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Help needed for USA trip - starting from scratch!

(9 Posts)
gypsysoul Mon 22-Feb-16 07:46:04

I'm considering a family holiday to the USA this summer with DH and two DC aged 12 and 15. This will be a biggie for all of us, as we've only ever done short haul since the kids were born (I don't like flying but am so desperate to go to USA and know the kids would love it). I don't know where to begin. Here are a few of my questions
1. is there any part of the US that is shorter to fly to, given my fear of flying?
2. where is good to visit in summer? We will be going for two weeks, possibly three. I went to San Francisco and Disneyworld when I was a child and have lovely memories. A couple of days on the beach would also be nice.
3. Accommodation - if we go for a hotel, we'll need two rooms which bumps up the cost and we actually prefer self catering anyway but I'm not sure if I want to be 'tied down' to one home for the whole trip. Any thoughts on this?
4. getting around - I'm happy to do a bit of driving around to visit other places, but not too long stuck in the car. Any thoughts on train travel? I'd prefer not to do any more flights obvs!!

Sorry, loads of questions and I'll probably think of some more soon. Thanks in advance for any help

OP’s posts: |
JapanNextYear Mon 22-Feb-16 07:53:42

We did California with dh's kids last year. LA, spent a long time stuck in traffic! Wished we'd stayed at beach, which they loved, or gone to San Diego instead of near universal studios. They loved universal though. Observatory was a big hit too.

Las Vegas intrigued them for a night, San Francisco fantastic and best bit. We've been to Yosemite without kids as only one of them likes oudoors but that was fab. Grand Canyon and then Death Valley.

PennyHasNoSurname Mon 22-Feb-16 07:57:39

The only thing I know about what youve asked is that lots of hotels do double/double bedrooms for families so that would lower the price. And the trains are awful. Better to pick a general area and hire a car then if you want, fly elsewhere and hire a car there too.

Ive only ever done Florida/Disney/Universal and at that age id take mine there (but skip Disney) then do a city break somewhere like New York.

LagunaBubbles Tue 23-Feb-16 12:30:41

Hotel rooms in California all fitted me, DH and our 2 as they had 2 queen sized beds. However California is obviously west coast so longer flying time than east coast.

specialsubject Tue 23-Feb-16 19:37:21

assuming you are in the UK, then obviously the east coast will be a shorter flight. You are adding a fair few hours if you want to go to the west coast.

but it is a long flight whatever. Is this wise?

bornwithaplasticspoon Thu 25-Feb-16 12:31:43

Check out airbnb/owners direct for accommodation. We usually get a gorgeous villa or apartment cheaper than a hotel room.

You could fly to NYC, do a couple of days then then hire a car and do Boston and the east coast as a road trip, make your way down to stunning St Augustine and fly back from Atlanta?

AlexPKeaton Thu 25-Feb-16 13:25:31

Oh no, I just wrote a whole post and somehow erased it. I will try to recap. I'm American and have traveled a fair bit around the country. Unless you really want to just do super fast tourist highlights, you will need to confine your trip to one area of the country. Train travel is a joke outside of the Boston-NYC-Washington, DC corridor. The southeast is BRUTALLY hot and humid in the summer, which I hate, so personally I wouldn't go south of Delaware unless I was going to spend 99% of the time at the beach. Even Disney World is awful in the oppressive heat of July and August. There are beautiful beaches all up and down the east coast, though. My favorite beaches New England, from the rocky cliffs of Maine to the family-friendly villages of Martha's Vineyard. The water is cold though.

The US is so large and so diverse that it's hard to recommend a specific itinerary. If you are city people and you want to hit as many famous places as possible you could do Boston, NYC, and Washington, supplemented by relaxation time in Maine or the Outer Banks of North Carolina or even the Jersey shore, which is quite lovely in many places. If you want to see jaw-dropping scenery that is truly different to what you've probably seen in Europe, the American West is amazing: Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana are all fantastic in the summer, though it is BIG country so you will spend a lot of time in the car. Texas, Arizona,andNevada are also quite hot the though people claim it's a "dry heat" so not as bad as the southeast. A road trip down the coast of California alone would be a great 3-week trip, though it may be further than you want to fly or drive. Public transport is very limited outside of big cities, even in the close-in suburbs, so you will likely need to hire a car now and then unless you just stick to NYC, San Fran, etc.

Outside of really major cities like NY and San Fran, hotel rooms will be larger than you are probably used to seeing in Europe, though still tight for 2 adults and 2 teens. I highly recommend Airbnb or vrbo to find a nice place that will fit your family. You can usually book them for just a couple of days, although homes in popular beach resort areas may require a longer time.

There are many more possible options. I would just caution you to watch the heat, if that bothers you, and to try to avoid the temptation to see too much at once. You may find it much more enjoyable to slow down and get to know just a couple of places. The oppressive heat of a Washington summers is hard to even describe.

Feel free to PM me if I can help you further. Good luck!

chemenger Fri 26-Feb-16 17:34:42

I don't like heat but I find that the West (Utah, Colorado, Wyoming) is fine, because of the dry heat mentioned above. You do have to be sensible about the sun and pace yourself. We always end up driving too much, usually because we want to revisit somewhere that we know we love. A helpful thing is to look at the itineraries on planned fly-drive tours (but don't book one because you are paying for them to book accommodation etc which is really easy). I would recommend staying for at least two nights in each place, three is better. Also be aware that if you want to stay in the popular National Parks you need to book well in advance. We used to go for a 2 queen sized bed room when the dds were young teens but now would have two rooms for our own sanity. You can still get motel rooms for less than you would pay for the equivalent here and two rooms cabins can often be available too.

If you would consider Canada we went to Nova Scotia last year, its a shorter flight and there is a lot to do. Accommodation is reasonably economical.

Twowrongsdontmakearight Fri 26-Feb-16 18:32:41

We did the west coast with DC about the same age as yours. San Francisco and down the coast to LA via Yosemite. There's lots of variety and the drive times aren't too bad. DC loved it.

Friends have done Florida with a few nights at Disney/Universal then on to Miami and the Keys. Again lots of variety.

When looking at hotels it might be worth looking at suites. In San Francisco and Pismo Beach we had two rooms with bathroom and kitchenette which was not much more than a standard two queen room. Plus it gives you the option to get pizza or Chinese in.

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