January 22nd, 2009

Tania pratfall

Planning a trip to the US

One or two of you know about this already, but that US trip I was always talking about? I'm actually beginning planning today at Joe's request - he's still got a couple of debts to pay and needs to put together a budget for this - and it's going to happen at the end of the year. I'm hoping to go from (ballpark) 20th Dec through to 20th Jan.

So. I've said the dates now, there's no turning back.

That said, HOLY CRAP THIS IS HARD! I'm used to the relatively simple options I'm presented with when planning for travel in Australia. We basically have three airlines. Count 'em, three. OK, four if you count Tiger. But regardless. All I have to do to find a good airfare is check each of the major websites, toss in my dates and compare.

In contrast, I don't know WHO flies WHERE as far as international airlines go. Price-comparison websites are only complicating matters further. Is that a return airfare or one-way? Who can say?

We want to work our way across the country. Should we rent a car? Or use public transport? Or rely on the kindness of strangers to link us from one couch to the next? Accomodation is pretty sorted - we follow the couches that so many of you have kindly offered!

That leads me to the next point: plotting a coherent trail throughout the continental U.S. We'll probably start out in L.A. I want to drop in on thornwolf in the San Bernardino mountains as she loves checking out the entirely awesome landscapes you guys have in the region and that's definitely some action I want to get in on! I'd also like to check out Vegas - I loathe gambling but I'm just fascinated by the idea of the place and give albylion the chance to play tourguide. After that, a longish stopover around Phoenix, where my lovely tengukun and my godson Rowan live. <3 I also want to see the Grand Canyon.

What's the deal with checking out Mexico? Would we be able to do that or is crossing the border a visa no-no? (Never travelled internationally, live in a country with no borders, forgive the ignorance.)

Anyway, after Phoenix I have NO idea. I haven't checked back on the couchsurfing entry I made at the end of '07, as I'm concerned some offers / locations could be out of date by now. But as we solidify our ideas on where we want to go, I'll check back there and see who is where, and begin to chase people up. <3

I guess we should check out one of the Disney theme parks over there? I could live without it though, it'll be costly compared to everything else we'll be doing, and Joe's not that big on theme parks. What else would you guys recommend? I like natural wonders, don't mind roughing it. I want to see New York as the biggest city I've seen is Sydney. We're not doing Canada this time; that warrants a separate trip of its own - Joe and I are considering living there for a while someday, despite sebkha's forecasts (literally) of doom!

Ooh! Yellowstone! I want to see Yellowstone! I'm a bit of a supervolcano geek. ...I just realised I don't even know what part of the country Yellowstone is in. *shame*

Oh, also - we don't really have much in the way of mountains in Australia. It is a weathered country. So I'd love to see some tall, crisp, new mountains. Maybe Colorado? That would be a logical next step after Arizona.

Joe likes natural stuff too, but he also likes getting the 'feel' for a place; going out with the people who live there, seeing the nightlife, hearing the music, eating the food, drinking the drink, getting entirely too lost, having unexpected adventures. So we want to see some cities as well as some spectacular countryside.

We're also science buffs and, to a lesser extent, interested in history. Washington is on my list for the latter; we want to see a shuttle launch in Houston if we can time things right to satisfy the former. But anything else along those lines you can think of would be fabulous. We want real memorable EXPERIENCES. We want to go the places the locals go, not the shiny well-beaten tourist track (though we'll set foot on that for certain things, like the Grand Canyon).

We're both fascinated by caves. We'll both jump off or out of high things, whitewater raft, dive, swim with (insert friendly aquatic animal here). Whilst we want to save money where we can (hence the couchsurfing and booking flights early on) we don't want to miss out on adventure just because we were a bit short on cash - so consider cost no object when you make your suggestions.

So. With all that in mind, seriously, guys - I hear you have a gorgeous country: tell us what we should do there!