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USA Travel thread #20


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#26 Coffeegirl

Posted 05 May 2012 - 07:18 PM

Carnival Kid.  We've never seen  'cheap' prices for the Grand Californian.  They are a little bit cheaper off season, but never discounted!   DH loves it though I would be happier somewhere cheaper.  The Disneyland Hotel has just been refurbed and we went there for dinner one night.  They also had the only 'real' coffee that I could find.   They're a bit cheaper and still quite close to the entrance, plus you get the early opener advantage with your tickets.

Our 'deal ' for the 4 nights and 4 day park hopper pass was just over $3000.  The tickets themselves were $1000 as DD is adult priced sad.gif for tickets, but not for meals.  Figure that one out!

Whipmix, we stayed a night at Shuuters on the beach.  Supposed to be the best, but we were disappointed.  Good location though.  Their sister hotel next door is Casa Del Mar and looked nice, no views, but only 20 mtrs to the beach.   You can stroll to Venice Beach in under 20 minutes.  The Santa Monica  pier was crowded and really cheesy. Go before 9am if you don't want to be panhandled.  drive from airport was about 30 minutes - but be careful if you are travelling between SM and the airport during weekend evenings or during peak hour.  Our driver said it can take 2 hours sometimes!!!


PS.  If you can't tell DH likes to stay at the best. He's a total snob about it sometimes.  Drives me mental, especially with hotels, cause once you are in your room, they all seem the same.  I reckon half the time we could spend half the price and stil get a nice room and service  rolleyes.gif

Edited by Coffeegirl, 05 May 2012 - 07:22 PM.


#27 mumtojanda

Posted 06 May 2012 - 01:37 PM

Doing the sums for Sep/Oct 2013 for 17 nights in California. I have read your threads but had a few questions.

Is there a better time to book?

Anyone stayed at the Ramada Maingate in Anaheim and what was it like? We would stay for 5 nights.
I was looking at the Disneyland hotel and the Ramada is nearly 1/2 the price.  Any other recommendations? We have done 2 days at Hong Kong Disneyland and my husband isn't the biggest fan so would want somewhere that makes it easy for him to go back to the room or sit by the pool and I can go and do extra rides with the kids.

Have you hired a car and driven around? I am thinking of driving from Anaheim to Monterey then to Sacramento (to visit friends) and then back to San Francisco. Any recommendations on car hire companies?




#28 rob6712col

Posted 06 May 2012 - 04:42 PM

mumtojanda - I can't help with all the Anaheim and Disneyland stuff as we are going to Disneyworld in Orlando but I have driven over there before and will again.  It is actually quite easy. We book our car from the UK Alamo site as it is alot cheaper than booking with Alamo's US site for exactly the same vehicle. Here is the link http://www.alamo.co.uk/


#29 mumtojanda

Posted 06 May 2012 - 09:23 PM

QUOTE (rob6712col @ 06/05/2012, 04:12 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
mumtojanda - I can't help with all the Anaheim and Disneyland stuff as we are going to Disneyworld in Orlando but I have driven over there before and will again.  It is actually quite easy. We book our car from the UK Alamo site as it is alot cheaper than booking with Alamo's US site for exactly the same vehicle. Here is the link http://www.alamo.co.uk/


rob6712col - Thank you for the website details.  I put in our info and it was very cheap compared to what I was looking at.


#30 ~Kee~In~Hawaii~

Posted 07 May 2012 - 06:28 PM

I have been madly trying to do up some sort of rough pricing for adding another mainland trip onto the end of the Pacific Cruise. Has anyone who's been to San Fran stayed at the Hyatt Fisherman's Wharf? I've heard this is the best area to base ourselves, correct?

