OzBargainers travelling to USA (thanks to randompunter)

Since their are so many of us off to the USA I thought it would be a good idea for us to share some advice and ideas, such as cheap accommodation, cheap flights within the US etc. Anything that might be helpful to others to save some money or make the whole process a bit easier. I'll start off with my shopping tip, Ross Dress for Less is my favourite place to shop in the USA, clothes, bags, sunglasses, shoes are all a fraction of retail. Hope this is helpful :)


  • If you like Ross then you'll probably like TJMaxx & Marshalls too - and some Burlington Coat Factory (not just coats). If you're in NYC I'd suggest a visit to Century 21.

    If you are traveling around try to make your larger purchases in a lower tax state - Maryland & Oregon have 0% sales tax from memory - most other states have a sales tax with some nudging towards 10% - can be a bit of a shock as it is added to the advertised price.

    If you are over 50 I'd consider joining AARP - they have some great discounts on cars, shopping, food etc and I saved my annual subscription in minutes as I got 15% off my already good car rental price.

    I'd recommend getting the hotel loyalty cards for the hotel class you are thinking of staying in - with my Choice card I got better rates on advance purchase and also the AARP discount - all helps. If you are prepared to take trhe risk to make some real savings on hotels pickup the Discount Hotel coupon books that offer great rates for walk in customers - need to use Tripadvisor to make sure the place is OK but these worked very well for us on the East Coast. If you like to pick up some supplies at the supermarket it pays to get their free loyalty card as they often have great specials for members.

    What else - Macy's & Bloomingdale's give discounts for overseas visitors - go to guest services with your passport and pick up the voucher.

    That's a start - enjoy.

    • Thanks, this is actually my 7th visit it to USA, i just started the thread coz I thought it might be helpful to others. Thanks for the advise though, you can never have too much information when travelling overseas. :)

  • Hotels in Vegas during the week can be really cheap, because they get a huge influx of visitors on the weekends. So you can save heaps if you stay in Vegas on a weekday.

    You can get a relative bargain on hotwire.com if you're prepared to stay in a mystery hotel. Look at better bidding and you should be able to narrow the mystery hotel down to 2 or 3 possibilities.

  • Be careful of Spirit Airlines' ultra-low fares when travelling domestically. They charge you up to $40 for checked bags PLUS $40 for carry-ons (if paid at the airport)! You heard right; You pay to take your laptop or handbag on board! We watched many people get stung in the queue while boarding at the gate.

    Did you know it's easy for foreigners to get a US bank account? I opened a free checking account (with PNC bank) and use the free debit card to make purchases when travelling to the US. I just fund the account through AMEX international payments (their rates SO much better than any currency exchange bureau) and they don't even charge me a wire transfer fee (it's free as far as I'm aware). This way you get zero foreign transaction fees and zero ATM fees when you want to withdraw cash in the US. You could probably fund the account through PayPal too.

    When you go to Vegas, visit the Tix 4 Tonight counter at the Fashion Show Mall (big mall on the Strip). You can get last minute tickets to pretty much any show for less than half price if you're lucky. Prices change depending on demand. Also visit the Spice Market buffet at Planet Hollywood. It's buffet heaven! Don't get the monorail - use the bus service which runs up and down the strip every 5 or so minutes. Much more fun and economical.

    Theme park tickets: These are hard to crack, and coupon codes are virtually non-existent. If you know someone who lives in Florida, they can get Florida resident tickets to pretty much any park for around 10 - 15% off gate price, and usually have second or third day, etc. free of charge. You can try eBay if you want a discount but bids are very competitive. Don't try buying partly used tickets off people at the exit gates. You won't be able to use them because they fingerprint you on each entry.

    If you want alcohol, buy it from any liquor store in the US (e.g. ABC liquor stores). It's so cheap and way better than any Aussie duty free prices. I found Absolut vodka (1 litre) for US$20 (regular price at CVS Pharmacy, LA).

