The 'Complete North America' Experience...
Complete North America ~ Who are you?
Complete North America ~ Who are you? The story of Complete North America began in 1999. Founders Duncan Harwood and Roger Thompson had both held senior positions at other tour operators specialising in travel to North America. Both possessed a burning desire to be masters of their own destiny and develop for themselves their obvious passion and ability to create unique travel experiences to the USA & Canada. The early days were not easy, securing trading licenses from The Association of British Travel Agents and the Civil Aviation ATOL license was a real challenge for a start-up company but was a fundamental requirement in their eyes, no compromise could be acceptable when it came to offering complete financial protection and security for their customers. Bitter challenges from previous employers, the terrorist attacks in America on September 11th 2001, and the resulting war in Iraq were just a few of the hurdles they had to overcome. But ultimately their desire to succeed born out through a lot of hard work, an unwavering commitment to serving their customers to the best of their ability and for offering unique and innovative travel experiences to the continent of North America saw the company steadily expand from the early days in August 1999, to what it is today - A multi million pound company operating from a sound financial footing and employing a team of 13 people. Our team are the MOST important part of the start, middle and end of your holiday experience so, take a minute to meet them ~ Staff Profiles. The business plan in 1999 is the same as it is to this day, to harness the power of the internet to communicate their services and products to those looking to enjoy a unique and personalised travel experience to the USA or Canada. In addition to this, customers are always welcome to visit our headquarters in Nottingham where our brand spanking new and redesigned office awaits your next adventure!
Can I amend any of your itineraries or are they fixed as per the website?
Yes of course! We pride ourselves on the amount of experience we have of travelling within North America so we want to provide you with a holiday that will match your every need ~ we can either start with a set itinerary and make changes or if you have a plan in mind please let us know and we can advise accordingly we work with virtually every hotel in the USA & Canada, all scheduled airlines that fly to all airports in both countries, several car hire companies, numerous motorhome providers and most sightseeing attractions to make your holiday absolutely perfect - All you have to do is tell us what you wish to do – Either call us or email, whichever is the best for you.
What if I know where I want to go but I don't know how to put it together?
What if I know where I want to go but I don’t know how to put it together? Leave it to us! We LOVE tailor making your holidays, so just pick up the phone and talk to one of our experienced and knowledgeable Account Managers and we can advise on the very best adventure for you ~ we will always encourage you to do a bit of research before you call as we want you know be passionate about where you want to travel but, give us the starting point (be it a particular city, or National Park or even film name!) and we will guide you from there. We generally like to pre-arrange the entire package for you ~ so to include your return Trans-Atlantic flights, transfers, any car hire that may be required, accommodation, excursions and attraction tickets. However, if you need us to organise only part of this then please do let us know, we can be flexible to suit your requirements. Please remember though, the best deals are always able to be given when we package everything up, certain offers that we may be able to give may not be applicable to you if some elements of the holiday are not booked through Complete North America ~ please ask your Account Manager and they will expand on this if needed.
Do you get to experience the places I want to go?
Unfortunately…yes!! When we make a purchase we value the advice of somebody who knows the product I am interested in buying. We know that we’re not going to buy a Land Rover from a Ford dealer or an iPhone from a Sony shop. So in the same sense we don't wish to be a travel operator selling travel to all corners of the globe knowing a little bit about everything but a lot about nothing. Quite simply the USA & Canada is our destination of choice so it's where we focus our time and resource, to know the most and offer the best level of service possible - It's a passion not just our job. For our own experiences to wet your travelling appetite, please see C.N.A. Travellers and even more importantly, for our customer’s experiences please read through our testimonials section, there might just be something on there that you’ve always wanted to do ~ Client holiday Experiences
Am I protected ~ do you hold an ATOL licence?
Your package holiday shown is sold by Complete North America Limited as a member of the Hays Travel Independence Group. All payments will be handled by Hays Travel Limited and will be financially protected by the Civil Aviation Authority under Hays Travel Limited's ATOL Number 10531. The ATOL scheme ensures that you will not lose the money you have paid over and will not be stranded abroad should the ATOL holder fail. When you buy an ATOL protected air holiday package or flights from us you will receive a Confirmation Invoice from us confirming your arrangements and your protection under the Hays Travel Limited Air Travel Organiser's Licence number 10531. In the unlikely event of our insolvency, the CAA will ensure that you are not stranded abroad and will arrange to refund any money you have paid to us for an advance booking. For further information visit the ATOL website at www.atol.org.uk. If you buy arrangements that do not include flights then this financial protection does not apply.
