Travel in USA – Best of flights, Hotels and other options in USA

US is a big country, without exploring its beauty by traveling – your visit to US may not be complete.  How then can you travel to the best spots in US without burning your pocket?  Let’s look at the sites that we ourselves use to find deals.  We will look into four different categories and we will throw in some additional options, just for the good measure:

travel in usa

  • Flights
  • Hotels
  • Rental Cars
  • Cruises
  • Other Options

Photo credit: Marc Levin

Flights within US:

When it comes to finding a flight deal – its a very tricky jungle out there.  For some ungodly reason – you tend to find worse deals on official sites and great deals on booking sites.  Below is a list of our favorite booking sites.

SouthWest: Booking sites are sweet but what is sweeter is finding a good deal on the official website that also has ‘free baggage allowance’. No wonder this company fought its way back from bankruptcy to becoming one of the major players.  They merged Airtran making their routes even more accessible.

Spirit Airlines: If you don’t mind about the ‘non-reclining’ chairs and don’t bother about snacks on a 1 to 2 hour flights – then spirit airlines is worth checking.  Last time we flew to Dallas – we saved over $250 on two tickets together.  I don’t think the handful peanuts on other airlines are worth $250.

Kayak: Probably one of the best sites on the internet to find best flight deals, especially, local travel.

OneTravel:  We found the best deals, better than kayak, on international travel from/to US on this site.  Not our favorite for local travel but definitely worth checking out for international.  Pay extra attention to your route before confirming the ticket.  They have 24 hour cancel policy wherein you can cancel your tickets within first 24 hours for a nominal fees.  Sweet deal when you are getting non-refundable ticket deals with this feature.

Expedia: This site serves many corporates around the world and for a good reason.  Their price match is great – in case you find a better deal after booking your trip – they will reimburse you the difference.

Priceline:  Unique feature of this site is you can name your price and if they find a deal that matches your price – they will confirm your booking.  The itinerary is a bit twisted but prices are sweet.

 

Hotels in US:

Traveling can be exhausting and you want to find a good place to crash. It is even better if you get it at a good price.

Hotwire: The BEST when it comes to finding cheaper hotels.  My recent search showed me deals of $76 for a 3 star hotel on a long weekend in San Antonio, one of good tourist destinations.  The only draw back is that you will not find the ‘hotel’ you are going to be booked at until you confirm the booking.

Booking.com: This is my favorite site for international hotel booking. Their prices are hard to beat even by a local booking agent.  When I traveled along Argentina – this site was a god sent as I did not have to go through hoops to get a deal in a foreign country.

Trivago: Trivago is a hotel search engine, that is, it finds the best deals from other booking sites and presents the comparison for same room from different sites so that you can make the decision.  Prices are competent to Hotwire and you don’t have the guess work like in hotwire.

Hotels.com: Obvious choice, they call it.  Obviously we couldn’t leave it out.

 

Car Rentals :

Personally, I prefer driving to flying.  Especially, if the drive is under 8 hours. First – I love driving, second, for a 8 hour road trip, the flight is about 1.5 to 2 hours, with security check (2 hours), going to airport (1 hour), finding a cab (.5 hr), getting to where you have to (.5 to 1 hour) put together – you spend 6.5 hours anyway.  Of course, if you don’t love driving, flying maybe best bet.  Also, during long weekends flying is much more expensive than driving.

Hotwire: We are glad to see hotwire the second time and for a reason.  Their prices are always awesome.  The drawback, though, continues. You will not know who you are renting from until you confirm the booking.  Since they only have reliable players in their list – I don’t mind the chance.

Enterprise: “Pick us and we’ll pick you” is Enterprise’s motto.  When you book the car with Enterprise – they will pick you up and drop you off (within their area of coverage). Sweet. Apart from that – I have always been a fan of enterprise until they changed their unlimited nationwide miles to unlimited neighboring state miles.  Nevertheless, not everyone is as crazy as I am when it comes to driving – and so – enterprise is still a way to go if you are driving to neighboring states and want unlimited miles at sweet price.  To top it off they stood number 1 in customer service/ratings for 2014.

Avis: Avis operations are far fetching and I like the fact that I can rent a car in a country like India, where historically car renting has not been in vogue, with Avis.  Check Avis for your international travel needs.

Hertz: Like hotels.com in the previous section – we cannot complete this section without including Hertz when it comes to rental cars.  They have extensive availability of cars in almost all locations that you find car rental services in US.

Cruises:

We covered air, road and now its time to turn to water.  There are many vacation cruise package deals to many locations from the US.  Unless you are prone to seasickness, cruise is an experience you must add to your bucket list.

Expedia: We see another service provider that appeared twice on this list and there is a good reason to it.  When it comes to cruises you want a reliable service and with its price guarantee and a long history – Expedia is a real deal when it comes to cruises.

CruiseOne: Get cruise and destination credits that you can spend on cruise and the destination. One of the most contemporary sites with wide range of options.

iCruise:  When your plans are to take your cruising international (works well for national too) – then this is a site you want to check to find the deal.

