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Is this a realistic itinerary for first solo trip to the US (not driving)?

Is this a realistic itinerary for first solo trip to the US (not driving)?

Old Nov 15th, 2022, 08:07 AM
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Is this a realistic itinerary for first solo trip to the US (not driving)?

Hi!

I got a last minute opportunity to go to the US so have very hastily put together this itinerary and was hoping for your feedback/advice please.

28F from New Zealand. First ever trip to the US! Going in December 2022/January 2023. Solo traveller. Not driving. Interested in history and seeing SF/LA/DC/NYC although I appreciate many threads suggest concentrating on one coast for a few weeks.

Current plan:
  • Day 1-5: San Fransciso, with a day trip to Yosemite (Tripadvisor has a 14 hour tour for example). Fly to Las Vegas night of day 5.
  • Day 6-8: Las Vegas, mainly to see Grand Canyon (there's a South Rim/Antelope Canyon/Horseshoe Bend day tour that departs and returns to Las Vegas). Fly to New Orleans afternoon of day 8.
  • Day 9-13: New Orleans for work. Fly to Boston on afternoon of day 13.
  • Day 14-17: Boston, with possible day trip to Newport.
  • Day 18-24: Train to New York on morning of day 18. Train to Philadelphia night of day 24.
  • Day 25-26: Philadelphia. Train to Washington DC on night of day 26.
  • Day 27-30: Washington DC on morning of day 27. Fly to Los Angeles on night of day 30 (preferred an extra day in DC rather than LA but cheaper flight due to holiday season).
  • Day 31-35: Los Angeles without a car... Fly back home on night of day 35.

Would've liked more time in Yosemite and Grand Canyon but picked day trips given travelling alone and not driving. Would've also liked to visit San Antonio, Chicago, and Niagara Falls but will have to wait for another trip I suppose.

Thanks in advance!
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Old Nov 15th, 2022, 09:02 AM
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Congrats. Bear in mind that it is winter in the United States, hence you can get weather disruptions to travel.

With respect to Los Angeles, there are a few easier airports to deal with for domestic flights, Burbank and Long Beach. Both are Southwest hubs. You may not see Southwest Airlines when using search functions but they are good for inexpensive flights from the west coast (book 2 weeks or more ahead to get best fares "Wanna Get Away".) All fares have luggage included and good cancel policy. Cancellations get funds redeposited for use on other flights, but not 'refunded', i.e. not cash back.

For the Grand Canyon another option is to take the Amtrak Southwest Chief from downtown Los Angeles (Union Station) to Williams and to then take the Grand Canyon Railway to the South Rim. Look at thetrain.com for options for packages. You could spend a night in Williams which has some charm itself, and a night at the GC Rim without needing to book a bus tour.

www.thetrain.com

Groome runs a transfer service to get you from the Grand Canyon to Flagstaff, which has an airport and an Amtrak station.

https://groometransportation.com/flagstaff/#schedule

Last edited by mlgb; Nov 15th, 2022 at 09:38 AM.
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Old Nov 15th, 2022, 09:30 AM
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Having done two solo trips to N America in the last 5 years first of all I applaud your initiative. And nothing wrong with trying to do both coasts so long as you recognise how far the distances are, and how tiring travel can be, even just sitting on a plane. mlgb has what sounds like a good idea for seeing the GC, and I can second the info about Southwest airlines which i found were reliable and very easy to use once you got the hang of their unique [to me any way] boarding system.

Again as mlgb says, you perhaps need to take more account of the weather and of your need just to chill every so often. Also short day length, which can curtail sight seeing, and laundry opps. And whilst flight/train journey times may not be that long [I've just looked them up and most are over 3 hours] you need to factor in time for getting to and from airports, security measures, etc. etc. Also orienting yourself in a big city takes time - and you have 4 big cities in 16 days, then a long flight and another big city. They are big places and getting around takes time and energy. I think what I'm saying is do not over-estimate what you can do and see in each of your destinations - if you try to pack in too much you may end up burning out and doing less. . But I admire your ambition!
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Old Nov 15th, 2022, 10:16 AM
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Thank you for your advice! Will keep the weather disruptions in mind and look into the Southwest flights. The train looks cool! Much appreciated.
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Old Nov 15th, 2022, 10:19 AM
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Thanks annhig!
Where did you go, if you don't mind me asking?
That's a good point. If I had to cut out something/chill more, what would you recommend? Cut out Philadelphia and more time in Boston +/- DC?
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Old Nov 15th, 2022, 10:25 AM
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It will probably be cold and snowy in Boston and New York. Exploring LA without a car can be difficult but you could get a hotel near a Metro Rail stop. https://www.dropbox.com/s/8gjcfmsifv...final.pdf?dl=0
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Old Nov 15th, 2022, 10:50 AM
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I wonder if it makes sense to flip your itinerary, if you haven't already booked flights?