So far I have us cruising across the Pacific for 17 nights via Bora Bora, Tahiti etc and then staying a few days in Waikiki before flying with Hawaiian airlines to San Fran and staying at Fisherman's Wharf. After that, we'd be flying with Virgin America (are they any good?) to Las Vegas and doing all the things we missed the first time then flying back to Hawaii with Hawaiian. I'd like to do another week in Hawaii but am as yet unsure about island hopping or not and then we'd fly home. Jetstar have a take a friend for free sale that started today at 5pm but the flights to Honolulu aren't for September or any dates next year sad.gif All up with the cruise, shore excursions, flights, transfers, accommodation etc I am at $12,000. The cruise means that I won't be able to stick to my magic $10,000 this time.

What are the must do's in San Francisco? To be honest, I know nothing about the place other than Alcatraz and that it is a beautiful city. I really have the urge to go since seeing your photos Dalet! original.gif

I have been madly trying to blog about the USA trip but I am getting side-tracked right before I start about New York. I'll get onto it this week and see if I can finish the rest of the trip.



#31 mumin07

Posted 07 May 2012 - 08:20 PM

QUOTE (mumtojanda @ 06/05/2012, 01:37 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Anyone stayed at the Ramada Maingate in Anaheim and what was it like? We would stay for 5 nights.
I was looking at the Disneyland hotel and the Ramada is nearly 1/2 the price.  Any other recommendations?

Have you hired a car and driven around? I am thinking of driving from Anaheim to Monterey then to Sacramento (to visit friends) and then back to San Francisco. Any recommendations on car hire companies?

We stayed at the Ramada Maingate when we went in 2010. The room we stayed in (the twin - un renovated ones) were pretty small but big enough for the 3 of us.
The location was fantastic and the pool was a great place to hang out. It was quite early to drop back to the hotel for a middle of the day rest.
I recommend booking via their website (ensuring that you can cancel as needed ) and the keep an eye on their specials as we mid week nights in September very cheaply. I think we paid $50 per night for some of the nights and the $100 per night for the weekend.

We have driven all the times we have been to the states and not had any issues.
If you are a NRMA (or equivalent) member Hertz offers some good deals. Also make sure when you are comparing rates that they include insurance as it really adds up.

#32 Coffeegirl

Posted 07 May 2012 - 09:47 PM

Sicily/Kee. We flew Virgin America from LAX to NY and Orlando back to LAX.  They were great!  Comfortable leather seats, lots of legroom.  Checkin in LA was a mess, but everything in LAX is a mess!

For US car hire we've booked through driveaway.com.au here a few times.  Works well as all the insurance is included upfront and you don't get stung at the desk.


For the PP who asked about different climates, we just did LA /NY/ Orlando.   Was cold the first day in LA (Disney) so we layered and took layers off as the day got warmer.  Then packed it back on as the sun went down.  

New York was quite cool on a few days as it was end April  We took 'heavy' coats for Sydney and I made everyone carry them as part of our carry on baggage.  Saved room in the bags and the airline don't charge you.  Once you are on the plane, the coats are good blankets for the kids, or you just chuck them in the overhead out of the way.

#33 carls888

Posted 08 May 2012 - 12:45 PM

mumtojanda, traveljigsaw beats any price that I can find for car rental and it was recommended to me both on this forum and trip advisor. I am booking ours today.
C

#34 Jo_P

Posted 08 May 2012 - 01:19 PM

Hi, juts another 5 minute pop in from me, things have been busy here and I've hardly had any time to dream USA  ohmy.gif

Carls888, Was it you that asked about the 14 day Disneyland pass from Expedia (forgotten already from the previous page), I found Expedia cheaper then the travel agent, but on one trip she offered to match the price and then actually beat it by like $5 each we were booking flights through her as anyway, but we have bought them ourselves through Expedia no troubles at all. UndercoverTourist only do DisneyWorld as far as I know.

Kee, in San Fran there is an open top fire engine trip you can do across the Golden Gate Bridge that looks really good, we are going to do that when our cruise docks there, also an Alcatraz tour and then do the hop on hop off bus thing, not sure what else as yet, we have two full days there.
We flew Virgin America from Ft Lauderdale to LAX and found the flight really good. Free tv channels (pay for movies), comfy seats and that was the flight that the pilot let the kids in to the cockpit!!

