USA Road Trip : Tips & tricks

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Hello everyone !

We are already home since about two weeks now. This is why there was no blog at this moment.
So this is the last post about our trip to the USA, and from now, there will be a post a week.
These are the last photos of our few days in Key West. I really loved the place, and I will definitely go back there again in a few years, to be able to admire the fully recovered beauty of the place, after the damage of hurricane Irma.
If you go there, don’t miss the sunset, the view is really wonderful, and you can make amazing pictures. You can also make pictures that could be exposed in an art gallery. Just put them in black and white and rotate them haha.

 

 

If you plan to make a trip like we did, I have a few tips for you to save money without having to forego on comfort.

To move around :

We rented a car from Hertz. It is quite an amount of money to rent a car for a month, but it’s definitely worth it. At the end it’s cheaper and less stressful than having to look for public transportation, planes, trains or buses between cities. And also you can go wherever you want, particularly in areas that don’t have public transportation. It was very important for us and helped a lot during our research of vintage clothes.
Also, it is more convenient if you have a lot of big luggage like we did.

And if you can make round trip (return the car at the same place you picked it), you will avoid a fee that is about 35 % of the total of the price.

Hotels & motels :

Plan your trip in advance, and book all your hotels and motels in advance.
Also use a site that has a loyalty program, you will see, you will thank me later.
I use hotels.com since years, and thanks to this site I have plenty of very interesting prices for hotels, and their « free night » loyalty program is the most awesome thing ever. Sometimes you pay only like 10 € for your stay.

Many people are afraid of motels, but honestly I booked a dozen of them during this trip, and they were all awesome, way better than most of french 2 stars hotels. It is far away from our Première Classe or Ibis Budget tiny rooms with tiny bathrooms. Rooms in the USA are huge (30m² at least), with large bathrooms and all of them had a bath tub, hair dryer, iron and iron board. Beds are also very large, with good pillows.

If you plan to book some motels, I recommend you the Super 8 ones which are really nice.

Also they all have included breakfast. It is not a huge breakfast, but at least something, and for free. A night is about 50-60 € (or less with the loyalty program).

Another advantage of these motels when you have a car : Free parking.

So yeah forget your horror movies with killers with their trucks who kill people in the bathrooms, reality is different. At least in the places we went to haha.

Phone, internet et GPS :

I had several ideas regarding mobile data and GPS.
There is the old method where you buy an american GPS, or rent one from the car rental company, but I chose the second option : buying an american sim card with a prepaid unlimited mobile plan for a month.

I bought the sim card on Sim USA Mobile, a french website that sells cards for several operators and you can choose from different plans according to your needs.

I chose the unlimited T-Mobile plan, because I needed a lot of data, particularly to make the GPS work and also posting stuff on Insta. And it was the best value also.

Everything worked perfectly and fast, even if I don’t have a super great phone (I have a Sony Xperia M4 Aqua)

I strongly recommend this method, because it’s convenient and cheap. And if you stay longer than a month, you can renew the plan at the end. It costs between 59 and 89 € depending of your plan.

You order the sim card before you leave, enter your trip dates, and then your plan will be activated directly at the arrival, no waiting.

Save on touristic attractions, museums and parks :

There is something we started to use too late during our trip, even if we knew it existed, we simply forgot about it :  Groupon.

If you want to visit monuments in New York for example, which can be super expensive (and this is the reason why we did not visit them)  or go to theme parks or water parks, check if there is an offer on Groupon.

We got 50% off the Rapids Water Park in Florida thanks to Groupon.

Eat for one instead of two :

Food is rather expensive most of the time, if you want something of decent quality and if you want to avoid places with discutable hygiene. Also the plates are very large most of the time, and don’t forget tips that make the bill immediatly higher.

So what we did is to order food only for one person instead of two and share the plate.

We did this in almost every restaurant and nobody was surprised. We saw many people doing this by the way. If you do this in France you will be looked at and they will even refuse.

We had enough food all the time and there was no wasting or leftovers.
Of course it doesn’t work if you really eat a lot, but like… really a lot.

Another important detail, tips.
Unlike in France where it’s not very common, in the USA tips are very important and sort of mandatory.
They are most of the pay of a waiter, and service is not included in the price of food.

Sometimes they can be included, but it’s quite rare. Read the bottom of the menus carefully.

When you are in a restaurant where they bring the food at your table, you have to add like 20% of the total amount of your bill at the end, depending of your degree of satisfaction. In short you have to add a minimum of 15 % even if they waiter was horrible.

The only places in which it does not apply are the fast food restaurants where you take your food at the counter.

But you will see, it is written on the bill. You will have to write the amount of the tip and sign.

This system is very complicated for us as we are not used to it, so be careful particularly if you have a small budget.

 

This was the last post about our road trip in the USA !

Now we already started to work at conventions and fairs. See you there with plenty of Vintage clothing !

 

Estelle, Bonbon Maléfique

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