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Sample USA winter itinerary

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Where to start and end your trip
To Canada and the United States

Tips for international visitors and students

View of Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco as sunset approaches. The sea under it is quite lively. The photo was taken from a beach to its southwest, not one of the usual viewpoints.

Many international travellers travelling to Canada and the United State put too little attention on where to arrive and where to depart.

You want to arrive in someplace interesting, but mellow enough for you to relax before the next stage of your trip.

Why? Rest is the basis of activity.

When you get up in the morning after a good sleep, your day is more productive and fulfilling. When you rest after a long flight, the remainder of your trip becomes more enjoyable.

Rest, too, is a key to safety.

Flying across the Atlantic or Pacific or arriving from South America and then immediately jumping behind the wheel of an automobile is both dangerous and likely to cloud the enjoyment of your entire trip.

In addition, you should be rested prior to embarking on coach or rail travel, which can be very tiring at times.

Pick a place with lots to do without needing to drive

Above: Vancouver Canada's Stanley Park, within easy walking distance of many city centre hostels and hotels. Small boats are anchoured in the calm waters off the park. You can enjoy beautiful views of the harbour and mountains beyond while walking to the park.

Above: Vancouver Canada's Stanley Park, within easy walking distance of many city centre hostels and hotels. You can enjoy beautiful views of the harbour and mountains beyond while walking to the park.

Therefore, arrive in a place sufficiently appealing and interesting so that you do not want to leave it straightaway.

You want to arrive in a place where you can spend a few days sightseeing at a less frantic pace than will occur later on.

And, your departure should be from a similar place because you want to allow several days between your arrival in your departure city and your departure from North America. This is in case you face transportation problems or other emergencies, especially if your departure is by charter flight or non refundable airline ticket.

As arrival and departure cities, Vancouver is fabulous in the summer, Orlando with direct flights from Europe and South America is great all year—although hot and humid during the summer, as is much of the U.S.—and Boston, Montreal, San Francisco, and Toronto are fine almost anytime.

Although it makes a great gateway, budget accommodations in New York City can often be very noisy.

You can also pick places like Dallas and Houston that have inexpensive connecting flights to places more interesting, such as Austin or New Orleans. These are fun to visit from late February through October.

And, Calgary, with an immediate coach transfer to Banff National Park works very well from mid-May through mid-September. It also works well during the winter if you ski.

The best arrival and departure cities for most people, Dr. Voyageur believes, are Orlando, Las Vegas, Vancouver, San Francisco, New York City, Portland (the one in Oregon during the summer), Denver, Montreal, Seattle, and Calgary (with an immediate or next day transfer to nearby Banff National Park).

You can usually find a good airfare flying into one place and out of another, as long as they are in the same country—either Canada or the U.S. Surprisingly, you may

Keep an eye on rental car rates

If you plan to rent a car upon arrival in Canada or the U.S., check on rental car rates before finalizing your ticket.

Rental rates and especially rental taxes vary wildly from place to place. Be sure to find out the total cost of a rental—the cost including taxes and fees—before deciding to rent at a location.

Dallas - Fort Worth International Airport has long been notorious for high airport taxes and fees. Currently (May 2018), the actual price of a $263.00 weekly rental comes to $404 once taxes and fees are added in. Needless to say, that is a terrible deal.

If you must arrive in Dallas, check the tax and fee situation if you were to rent within the city one or more days later. Those fees include airport mandated.

Of course, rental agencies face most vigorous competition at airports and lower rates could more than make up for the fees and taxes added.

First-time visitors

First-time visitors may become intimidated by the intensity of Miami (stay in the southern portion of the City of Miami Beach thereThat's okay), New York City, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC.

You may want to visit these later during a trip, after you have become more used to urban environments in the U.S.

These are not the perfect places to relax after a long flight. New York, for example, can be extremely noisy both day and night. One hostel hands out earplugs. Reviews? Not nearly sufficient.

Avoid most new gateways

In recent years, international air traffic agreements have opened up numerous secondary airports to direct international flights.

For example, you can fly nonstop from Beijing to Detroit and nonstop from Frankfurt to Cincinnati.

But, what traveller would want to, unless he or she has relatives or friends in these?

Places such as Atlanta, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Memphis, Salt Lake City, Winnipeg, and others simply do not offer international visitors enough to do over a period of days—especially when compared to what they might be experiencing elsewhere.

Other gateway cities—Chicago, New Orleans (be careful in this fascinating but crime ridden place), and Miami (ditto)—occupy a place between the two extremes. There's much to do in Chicago in its rather compact city center and that makes a good advantage.

If your best international fare lands you in Miami, you can book an immediate connection on a very inexpensive flight from Miami to Orlando.

Of course, Miami has sun, fine beaches, super night life, and great food.

To learn more about visiting the U.S. and Canada:

Go to >> When and where to travel

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