Epilogue, Forestlake QLDJuly 15 in the United States
This trip was 12 months in the planning and from the outset we had an idea of what we wanted to see. This trip was originally going to be on bikes but with Harley dumping rentals and giving the job to Eagle Rider the prices went through the roof. We decided that we would hire a car and share the cost and spend the savings on other things.
Accommodation: Our original plan was to wing it and find places on the fly, but it appeared that this ould not work so we advance booked a number of towns. Next trip this will need review, our timing coincided with summer break and as a result the prices were higher and vacancy availability low. That said we only had one day where we had to try several options.
Parks Pass: The America the Beautiful pass was our saviour and the US$80 investment saved us a fortune literally. We estimate that each park would have cost US$ 15 to 20 per person to enter and we did 10 Parks and in the Tetons we entered it 3 times. It also allowed us entry into the Maritime exhibit in San Francisco so overall, we saved around $900. These are available in the US Forestry offices which are numerous.
Car Rental: We hired from Thrifty, our ride was a current model Jeep Cherokee. It had all the bells and whistles including GPS. It was a good combination of space for its size and suited 4 people well. We still would have preferred bikes. Fuel averaged at less than $50 per day.
Food: American food used to be inexpensive, not so anymore however it is plentiful and sharing a meal is a real option and Noela and I did that most nights and many lunches. Be ready for sweet and savory mixed together. There are plenty of options for salads and vege you just have to ask. If you like chips (hot variety) then ask for fries as chips are bags of crisps.
Cash vs Cards: We took both a pre-loaded travel card as well as cash with a backup travel card. Cash was used sparingly, and the travel card worked well with no outlets knocking back our Qantas Travel card. Current exchange rate means that you are going to lose 30% on conversion and credit cards will attract an international transaction fee in addition to the FX hit.
Tipping: Everyone wants a tip, some do not deserve it and you need to use your discretion on how much. Some add the tip to the bill. In a number of cases we removed it and did not tip. We figured if we are not going back bad luck. But generally, we tipped from 10 to 15%.
National Parks: Absolutely stunning, the USA have stunning parks and they are well set out with information centres, and interpretive centres provided to give visitors a great understanding of what the will see. Make sure you take the time to visit these.
Tours: We used the Red bus tours in Seattle, they were rubbish. The Big Bus company in San Francisco was just so much better. It pays to shop around and go with the biggest and best. There is a reason that they are the biggest. Eco Tours in Jackson were brilliant and whilst wildlife eluded us we learned heaps from them. It really pays to do your research into tours and activities and decide whether you do your own thing.
Luggage: we travelled with around a week’s worth of clothes and found laundromats plentiful cheap and quick so washing was a once a week ritual.
Overall the trip was a great success and for two couples to travel in one car and share so much time together we had very few moments of disagreement etc. We put this down to the planning and understanding what we all wanted to see, and if there were other things to do we were all happy to go separate ways and meet up at days end. The result was that we all enjoyed each other’s company and therefor enjoyed the trip. So for now there is only one more thing to do and that is decide when and where we are going to next time……… you will have to wait and see.Read more