I was longing to visit USA and cover both the East coast and West Coast with my wife. Since, we had no friend or a relative staying in USA, planning a trip was all the more difficult keeping the budget constraint in mind.
We evaluated several tour planners offering like Yatra, SOTC, MMT and what not but the price for their packages for 10 nights covering East and West coast were upwards of Rs. 2.8 lakhs all inclusive. Then, I contacted my friend who recently started a venture called RoundTrips365 (www.roundtrips365.com). They have their custom designed plans across USA tailored for every kind of customer. He offered me a 11 nights tour plan covering East and West coast for a drool-worthy price tag of Rs. 160,000/- covering my return flights, hotels for 11 nights, sightseeing and assistance of tour guide. The plan however din't cover the meals and some tip payments to tour guide. The offer was tough to say 'NO' for me. I immediately booked it from them and planned my long awaited US trip from them. As they were offering customization also, I took one extra hotel night in NYC and 2 nights extra in Los Angeles to cover some local attractions myself.
We landed at JFK Airport in New York on 12th November and proceeded to complete immigration formalities. Our fingerprints were scanned which were taken at the time of Visa Application process and photographs were verified. The immigration officer asked for intended duration of our visit and stamped our passports for stay till May 2017.
After collecting my bags, we found the tour guide waiting for me in blue uniform near the Baggage Claim area. His clothes was not having any branding of RoundTrips365 and on some inquiries from him I was told that various companies have arrangements with their parent company to provide tour plans for travellers in USA. There were only 6 Indians including us in the tour with most of Mexicans, Americans, Philippines and Chinese.
After checking in our Edison Hotel in New Jersey, we were given some time for resting. Surprisingly, we were not tired and jetlag was just a dictionary word for us. We had opted for an optional Night tour of NYC for $30 as the main city was quite far from our hotel. We boarded our Ac bus and were taken to Rockefeller Center, Times Square and casual stroll in midtown Manhattan. Below are some of the pics from Day 1.
Day 2: We were asked to be ready by 7 am for our day ahead. As mentioned earlier, since meals were not part of the tour package, we were carrying instant and packaged food from India. We realized that such an arrangement proved beneficial for us as we saved a lot of money by not paying for our meals in lumpsum (unlike other tour operators) and we had an option to switch between Indian food and Local cuisine. After having Poha in our hotel room, we boarded the bus and proceeded for our day tour for local sightseeing in NYC. We visited some eye catching attractions like Empire State building, Statue of Liberty, 9/11 memorial, One World Center, Fifth Avenue, etc. Below are some of the pics from Day 2. We came back to Edison Hotel by 8pm.