Finding pictures for this post was a bit of a trip down memory lane as I was trying to dig out some pictures from my previous visits to the US. I realized that I spent a month over there in the summer of 2009 and took a grand total of 7 pictures, all of them on a smartphone from back then. My forehead still hurts from repeated clashes with my hand and the wall. Instead you will get a random, sometimes slightly silly, selection from the stash.
I got a huge and sudden urge to go to the USA, and the only time my calendar would allow me to do so was in the month of November. Reading through Lonely Planet’s USA guide ‘Month by month’ November was described thus: ‘Boring. Nothing’s open. What were you thinking. Thanksgiving.’ And so I was faced with the challenge of finding a place that would actually be worthwhile visiting in November, despite the bleak outlook.
To start off, I directed mine eyes to the South of the country, wanting to at least give myself a fair chance at some warmer weather. I have now for a long time wanted to visit New Orleans, and a trip between there and Nashville seemed well suited for seven days of entertainment. Looking into flights threw me off that idea though – unnecessarily expensive with very long travel times going from Denmark. I kinda want to visit those cities in the course of a longer road trip down the East Coast anyway.
Then I thought for a while about Las Vegas, making the drive to Grand Canyon and Monument Valley but decided against it. Parts of the Canyon are only open until October, and even though Vegas would be interesting, it isn’t a city I have any particular yearning to see.
I eventually decided to go for Los Angeles, driving along the coast up to San Francisco. Both cities are cheap to fly to and from, I have wanted to see both for ages, and the drive between is supposed to be one of the most beautiful in the world – couldn’t be better.
The cheap tickets I had been looking at just two days before had already gone when I went in to actually buy them. This was even though I thought I was being smart using the incognito mode in my browser – maybe they were actually sold out. For a flight in November..! Left were instead the somewhat more expensive tickets that I had actually been comtemplating, since for a 1000 DKK extra I would get not only a much shorter travel time, but departure and arrival times were also much better AND I could bring a whole lot more garb- sorry, luggage with me. Robbed of choice this was what I took, which I am sure I will end up very happy about.
Buying tickets from SAS (Scandinavian Airlines) I figured I would download their app and oh my, that is one smart app (not being paid to say this by the way). I could pick a free seat, check in and get a boarding pass directly on the phone, and there’s even traveller’s tips about a few destinations! Count me as a fan!
On car rental
I was initially thinking about waiting to see if I could do a free camper van relocation, but sadly I broke down and just rented a small car for a couple of days. Going on rentalcars.com, looking up the destination and then first being faced with a red text banner saying CARS ARE RUNNING OUT! BOOK BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE OR YOU WILL REGRET FOREVER THAT YOU DIDN’T HURRY UP! and then, actually looking at the sorry list of cars that were left seeing more banners with ‘someone from this country just rented a car in ***’ every 30 seconds just does something to your nerves.
California sure is expensive, even in what I thought was the off season. I used Agoda and Airbnb and even taking the cheapest options I still was a little over budget – to compare, when planning Italy in September I was consistently well within my budget. In Los Angeles I found the cutest Airbnb cabin in Hollywood: a private room with free bikes (or, I guess, free use of the hosts’ bikes..), and that I was happy to pay a little extra for. I had initially wanted to drive up the coast to San Francisco and simply see where I was at the end of the day and then find a place to sleep, but it was strongly suggested that I reserve ahead of time as that area is pretty much always quite full. I booked a night in San Simeon and one in Monterey, looking forward to see if those were sound choices.
I actually didn’t think I would need a visa since I would only be there for such a short time. Turns out however that now you need some sort of electronic travel authorization even if you fit under the visa waiver program (which I do). Luckily it only costs 10 + 4 dollars as far I can see, and it’s easy to apply for.
Have any great tips for a trip to Los Angeles, Highway 101 and San Francisco? Comment below!