USA Trip in 2 Weeks, Any Tips (Health Cover? Mobile Data, Cheap Flight?)

Yeah I know I'm booking late.
MEL to SFO and SFO to MEL
I have an unlocked Note 5, need data over there.

Curious if there's any tips or tricks on flights, we're looking at $1700 AUD return, before all the rubbish taxes and fees and stupid crap they do to people (so, no doubt, $2k at the point of checkout on Kayak, sigh…)

I have a Bankwest Mastercard and an Amex Velocity, also HSBC - several cards - any of these offer me some kind of good trick on the health cover (I'm terrified I'll get a 50k bill for stubbbing a toe)

Etc?

Thanks all

Comments

  •  

    The bankwest one, seems to indicate it has some level of travel insurance.
    https://www.bankwest.com.au/help/travel-international/credit...
    It sounds good but I don't know how trustworthy it is for USA health cover, god damn that stupid country.

  • +1 vote

    In answer to unasked question.

    Cards with No Overseas Transaction Fees

    • +1 vote

      That one I knew about :) I can confirm the Bankwest Platinum Master is VERY good at this, I was surprised.
      I put money in the positive, on the card and withdrew it in Japan, the ATM even said $10 or $20 fee, I was concerned, none the less, no fee, period.

      Thanks tho

      (EDIT: I once put my ANZ card in the positive, like 15 years ago, and then cash withdrew down on my own money and they STILL gave me a fee! - bankwest much better)

  •  

    For anyone else who finds this thread, I just googled, I don't need a visa if it's under 90 days travel and coming from Australia.
    APPARENTLY the best phone provider is AT&T

  •  

    Curious if there's any tips or tricks on flights, we're looking at $1700 AUD return, before all the rubbish taxes and fees and stupid crap they do to people (so, no doubt, $2k at the point of checkout on Kayak, sigh…)

    Sounds good to me. MEL -SFO leaving in 2 weeks for $2K return.

    I have an unlocked Note 5, need data over there.

    AT&T $40(US) or so plan should be good.

    When I lived there I was on their $55 per month plan.

    I have a Bankwest Mastercard and an Amex Velocity, also HSBC - several cards - any of these offer me some kind of good trick on the health cover (I'm terrified I'll get a 50k bill for stubbbing a toe)

    I'd recommend proper travel insurance for the US. Credit card insurance is fine to cover cheap items. It doesn't cover everything… 'd suggest cover more.

  •  

    Just one quick tip, please do not leave your flights until 2 weeks before you are leaving to book them. I'm not saying to book them a year in advance, but give yourself at least 4-6 weeks for somewhere like the USA. I gave myself 3-4 months xD

    Fly into SFO or San José. They are near each other and sometimes you can get cheaper flights flying into San José (just south of SFO).

    From memory Air NZ was having a sale, maybe look there quickly??

    $1700 is a great price considering you are traveling from MEL-SFO and leaving in 2 weeks.

    •  

      That was usd argh, so I was wrong.

      Had no choice but to book now, due to a family matter out of my control sadly.
      I guess all I need now is data and insurance.

      • +1 vote

        USA is no place to skimp on travel insurance. We were coming out of an LA car park and nearly got T-boned by a speeding red light runner. He T-boned a Dominos pizza car further up the road and continued into a hotel lobby.
        It has been the closest near death road experience ever. And if we had had hospital bills to pay as a result would have ruined us, if we were lucky enough to have survived.

      •  

        Yeah, I guess if you have to then you have to and just cough up the price.
        Data others have helped with, but insurance I'll talk about.

        GET AN ESTA OR YOU WON'T BE ALLOWED IN While I remember. They cost $14 USD I think, only takes up to 72 hours, but normally within 24. Certain sites pay more but have an almost instant turnaround. I leave on the 14th and went deep into my researching if I need this. It says I have to.

        Now insurance, don't spend a whole heap on it - your card insurance might be enough depending. Are you renting a car? Or public transport? Walking/biking? This will probably decide if you need extra insurance/health cover.

        • +1 vote

          Thaanks to both of you mentioning that ESTA thing, I had no bloody idea and google didn't make that clear. I've done it now.

          I'll be a passenger in my girls car most of the time but still, I want coverage, their medical system is a disgrace.

        •  

          @hamwhisperer: Re ESTA, be careful, there are dodgy websites around that will either not process it properly or overcharge you heavily. I have used the one linked to the govt's Smart traveller website and it has worked.
          And don't skimp on on travel insurance, it's the USA and one mishap could ruin you.

        •  

          @branners: I'm calling my ccard company about that today - otherwise, who should I go with?

        •  

          @branners: Well, for future reference, my Bankwest Platinum Velocity comes with "AlliANZ coverage" for free if I book the trip with it. APPARENTLY full medical is covered and what have you. So,…… we'll see - I have the guy recorded (CallU for Android rocks)

  •  

    My daughter is in the US right now, we bought her a prepaid SIM card from https://www.usaprepaidsimcard.com.au/ It is working very well.

