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Oh, worldly wise regular fliers to US, I fall at your feet and beg your pearls of travelesque wisdom..

(41 Posts)
AuraofDora Sun 16-Sep-12 17:41:58

In a nutshell I'm orf to the USA first time ever, on my tod too!
I need advice on flying these days post terror, and just sort of being there in general! It's business but I'll be on my own, so is eating in diners, restuarants okay - can you carry it off alone with book and generally going out, cinema or theatre, is it a no-no or not would you say?
It's Boston I'm off to - any particular recommendations for here? I'm very excited at the prospect of visiting Museum of Fine Arts, but any other ideas?

TIA ladies

AuraofDora Sun 16-Sep-12 18:02:47

ha, I also meant to ask about Clothes shops and the like - any not to be missed?
Am thinking of just taking small carry on bag, to hop on and off flight - am I being a fool and missing some great bargains stateside?

pmgkt Sun 16-Sep-12 18:06:49

Boston is lovely, and a safe feeling place. Have a great time.

CMOTDibbler Sun 16-Sep-12 18:10:45

I love Boston - when are you going ? I'll be there again late October.
You have to eat at Legal Seafood, and def go to the aquarium.
I eat by myself, just check with the concierge at your hotel about areas(though Boston is pretty good downtown in terms of walkability).
IME, prices aren't that great, but if you go to Macys and take your passport, you can get 20% off as an overseas visitor. If you like beauty stuff, Sephora is brill - but I can't remember where it is in Boston.
Hand luggage is a bit of a false economy due to the liquids restrictions, and as you have to queue at immigration anyway, your luggage is always out before you.

hermioneweasley Sun 16-Sep-12 18:16:20

Definitely take advantage of exchange rate - either take an empty case or be prepared to buy one there and fill it! Definitely ok to go out on your own with a book - no problem there. I don't know Boston, though I hear it's lovely so have a great time.

Force yourself to stay awake until 8or 9 to get acclimatised. You'll probably wakeup early so if your hotel has a gym or pool take your kit. If you are prone to jet lag go to a drug store and buy melatonin (not available here but perfectly safe) and take at the bed time you are adjusting to. If you take it at UK bedtime on the flight back it will help you sleep.

Things I like to get - Levi's, m&ms (so many more flavours!), some toiletries are cheaper, exchange rate means jewellery and electronics and be a good purchase, the Disney store range is very different to uk, coach for bags and general dept store browsing.

Are you flying business or economy and who with?

hermioneweasley Sun 16-Sep-12 18:17:49

Oo, yes, immigration queues - the tend to be lengthy in the states. And they are deadly serious. No jokes or pleasantries please. I had forgotten I had an apple in my bag and I thought I was going to go to Guantanamo!

hermioneweasley Sun 16-Sep-12 18:19:46

If it's the first time you've ever been to the states, be prepared to tip for everything and make sure you get lots of sing,e dollar bills whe you order currency for this purpose. You need to tip 15-20% in restaurants, plus cabs, the bell boy who flags the cab, anyone who takes bags to your room, a dollar a day for your hotel room etc etc etc.

AuraofDora Sun 16-Sep-12 18:24:34

Am off in a week! More nervous as it approaches but excited too..
I'm in a b&b in Cambridge, so hoping that the guests and staff will be more frienldy than hotel and have lots of suggestions.
I love seafood, will definately check out Legal Seafood, thanks CMOTdibbler and for the other tips too!

Will check out Macy's - am not a mad shopper generally but like a bargain as much as the next gal! Will check it and Sephora too.
Great info too on immigration, was wondering if I was trying to pack too much into a tiny rucksack - so that settles it. DH had talked me out of taking my favourite shampoos and the like but if I need to wait then I may as well.

DS wants me to get him a laptop but worried about incurring an import tax - I will need a computer for work so was thinking of buying a laptop and using it there for work and bringing it back for him - is this stoopid?

AuraofDora Sun 16-Sep-12 18:39:27

Thanks Hermoine
I'm flying well booked with BA but it appears to be American Airlines
Have nightmares about being spread eagled at Logan Airport due to cracking a joke at the wrong time
I think I will check in luggage, and leave space for some bits and pieces
tips, I never thought of that - will get loads of small dollars

What do you think about the computer, it should be okay you think?

ihatethecold Sun 16-Sep-12 18:46:53

So jealous. Boston is lovely smile

GrimmaTheNome Sun 16-Sep-12 19:09:38

Here is the relevant page on duty - you should be OK if it costs less than £390. I really wouldn't risk going over that ... and don't forget that with any electrical goods there's the issue of voltage compatibility so I'm not sure if a standard US laptop would get fried if you tried to charge it here ... and it would probably come with US keyboard and localisation so frankly I'd use the allowance on clothes rather than a laptop.