Cruise.com:  This is our hotels.com for the cruise section – we have to mention it because – it is an obvious choice and you shouldn’t book anything before comparing the deal here.

 

Other travel options:  If you don’t want to fly, drive or take cruise, the other option is train and bus.  Following are few choices:

Amtrak:  Where available, amtrak is a great way to travel.  For the number 1 country in the world – train connectivity sucks.  That is why, unfortunately, I had to include this under ‘other’ options.

Greyhound: Probably one of the most endured way of traveling in US and still continues to be one of the most connected transportation (better than train) system. Not the classy of choices but a choice nevertheless.

MegaBus: Serving close to 10% of US population (30 million out of 330 million) MegaBus is a great option, where available.  If you book the ticket early enough – you maybe able to get it for under $10.  They have onboard wi-fi, electric ports to run your laptop (or to charge your PDA, etc).

We hope all the array of choices we presented in this article inspire you to travel and explore new places.

 

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only.  Not an advice.

48. Clevaland, Ohio: Quick guide to City’s top 5 things to do

This rock and roll capital of the world is also the most populous city in the State.  City of Cleveland is home to great nature trails, scenic nature and culinary variety.

Emerald Necklace: This is a place for trail and bike lovers in particular, and nature lovers in general.

Playhouse Square: 9 performance spaces, non-stop entertainment and variety of selections – need more reasons?

Sandusky & Lake Erie Islands: Few miles drive from the city but totally worth it for its variety of options.

West side market: Food lover’s dream comes true at this 100 vendor ethnic dish out place.

Velvet dog: Party lovers – go crazy!

Site we have for you for Cleveland is PositivelyCleveland.

49. Wichita, Kansas: Quick guide to City’s top 5 things to do

This is the largest city in the Kansas State and quite obviously one of the most populous.  Bull ride themes, great cigars, nature trails and lot of clear sky makes trip to this city pleasant.

  • Starlite Drive-in theater: They say “to each his own”, in spite of many museums and educational centers – we chose this drive-in because it’s a different and it’s an inexpensive way ($12 per car) to entertain your whole family.  Carry cash.
  • Mosley Street Melodrama: Let’s pick something offbeat. Let’s pick something that keeps things fresh and let’s pick something that serves good food too – so let’s pick Mosley.
  • Arkansas River trail: Photographers and nature lovers are you reading?
  • Sedgwick Zoo:  This is the spot we chose for the kids attraction in this city.  Be the judge by experiencing the wild life on display.kansas-1166902-m
  • Morts: After a day full of events, unwind at this ‘famous for martinis and cigars’ place of Wichita.

Site we recommend for more info on Wichita is Gowichita. Look for coupons from Groupon @ http://www.groupon.com or Living social deals @ https://www.livingsocial.com/‎   for discounts. 

City Guide – Quick guide to top 50 City’s top 5 things to do

In this series, we present to you what you CANNOT miss out if you happen to live in or visit one of these cities.  The cities have been chosen based on population and we will give you a quick guide to top 5 things to do in each of these 50 cities.

We will ensure to cover at least one spot that kids will love and one for adults to unwind.  We will also provide one website that we recommend for more information on the city (no affiliations).

Some of these cities offer 100s of attractions but for the purpose of this series we will only look at the top 5, in no particular order, in our view.

Let’s begin the journey.

50. Arlington, Texas: Quick guide to City’s top 5 things to do

Arlington is the 50th most populous city in US, and without a public transit system.  It is one of the big cities in the State of Texas.  There are many things that keep the high populous entertained and amused but since we chose to restrict ourselves to 5, let’s see what those 5 things you can do if you are living in or visiting Arlington in no particular order.

  • Six flags over Texas:  Twists, turns, thrill rides and yes, lots and lots of screaming – what else can you ask for?
  • College park center:  Don’t forget to check out CPC – you maybe a witness to an amazing game or a concert and not to mention the food.
  • self-portrait-102132-sAlley cats: If you have kids with you or if you want to entertain the kid in you then this is the place to go to.
  • Southlake Town Square: Shopping, eating and movie time, and it’s all here in one place.
  • Hooligan’s pub:  It is time to leave the kids with guardians for the night and go unwind yourself at this Arlington’s famous pub.

Here is a site we recommend for other information related to the city: Arlington. Look for coupons from Groupon
http://www.groupon.com or Living social deals @ https://www.livingsocial.com/‎   for discounts. 

New York : a quick guide to state attractions

The State of New York is strong and resilient. Even after having its namesake city subjected to devastating attacks on September 11, 2001, and the state itself being traumatized by Superstorm Sandy, New York has remarkably bounced back and reclaimed its position as one of the top tourist destinations in the world.

New York State is a study in contrasts – just as it is the home of arts and culture (museums, book and magazine publishing, and theaters), it is also a center for banking and finance, a manufacturing hub, an agricultural stalwart, a principal producer of fine wines, and a nucleus for conventions and tourism.

One Card. One Price. Endless Fun!