    They'll send you the sim card with your phone number before you leave. Upon arrival, the sim card works straight away, no need to activate it. Unlimited texts to Australia. And it's AT&T.

    You can choose 6GB or 22GB. But if you want to call Australia, you'll need to purchase an extra calling pack.

  •  

    You’ll need AT&T depending on your phone. I know for iPhones no other carrier works. Most carrier towers don’t support the MHz that our phones commonly support.

    Don’t bother flying into San Jose or Oakland international. Having lived in SF for a little while, if you staying in SF, the drive in any Uber/train will out way the savings, and will take a good hour or so depending out time of day, perhaps longer given its holiday season.

    Do you know where you will be staying? You realise SF is more expensive then Manhattan (NYC). Any cheap Airbnb or motels will be either out of town or in the tenderloin (which is the Ghetto) - commonly a trap for tourists as they thinking they getting a good deal being a few blocks from downtown etc, little do they know that the tenderloin is what it is.

    However if you using that as your base then heading out to say Tahoe for snow or out to Napa valley (wine valley), then you’ll find cheap stuff on the way that’s reasonable.

    You need to apply for ETSA before you go. It should take around 48 hours to process. Do not attempt to go without it. They have been known to put you back on a flight without one… but heard Australians get through at the border (but with a lot of effort and proof you will leave, and have no criminal history)…

    You can rent a car without an international drivers license.

    I would suggest not using credit card travel insurance. Medibank from memory offer packages around $100 per person…

    Let me know if you want some good local spots to check out if you staying in SF. Whilst there is the general tourist spots, there is also some great local parks, beaches, hiking areas that get looked over by the likes of trip advisor and the holiday brochures (which is a good thing).

    Have a great trip. Missus and I both enjoyed living there and have deemed it our most favourite city.

    •  

      Hey I'll be in SF for 4 days in January… I thought the public transport in SF is pretty good, am I wrong? I plan to ride a bike across the bridge too. and yes I'd like to get some recommendation of local spots in SF please…. :) Thank you!

      •  

        The public transport in SF was reasonable but a bit of a pain.

        You can use busses or the muni to get around. You can buy a ticket from vending machines at stations.

        A car is very useful though.

    •  

      You’ll need AT&T depending on your phone. I know for iPhones no other carrier works

      T-Mobile works; I've used them before across numerous Australian-purchased iPhones and had LTE available. However, the coverage isn't as a good as AT&T's network but the price has been cheaper on occasion. H2O (uses AT&T's network) is a decent choice too with its prepaid plans.

  •  

    2 weeks in San Fran? I hope you have plans to travel around a little at least…maybe drive to Vegas or take an internal flight else where like LA or east coast.

    •  

      I'm being dragged to Vegas for several days (boo) I'm hoping to see NYC for 3 or 4 at least.

      •  

        That is what I would do given the time frame you have. Vegas is actually pretty fun IMO. Other than the night life and casino, you can do DFO shopping at both North and South end of the strip. The Bacchanal buffet, Wicked Spoon and Sterling Brunch (only on Sunday) are arguably the best buffets in Vegas.

        NYC has a lot to offer. I would probably leave 3- 4 days at least. I spent 6 days in NYC and it wasnt enough, I like to be comprehensive when I cover a major city. You can also get like 3 day New York City pass and try to cover the major attractions. It saves you time from queuing up to buy tickets then queuing up again to enter the attractions. There are many websites that offer this, so just do a quick comparison.

        Have fun

        •  

          The only thing Vegas has that interests me is Hoover Dam and a .50 cal at a gun range. I detest gambling, if I wanna see boobs, I go to google and type in 'boobs'. I'm not one for getting hammered or dancing, the whole place sounds like hell to me to be honest. (I'm not big on shopping either)

          What's this city pass in NYC all about? I'd like to see their subways, central park, some rats.

        •  

          @hamwhisperer:

          I totally forgot I also went to the Hoover Dam and did a cycling tour at Grand Canyon. Definitely worth the visit. I already had gun experience else where so not so interested in ranges.

          NYC Pass is mainly for the paid attractions. You dont have to get it if there is no intention to visit commercial places like Empire State Building or Statue of Liberty. You have to plan out the attractions and see if the pass it worth it. For me I visited alot of them so it probably saved me a couple of bucks.

  •  

    3 mobile sim with global roaming works good and is cheap
    It uses T-Mobile network in USA

  •  

    T-boned a Dominos pizza car further up the road and continued into a hotel lobby.

    My tip is to avoid pizza delivery vehicles and hotel lobbies. You don't need travel insurance with my tip.

  •  

    Do an itamatrix search. I am getting MEL-SFO return for $1000 with Air China, stay duration up to 3 weeks

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