Sunday, August 09, 2009

Itinerary Planing

I was invited to attend a wedding in LaColle on July 25, I accepted the invitation and worked on the itinerary for the trip delightedly. Soon, I found out that I had to spend over NT$60,000 to fly to Montreal via Vancouver and back with Air Canada, so I searched online for alternatives. From I found a roundtrip from Hong Kong via SFO to JFK with United Air for NT$30,000. However, to catch that plane, I either had to spend over NT$10,000 for a roundtrip from Kaohsiung to HK not knowing whether I could check in at the transit counter, or NT$6,000, 2 nights hotels in HK (one day earier before departing from HK and one day later after landing in HK) and a HK visa. Eventually, I had an agent book me on United Air, which took me over 24 hrs to fly from Kaohsiung via Taipei, Narita, LA and JFK for NT$47,800.

To apply for a US visa, I wrote down all my life time records starting from my Junior high, military service, employment, etc. I took a day off, traveled by high speed rail and checked in a hotel near the AIT in Taipei, because my appointment was at 7:45AM, there was no way I could get there on time on the same day from Tainan. I heard a few of my colleagues being rejected when applying for a visa in order to participate in international conferences that were held in US, and the problem seemed to be that we are working in a Division of Infectious Disease and that makes us a potential threat to homeland security. I prepared certificates of bank balance, employment, wedding invitation, my tax papers etc., basically any documentation that might help to prove my urge of returning to Taiwan. Luckly, my interviewer only asked my purpose and duration of visiting America and issued me a 5 year multiple entrance visa.

The plan was to stay in New York City for 2 days then rent a car and drive up to Montreal. Stopping by Lake George one or two days on the way up and spend 2 days in Montreal for the just for laughs comedy festival, that was hosted by Lewis Black. After the wedding, drive back to JFK and the next day fly to San Francisco and stay for 3 days.

Accommodation and transportation are the two biggest issues to deal with when backpacking., a search engine that is programed to compare prices and offers available hotels from multiple search platforms. The service provides hotels overview/details, photos, location on google map and reviews from the users, and best of all is that travelers no longer have to search websites one by one to find the best deals and lowest rates. Once you find the supplier suitable for your needs, just click on the link that directs you to the supplier website to book the room directly. My first choice of hotel in NYC was the Hudson Hotel, however, after reviewing comments from Tripadvisor and advice from my friend, I decided to pass this hotel that seems to have too much fun at night.

Driving to Montreal was a logical choice when considering the price to fly to Montreal and transportation in Canada between LaColle, Hemmingford and Montreal. I found a website, Car Trawler, that claims to be the first company to provide a next generation car rental distribution system, specializing solely in car rental solutions, enabling increased revenues for its customers and suppliers. Indeed, I rented a Ford Focus for 7 days with all car insurances covered for US$288.65.

511, is the most seen/heard number when traveling in America, it's an American's Traveler information telephone number that provides real-time traffic conditions,transit conditions, public transit trip planner and travel links etc. Travelers can dial the three-digit telephone number 5-1-1 on traditional landline telephones and most mobile phones for the information or visit their website at

Other useful website:
Hotels Combined: compare hotels and prices from multiple hotel reservation sites
Subway maps : worldwide metro maps downloadable in many formats
Couchsurfing or Servas : Sleep on a couch for free

No comments: