or Inexpensive Trip Planning
Information and Links for
the United States
Here you will find lots of free and inexpensive
resources to review and possibly order prior to travelling around
Canada and the U.S., as well as travel tips. These will be a super
help for planning your trip and for choosing places to dine and to
stay while travelling.
Major official U.S.
tourism links are included in the mostly free section below,
while links for tourism organizations in
Canada have their own page.
Inexpensive information for everyone
You will need a top notch guidebook and
atlas that can be carried along on your trip. You'll use these
to help plan your trip in advance and to pick restaurants and
some accommodation while travelling (Accommodation in the most
popular areas like Banff and the Grand Canyon should be booked
ahead of time in peak season).
Let's Go USA Canada is an excellent, comprehensive, and up-to-date
budget guide for a wide-ranging trip throughout North America.
Very highly recommended if you are planning an extensive trip
in Canada and the United States that will include many areas.
Note, however, that this is a truly budget guide with an
emphasis on hostels, campgrounds, and clean but basic motels and
hotels. You may wish to pay for more comfort.
Companion regional guides to Let's Go USA
Canada such as Let's Go California, Let's Go Alaska, Pacific Northwest,
and Western Canada, Let's Go New York City, and Let's Go Washington,
DC are very helpful, too, if you will be spending lots of time
in one city or region.
Three outstanding guides for U.S. travel
For Canadian travel, Dr. Voyageur loves
the excellent Lonely Planet Canada.
Two really helpful budget acommodation
guides are Hostels
Canada and Hostels USA. These aren't the usual lists of hostels
with directions. These rate the hostels and let you know exactly
what is in store for you in terms of friendliness, noise, safety,
convenience to places to visit, etc. Very highly recommended.
An excellent introduction to hostelling can be found at
And, if good food is as important to you
as it is to Dr. Voyageur, read about the easy-to-carry and very
inexpensive Zagat Survey restaurant guides,
which cover cities across North America. The guides are more up-to-date
than any other dining series.
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Mostly free information for all travellers
Here are the major U.S. tourist offices
and other helpful links. Cities and attractions are listed
with their states. As mentioned, Canadian tourist offices,
etc. are found in the Canada links
Free Information for Auto Travellers" section has links
to free motel information.
Unfortunately, clean and safe budget motel
accommodations in Canada and the United States are almost always
found away from the town centres where bus and rail stations are
usually located. Cheap hotels near stations are often unclean
or even dangerous in the U.S.
As a result, coach and train travellers
may wish to stick with hostel and
campus housing or pay for more expensive
hotels. The campus housing guide linked here remains out of print,
so please access it at a library.
Saving on air fares
Alaska's Marine Highway — Take a state owned ferry to Alaska through the Inside Passage "on the cheap."
Navi-Hopi Tours in Flagstaff ceased operations
during October, 2001, but was replaced by Open Road Tours (Gray
Line Flagstaff), which offers sightseeing tours to the Grand Canyon,
Sedona, Monument Valley, and other attractions. Use the Flagstaff
link on the home page.
Springs (famous spa and President
Clinton boyhood home)
California (really helpful site!)
See Dr. Voyageur's Enjoying
Los Angeles lesson for many more L.A. and Orange County area
links plus travel tips.
State Park System
- Orange County
Park - Orange County
Berry Farm Theme Park
Tahoe (California and Nevada)
Flags Magic Mountain ("Wally
County (Golden Gate National Recreation
Area, Muir Woods, etc.)
Monica (See also Dr. Voyageur's
having fun in Los Angeles)
Gray Line Tours - Exciting Summer
day tour to Rocky Mountain National Park
District of Columbia
Magazine - Restaurant reviews, etc.
Florida scenic tour
Kissimmee (Disney World)
- Miami Beach
Health tips while travelling in Canada and the U.S.
Lawrence (This pleasant university town provides a good place
to break journey on cross country trips)
Cave National Park. Contact 1-800-967-CAVE
(2283) for tour bookings. See National Park Service listing below
for campground reservations.
Line Tours of New Orleans
Maps of the U.S. -
University of Texas Library (Many maps are very slow to download)
Tahoe (California and Nevada)
Service (U.S.) (See Canadian
links for various park listings in Canada)
National Park Service (U.S.) campground
reservations 1 800 365-2267, outside of Canada or the U.S. 1 301-722-1257,
or its Internet site.
Yosemite National Park reservations 1-800-436-7275. Good luck!
City Visitors Bureau
Dr. Voyageur's Walking
Tours of New York City
Dr. Voyageur's New
York City links and hints
Line Tours New York City
On-line - the New York City theatre
Voice NYC Budget Restaurant Guide
& Roll Museum, Cleveland
Line of Portland, 1 503 285-9845
(Excellent local tours; friendly staff)
Pennsylvania Route 6
Tourist Association (scenic drive
through western Pennsylvania)
Safety tips while travelling
Sierra Club - American
and Canadian conservation group with day hikes open to nonmembers
Holes - List of scenic natural swimming
spots mostly in the eastern U.S.
Austin (One of Dr. Voyageur's favourite places)
Worth - "Don't take whoa for
Travelocity Saves You on Flights, Hotels, Car Rentals, Cruises and More
- Excellent low air fare search engine
Washington, D.C. - See District
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Inexpensive or free information for auto
The National Geographic
America's Scenic Highways makes a great trip planning guide
that is compact to carry along with detailed descriptions, maps,
and photos of the most beautiful roads in the U.S. This inexpensive
guide features the quality we expect from the National Geographic
Society. Use this in conjunction with a detailed road atlas.
American or Canadian automobile association
membership gives excellent maps, guides, emergency roadside service
and towing, and--sometimes best of all--referrals to honest repair
shops. Just one service incident may pay for your membership.
Membership in many offshore motor clubs may bring the perks of
being in the AAA and CAA clubs while travelling in North America.
Private and other auto clubs exist, but
the American Automobile Association
and Canadian Automobile Association
provincial and state clubs are the best. Joining one AAA or CAA
club gives access to all. The AAA site asks for your postal code.
Enter 90210 if you do not have a U.S. one to explore the site.
Some motel links to use include
Western - Most locations are not really budget
anymore, but still worth considering when you want to get
away from the "cookie cutter" chain mode.
Many Best Western properties are managed
by on-site owners who often infuse some personality and regional characteristics
into their motels. On-site owner managers also help prevent on-going problems.
Inn - A member of the Choice motel
group that includes Quality Inns. Usually recommended. More expensive
than Motel 6, but a bit more upscale. These tend to look better inside than outside.
Inns & Suites - Very good moderate
Days Inns - Wildly fluctuating quality and prices. No really
poor quality properties, however, and the best are quite good.
Its guide can take months to arrive, so use the Internet site
Inns of America - 1 800 356-8013.
Small good quality economy chain. Upper Midwest plus Austin, Dallas
and Denton, Texas.
Stay America - Excellent weekly rates
starting at $169 for its Crossland economy studios, $249 for the
regular Extended StayAmerica chain, and $299 for its more deluxe
StudioPlus chain with larger rooms. All units have fully equipped
kitchens that help you save money, free local calls, computer
data ports, and many other features. Highly recommended if you
will be staying awhile in an area and want to prepare meals.
Inn - Marriott's Fairfield Inn chain ranks as the quality leader of budget
hotels. Worth, in Dr. V's opinion, the extra cost. Very highly
recommended, although some of its properties have become too expensive
to be called budget motels.
Campgrounds - Often excellent chain
of privately owned campgrounds. Most feature swimming pools, lots
of activities for adults and kids, and "Kamping Kabins",
some with air conditioning. Dr. Voyageur likes KOA, but the tent spaces tend to be much too close together.
Motel 6 - Lowest cost of the nation-wide budget hotel chains.
Much remodelling was done during last several years (often very much needed), and prices raised to compensate, but still the least expensive truly national chain.
Many Motel 6's have recently opened. When reading the descriptions online, the locations with interior hallways are nearly always the newer ones.
Usually firm, comfortable, yet a little too small beds. Home Box Office and ESPN sports on cable television at most locations. Very small outdoor swimming pools at most locations. Studio 6 units have full kitchens.
Motel 6 properties on the edges of large cities and in university towns may have security problems and unruly patrons. Use care.
Inns - Very nice budget chain. Another
Super 8 - More expensive but still budget choice. Consistent
Travelodge - Often not recommended. Quality varies too much.
In all cases, ask for discounts. Many motels give discounts to AAA and CAA members.
Some wiill give a "corporate" discount to anyone (We've
all worked someplace, eh?). Some like Motel 6 give discounts just
to certain groups like members of the American Association of
Retired Persons. But, always say while sounding disappointed,
"That is more than I wish to pay. Have you a better rate?"
You have to ask.
Also, seriously consider Hotwire.com for greater savings. You choose quality, amenities, price, and neighbourhood, but not a specific hotel or motor inn prior to paying. The prices can be incredible, especially for higher quality places.
Auto travellers should also think about camping, especially
in western Canada and the U.S. during the summer (Areas east of the Rockies
countries may be too
hot and humid and rainy, except for coastal Atlantic Canada and
New England and the Appalachian mountains. Going north into central
Ontario and Quebec brings no relief--Extreme heat is replaced
by bugs, including the dreaded black fly.).
The American Automobile Association and
the Canadian Automobile Association clubs give free camping guides
Bed and breakfast accommodation has become
quite popular in Canada and the U.S., although prices can be high.
One source of information is Goin2Travel.com.
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Information for Amtrak and Via Rail Canada
Be sure to read Dr. Voyageur's Amtrak
and Via Rail Canada lesson for more information about train
travel in North America, including the most scenic routes. A good
rail trip planning guidebook to purchase or to borrow at a library
is "All Aboard! The Complete North
American Train Travel Guide."
Amtrak - Order its system wide timetable, which includes
all but the Boston to New York City to Washington, D.C. trains,
its Northeast timetable for the routes not in the system wide
one, and its informative travel planner, which includes descriptions
of services, routes, and great photos.
Amtrak's site has excellent fare information,
including Internet-only fares. On the site, international visitors
may order a brochure describing 15 or 30 day rail passes.
Canada - Ask for its system timetable.
Its site includes very helpful discount travel information.
Rail - This very scenic (but money losing) service from
North Vancouver to Prince George, British Columbia, has been discontinued. You can reach Prince George (and Prince Rupert) from Vancouver using Via Rail Canada via Jasper National Park.
Railserve.com and trainnet.org/
- Information for rail fans like Dr. Voyageur.
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Information for Greyhound passengers in
Canada & the U.S.
Be sure to read Dr. Voyageur's Greyhound
and how to travel lessons for helpful
Canada and U.S. coach travel tips.
Canada - Download its timetables.
Read about its discount passes.
USA - Helpful site, but be
sure to see Dr. Voyageur's Greyhound lesson
for schedule tips, as planning a trip with just the information
given on Greyhound USA's site is difficult and perhaps misleading.
In addition, the how to travel lesson
discusses the pros and cons of coach and rail travel.
On the Greyhound USA site, check out Greyhound's
discounted fare information, including $59 single journey to anywhere
in the winter or $69 in the summer (both subject to change) and
other great deals that have to be booked in advance. Check out,
too, very low fares from points on or near the Mexico - U.S. border
that do not have to be booked ahead of time.
- Operates what many believe to be the most beautiful coach route
in the Western Hemisphere between Jasper National Park and Lake
Louise and Banff National Park. See the Greyhound
lesson for how to incorporate Brewster and other lines into
a Greyhound Canada pass trip without extra charge. In addition,
the Greyhound lesson has information about other scenic bus routes.
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