What are your booking conditions?
For all the information that you need relating to our booking conditions, please refer to our website ~ Booking Conditions
Do you arrange holidays for groups? (10 people or more)Yes we have many years of experience with group holidays, ranging from incentive groups, hen/stag parties, wedding parties, specialist groups, events and if required we can provide a member of our own team to escort you for an even higher level of service and comfort for your party – please call us for more details and we can get the best rates and the best holiday for you and your party or for more information on our group booking and management service with a case study please click here ~ Groups
How do I book my holiday with Complete North America?
It’s simple! If you would like to go ahead with the holiday arrangements that we have provided to you, simply all/email your Account Manager, ready with your full contact details, date of birth and passport information, deposit payment details and any further questions that you may have and we will take you through the process. If you would like for your Account Manager to contact you at a mutually convenient time, please do not hesitate to ask for a call back.
Can I call into your office to book/talk about my holiday plans?
We would love you to come and see us! We think our offices are pretty cool, we've created a customer presentation suite where you can enjoy a coffee and watch any kind of presentation on our widescreen TV's, oh and you get to meet our pet Yellowstone National Park Grizzly Bear called Lyra! Our office hours are from 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 5pm on a Saturday – We do require a pre-booked appointment to ensure your Account Manager and the presentation suite are available at a convenient time to suit you.
What deposit do you need from me to confirm my holiday with you?
Your initial non-refundable deposit payment is usually just £150.00 per person. This amount can change depending on the dynamics of your holiday booking, but you will be notified by your Account Manager at that time and the amount will be confirmed to you in writing on your travel quotation or proposal. Please also be aware that we do have special low deposit payment offers from time to time so look out for these offers too!
What forms of payment do you accept for my deposit?
There are a number of ways that we can accept your deposit payment from you. If you would like to pay via credit or debit card over the phone, we accept all major cards (Visa, Visa Debit, MasterCard, Maestro Debit and AMEX). You can action a bank transfer directly to us ~ please note our bank details below ~ or you can send us a cheque in the post. Bank Transfer ~ To action a bank transfer to us, please first notify your Account Manager that this is your preferred way to pay. We would ask that you include your personal reference number (please ensure that you ask your Account Manager for this detail) so that we can track this payment. Some transfers can take a few days to reach us but please be assured that we will notify you via email as soon as it clears into our account.
Complete North America Banking Details:
53 Fawcett Street
Account Name: Hays Tour Operating Ltd
Sort code 20-83-69
Do you charge a credit card fee for payments?
We don’t charge any credit card (Visa/MasterCard/AMEX) fee when making a payment for your initial non-refundable deposit as detailed to you by your Account Manager, as we can absorb the relatively small fee passed on to us from the credit card companies, however we do need to charge a 2% fee when you are due to make your remaining balance payment if you choose to use your credit card. This can of course be avoided by paying by via debit card, cheque or bank transfer (see above for our bank account details). In the event that you are travelling within 10 weeks of your holiday departure date, full balance will be required and if you choose to use a credit card to make this payment, then a 2% fee will apply. If you are not sure, please speak to your Account Manager.
What happens after I pay my deposit?
When you have concluded the process of supplying all details to your Account Manager and paid your deposit, we then work to put in place all agreed travel arrangements within 14-21 working days. Once all bookings are confirmed we send you a 'Confirmation invoice' document via email detailing everything we have booked on your behalf with the receipt for your deposit payment. At this point it's really important that you check everything is correct and as you expected, if not you need to call your Account Manager. Once you are happy with everything you must sign and return to us the 'Confirmation Acknowledgement' that accompanies the confirmation as a separate attachment.
When do you need my balance payment?
All outstanding payments due must be received at least 10 weeks prior to departure but fear not, we will contact you closer to the time via email with a friendly reminder, along with a few important points to remember to organise before you travel!