    For eating out, most restaurants have really good coupon codes for a free appetiser / entree (an entree is a main dish in the US), if you sign up as a member on their website. Just print out the coupon and bring it in. It's really commonplace and not at all embarassing to do.

    When visiting bars, tip high on your first drink ($5). You'll be guaranteed to be first served each time you return to the bar and your drinks will be mighty strong. As a rule, drinking in the US is cheaper than Aus (except in NYC), so the $5 tip will be a good investment for a great night. Just tip $1 for each drink thereafter. BTW, tipping can be your friend (hard to stomach for some), but get used to it and make it work for you!

    • Good advice on the tips, we were buying rounds of three $5 drinks in NY and giving the bartender $20 each time. Every fourth time we went up we'd get the drinks for free so the tips were pretty much paying for that round. Of course we still tipped for the free drinks too!

  • If you're after cheap accommodation, try www.airbnb.com , I used it last year and it's great (Especially for New York). It's basically a site where people can advertise a spare room or house to rent. I paid around what you'd pay to stay in a hostel, and had a private house, more like a hotel stay.

    To find good value food in your area try www.yelp.com . You can do a search in your area for what ever food in your area, sort by cheapest and then pick the place with the best reviews. In LA, New York, and San Francisco just about everyone uses yelp and it's a great way to find local places you might otherwise miss.

  • Do a search here, in this thread there have already been some good tips posted already. Plus it might make more sense to add to the wiki here as it then has a more permanent place.


  • Something I posted in a related thread specific to Vegas and LA:

    Vegas is awesome for shopping as there are some excellent factory outlets there. Unlike Australian factory outlets, they are not only much cheaper but have lots of sizes/styles and current lines too.

    On The Strip itself, you can't go past the Fashion Show Mall (http://www.thefashionshow.com/) which has one of the best Macy's I came across (department store like Myer, except bigger, better and cheaper). Suits were cheap here, including some nice slim/eurofit Hugo Boss red labels I passed up on and regretted. I haven't seen them here, but I imagine they would be triple the price compared to what you can get there.

    Around Vegas, I would recommend Primm (http://www.fashionoutletlasvegas.com/) which is about 40 minutes out. Not much along the way (except maybe the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign).

    In Los Angeles, I'd recommend The Citadel Outlets (http://www.citadeloutlets.com/) which is a nice outdoor mall that had good prices all around. The Etnies store (shoes) had BOGOF storewide while we were there, so you could pick up 2 pairs of decent sneakers in any size/style for between $50-80.

    I went to a Nike store and picked up some Air Force 1s (which are elusive as all hell here) for only $46 + tax, about half price of what you can get them for online.

    In nearly all malls like the above, you'll find outlets from all major brands, check store directories in the above sites for listings. You'll also get your SDS equivalents like PacSun which have good casual wear.

    If you're into vitamins, put an order through on Vitacost while you're there, you'll save big on shipping. If you go to the snow at all, snow gear is significantly cheaper and you can again buy online and get it delivered to your hotel.

    Electronics wise, Ultrabooks are all the rage at the moment and Dell's range is pretty good overseas. Depending when you go, you might be able to get a good deal on an Ivy Bridge unit.

    Keep an eye on www.retailmenot.com and www.fatwallet.com for good deals while you're there. Also www.woot.com might interest you.

    Don't forget to get a 28 Degrees MasterCard, you'd be crazy to travel without one.

  • went to US last week. I bought my Disneyland ticket from these guys, I had to pay 10% deposit over the net, and then pay them the balance when I picked up the tickets when I arrived at their office which is 10 minutes walk from Disneyland. I wasn't sure if it was a scam so I was prepared to lose my money, but it did work. I saved about $130 for a family of 4, I bought a 3 day hopper ticket.


    Also in Disneyland, the water are like $3 a 500ml bottle. So I brought my own water(or gatorade or softdrinks), and just for free cup and ice from the shops there.

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