#35 thebarnwellb4

Posted 08 May 2012 - 01:37 PM

Hi.
Sorry havent really had the chance to write since my first message a few threads back.
We are going to the USA on the 26th of October till the 11th of November hiring a car and driving up from LA to SF via San Simeon then through Yosemite national park to Mammoth Lakes then onto Vegas and then back to Anaheim to do Disneyland/Legolan/sea world/universal etc.

Can I ask anybody if they have every stayed in Mammoth Lakes and if so where they have stayed and also if anybody has stayed at the Fairfield inn by Marriott in Anaheim.

The kids are so excited and my 7 year old is most looking forward to having Halloween in Las Vegas. He is even planning his costume already

I look forward to hearing more about everybody else's trips as time goes by.
Cheers
Barnwellb4  original.gif

#36 carls888

Posted 08 May 2012 - 01:52 PM

Thanks JoP, I have just emailed our TA to see if he will beat expedia, otherwise I'll just buy them there.
Has anyone found domestic USA flights that include checked baggage? I am looking at UNited, Virgin America, Blue Air and they all charge minimum $25 per bag per person. Do I just include that as part of the cost and book or am I missing something?
Thanks
C

Edited by carls888, 08 May 2012 - 01:56 PM.


#37 Jo_P

Posted 08 May 2012 - 05:12 PM

carls888, I'm pretty sure Southwest airlines include the first bag for free, but for us they still worked out dearer then using Virgin and United with added bagged. When I was pricing airfares I just added the baggage cost into the airfare then chose the cheapest in total with the best timed flight etc.


We still haven't booked Bris-LA airfares, I'm watching everyday for that price drop!  hands.gif

#38 carls888

Posted 08 May 2012 - 06:49 PM

Thanks Jo, another friend suggested Southwest and they were having a sale so we got the flights for the same price as Virgin America but WITH baggage! Woohoo!!!
C

#39 baf65

Posted 08 May 2012 - 08:56 PM

yay..just booked our LAX to Orlando flights, got them on Southwest for $143 per person incl 2 checked bags!! thats just one way as they only have fares up to 2 november at the moment, same date on Virgin america was $250 per person plus bags

#40 hunter4

Posted 08 May 2012 - 11:20 PM

With regards to airlines that include checked baggage check out JetBlue.  They give you one bag free and are supposably really good (I haven't flown with them yet but my family who has love them).  Only problem is they don't always do the major runs so you'd have to check out if they go where you're going.

I also wanted to post a warning about Southwest - whilst I've hear lots of good things about them they don't allocate seats and I hate this idea - so when you check in you get a boarding lot, if you're in the last boarding lot you just have to take whatever seats are left, which is fine if you're a single traveller but a pain if you're a family who want to sit together.  So I suppose I'm saying for those of you flying Southwest make sure you check in as early as possible so you can get into one of the first boarding lots.


#41 carls888

Posted 09 May 2012 - 08:22 AM

ooooh no hunter4!!!
You can choose seats for an extra $10pp, I wonder if we should risk it or choose??????
Will check out jetblue as well for next time.
C

#42 DamiansMama

Posted 09 May 2012 - 11:30 AM

QUOTE (Jo_P @ 08/05/2012, 06:12 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
[We still haven't booked Bris-LA airfares, I'm watching everyday for that price drop!  hands.gif


I only booked mine last week as I was waiting for the sale. Are you signed up with Qantas as they have sales quite often?

#43 baf65

Posted 09 May 2012 - 11:31 AM

yes i will be doing the $10 per person early bird checkin for southwest as well to assure seats together...its not much more considering the fare was so much cheaper

now am about to book Perth- Melbourne flights on the jetstar offer of take a friend for free, save ourselves another $300, im loving all these bargain airfare, more spending money!!

