Thursday, December 1 2022

god dang it. Just as a holiday in the US seemed within reach – thanks to banished Covid restrictions and self-sorting flight schedules – it was swept away again by the weak pound. Last summer a quid would have cost you US$1.42, now it will fetch you a measly $1.13, so your trip to the US costs almost a third more.

But there’s no need to cancel if you’re smart. Prices for flights to the US always drop on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so travel mid-week if you can. If you see a great rate, book it; airfares only go up as departure dates approach these days, so don’t wait for them to go down – they won’t. If you usually travel independently, consider opting for a package – a tour operator gets the best hotel deals, and the price you pay today won’t change (unlike a direct-booked hotel, paid in dollars at check-out). Hotel extras can also go up — resort fees, Wi-Fi fees — so avoid those by joining the loyalty program, which can net you room upgrades and perks like breakfast free. Here are six great American trips that will give you bang for your buck. . .

Cannon Beach in Oregon

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1. A hipster vacation in Oregon

Oregon is one of only four US states to charge no sales tax, which might mean nothing to you – until you learn that some state taxes are going up 10%. That means every time you eat out, order room service, or go to the shops, it’s 10% cheaper in Oregon. And Oregon, in the funky, hip northwest, has some brilliant cult brands to spend your money on — it’s the staple of Ace hotels, Columbia sportswear, Sorel shoes (belonging to every A-hiker). lister, from the Princess of Wales to Jennifer Aniston), Hydro Flask (idem) and Nike.

Oregon’s downtown brain is independent Portland (whose unofficial slogan is “Keep Portland Weird” and was the star of a TV show Portlandia), which is frequently voted one of the top ten best places to live in the United States, based on quality of life. Pedestrian is king in leafy, walkable Portland (meaning no expensive taxis), and its famous outdoor market is one of the largest in the US (again – no sales tax) . Beyond the city you have the spectacular Crater Lake National Park in one direction and the cool Cannon Beach in the other.
Details
Seven nights room-only from £1,353 pp including flights and car hire (audleytravel.com)

The bright lights of the Las Vegas Strip

The bright lights of the Las Vegas Strip

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2. Luxury for less in Sin City

If you’re planning a big birthday party or honeymoon and only the best will do, consider Las Vegas, where hotel rates are the lowest in the United States. An average room costs $52 in Sin City versus $236 in Boston — and that difference only gets bigger when you hit the higher-end stays. When we looked at the major travel weekends on the horizon – Christmas, New Years, Valentine’s Day – a five-star hotel suite in Vegas could still be had for under £300, while a five star accommodation in Boston would average around £725.

Don’t like gambling? Do not worry. Las Vegas is ideally located for America’s biggest hits: Grand Canyon (two hours away); Hoover Dam (40 minutes); Mojave Desert (one hour); Death Valley (three hours); even Los Angeles and Palm Springs are less than five hours away. Then there are the two-for-one brunch coupons, pool party coupons, happy hours, and BOGOF theater performances. . . Las Vegas is the spiritual home of money hacking. Ask at check-in for customer promotions, pick up coupon books at malls (it’s worth it!), and visit websites like smartervegas.com, vegas4locals.com, and vegasunzipped.com.
Details
Four night room only from £652 pp including flights (tui.co.uk)

The best things to do in Las Vegas
● 16 best hotels in New Orleans

The French Quarter of New Orleans

The French Quarter of New Orleans

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3. Deep South without digging deep

Dallas isn’t America’s hottest destination, or Atlanta for that matter, but both are US air hubs (for American and Delta respectively), which equates to tons of affordable daily flights from the UK. United. So why not use either as a gateway to the beautiful Deep South, since cities like New Orleans, Memphis, Austin, Nashville and Charleston are all within driving distance?