Between the time that your holiday arrangements are confirmed in writing to you and your scheduled departure date, we would encourage you to do a little research on the areas that you are visiting so that you make the most of your time there! Please see our Recommended Excursions section for ideas as to those special extras that you may wish to pre-arrange through us to really make this an experience and adventure to remember. If there is anything that is not on here that you wish to do, please do ask your Account Manager and they will advise from there.
When do I get my travel documents?
Complete North America will send your travel documents to you approximately 2-3 weeks prior to your departure date. In the majority of cases we dispatch your travel documents by Federal Express courier and as such a signature will be required upon delivery. Unless otherwise specified we will send your travel documents to the address as detailed on your ‘Confirmation/invoice’ document but, we can arrange for them to be sent to an alternative address such as your work, a neighbour or family member. Please provide this detail at least 4 weeks prior to your departure date in writing (Email is fine!)
North America Visa/ESTA Requirements
Do I need a visa to travel to the usa?
In most circumstances, no visa is required for travel to the USA for any British Citizen passport holder and many other European passport holders, who intend to travel for up to 90 days within the USA. We are allowed to enter the USA as part of the ‘Visa Waiver’ scheme, which is now known as an ‘ESTA’. This is an electronic process filled out online by you, the traveller, and MUST be completed at least 72 hours prior to departure. Please note that a separate one is needed for each person, you cannot travel as a group/family on one Visa Waiver application number. Further details along with the relevant website where you can obtain an ESTA form part of your ‘Confirmation invoice’ document as emailed to you by your Account Manager. If you do not hold a British passport, but would like to find out if you still fall under the ‘Visa waiver’ scheme, please refer to http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/without/without_1990.html#countries
Can you tell me more about the ESTA?
ESTA stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorisation. For those of you who have been lucky enough to travel the America before may recall completing green forms on the aircraft just prior to landing ~ Well effectively these green forms have been replaced by this online process. Every passenger has to apply/obtain ESTA authorization at least 72 hours prior to his/her UK departure. For every new ESTA application a $14.00 fee is applicable. Payments can be made by credit card directly when you complete your application. Your application will not be submitted for processing until all payment information is received. Once granted the ESTA is valid for 2 years. For more information/authorisation please visit the official US government site: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov
Please note there are various other websites that will try to charge a handling fee that is considerably more than the $14.00 fee so please ensure you visit the official website as detailed.
Do I need a visa to travel to Canada?
Canada is a little less complicated ~ currently no such documentation is required for visitors to Canada holding a British passport. But please be VERY careful if any part of your travel itinerary includes a visit over the border to the USA, in this instance you are still required to fill out the ESTA form and you will be denied entry without it.
UK Airport Departures
Which airport do we depart from in the UK?
In most cases, the direct (non-stop) flights with the scheduled airlines will depart from London Heathrow. There are also some direct non-stop departures from Manchester and London Gatwick into a limited number of US cities, these are very few but we will of course advise you accordingly of the available departures based on the airline’s current schedules during the process of preparing your personal travel quotation.
Can I fly from any other airports in the UK?
Due to our extensive and well established arrangements with the Trans-Atlantic airlines, we are able to offer domestic connections from most of the major cities within the UK and also Europe. The main airports that we are able to offer connections from are; Manchester, Newcastle, Birmingham, Bristol, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh. Please note that in most cases your flight will not be direct, there will be at least one stop en-route to the US ~ but we will of course advise of the most efficient and cost effective options for you based on your specific requirements.
How do I find out which terminals I’m travelling to/from?
Please refer to your Booking Confirmation for this information as we confirm this as part of your flight details ~ we also encourage you to re-check your flight departure at 48 hours prior to your departure to ensure that no flight schedules have changed and all is as you expect.
How do I book seats on my flight in advance?
In some cases we are able to pre-assign your seats but please be aware that these are always subject to availability and never guaranteed. Some airlines will not allow you to pre-assign your seats until 90 days prior to your departure, and some will charge you a fee for doing so prior to the 24 hours free online check-in and seat assignment. It’s very important that you refer to the respective websites of your airline to read their own seating policy detail.
‘Advance Passenger Information’ or APIS – what is this?
