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  1. Default East to West coast road trip

    Hi, I used the site for helping plan my honeymoon from Boston to LA and just wanted to thank everyone as I had an absolutely amazing time! If anyone is interested I made a quick video of the whole thing

    Also, if anyone has any questions about the trip or needs any advice I'd be happy to answer, as other people helped so much to plan it.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Any thoughts, highlights ?

    Pleased to hear that you had such a good time, thanks for dropping by. That's a cool video but if you get a moment it would be great to read about some of the highlights of your trip and any observations you made, perhaps even a photo or two. Reports done in this way are so beneficial to other members who might be looking to do something similar. Congratulations BTW.


  3. Default

    Thanks, yeah I'll have a look through the pictures and try and come up with a rough guide. So watch this space!

  4. Default Introduction

    Ok, so as I was planning my trip, I read about lots of other people's experiences and used that to figure out what I'd like to do and what I wouldn't; and tried to learn from their mistakes. So hopefully by writing this somebody will do the same.

    The trip started in Boston, where we stayed for a few days before heading to New York, gradually down to New Orleans, gradually across to Las Vegas, up to San Francisco before finishing in Los Angeles. We stopped in as many cities, towns and National Parks as we could along the way, and tried to find as many quirky attractions as possible. So I'm going to document the trip here, and hopefully it won't just come across as a self indulgent pat on the back to myself for having such a great trip.

    First, some advice based on my own personal experiences and opinions, so take it for what it is.

    This advice is coming from a British point of view, so obviously not all of it will apply to everyone. I planned the trip well in advance, and booked everything as soon as I could and saved a lot of money on the car and flights. So first, some tips:

    Getting there

    Book international flights as soon as possible. The flight I booked shot up in price less than a week after they became available. However, bare in mind that some airways announce their flights later than others. So look up the major airways and wait until all of the flights are announced.

    If you're flying to one place and leaving from another, get a return flight, and a separate internal flight as it usually works out cheaper. Also, internal flights normally work out cheapest around 3 months before the flight, although this can vary. Just keep a close eye on the prices going up and down.

    Don't assume you'll just sleep on the flight and that you'll arrive feeling fresh. On the way back we left at 11pm on a 5 1/2 hour flight and I didn't sleep at all. After cancellations, we eventually got our connecting flight at 9pm, where I got about an hours sleep on the 8 1/2 hour flight. If I'd then had to travel I would have ruined the first week of the trip as I struggled with jet lag for a good while after.


    I booked the car as soon as I could through, as this seems the cheapest way to do it. The guy at the rental place said he couldn't believe the price I got, and that it included insurance, so I'd definitely recommend them. It also means it's easier to turn down any optional extras they try to push on you, as you've already paid for everything.

    Don't get the e-z pass or whatever toll pass they try and sell you. They offered an amazing low price of $99 for the whole trip which was supposed to be the price for only a week. How kind of them! I spent about $20 on tolls over a month. Don't get one unless you're definitely driving on toll roads constantly.

    Get a good playlist for along the way. I forgot to update my iPod, so we were struggling to find stuff to listen to. On longer journeys we downloaded podcasts (mainly from which made the time pass quicker on our long drive through Texas.

    Find a song you really like and don't think you'll get bored of easily and listen to it a lot on the journey. Whenever you hear it after it'll remind you of the trip and what you were doing whilst you were listening to it.

    Long journeys will take longer than you think, so allow plenty of extra time. One of the biggest mistakes I made was planning a long journey where we were due to arrive late evening where we'd be camping. We arrived in Lone Pine after dark and ended up paying for a motel, which turned out to be the most expensive place we stayed. We also arrived at Goosenecks State Park after dark, and ended up sleeping in the car.


    I used AirBnB for the big cities (except Vegas), and mostly motels for everywhere else. AirBnB was amazing; in New York, we got a whole floor in a $2.5m apartment in Park Slope in Brooklyn (nice area) for £65 a night. In comparison the cheapest hotel I could find with questionable reviews was around £100 a night. A few times we got whole apartments to ourselves in great locations for less than a hotel room.

    If you're staying for a couple of nights, pretty much any motel is fine, although I usually did my research and checked reviews. It's also worth reading through a few of the bad reviews to see if they're being unfair (I saw a few who were complaining the rooms weren't decorated as nicely as expensive hotels).

    Every so often, it's nice to splash out on an upgrade; you'll really appreciate it after being in so many standard rooms.


    This completely depends on how you approach the trip. I was away for a month and we ate out pretty much every night, so I spent a lot of money. And put on a lot of weight. So if you're going away for a while, make sure that you can afford it. You don't want to miss doing all the random things you find along the way because you didn't budget for it.

    Take a cash card. I used the FairFX dollar card and it worked out brilliantly. Wait until the exchange rate is good, then top it up a decent amount. I then topped it up along the way whenever the funds were getting low. FairFX tend to have the best exchange rate every time, but they charge $1.50 to withdraw cash so just withdraw a few days worth at a time. It's free to use in shops, so use it whenever you can. Just bare in mind that you can't use them at "gas" stations. I usually went in and asked if I could leave my card with them and just fill up. Sometimes I could, sometimes I couldn't. If I couldn't I just had to guess the amount.

