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Round North America Trip

Landire

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  • Added on: May 13th, 2011
2013 is a big year for my husband and I and to celebrate it I want to surprise him with a trip around North America by plane or train. We have a lot of friends spread all through the US and Canada. Neither of us drive and we plan on staying with friends most of the time.
Where I need your help is figuring out how to travel. At best we will have a month of travel, including the flying time to and from Ireland. I've found mention of a Visit USA ticket for some airlines but not how to get it or where. I've also found the Amtrak multiple stop tickets and Greyhound discovery tickets. A lot of the places and people we plan on visiting live a good distance from an airport. So, I suppose what I'm asking is what is the best way to travel around the US and Canada?
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busman7

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  • Added on: May 13th, 2011
It would sure help to have an idea of where you want to go as the US/Canada covers a big area.

One tip Amtrak is good but Greyhound sucks big time mainly due to the British owners, First Choice!
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Bideshi

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  • Added on: May 13th, 2011
Well, the answer is by car. Which I understand isn't what you're going to do, but there it is anyway. Buses, trains, and planes are going to be easy to get between major points, but as you've noted, they are going to have 1 terminal somewhere and getting from there to your real destination can sometimes be tricky without a car, unless you're coming into a major metropolitan area with a good public transportation system, like San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Boston, and places like that. Here's just a few suggestions to help as much as I can with your original question:

Planes - search early and if you see a good price, buy it, as prices can fluctuate drastically and without obvious reason in an instant. I know having the structure of nonrefundable tickets limits the freedom of adjusting your plans in the middle, but it's the only way to keep flying truly affordable for traveling around for a while. Using a big, general search on http://www.kayak.com is a good place to start, but some of the airlines that frequently have some of the better deals aren't searchable there, such as http://www.southwest.com, and http://www.jetblue.com. I've heard of those flight passes too, and I believe that Jetblue did a few of those, but as I understand it, they are more of a very occasional promotion thing, and not like the passes you can get from Amtrack or Greyhound for unlimited travel during a time of your choosing. But who knows - maybe there is something available like that OUTSIDE the USA for foreign visitors? Ask your local travel agent maybe?

Trains - I can't say much other than I know there ARE passes you can buy with Amtrack, but the lack of train infrastructure in the USA, outside the "Eastern Corridor" make train travel more of a novelty than an actual form of transportation. I know that there are no dedicated passenger tracks, so Amtrack has to share with commercial traffic, which has led everyone I've known who have traveled long distances by train to arrive very much NOT at the time they expected. But still, some of the train journeys across America and Canada are supposed to be spectacular!

Buses - Plentiful, go to more destinations than trains, and are generally the cheapest way to go. Greyhound is the biggest carrier (for those who are reading who might not know) http://www.greyhound.com and has, I have to admit, really upgraded the bus experience recently. My last trip on them was actually pleasant... which was a first. The seats are more comfortable, there are power points at each seat, and free wifi. I was pretty happy. Anyway, Greyhound will go everywhere in the US and Canada that any bus will, but there are a few other companies running more limited routes that tend to be cheaper if you're going between destinations they serve. Try http://www.megabus.com or http://www.boltbus.com.

Hope you have a great trip!

Landire

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  • Added on: May 13th, 2011
busman7 wrote:It would sure help to have an idea of where you want to go as the US/Canada covers a big area.

One tip Amtrak is good but Greyhound sucks big time mainly due to the British owners, First Choice!



I knew I was forgetting something! Heres a list of the places we'd like to go:

New York City
Richmond, Va
Houston, Tx
All of California, including San Diego, the Inland Empire, Yosemite, San Francisco, and Butte County
Vancouver, BC
Salt Lake City, UT
Chicago
Toronto
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vagabondette74

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  • Added on: May 13th, 2011
you can do Richmond -> NYC via train/bus easily (I'd also stop in DC on the way) Then train to Chicago.

I'd then fly to Houston then fly to San Diego and train north from there. Do a side flight from one of the California cities to SLC.

Some of those places will be hard/impossible without a car (i.e. Yosemite) but there *may* be buses.

I would NOT train across the country. Long distance train service sucks in the US and will take days of your trip. Bus travel is worse with crowded, smelly busses.
Traveling through Mexico and Central America starting in January '09. Hit me up if you want to meet!

Bideshi

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  • Added on: May 14th, 2011
I'll throw a different possibility at you - how about bus from New York (and a visit to Boston?) to Toronto. Then bus or train from Toronto to Chicago. Fly from Chicago to Richmond, fly from Richmond to Houston, fly to Salt Lake City, fly to Vancouver, bus or train down the west coast through Washington, Oregon, and California (maybe an unlimited travel pass here?). Mission accomplished! :D

busman7

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  • Added on: May 14th, 2011
Just got off the Grey junker bus, left Memphis yesterday at 13:40, arrived Peterborough ON tonight at 22:00 so too tired to think straight to help with routing. However, as a former bus company owner/operator, all I can say about the Hound is that if you want to encourage a company that treats it's customers like cattle & with contempt (employees also) then fine ride their junk that 9 times out of 10 runs late, otherwise do the right thing & boycott them!

Spent the past 12 days busing it from La Libertad El Salvador to Peterborough, from the start to Nuevo Laredo Mexico all was great, while from there on travel on Greyhound/Americanos was a trial of incompetence. Anyone thinking their new buses are good, finally got to ride one the last 2 hours & it was just a cheap piece of crap, has never ridden the Mexican or CA executive class buses.

For train travel check out www.seat61.com the passenger rail service on Amtrack has really improved in the last few years, at least on the trip I took from Portland OR to Seattle last July.
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"I started out alone to seek adventures. You don't really have to seek them - that is nothing but a phrase - they come to you." Mark Twain

busman7

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  • Added on: May 15th, 2011
My suggestion Take a local bus to Virginia, lots to choose from

Train or www.megabus.com to Toronto, train to Chicago

fly to Houston, then San Diego

Train up the coast to Vancouver taking side trips bu bus to Salt Lake etc

Note please use any bus line other than Greyhound/Americanos

Have a great trip
http://blogs.bootsnall.com/busman7 | http://wwwlasbrisasplayasandiego.blogspot.com
"I started out alone to seek adventures. You don't really have to seek them - that is nothing but a phrase - they come to you." Mark Twain



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