HOW WE TRAVELED TO THE USA IN 36 DAYS
Travelling is something we all love to do, especially if it includes seeing the most iconic landmarks known to the whole wide world. For us, it was pretty exciting as it was our first outside Southeast Asia and the thought of being able to set foot on US soil is a dream come true. It took us about 5 months of preparing and planning -the essentials like booking our flight tickets to and from our home country (Australia), domestic flights within the US, booking our accommodations, coming up with an itinerary and most importantly sorting out the budget for the trip. Here are the apps we used for the trip:
In searching for flights, we find Skyscanner to be very useful in searching for flights with the best deals, the app is easy to use and you can even specify your preferred currency. Most of our domestic flights within the US were booked through Skyscanner but our main flight from Adelaide to Houston (via Auckland) and back we’ve booked a return ticket from Air New Zealand. They had the most reasonable fares and over-all we had a wonderful flight experience with them. We would certainly book with Air New Zealand again in our next trips.
Finding Hotels and Accommodations
In searching for accommodations, we used Booking.com and never had any problems we had 3 bookings that we had to cancel and had no issues with the refund. The app is also very easy to use you can reserve a room and cancel or change your booking easily for free within a time period. And because I have a very good friend who works at Hilton, I joined Hilton Honors, a hotel rewards program of all the Hilton brand hotels.We are so thankful to our friend who introduced us Hilton Honors, our US trip alone earned us more than 40,000 points that placed us on a Silver status after the trip. I can absolutely attest to the Hilton quality, comfort (especially after a day of excessive walking), excellent value for money and we will definitely be booking with them in our next trips.
Find Travel Insurance
We basically had a checklist of all the stuffs that were important for the trip and that includes of course, buying travel insurance. Of course, we want to have peace of mind as we have fun and so I did a research made some comparisons and went ahead purchasing 1Cover Travel Insurance. It is important to get a travel insurance not only for medical emergencies but also in the event you lose your belongings such us your luggage, passport, gadgets (your expensive camera or phone), it also covers any gadget breakdown, flight cancellation or delays. So please never go without purchasing one!
Finding Overseas Mobile Data
To stay connected to the world-wide- web, we ordered a USA prepaid SIM card from Simcorner.com. I discovered Simcorner simply by googling, it was very convenient, I ordered a USA 6GB prepaid Sim Card on their website that turned out to be a T-mobile sim good for about a month. I had it delivered to our place prior to our travel date. I also had the sim card activated on the day we landed Houston and had no problems so far. We inserted the sim to an iPhone 6 that we basically used as a personal hotspot and at the same a phone that we can use to call out and receive incoming calls while we are in the US. It really served its purpose, although the T-mobile network coverage wasn’t that great it is still worth the price. I would strongly recommend Simcorner for Australian travelers.
Finding Travel Money Card
A reliable travel money card was also on our list and because we are already a Qantas frequent flyer member we made use of Qantas Cash Card that came with it. With Qantas Cash you can load multiple world currencies, and lock in your exchange rate and stay in control of your spending. We simply just transferred funds from our Australian bank to our Qantas cash account free of charge and in most cases the funds are credited within a day. If you don’t have a Qantas Cash card you can get a NAB Traveller card for free simply visit any NAB branch and grab one. We used a Qantas Cash card with the US currency on it already to withdraw money, purchase admission tickets, food, groceries, shopping, and even for paying Lyft fare while in the US. A travel money card is a must so you don’t have to bring so much cash while you travel and also the convenience of having the money in the currency of the country where you are travelling. It just makes things easier. I wouldn’t really recommend for you to use your credit card while abroad as you will not only incur surcharges but also higher foreign exchange rates. If you really have to, then use it sparingly.
As mentioned above we’ve used Lyft as our official ride when we really need to, like airport transfers to and from our hotel and also to places where public transportation aren’t available. I have used Uber a few times as a means to get to the airport in Adelaide but when I was in the US, I found Lyft to be a better alternative than Uber. We felt safe in each ride and met interesting drivers, chatted with them, it was really fun knowing their life stories and was such as wonderful part of our trip.
Our official map for the trip was of course, non-other than Google Maps makes navigating to places very easy.
In summary we had the following apps on our smart phones ready to go:
Skyscanner – for flights search
Air New Zealand – for our flight e-ticket
Booking–for hotel booking details and search
Hilton Honors – for hotel booking details and search
Lyft – car transportation app
Google Map– navigation app
Qantas Cash–travel money
These apps were very useful to us. As for our itinerary, what we did was to lay down the US Map and picked the places we’d like to see. Our home base was Houston and then we took a tour from the west coast to the east coast and then back to Houston. Our footprints looks like this in the US map:
While in Houston we have visited NASA Space Centre
Watched an NBA game between Cavaliers vs Houston Rockets
Photo op with this gorgeous Gerald D. Hines Waterwall
Spent a beautiful sunny day in Galveston, Texas
Had the best Texan barbeque in town (Rudy’s Country Store & Bar-B-Q)
Strolled around The Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada
Road trip from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon and Sedona in Arizona
Seen the best of the Grand Canyon, Arizona
Side trip to Red Rock Canyon, Sedona Arizona
Flew from Las Vegas to San Francisco, California
Stepped into the famous Alcatraz Prison
Stopped by the iconic winding Lombard Street
And of course we didn’t miss to catch a glimpse of the State of Liberty
And then we flew from San Francisco to New York City
Traveled by train from NYC to Niagara Falls US side(Amtrak Trains)
Niagara Falls, USA
Flew from Buffalo Niagara to Washington DC
Flew from Washington DC to Miami Beach, Florida
Then finally, flew back to Houston from Miami Beach. During the trip we also met up with some of our friends, relatives and family. We are very grateful to them and for the opportunity to be with them in this once in a lifetime journey. Cheers and Happy Travelling!