For security reasons, most countries now require airlines to provide details about their passengers before they travel. This is known as Advance Passenger Information (APIS) ~ this usually consists of your full name as per passport, your date of birth, gender, where you are flying to and your emergency contact details. This information needs to be provided by you and given directly to the airline via their website. Please log into your flight booking using the reference number that we detail on your booking confirmation document and provide this detail at least 72 hours prior to your departure.
Providing your APIS should not be confused with applying for your visa waiver/ESTA. You will still need to follow the entry rules for the United States as well as any customs and passport control regulations ~ please see our ‘ESTA/Visa Waiver FAQ’ for more detail.
What experience can I typically expect on-board my flight?
The major airlines that we work with are all renowned for their exceptional service; the inclusions whilst on board the aircraft will depend on the class that you are booked in and the airline itself. Please refer to your respective airline for more detail.
What is my checked baggage allowance?If travelling in Economy Class then the checked baggage (the bag that will go in the aircraft’s hold) allowance is generally one bag per person weighing up to 23kg. If travelling with British Airways then a second bag can be included for a cost of £34.00 (correct at time of print) which would need to be arranged directly with British Airways prior to travel commencing.
If travelling in a ‘Premium Economy/World Traveller Plus’ cabin then the allowance is generally 2 bags per person with a maximum weight of 23kg per bag. The next classes up (Business/Club World Class and First/Upper Class) will vary between airlines, so please refer to your respective airline and ensure that you are looking at the ‘Trans-Atlantic’ luggage allowance.
Please note that a local charge for your hold luggage may occur if travelling on domestic flights within the USA and if applicable this will be detailed to you as part of your travel documentation pack.
What is my hand baggage allowance?
This will vary again depending on the airline that you travel with however, in general you are allowed one piece to fit their specified dimensions, a handbag or briefcase in addition to this and also a laptop bag if needed. Some airlines will allow fairly large weight allowances for hand luggage BUT you must ensure that the dimensions as specified are met.
Can I check-in online?
Yes, in most cases you can check-in online 24 hours prior to your flight departure, and no earlier. You will need to log on to your respective airline’s website and log into your booking using your reference number as detailed by us on your booking confirmation document. This process will speed up the time taken when at the airport, as you will not need to check-in there but simply drop your bags in the designated area as instructed.
Is it possible to upgrade my flights?
If travelling with either British Airways or Virgin Atlantic it may be possible to upgrade your flights from ‘Economy Class’ to ‘Premium Economy Class. The cost of such an upgrade does vary according to the time of year and flight availability at the time, however we will be pleased to inform you of the applicable cost if this is something you are interested in. If you would like to travel in ‘Business Class’ or ‘Upper/First Class’ we can again provide you with the necessary supplements for travelling in such a class of service.
Transportation on Arrival
How do I get to my first hotel?
If you would like assistance we can arrange airport transfers in most locations and if such a service had been included as part of your holiday this will be detailed on your Booking Confirmation. Otherwise our personal experience is that in most locations in the USA and Canada a taxi can often be the quickest and most cost effective option with well organised taxi ranks in operation at most American and Canadian international airports.
If you would prefer for us to organise a private transfer, whether it be a limo or sedan then we also offer this service ~ prices are subject to availability at time of booking so please ask us and we will quote accordingly!
Car Hire in North America
Can additional drivers be added to my car rental?
Depending on the car hire company we use for your holiday, in most cases we will able to include up to 3 additional drivers (USA) with your car rental with no additional charge, the actual car rental agreement will be made in one name, that person as mentioned needs to present a valid credit card, and the other drivers can then be added to the rental agreement by presenting their valid driving licences (both parts if holding photo ID licence) at the depot when collecting the hire car. In Canada, there can sometimes be a limit to two drivers but, this is not always the case as it will depend on who your car hire is booked with. Your Account Manager will confirm this to you at time at proposal stage.
What is the car rental minimum age limit in the USA and/or Canada?
You can actually hire a car from the age of 18 years in the US with a valid and full UK licence however, this is only within certain states ~ namely Wisconsin and New York. Anywhere outside of these you will have to be at least 21 years old with a valid and full UK drivers licence. Between the ages of 21 and 24 years we will include car insurance for you but there is an additional fee of $25.00 plus taxes/fees per driver per day applicable ~ this must be paid directly to the car rental company on collection of the vehicle ~ you are NOT safe to drive without this. You will see more below relating to motor home hire.
