara and it really was lovely.
 
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