Making the most of the US

In this week’s Travel SOS, Kay O’Sullivan has some advice for Joan to help her navigate a trip to the east and west coast of the US.

Q. Joan

My husband and I have always wanted to travel to the US, but have been put off by the flight. We know many people do it, so perhaps if we had some advice on the best way to tackle it, it may be more achievable than we think.

We would like to see as much as possible in about three weeks, and the non-negotiable cities are New York, Boston, Seattle and San Francisco. A short stopover in Hawaii would also be lovely, but we accept that this may not be possible. Can you suggest the best way to go about such a trip?

A. You mentioned Hawaii – it’s not only possible but also the perfect solution to your worries about that long flight. Nonstop from our east coast to the west coast of the US is around 14 hours; you then need to add a couple of hours for that arduous business of going through customs on the US mainland, especially through Los Angeles, where the overwhelming majority of international flights land. It’s enough to wreck the first week of your holiday.

Hawaii, a 10-hour flight from Australia, is a little taster of the delicious things to come in mainland US. You feel as if you are on holidays the moment you land. It’s always warm and sunny, customs is a breeze – well, it has been every time I’ve gone through – and the transition from Honolulu airport into Waikiki is smooth and quick. And there are loads of stopover options to suit all budgets.

Jetstar has recently upped the ante with new planes on the route to Hawaii with regular departures from Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

One thing to bear in mind is that while the prices are very attractive, Jetstar and, indeed, all the budget carriers make you pay for the added extras that are gratis on what’s called the full-service carriers. So load the iPad with books and movies and pack eye pads and your toothbrush.

A couple of days’ rest on the golden sands of world-famous Waikiki Beach and you’ll be raring to hop on the 10-hour connection to New York. From there, you must rail it to Boston which is only three hours away across a beautiful part of the States, but you need to speak to a travel agent to bundle flights to your other must-see cities. (Internal flights are so much cheaper in the US!)

Can I suggest you add Los Angeles to your itinerary, as the majority of flights home leave from there? Just book a day in a hotel, go to Disneyland/Universal/whatever, come back to the room, shower and then head for your flight, which will leave around midnight. You’ll be so pleasantly exhausted that you will sleep most of the way home – I usually do. But make sure you or your travel agent books good seats for you.

Also, take a look at, which offers great savings to many of the big attractions in the cities you will be visiting, including New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Boston. Happy travels.

Kay O’Sullivan is no accidental tourist. More than a decade ago, she decided to combine two of her favourite things – journalism and travel – and become a travel writer. Since then, she has worked for numerous papers, magazines and on the internet, both here and internationally.

Written by kayo