From: Janelle Spence's Travel Chatter for mature travellers
This issue is from Peter Finch in our office, who has just recently taken his family on a round world holiday for four weeks, and would like to share his experiences on different aspects of his travels. Peter writes ...
We flew with the Star Alliance group, using seven different airlines and having nine stops throughout America and Europe. All the airlines were very good, but on the internal flights there is mostly no food served, just coffee, tea and soft drinks. Southwest Airlines in the USA does not even sell food, and seat numbers are not given. You board in three groups, depending on when you check in, and sit wherever you like - quite different, and you have to watch the line at the boarding gate and get in fast.
Security has been stepped up and you go through several checks, and can be randomly selected for full screening. But we were never hassled and allowed two hours at every airport, and didn't have any delays. There is also security at major tourist attractions, like bag inspections at Disneyland and Universal Studios, and this adds time to getting in.
Whilst we travelled in winter with snow and temperatures of -6, we only had three days of rain, so the weather was not a deterrent. The only problem was obtaining the warm clothing in Brisbane.
In major cities we used public transport and found it easy and inexpensive. In Canada a 30 minute bus ride cost $3.00. In Europe it is best to have pre-purchased passes, but you must obtain them in Australia before you leave as you cannot buy them overseas. We also pre-purchased entry to some attractions as this saves a lot of queueing. We had tickets for the Schurnnbrun Palace in Vienna and went straight in - the waiting time was at least 90 minutes, and this was off season.
In Las Vegas we met friends and hired a car. Driving on the wrong side of the road takes a bit of getting used to. Petrol was about 50c a litre. We drove to Zion National Park, very worth the visit. From there we went on to the Grand Canyon, but it was a bit much for one day. Best to stay overnight at Grand Canyon or even take a coach tour.
We stayed in a range of hotels including a pension in Vienna, right in the heart of the old city within the "Ring". In New York we were on 8th Avenue in a 3 star near Broadway and 7th Avenue and the All Loops hop on, hop off tour bus. New Orleans saw us in a good 3 star hotel in the French Quarter, one street from Bourbon Street. This is a fascinating city with old French influence and new American. We would have liked to stay longer than two days. Also for those under 21 years, it is not as entertaining as you cannot go into bars and clubs under that age.
At Disneyland it was motel style accommodation one block from the entrance. We were able to get a pass out and go back to the motel for a rest before heading out for the evening events. For our 15 year old daughter, Disneyland and Universal Studios were the highlights. My wife and I were not so keen on some of the rides but went on most of them and enjoyed ourselves. I was surprised how many people there were of all ages, and many without children.
We finished off in San Francisco in a 4 star hotel right on Union Square. San Francisco cable carWe liked this city and it felt more like Australia. Chloe and I hung on the outside of the famous cable car, but Lydia was happy to sit inside. Fishermans Wharf and Chinatown are "must see" places.
We also stayed with and visited relatives in several cities, which was great, as we had not seen some for over 30 years. This made the trip special for us, and we saw places in Toronto, London, New Orleans and San Francisco we otherwise would not have seen.
Overall we felt safe, and walked everywhere in most cities. There is a lot of wasted time at attractions if you haven't booked a tour or pre-purchased tickets - the waiting time to buy tickets can be frustrating. Two to three nights is not enough time for major cities. I am always advising my clients to see a lot of a little, and not a little of a lot. For several reasons, I did not take my own advice, but this holiday reinforced my belief in this advice.