AuraofDora Sun 16-Sep-12 19:40:27

thanks, am checking out that link Grimma. Am wondering if it might be alright as it will not be boxed and will already have been used. Ds is aware of the voltage issues, I need him to take me to the Apple store to make sure I know how to work the thing.
The electronic purchase element kinda adds a stress I dont need to the mix, so yeah, maybe take my old beaten up laptop and leave the shiny things alone

hermioneweasley Sun 16-Sep-12 19:52:27

If you get rid of the packaging (maybe post instructions and warranties home) they can't prove you didn't buy it here. My friend bought her MacBook air in the states and has no problems using and charging it here. Cut tags out of everything you buy and don't keep receipts - not like you can take things back anyway!

Numberlock Sun 16-Sep-12 19:56:35

I'm sure you've already done so but don't forgot your visa application, assuming you're a UK passport holder.

EldonAve Sun 16-Sep-12 19:57:19

We have rarely queued at Logan and always found the immigration staff pleasant

I would buy the laptop there and post the receipt etc home

Target is usually worth a visit for bargains too

HollaAtMeBaby Sun 16-Sep-12 19:59:22

You could go hand luggage only on the way over and take a big squashy holdall folded up inside your carry-on to fill with goodies!

Don't forget to do your ESTA by the way - at least 72 hours before you fly.

AuraofDora Sun 16-Sep-12 20:22:40

not a bad idea HollaAtMeBaby, will hunt around for fold up bag thingy

And got the ESTA thanks

EldonAve that is good to know, its the officialdom and guns that really scare me

GrimmaTheNome Sun 16-Sep-12 20:48:56

They usually have sniffer dogs... IIRC its the USDA's 'Beagle Brigade', hunting for the importation of illicit foodstuffs, not narcotics!

hermioneweasley Sun 16-Sep-12 20:52:31

Yes, I got caught by a beagle.

AuraofDora Sun 16-Sep-12 21:32:23

Crikey Grimma, what are they looking for, a rouge Heinz beanz, splash of marmite on my lapel!?

Hermoine, what was the beagle after, the apple???

GrimmaTheNome Sun 16-Sep-12 22:09:51

Things like fruit and raw meat, I think, that might carry diseases. They have controls within the country too, in places where there's a natural barrier such as a desert, to protect agricultural areas. Pretty sensible, nothing sinister!

I heard that you actually get fumigated on entry to NZ so a quick sniff by a friendly beagle is relatively pleasant grin

AuraofDora Sun 16-Sep-12 22:37:11

okay dokey, will dump the fruit and dont eat meat ever anyway
and pat the beagles to show total food smuggling innocence and guilt free demeanour ..

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 17-Sep-12 07:37:15

Leave any uneaten fruit behind on the aircraft. Main no-no's to bring into the US are fruit, meat and some dairy products. Being polite, obeying all shouted instructions and not kicking up any sort of fuss are the best ways to get through any US airport upon arrival.

As long as you do not leave your common sense at home, you will be fine and have a great time in Boston.

If you have a photocard driving licence carry that around with you, it is handy to use for photo id purposes. Some people may ask you for photo id when paying for items in a store.

If you want to call the UK you'd be far better off buying an international phonecard from a pharmacy chain like Walgreens rather than using the mobile (this will cost a small fortune and your phone may not actually work in the US).

Do tell your credit card provider that you will be in Boston for a few days so they do not put a "stop" marker on your credit card (same with the debit card).

Would not bother buying a laptop there. Warranties are all different and would not apply here. Keyboard and different voltages may also be problematic.

The price seen on the ticket is not actually the price you will pay at the till; the sales tax is added at that time.

Himalaya Mon 17-Sep-12 08:16:40

If you are going to buy a laptop there (I know plenty of people that have gone this for a MacBook - the warranty is global I think) I would still take your own laptop for work. You don't want to be caught out with what you are actually meant to be doing there because you are fussing with a new laptop.

You can skype home from your laptop in the hotel.

Cambridge is nice, for wandering around Harvard.

Don't feel like you have to spend tons of time shopping if it's not your thing. If you are interested in history Salem is worth a visit (outside Boston on a commuter train) - the museums there are good.

clam Mon 17-Sep-12 08:36:59

We bought a laptop for dd and an ipad for ds when we were in California recently. No problem with voltage issues/charging since we've been home.

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