    Drinking in bars

    This is something that I had no idea about and was not prepared for. In the UK, if you go into a pub or bar you walk up to the bar, order the drink, and then pay for it. Everywhere. Every time. In the US, you either pay up front, or open a tab; but they never tell you which one it is. If they tell you how much it is, they're expecting you to pay them now. If they don't say anything, you've opened a tab. I think it was around 50/50 for us, although it depends on the area you're drinking in. As far as I could tell, you're supposed to tip $1 or $2 for every drink whether you've got a tab open or not. I also found that the waiting staff always like to seat you and get your drinks. I didn't like this, as I don't like having to wait for them to ask if I want a drink, and when I'm ready to leave I don't want to wait ages for the bill because they're busy; so I always just sat directly at the bar.

    You will need ID. I got ID'd a lot and I'm 28. My wife's 56 year old Auntie was in LA last year and got ID'd for a bottle of wine. So carry it with you always.

    I'll add more tips if I can think of any, but if not the next post will be the beginning of our trip! I'll try and be as comprehensive as possible without being boring, but I'm not promising anything.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Loved your commentary. Nice to know about that rental car place, as we are always searching for ways to help our foreign visitors get a reasonable price on their vehicles. Your commentary about long trips taking longer than you think, is a song we sing around here all the time -- Google is NOT always right about travel times! Thanks for helping us clarify. You made me giggle about your wife's auntie getting carded. If I get carded, I practically genuflect to the person who carded me!

    Would love to hear your commentary about the places you visited, would you recommend them to others, would you go again if you had a chance.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Fantastic!

    Luke, what great and valuable information. Pat yourself on the back as much as you want. Everyone's experience is valuable to those who come to these forums. We all have a different mode of planning the trip and travelling.

    I can't wait to read about your trip, and see some pics.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    We visited a bar in Denver. Having asked my son and DIL for their ID, I asked the doorman if he would like to see mine, [tongue in cheek] he looked at his co-worker and they smiled [laughed] and said " no your OK mate" lol.

    Good work Luke.

  8. Default The beginning of the trip

    Day 1 - Arriving in Boston
    Why did I book the flights for 30 hours after the wedding? We left at 7.30am after barely any sleep and having rushed around trying to download things to watch on the iPad on the plane. But we made the flight fine and even had time for breakfast in the departure lounge. We were still letting the events of the past couple of days sink in, so it was difficult to look ahead to the huge trip we were about to start.

    We flew with US Airways, who were fine; there was enough leg room, and we were given two full meals and snacks in between. The only downside was that there was no real in flight entertainment, which seems strange nowadays. But that was fine, as we had tablets, books and magazines. We arrived in Philadelphia and had an easy transfer to Boston; I just wish our suitcases had been on that plane with us. After waiting around the bags eventually turned up, so we jumped on the shuttle bus which took us to the metro station, and took the subway to our first AirBnB booking in Beacon Hill.

    Boston has a very European feel about it, which I'm guessing is partly because of the Irish heritage, and partly because it was cloudy most of the time we were there, so it felt like home.

    That night we went out to the nearest bar and had our first American burger and craft beer. Boston seems like a great place for craft beer, as every bar we went into had a good selection. It was nice having beers I'm used to, like Blue Moon and Sam Adams, but there were some great others.

    Day 2 - Salem
    My wife Rach has a fascination with the witch trials, so this was an obvious stop. We walked down to the train station and got a train straight to Salem. Rach had a few things listed that she wanted to see, but no real plan, so we just wondered around. Salem has a handy red line on the "sidewalk" that leads you to each attraction. There was plenty to see; some historic preservation, some very touristy; but we enjoyed it all. A stop for lunch, and another beer tasting experience. The Salem Beer Works had a good selection of craft beers, so I sampled a couple before we headed off again.

    After walking around all day we headed back to the apartment and had a quick rest before dinner; we're not used to this much walking! We went out to the Little Italy part of Boston for some food. It was a busy area with bars and restaurants everywhere, but we headed to Giacomo's which I'd read good things about on Trip Advisor. There was a queue outside, but we decided it sounded like it was worth the wait. After about half an hour we were finally seated, at which point we looked outside to see that the queue had now disappeared. Typical. The food was definitely worth the wait. Afterwards we went out for a quick drink then headed back so that we'd be fairly refreshed for the next day.

    I'll try and make the next entry a bit more interesting with some good pictures. We were still slightly jet lagged and recovering from the stress of the wedding, so there was just a lot of walking around involved.

  9. Default

    Day 3
    Today was going to be a bit rushed, we planned to see as much of Boston as possible before getting a train to New York early that evening. The plan was to walk along the Charles River from the Museum of Science area to Back Bay West, then go and do the Freedom Trail. The plan started well, as it's a really nice walk along the river. It was cloudy again, and a lot of the view looked like it could have been any city in Britain, which was odd. Once we got to Back Bay West, we walked towards Back Bay East; the buildings and architecture around there are great, lots of expensive looking houses with ivy growing all over them.