Top 5 Tourist Spots in New York State

New York State will never run out of interesting and endearing places to offer travelers, from the most casual tourists to the dedicated and footloose adventurers.  Here are 5 of the most desirable to visit places in New York state:

  • Museums – in New York city alone, you can already luxuriate in the socio-cultural, anthropological, historical, and creative wealth found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York Historical Society and Library, the American Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, among many other gorgeous repositories of the imprints of civilization from different periods and cultures.
  • The Statue of Liberty – this formidable lady in New York Harbor is a globally recognized symbol of freedom from tyranny, of reaching out to hope, and establishing a new life in a new land that’s full of promise. Click on the given link for more information on how to get to tour Lady Liberty’s crown.
  • Niagara Falls State Park – get an adrenaline rush watching and listening to the three waterfalls that are shared by both New York State and Ontario, a Canadian province. Explore the hiking trails, take part in the special tours provided by the state park, dine at the Top of the Falls Restaurant, or have fun with your fellow tourists at the Aquarium of Niagara.
  • Westpoint (US Military Academy) – for history and military buffs, a visit to Westpoint should not be missed. Gain a good understanding of what it takes to be a part of one of the world’s highly prestigious military academies through educational videos. Take in the panorama of the Hudson Highlands and march through American history through Westpoint’s guided tours.
  • Adirondack Park – “go fish” will no longer be the name of a card game, once you visit this park in Northern New York. You can actually fish, as well as go hiking, whitewater rafting, kayaking, canoeing, and camping in this awesomely expansive wilderness park.

 

Top 3 Cities to Live in New York State

When many people hear the words “New York,” they usually think of New York City (NYC), also known by its nickname, The Big Apple. NYC has been immortalized by Frank Sinatra as a city that “never sleeps,” and it’s an accurate depiction of its liveliness, come day or night. But while NYC is really that dynamic, that doesn’t necessarily make it a high scorer in terms of livability.

In fact, the top 3 cities to live in, in the state of New York in terms of a stable housing market, low crime rates, high income per capita, and plenty of local amenities are (click on the links to get more detailed data):

  • Larchmont – A picturesque village in Westchester County with a livability score of 85%, Larchmont has a population of 5,864.
  • Bronxville – This is an affluent suburb in Eastcheser with a  livability score of 85% and is located 15 miles north of Manhattan.
  • Halesite – A hamlet in Long Island with a livability score of 84%, Halesite is home to less than 3,000 people and named after Nathan Hale, a spy in the Continental Army.

Top 3 Foods to Try in New York State

Does New York State have traditional food? Or is its cuisine, like that of some other states, simply a mix or fusion of immigrant influences from all over? The answer is “yes” to both. The state of NY does have its own traditional food, but its modern cuisine also reflects the influx of different cultures brought about by a high number of immigrants. Here are top 3 foods to try when in New York:

  • Apple Muffin – this was made into the official State Muffin of New York through the efforts of children in an elementary school in Syracuse, New York. This muffin pays homage to the apple, New York’ state’s official fruit. It is made up of New York State Empire apples, cloves, raisins, flour, eggs, cream cheese, brown sugar, walnuts, cinnamon, melted butter, lemon, and vanilla. Simply delicious!
  • Buffalo Wings – no, this has nothing to do with the American bison or buffalos that used to roam wildly in most parts of the country. The name is actually from the city of Buffalo in NY. These are deep fried chicken wings that are lathered with a spicy sauce and served with a dressing of blue cheese.
  • Spiedie – this is a submarine sandwich that originated in Greater Binghamton in New York’s Southern Tier. The contents of the sub are marinated meat cubes (lamb, pork, venison, turkey, chicken, beef, veal). The sub is then skewered on a spiedie rod, then grilled. The marinade can consist of vinegar, olive oil, fresh mint, and various spices.

Top 2 Party Places in New York City

Tourists who love the nightlife will greatly enjoy NYC because it has some of the best clubs and bars in the state and perhaps even in the entire US. These are the top 2 party places that we recommend:

  • Bootie NYC – go for loud, go for crowd, go for wowed! This is one of the most well-loved and heavily patronized dance clubs ever. No dress code, cheap drinks, friendly service, and mashup music means there are many things to enjoy at Bootie.
  • Amor Y Amargo – in Spanish, Amor means love and Amargo means bitter. Put them together, and you get something like a love for bitters. When your idea of a great time is drinking as many different “bitters” that either you or the bartenders can think of (drinker’s choice and dealer’s choice, respectively), then this bar is for you.

Top 2 Shopping Malls in New York State

Remember the über -fashionable Carrie in Sex and the City? Loved the way she and her friends looked as they went about their lives in New York?  The top 2 shopping malls in New York State can easily help you assemble a wardrobe that’s to die for, among other things that you can buy, with the widest range of prices.

  • Manhattan Mall – what makes this mall that’s half a block away from the Empire State Building among the perennial favorites of locals and tourists alike is its strong base of retail shops, including JC Penney, their anchor tenant.  Trendy and upscale goods that are reasonably priced are sure attractions.
  • Roosevelt Field – this is the 2nd largest high-end mall in NY. It has 222 stores and can accommodate the tastes of shoppers of various persuasions, from the tech crowd to the fashionistas, and everyone else in-between.

Photo by:  natalie_31