There’s more good news: Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Texas, and Tennessee currently have some of the lowest gas prices in the United States (about $3.20 per gallon versus $5. $80 in other states). It’s also worth downloading a gas app, such as GasBuddy; you might think you’ll only save a few cents, but a tank of gas in Mississippi is only $36 if you shop around (and $60 if you don’t). If you have seen the Elvis movie this summer and want to turn a travel fantasy into reality, now is the time.
Details
Non-stop fares from London to Dallas or Atlanta from £589 return (compare at skyscanner.net). Affordable chains Aloft, Moxy, and Indigo have hotels in New Orleans; double rooms from £90

The Manhattan Skyline

The Manhattan Skyline

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4. New York Fairy Tale

We bet you didn’t expect to see NYC in this list. But the fact is, New York equates to the American Dream trip for many travelers, which is why it has the most hotel rooms, the most flights (from £345 return with the low-cost airline). -cost JetBlue, also try Norse Atlantic and Manchester, Aer Lingus). Among America’s 50 largest cities, New York hotel rates are the tenth cheapest – and that’s surely down to choice, choice, and more choice. HotelTonight is a great app for discounted accommodation and lets you book weeks in advance. In terms of free stuff, the Big Apple offers museums, tours, and sights (for starters: the Staten Island Ferry via the Statue of Liberty, the High Line, and the American Museum of Natural History and the Memorial of September 11th). And if you’re traveling in January or February, you’ll enjoy the most affordable airfares and hotel rates (they’re at their peak in November and December); January is also sales season, with up to 75% off at Saks Fifth Avenue department stores, Bloomingdales and Macy’s. Unlike other American metropolises, New York has excellent public transportation, so make the most of it; a seven-day MetroCard Unlimited Ride costs £29 and means you can travel as far east as JFK airport (otherwise a £49 one-way taxi), south to Coney Island for hot dogs , or north to the Yankees baseball stadium.
Details
Three night room only from £526 pp including flights (virginholidays.co.uk)

Swimming in Alaska

Swimming in Alaska

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5. Alaska Volunteer Vacation

You might not think now is the right time – with inflation rising and the pound falling – to spend your time volunteering, but it can be a cost-effective way to spend a once-in-a-lifetime holiday. Travelers are invited to become husky dog ​​sitters at this conveniently located ranch in Alaska, which offers log cabin accommodations, airport pickup, free dog sledding and all meals for approximately $275. £ per week. Your duties include feeding the dogs, mushing them out, and cleaning (six hours a day; weekends off), and free time can involve anything from swimming in a wild lake to kayaking and mountain biking.

This is just one of dozens of life-changing volunteer vacations across the United States, including mustang horse rescue in Florida, conservation work in the Colorado Rockies, and fair-trade farming in Hawaii. The more you can volunteer, the cheaper the experience becomes and the more options you have (for example, it’s possible to renovate homes and shelters in New Orleans for as little as a week, but the cost is £948 per person).
Details
Flights to Fairbanks, Alaska from around £650 return (compare routes on skyscanner.net). Find volunteer projects on Volunteerworld.com

● When is the best time to visit Alaska?

Admire the view in Yosemite

Admire the view in Yosemite

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6. California Bargain List

The Pacific Coast Highway will always be No. 1 on UK bucket lists. Something else that will never change? It’s free. So the key to doing this road trip is knocking down all the other costs, such as flights and accommodation. Don’t fly into San Francisco and from San Diego – yes, it’s a time saver, but open-jaw tickets are notoriously expensive; Instead, buy a cheap round-trip ticket to Los Angeles and do a loop – you can throw in the must-see national parks inland (Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon) to avoid driving twice the coast. And honestly, the PCH part south of Los Angeles is disappointing, so skip it and you’ll save time that way.

Camp your way – national park entrance fees are $35 per car and a pitch starts at around $20 a night (nps.gov), while you can buy a good tent at Walmart for $40 and reduce baggage fees. Or download the Motel 6 or Super 8 apps — these two budget hotel chains have nearly 3,000 US locations between them, and doubles start at $69 (the latter includes free wi-fi and breakfast). lunch).
Details
If you prefer a tour operator package, a 12-night flight, including campervan and flights, starts at £1,230 pp (trailfinders.com)

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