E.g. fly into Los Angeles first, take the train to the Grand Canyon, then shuttle to Flagstaff (which has the train but only a few mostly expensive flight options) or to Phoenix which has many more flights, especially on Southwest.

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Old Nov 15th, 2022, 12:16 PM
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You may already know this but it's over a 4 hour drive from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon. Phoeniz is a little closer but still over 3 hours. Just poiting it out because it makes for quite a long day trip (most of which will be driving there and back).

(just realized I assumed it was a land tour but maybe I am wrong)
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Old Nov 15th, 2022, 12:19 PM
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Just remember, you lose an entire day flying from West to East Coast. The flight time itself is 4.5 to 5 hours, plus there
is a 3 hour time difference (if it 9am in LA, it is 12 noon in NYC, DC, etc.) and that is not counting time getting to the airport ahead of time (2 hours for domestic).
If using an airport other than LAX for internal flights, Burbank is superior to Long Beach IMO, more flight, plus Long Beach has no jetways and the routes to tourist destinations (Hollywood, Santa Monica, DTLA) are further away.
Without a car, try and stay near Hollywood and Highland area as it is close to transport hubs. All Metro stations are NOT created equal, homeless were a major problem up until Spring and still are on some lines.
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Old Nov 15th, 2022, 12:29 PM
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You will be in Boston, NYC, and Philadelphia during snow season. You may be OK, you may just have to deal with snow and slush, or you may have flights cancelled with no way to move on for 2-3 days. Also, due to security checks, you must arrive at a US airport at least 2 hours before a flight, plus must add on the time to get to the airport, allowing for traffic tie ups and such. Also, every city change will subtract an entire day from days where you can do things.

I would advise leaving out one of the three cities, probably Boston, adding most of the days to New York, which, unlike Boston, can function when there is snow, albeit messily.

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Old Nov 15th, 2022, 01:28 PM
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Yes, Long Beach airport is farther from the usual Los Angeles sights but it certainly does have jetways!! I don't think it would be one of the Southwest Airlines hubs without them. We used to have good service by JetBlue and Alaska but both have pulled out (JetBlue wanted it to become an international airport).

I am actually flying tomorrow morning from LGB to HNL (so on a jet, LOL) and then onward to AKL (assuming that I make the connection). If you were interested in flying into or out of LGB have a look at Hawaiian Airlines (not everday and not nonstop).

I wouldn't want to stay (or even visit) Hollywood myself. There is a rail network (light rail and commuter rail) as well as several bus networks such as the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus. For the most part the public transit system is not a pleasant experience. Commuter Rail (Metrolink) is probably the best option and there is a station in Burbank.

Uber (or better yet Lyft) is popular here for a reason.

Last edited by mlgb; Nov 15th, 2022 at 01:30 PM.
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Old Nov 15th, 2022, 02:14 PM
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Originally Posted by jamie99 View Post
J . . . Burbank is superior to Long Beach IMO, more flight, plus Long Beach has no jetways and the routes to tourist destinations (Hollywood, Santa Monica, DTLA) are further away. . . .
Originally Posted by mlgb View Post
Yes, Long Beach airport is farther from the usual Los Angeles sights but it certainly does have jetways!! I don't think it would be one of the Southwest Airlines hubs without them. . . . I am actually flying tomorrow morning from LGB to HNL (so on a jet, LOL)
I'm almost 100+% sure jamie99 meant jet bridges, which LBG doesn't have. You may be flying on a jet but will be climbing stairs to do so.
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Old Nov 15th, 2022, 03:34 PM
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"Thanks annhig!
Where did you go, if you don't mind me asking?
That's a good point. If I had to cut out something/chill more, what would you recommend? Cut out Philadelphia and more time in Boston +/- DC?"

Not at all, Mel. On the first trip I flew into
Toronto, spend 6 nights there, then got a train to Montreal [3 nights], then the train to Lake Champlain and the ferry across to Burlington, and spent another 2 weeks touring NE, flying home from Boston [which I visited about 35 years ago and probably deserves a bit more of my time but didn't get it on that trip]. So about 3 weeks in total.

