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When and where to travel

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Where to start and end your trip
In Canada and the U.S.

Tips for international visitors and students

In Knowing when and where to travel we dicussed the best places to visit, and the best times of the year to visit these place.

But, for international travellers travelling to Canada and the United States, top priority questions are where to arrive and where to depart.

You want to arrive in someplace interesting, but mellow enough for you to relax before the next stage of your trip.

Why? Rest is the basis of activity.

When you get up in the morning after a good sleep, your day is more productive and fulfilling. When you rest after a long flight, the remainder of your trip becomes more enjoyable.

Rest, too, is a key to safety.

Flying across the Atlantic or Pacific or arriving from South America and then immediately jumping behind the wheel of an automobile is both dangerous and likely to cloud the enjoyment of your entire trip.

In addition, you should be rested prior to embarking on coach or rail travel, which can be very tiring at times.

Pick a place with lots to do

Therefore, arrive in a place sufficiently appealing and interesting so that you do not want to leave it straightaway.

You want to arrive in a place where you can spend a few days sightseeing at a less frantic pace than will occur later on.

And, your departure should be from a similar place because you want to allow several days between your arrival in your departure city and your departure from North America. This is in case you face transportation problems or other emergencies, especially if your departure is by charter flight or non refundable airline ticket.

As arrival and departure cities, Vancouver is fabulous in the summer, Orlando with direct flights from Europe and South America is great all year (although hot and humid during the summer), and Boston, Montreal, San Francisco, and Toronto are fine almost anytime.

You can also pick places like Dallas and Houston that have inexpensive connecting flights to places more interesting, such as Austin or San Antonio. These are fun to visit from late February through October.

And, Calgary, with an immediate coach transfer to Banff National Park works very well from mid-May through mid-September. It also works well during the winter if you ski.

The best arrival and departure cities for most people, Dr. Voyageur believes, are Orlando, Las Vegas, Vancouver, San Francisco, Portland (the one in Oregon during the summer), Montreal, and Calgary (with immediate transfer to nearby Banff).

You can usually find a good airfare flying into one place and out of another, as long as they are in the same country—either Canada or the U.S.

Keep an eye on rental car rates

If you plan to rent a car upon arrival in Canada or the U.S., check on rental car rates before setting up your ticket.

Rental rates and especially rental taxes vary wildly from place to place. Be sure to find out the total cost of a rental—the cost including taxes and fees—before deciding to rent at a location.

At Dallas - Fort Worth International Airport, for example, airport taxes and fees currently total more than 60 percent of your rental car cost. Needless to say, this is a terrible place to pick up a car for a long trip.

New York City airports have both astronomically high rental car rates and rental taxes, as well as local traffic problems and parking fees you may not want to face so soon after arrival in the United States.

First-time visitors

First-time visitors may become intimidated by the intensity of Miami, New York City, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC.

A first-time visitor may want to visit these later during a trip, after he or she has become more used to urban environments in the U.S.

These are not the perfect places to relax after a long flight. New York, for example, can be extremely noisy both day and night.

Avoid most new gateways

In recent years, international air traffic agreements have opened up numerous secondary airports to direct international flights.

For example, you can fly nonstop from Beijing to Detroit and nonstop from Frankfurt to Cincinnati.

But, what traveller would want to, unless he or she has relatives or friends in these?

Places such as Atlanta, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Edmonton, Pittsburgh, Memphis, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Winnipeg, and others simply do not offer international visitors enough to do over a period of days.

Other gateway cities—Chicago, New Orleans (be careful in this fascinating but crime ridden place), and Miami (ditto)—occupy a place between the two extremes.

If your best international fare lands you in Miami, you can book an immediate connection on a very inexpensive flight from Miami to Orlando.

Of course, Miami has sun, fine beaches, super night life, and great food. However, you may not want to make it your first stop in the United States, unless you are used to U.S. cities, or plan to enjoy its beaches during the winter.

To learn more about visiting the U.S. and Canada:

Go to >> When and where to travel

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