Is there an upper age limit when hiring a car?
No, as long as you hold a full and valid UK driving licence and there is no reason why you should not drive in the UK, then there are no upper age restrictions.
I don’t have a credit card, will this cause a problem?
If renting a car or motorhome in the USA or Canada a credit card is required when collecting the vehicle and it is *very* important that the lead name that such a reservation is made under holds a valid credit card. It is also likely that hotels in the USA/Canada will ask for credit card details when checking in to cover the cost of incidentals. If no one in your party has a credit card please contact your Account Manager and they will be able to advise further.
Can you guarantee the make and model of the vehicle that I pick up?
In one word, no. We are not able to guarantee the exact make or model of the vehicle that we quote to you in the vast majority of situations, purely because the car hire company will not guarantee this to us. You will be booked under your desired category (e.g. an ‘Intermediate car’ or a ‘Standard SUV’ or ‘Convertible Car’) but we cannot guarantee which car it will be until you pick up the keys. We will always note the example make and model as given by the car rental company but this is just an example to give you an idea of size, specification and the number of people/luggage it will hold.
What about the American muscle cars, can these be guaranteed? (Please!)
It might seem slightly contradictory to the previous FAQ but, in very certain locations across the USA we can quote for some of those specialist vehicles that all you petrol heads ask for ~ these will *always* be subject to availability, and they are only available on round-trip rentals and not one-ways, so why not go all out and enhance your road-trip and hire a Ford Mustang or Chevy Camaro for your holiday ~ all you need to do is ask!
Motorhome Hire (RV) in North America
Where do I collect my RV from?
Full details of the RV company’s address and collection process will form part of your travel documentation pack sent to you approximately 2-3 weeks prior to departure.
How do I get to the RV depot?
As we work with several RV companies, this can vary depending on the company that you are renting your vehicle through. Transfers are provided between certain locations by certain RV companies and if this is applicable to you this inclusion will be detailed on your Booking Confirmation, otherwise you would need to make your own way to the relevant depot.
I don’t have a credit card, will this cause a problem?
If renting a motorhome in the USA or Canada a credit card is required when collecting the vehicle and it is *very* important that the lead name that such a reservation is made under holds a valid credit card. It is also likely that hotels in the USA/Canada will ask for credit card details when checking in to cover the cost of incidentals. If no one in your party has a credit card please contact your Account Manager and they will be able to advise further.
What is the minimum/maximum age to rent an RV in the USA and/or Canada?
You can actually hire an RV from the age of 21 years with a valid and full UK licence ~ you are even okay to drive motorhomes up to a length of 39 feet (I know!!) on a full and valid UK licence at no additional charge.
Most motor home companies do not have an upper age limit to drive however, there is one that will limit you up to 79 years so, please check with your Account Manager for more specific information.
What’s actually included when renting an RV with Complete North America?
To ensure that you have everything you need, we like to provide you with as much as we possibly can on a pre-paid basis so there are no ‘surprises’ or ‘hidden extras’ when you arrive to pick your vehicle up. Typically we will quote for; your nightly rental, all necessary insurances and taxes, a vehicle kit, personal kits for all party members, pre-paid mileage (whether it be unlimited or in blocks of 500 miles/800 kilometres), one way fees (if applicable) and transfers where available. There are certain extras that we can look to pre-arrange for you, whether it be a toaster, a bike rack or a coffee machine, but these are subject to availability and dependent on the motor home provider that you ultimately chose to hire from.
What about the campsites ~ do you reserve these for me?
We really do encourage you to do some of the planning and research for your RV holiday, it is after all the most free and flexible way to travel! In the case that you want to pre-reserve your camp sites ~ and this is strongly recommended in the Summer months around popular areas i.e. National Parks ~ then you will need to visit like likes of www.koa.com (Kamps of America) where you can book your camp sites all at once.
Do I need to reserve my camp sites or can I just stop where I like?
This is a slightly tricky question to answer but, in our experience we would recommend reserving your camp sites if you are travelling with children, are not too familiar with the area, visiting areas that are very popular, i.e. National Parks, or simply wanting to stick to a schedule.