#44 Jo_P

Posted 09 May 2012 - 07:05 PM

DamiansMama, I'm signed up to every airlines newsletters, nothing gets past me wink.gif It's just the fact that we want to fly out the first weekend of the QLD school holidays so they won't reduce those fares until closer to the time if they haven't filled the seats.
Virgin had a fantastic $999 sale last week that was for the week before we go and then two weeks after we get back, our dates weren't included!!

#45 Ninja Lemur

Posted 10 May 2012 - 09:26 AM

We will be travelling to the US next month.  I have little idea of what I should be thinking about. (ie things in the US system that differ from us).  Do I need a travel agent to guide us through or is it quite straight forward.  We don't have any connecting flights as far as I know.

What should I be signed up to in terms of discounted flights etc?  Would travel agents have all this info and know when discounts normally become available?  help!



#46 FionaM

Posted 10 May 2012 - 01:32 PM

hi all

kee - hope you had a wonderful trip and i cant wait to read your blog especially about hawaii (once you have a chance to write it).

well i got my leave from work work approved yesterday. not without my boss saying something how it is school holidays he may want it off - the thing is that septemeber holidays are the only school holiday (make that holiday) that i take each year so i dont really see the problem with it.  dont worry boss i will be working while he is off in barcelona & paris for 3 week holiday.  just dont know what he thinks, oh well atleast i have my leave.

now the question - has anyone ever booked there holiday via expedia ?

i just had a look and with flights and accommodation as a package to maui from honolulu i would be saving quite a bit, but just dont know what they are like and if anyone has had any problems with them.



#47 Jo_P

Posted 10 May 2012 - 07:43 PM

amoral lemur, it's actually really easy to book everything yourself, and if you don't have a travel agent that you use often they can sometimes rip you off. I have a travel agent that we've used for over five years now and I am able to give her my prices that I've found online and she will match or better them but a lot of agents won't do that. But saying that, we booked the majority of our last trip ourselves and have done the same this time. USA hotels have really good cancellation/change policies, some right up until the day before with no fee whereas when you book through an agent, their wholesalers charge hefty fees for changes and cancellations!
When are you thinking of going? We might be able to give you an idea of when we've picked up specials before.
Sign up to the airlines newsletters (special deals emails) and also any hotels that you are interested in.

FionaM, unfortunately lately I've only heard negatives from people that have booked through Expedia, enough to put me off booking anything other then theme park tickets with them. I'm pretty sure it was Becca on here that had some issues with them, and maybe someone else? I'm sure they'll reply and let you know!


My travel agent told me this morning that there is a USA travel expo coming up in July so if there aren't any good airfare specials before then we will definitely get good prices at the expo. original.gif

Edited by Jo_P, 10 May 2012 - 07:44 PM.


#48 ~Kee~In~Hawaii~

Posted 10 May 2012 - 11:03 PM

Fiona: I had an amazing time, I keep looking back on it and having to pinch myself. Was I really in Vegas, New York, Miami etc?! It's incredible to think about. I blogged about New York today - it quite literally took me ALL day. I have the stop over in Vegas and then I'm onto Hawaii so you don't have long to wait!

Jo: Good to know about the USA expo, will be checking that out! The open-air bus in San Fran is run by the same company as the buses in NYC so I'm happy with that as they were great in New York.



The more DH and I talk about it, the more I am pretty sure we'll be heading back to Vegas after the cruise and since we're at it, I will be insisting on SF. It's a little daunting to be thinking about another big trip so soon after the last one but exciting too. There's something about the USA that makes you want to keep going back!

#49 ~mony

Posted 10 May 2012 - 11:44 PM

Hi girls,

Sorry I haven't been around so much as of late but I have been so busy packing (still doing), organising, making lists and checking them twice! Plus tying up loose ends with our business and the kids and their school/activities etc.

I am off in the morning. If anyone is interested I will be documenting most of my trip in my blog. Happy planning everyone!  waves.gif

#50 Jo_P

Posted 11 May 2012 - 05:56 AM

Have an awesome trip mony, I will be definitely be reading your blog!




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