    We went to Boston Public Library, as it looked nice and I could get wifi to look up where to go for lunch. Rach is vegetarian, so it's often easier to search where would be suitable rather than looking around. The library was more modern than I was expecting, but nice all the same. We found a random sports bar that we both liked the look of and went there, for what felt like my 20th burger of the trip. But I like burgers so it was all good. Afterwards we went up the Skywalk Observatory at the top of the Prudential Tower; it had an amazing view of Boston, and we could see for miles around. We hadn't planned to go up, but I'm glad we did.

    After that we headed to Boston Common and had a walk around. By this time it was too late to start the Freedom Trail so we had to give it a miss, which is a shame. But Rach had had enough of walking around, as the pregnancy made it a bit more tiring. Oh yeah I never mentioned, Rach was up the duff in her 2nd trimester. Our train was around 5.30pm so we headed to the station and picked up our luggage that we'd left there that morning. We made it with plenty of time to spare, but we hadn't realised quite how much time. The train time was changed to "delayed" and stayed like that for half an hour after the scheduled departure time. Then another 15 mins passed before we finally got an announcement that it was delayed, so would be late. Helpful. Eventually it turned up over an hour late, and we got on our way to New York!

    As we approached Manhattan, I woke Rach and got the kind of response you'd expect from a tired grumpy pregnant woman, until she saw the view; the size of the city and the buildings was unreal. We finally pulled into Penn Station at around 11.30pm I think. As we climbed the stairs with our heavy luggage (don't worry, I carried all the bags), it got more and more busy. We decided to walk up to the street level to get our first sight of the bright New York lights, and it was absolutely chaotic! I know it's supposed to be the city that never sleeps, but this was mental. Turns out the station is right next to Madison Square Garden, and a Billy Joel concert had literally just finished. We headed back down and finally found our way to the subway that would take us to our next AirBnB accomodation, a lovely apartment in Park Slope, Brooklyn. We arrived after midnight and woke our host up, but she was very kind and forgiving. She showed us up to the 3rd floor, where we were staying. And we had the entire 3rd floor; it was huge! She'd left some beers in the fridge in the room for us, so I had a couple before we managed to get to sleep.

  10. Default New York

    Day 4 - The Big Apple (I never actually called it that whilst I was there... or afterwards... or before, in fact this is the first time I've used that term)

    We started the day by finding a nice local cafe to get some breakfast. I ordered the standard breakfast, and panicked when asked how I like my eggs... what do I say? Is "fried" enough information? I try and remember what they say on the TV, "sunny side up...?"; that seemed like a satisfactory response. Do people really say sunny side up, or were they just humouring me because I'm a stupid tourist with a weird accent? Anyway, turns out "sunny side up" means "not quite cooked properly", but I was soon distracted by the mass of shredded potato on my plate. So this must be what they call hash browns. And what have they done to my bacon?! It's all crunchy and dry!

    After a nice breakfast (I did actually enjoy it really) we got the subway to South Manhattan and started by taking the Staten Island Ferry. Whilst waiting for the ferry, we got to meet some of the locals. The most memorable one was a rather angry man who shouted "MOVE" at everyone until he made it to the front of the queue, then started threatening anyone who dared look at him. It was so weird, I thought it might be some kind of street performance; Rach disagreed. It all worked out fine, because a gust of wind blew him into the sea as he was getting on the boat. At least I hope that's what happened to him. Anyway, the ferry trip was nice, and I took about 6000 photos of the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty. And sometimes even both in the same picture. It's a weird sight, all those huge buildings crammed onto a tiny island.

    After that we walked up towards Wall Street. We passed the Charging Bull and tried to take a picture of it, but it always seemed to be obscured by children who have been told by their parents to cup the bull's testicles. Is that a thing, or was there just a whole bunch of crazy in the air? Either way, it was weird. We made it up to the New York Stock Exchange, where it was all cordoned off, so we took some pictures and left.

    We moved on to Times Square and did some shopping, then went to the Top of the Rock (Rockefeller building). It was truly breathtaking, but strangely familiar. You see New York so often on the TV, and people are always posting their holiday pictures from there that I felt like I'd seen it before. But it was still some sight. After spending a while taking pictures from every angle, we headed back to the apartment to get changed for the evening; we were going to see a Broadway show!

    We headed back into Manhattan and went to see The Book of Mormon, which is the best and funniest musical I've ever seen, and probably ever will see. Tickets aren't cheap, but luckily they were a wedding present, so I didn't feel bad for spending an absolute fortune on one drink at the bar. At least that's what I told Rach. Afterwards we went back up to the Top of the Rock as we got a day and night ticket. It was a stunning view again, but obviously in a different way, as all the buildings were lit up. We then headed to Times Square again and wondered around for a while. It was whilst standing right in the middle of it all that Rach started making a weird face, and strange noises. Turned out she was feeling the baby kick for the first time! What a place for that to happen!

    It was late and we realised we hadn't had anything to eat, so we stopped in a TGIs, which seemed to be the only place left serving food. It was after that meal that we discovered Rach's morning sickness was back. Oh dear, this could cause some problems...

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