You might have been wondering why things have been a little quiet on the Money Mummy post front over the last few weeks. Well, the Money Mummy clan have been having a holiday in United States of America!!! We spent most of our time in California including a trip to Disneyland which we all LOVED, but also popped over to New York and Washington to check them out and experience what it is like to be a tourist in minus 12 degrees!!!!! Yes we were there for New York’s coldest day in 50 years and it was FREEZING!!! Mind you, our daughter loved the snow! I have to hand it to the Americans you think that you know them because we see their TV, movies and their news but it is a far more diverse and interesting country than I gave them credit for and we had an absolutely fantastic time there.
So if you are thinking of heading over to the US here are some of the ways we made our trip happen without breaking the bank (too much) 🙂 .
Go in winter
Winter? What winter? We spent most of our time in California where we discovered their reputation for amazing weather was well deserved. Most days were around 23-25 degrees and we didn’t have any rain at all. Ok, granted that California currently has a drought which is not great, but it did mean that weather wise we had an amazing trip. Also the best part about travelling in winter was the lack of queues when you go to the attractions. We spent four days in Disneyland and the most amount of time we spent in a queue was to meet Elsa and Anna from Frozen and even then it was only a 45 minute wait!!! For most of the rides we either walked straight on or waited for a maximum of 10 minutes!! It was fantastic.
Use a travel agent
We used a travel agent for a decent chunk of our travel. He saved us a fair bit of money by convincing us to stay in a couple of hotels that we would have never picked ourselves and an airline we generally wouldn’t fly. We stayed at the Hyatt Orange County when visiting Disneyland which got us a two bedroom suite for approximately $200 per night (my sister was staying with us) as opposed to $350 per night per room for the cheapest Disney hotel. He also got us a great deal on “Bertha” our rent a car which I could never have got on my own.
Don’t use a travel agent
Ok so I just contradicted myself but for some of the things we found it was far cheaper to book them ourselves. The agent wanted to charge us $130 Australian dollars for a car to take us from the airport to our hotel. We decided to catch a cab ourselves and it cost us about $60 Australian dollars. We also used trip advisor to find some offbeat hotels which had kitchen facilities which saved us the cost of quite a few burger meal deals :-).
Don’t be afraid to stay at cheaper hotels
We found the standard of hotels to be pretty good in the US and there was a lot of choice. In Las Vegas we stayed at the Excalibur which looks like a castle for $65 Australian dollars per night. If you are looking for luxury this certainly wasn’t it but it was a nice enough place to sleep and my daughter loved it!!! Given Las Vegas is not the most kid friendly destination, though it was better than we thought, certainly Excalibur was probably one of the most kid friendly hotels there.
Hire a car and drive
“What!!! Don’t they drive on the other side of the road????” I hear you say. Yes it is a little scary to start off but driving around the US is awesome. You get to see and do things that you would never get to otherwise. The roads are amazingly well made compared to ours and we found the drivers pretty polite, contrary to what you might think 🙂 . We picked up “Bertha” our hire car from San Diego and took her all the way around to San Francisco over 14 days. She cost around $45 per day and we ended up taking her something like 3,200kms. Petrol is cheap in the US as well. We think we paid around $2.50 per gallon generally speaking so that is about $0.80 cents per litre in Australian dollars!!!!! Mind you we brought our GPS from Australia and downloaded US maps so that was a big stress reliever in terms of getting us from A to B!!!! It turned out to be a lot cheaper than flying for the three of us and it meant we got to see a lot more of the “real” America.
Stay out of the Disney Stores with your 4 year old….
Oh I had an epic fail here, mind you all the merchandise is substantially cheaper than in Australia, even accounting for the falling Australian Dollar while we were there 🙂
If you are thinking about going to the US I would highly recommend it. We are going to be saving hard for the next few years to try and go again. Next time we might try Disney World in Florida! It is always good to have a goal!! Now back to the real world!!!
Have you been to the US? What did you think?
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The information contained in this post is general in nature and does not constitute financial advice. Please see your financial advisor for advice specific to your individual circumstances.