Campsites have great facilities, so you shouldn’t need to stop ‘on the road’ but it doesn’t mean to say that you can’t. Each state will have its own laws, rules and regulations as to where you can camp so please do check this out prior to your travel ~ we really wouldn’t want any mug shots in our photo competition!!
What do the camp sites cost?
There are so many camp sites to choose from, and the price will differ on their; location and the facilities they offer; the size of motor home you are driving and the type of site you want, and whether they are privately run or not. If you budget around the $35.00 per night mark, you shouldn’t be far off overall.
What’s the typical mileage that an RV will do?
Typically, the motor homes will do anywhere between 8-12 miles to the gallon (eek!) ~ this will depend on the terrain that you’re covering, how big the vehicle is and of course how economically you choose to drive it!
What documents do I need when I pick up my rental?
You will need you current driver’s licence ~ the licence must not expire during the rental period ~ a credit card in the name of the lead renter/driver and your passport.
How many people can drive the RV?
All adults aged 21 years and over who are staying in the vehicle (must not exceed maximum capacity) are able to drive the vehicle as long as a valid and full UK licence is held ~ please present this information at time of RV pick up.
Is there a security deposit required for RV hire?
Yes, in most cases this will be anywhere up to $1000.00 per incident ~ your credit card will be swiped to reserve this amount so please ensure that you have a valid credit card handy. This is not necessarily true for all RV rental companies that we use, so if you want to reduce this to zero there are further options with certain companies ~ please just ask.
I’ve never driven an RV before, will I get any guidance?
You will receive a full orientation of the motorhome, including the maintenance use and responsibility of the vehicle. Orientation will include a video introducing general concepts of motorhome use as well as a personal instructional walk around of motorhome by a qualified instructor. Operator manuals are provided for clients to take with them. You will also have the opportunity to practice in the RV car park so please do take up this opportunity!!
How many people can be accommodated in one room?
In most cases, there can only be a maximum of 4 people in one standard room. If there are 2 people travelling, we will request a room with one double/queen/king bed. If three or four people are travelling we will request 2 doubles/queens in the room (if you all want to share that is!) but this is usually the maximum bedding and people allowed in any one room. Please note that exact bedding requirements cannot be guaranteed until time of check-in as the bedding allocated is solely at the discretion of the hotel.
If you require more of a family style of room, then we would need to look at a larger unit, e.g. a 2 bedroom suite or a small apartment, but these are not always available in every location. So, as many families require, especially travelling with teenagers, we understand that sharing bedding is not always appropriate but please do trust us when we advise what can be achieved at each location for your family.
What if I want a room with a view?
If you have a specific request for a particular hotel, or would like a special room for any celebrations then we can certainly request these ~ upgraded room categories will usually come with a supplement but this will be confirmed to you by your Account Manager based on current availability.
Can I change any of the hotels that you list on your website?
Yes! If you’re not 100% happy with our selections, we can advise accordingly or if you have somewhere in mind, don’t be afraid to ask us and we will see whether a preferred rate is achievable for us to include it in your holiday!
Occasionally, we may have to change some of the hotels that we list when availability becomes a problem ~ but we will always strive to provide an alternative to you of the same or better standard. The options will be presented to you if this does occur within your holiday booking.
Can you recommend something really special?
We consider every one of our holidays to be really special, as it’s an experience that we want to give to you using our own knowledge, so that you can create memories that will last a long time. But sometimes, you just want to go to that next level so, you tell us what you want, and we will make it happen.
Hints & Tips From The Team!
What is the best way to take my holiday money to the USA & Canada?
There are several options – cash, credit card, pre-paid currency cards, travellers cheques and use of own debit card – as we are not qualified to advise the detail of each product we suggest that you contact your bank or a foreign exchange bureau for more advice. In our experience though, a credit card is absolutely vital when travelling as they’re widely accepted and are used as a guarantee when checking in, hiring cars and motorhomes.
Breakfast in North America
Eating breakfast in North America is such a big part of the culture, especially in the States, try and venture out of your hotel and find yourself a great little diner or restaurant and treat yourself to a real American breakfast, you can always eat in a hotel back at home! If you’re not always in the mood for a big breakfast you can always grab a bagel and a coffee from a local establishment before hitting the road!
