Travel hacks for the value-conscious on the grand US road trip
Travelling via Route 66 highway is an affordable way to visit iconic US cities
Route 66 has inspired video game Grand Theft Auto, Pixar's animated movie Cars and well-loved Hollywood road trip movies such as Thelma & Louise and Little Miss Sunshine.
The 3,945km-long highway in the US, the first of its kind, was paved in 1926 and runs from Chicago to Los Angeles.
This "road of dreams" was symbolic as it helped to shorten travel time for those who left their homes in search of better jobs in the west.
The highway was decommissioned in 1985 and even though signs have been removed, 85 per cent of Route 66 remains drivable. It is an affordable way to visit iconic cities in the US, especially for value-conscious travellers visiting the US for the first time and seeking more independent exploration, but who don't want to compromise on quality or risk staying in dodgy inns or motels.
Instead of renting a car, an alternative would be a CostSaver trip, advised travel company Trafalgar, which includes transport in luxury air-conditioned coaches.
Here are some travel hacks that will allow you to make the most of your holiday, from Hollywood, Las Vegas and San Francisco to Yosemite National Park and the Grand Canyon.
BEFORE YOU DEPART:
1. Purchase travel insurance
Once you have confirmed your travel dates and booked your flights, get travel insurance first in case you need to cancel due to a medical emergency.
2. Plan ahead for your seat on the plane
Check out the plane's layout at seatguru.com so you can decide where to be seated when you do your online check-in. The website has information on how many seats there are in each row, and which are located near the emergency exit and toilets.
3. Inform your bank of your travel dates and destinations
Ensure your credit and debit cards are unlocked and can be used overseas.
1. Order ahead for a US SIM Card or use M1 data passport
Bring along a spare mobile phone or a phone with dual SIM slots. Order ahead at www.datago.co/us-info.html and have the SIM card delivered before you depart. Depending on your needs, you can choose to have an AT&T or T-Mobile pre-paid SIM. With a local SIM Card, you can use data for Google Maps or stay connected with your social networks.
Alternatively, turn on your M1 data passport at $10 per month and use AT&T in the US, where you can then use your local data bundle overseas.
2. Uber deals and more
Enjoy savings with Uber if you book with your new US mobile number. Check out the various coupon codes available or visit websites like www.livingsocial.com where they sometimes have deals for Uber, along with deals for dining at restaurants or even tickets to live entertainment shows.
3. Bring along a water bottle
Since tap water in the US is drinkable, you can refill your water bottle as you travel through the country. If you're still paranoid about the quality of the water, consider using a water bottle with filters.
4. Restaurant reservations (or not)
Instead of trying to reserve a table at the hottest restaurant in town, find out which ones reserve tables for walk-ins and you may have a better bet arriving just before 6pm. Sometimes, lunch is cheaper because they have lunch sets.
5. Food Trucks Hunt
It's fast food on wheels and especially great if you want to have some Asian noodles or spicy food. They tend to move around so Roaming Hunger (www.roaminghunger.com) helps foodies track their favourite food trucks in real time across the country.
6. In-N-Out Burger
When in Los Angeles, don't pass up on the chance to pop into an In-N-Out outlet. If you love milkshakes but want to watch your calories, order a large milkshake "cut in half". It is served in two separate cups - perfect for sharing and cheaper than ordering two small shakes.