On the next trip , I flew into DC, spend 5 nights there, then train to NYC [another 5 nights], flight to Chicago [3 nights], flight to Kansas City [3 nights] flight to Portland [3 nights Hood river, 3 nights Portland] road trip to Washington state, [4 nights]. Fly home. Again, about 3 weeks in total. Both trips were in the early Autumn so no danger of snow or frost.

I've never been to Philly, but I have been to Boston albeit about 35 years ago, and I think that Boston is the one I would lose. The other 3 cities are pretty close together and will be easier to get between. There is so much to do in NYC and in DC that if you just concentrated on them you'd not run out of things to do. But also it will give you time to relax a little and perhaps spend a little more time in LA before you go home.

Last edited by Moderator1; Nov 15th, 2022 at 03:53 PM. Reason: fixed broken html caused by using >>
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Old Nov 15th, 2022, 03:50 PM
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Uncomfortable, and disruptive winter weather is not limited to the northeast....

You WILL encounter winter weatther at both Yosemite and the Grand Canyon. Grand Canyon is at about 7000 feet above sea level, so weather at end Dec/early Jan is typically daytime highs hovering right around freezing, and overnight lows negative 5 to 10C range.

Yosemite Valley s "just" 4000 feet above sea level, so while all of the higher terrain will have significant snow, it's hit or miss in the valley itself. Daytime highs in the valley should be just above freezing, and lows hovering just below the freezing point. Of course weather any particular year can vary greatly. The other possibility at Yosemite is huge snowstorms at higher elevations - on the order of 1-2 meters of snowfall if atmospheric conditions off the Pacific ocean are just right. There would be less snow at the valley, but there could defintely be enough where there would be restrictions on driving. Hopefully, there will be a great snowpack this year to replenish drought stricken reservoirs.

Point is a) be prepared for deep cold at both those locations, and more important, b) be flexible with your dates and plans...

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Old Nov 15th, 2022, 04:23 PM
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Yes, you go up an outside inclined ramp (not steps) to board. Assume that you have not flown out of that airport if you think there are "steps", LOL.

One of the things I like about LGB airport during COVID is that so much of the waiting is done in the open air including the central plaza \with seating, shops, wine bars etc. You don't need to spend much time in enclosed areas, only during ticketing/checkin/bag drop and when going through the boarding gate. Getting an Uber/Lyft/rental car is also much easier there.

Of course there is always a chance of being rained on while boarding the plane but I have escaped that so far (this will be my fourth trip in the last 12 months using LGB.)

Last edited by mlgb; Nov 15th, 2022 at 04:35 PM.
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Old Nov 15th, 2022, 04:47 PM
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Xanterra will be holding a Black Friday type sale on Grand Canyon rooms booked during CYBER week (11/22-11/29) . Go to grandcanyonlodges.com for more details.

30% at Maswik, Kachina and Bright Angel Lodges and save 20% at El Tovar when you book between November 22 and 29, 2022 for stays between December 1, 2022 and March 9, 2023 Valid with new reservations only. May not be combined with any other offers, discounts, or packages, and not valid with group reservations. Blackout dates: Maswik December 22-31, 2022; January 1, 2023. Kachina December 1, 2, 18-31, 2022; January 1, 13-15, 23, February 17-20, 23-24, 2023. El Tovar December 17-31, 2022; January 1, 2, 3, 4, 13-15, February 17-19, 2023. Bright Angel December 1, 2, 3, 13 – 31, 2022; January 1, 13 – 15, February 9, 10, 11, 17 – 19, 2023.
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Old Nov 15th, 2022, 07:13 PM
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The smallest comment...but why is California split at the beginning and end of the trip? Why wouldn't you do Los Angeles and San Francisco together? Instead of going west coast to east coast back to west coast? Wouldn't it make more since to continue in one direction (into LA out of NY for example).
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Old Nov 15th, 2022, 08:08 PM
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She's coming from New Zealand so will be flying back over the Pacific, logically.
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Old Nov 16th, 2022, 03:17 AM
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Air NZ does fly non-stop JFK to Auckland.... It doesn't cut any distance as it still is directly across the Pacific. And it's a pricey 18 hour flight, but it is an option.



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Old Nov 16th, 2022, 06:57 AM
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No steps
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