Sat Nav (GPS)
If we were only allowed to recommend one thing that every traveller on a driving program should pay for it would be a GPS system – we never travel without one. They are most effective when cross referenced with the tailored routings we give you as you should not always follow the GPS, unless you want to spend the whole time on Interstates (Equivalent of our motorways) but in the heart city or just for monitoring progress they are invaluable and in conjunction with our special route maps it’s a winning combination!
If you think you may want to make telephone calls during your time in America or Canada then please please make it a priority to obtain a pre-paid phone card from a convenience store like Walgreens although many places sell them. You will be able to make International calls for a fraction of the cost encountered using mobile phones or indeed dialling directly from a hotel phone. You can still use a hotel phone, you simply dial a free phone number on the pre-paid card, enter you unique pin number and then the number you want to dial. As an example a $25 card will last most people 2 weeks if you were to call a landline in the UK for say 5/10 minute call once a day, where as just ONE call of the same length dialled directly from a hotel phone is likely to cost the same.
Petrol or Gas!
The price of gas varies widely across the USA but you may find the following link useful to check on the going rates currently ~ http://www.gasbuddy.com/ Please keep in mind there can still be quite wide local variations particularly around National Parks where you should expect to pay more.
Unless otherwise stated on the hotel website expect to pay for your parking. This is more common in the cities. This is not a charge that we can ‘pre-pay’ for you so please do not assume that we have! Most hotels rather than motels offer the option of self-parking or valet parking (where you drive up to the door and an attendant takes your car) the latter obviously costing more and again is a more common option in the cities or hotels/resorts that might considered to be 4-5 star. Charges vary wildly but in the major cities could be $30-50 per night!
We can pre-book many excursions or attraction tickets to enhance your holiday experience. To view our ever growing list of pre-bookable excursions please click here\
One specific attraction to note - Alcatraz (San Francisco)
If there is one attraction in the whole of America you should pre-book before you go, it’s Alcatraz. For days (or even months) in advance the ferries that take you across to the island are booked up, particularly in summer so please if you are going to San Francisco speak to your Account Manager who will be happy to book it for you and add it to your package with us. By the way it’s well worth it – fabulous experience!
Can you get me tickets to sporting events?
We can indeed assist with tickets for sporting events – American Football, Baseball, Golf, Motor Sports, Ice Hockey, Basketball etc. All tickets are subject to availability and this service is offered as part of our holiday booking service, Please call us for more details.
A real hot potato for us Brits ~ in America it’s part of the culture and ultimately it encourages some of the best customer service in the world. So what do you tip? The most common times you will need to offer a tip (Gratuity) are the following, these are very broad guys there is no set rule:
- Dining: Between 15% – 20% is considered normal.
- Luggage assistance (Hotel Bellman): If you accept help with you luggage on arrival at hotels $1 or $2 per bag is normal, this would be the same if they collect your luggage from the room and load your car up for you on departure.
- Hotel concierge: Tricky one this, I would tip $5-$10 depending on what they did for you. If they arrange the most fabulous table at a wonderful restaurant and the chef comes to say hello you can always go back to the concierge at the hotel, thank them and offer them a further small tip.
- Parking: If you valet park pay $1 each time the parking attendant fetches your car from the parking lot for you (Your valet parking charge will be billed separately to your room).
Drive south on the Pacific Coast Highway
If possible plan your itinerary to drive south along the Californian Pacific Coast Highway – this puts you on the coast side of the highway and affords better views. Driving north is fabulous too and there are lots of pull outs to stop for pictures so this tip needs to be kept in context but if you have the choice my tip will give you just that little bit extra on one of the world’s most amazing coastal drives.
Las Vegas hotel check-in
When checking in at your hotel in Las Vegas expect to see airport style lines… Rather unique to Las Vegas but such is the size of each hotel and the numbers of people that come and go every day that check-in here is on a grand scale – Just a heads up to be prepared.
United States of America Public Holidays
Travelling during any public holiday or Federal Holiday as they are also known in America will mean things get a little busier just like anywhere else. Unless you particularly wanted to be part of any celebration we'd advise trying to plan you travel to avoid public holidays. To check on the dates for public holidays this year click here
Got a tip for your fellow travellers?