Five Trip Preparation Tips for an Enjoyable and Affordable Holiday in USA

12 June, 2012

Travelling in the United States of America (USA) has become more affordable for Singaporeans these days especially with the exchange rates in our favor.  However, with the right preparations, we have found a few more ways to save more money and at the same time make our recent trip to the USA West Coast i.e. Los Angeles, Las Vegas and San Francisco, much more convenient.

Here’s a quick compilation of 5 simple pre-trip preparation you can do to make your trip to the USA convenient and affordable:

Tip Number 1: Save Time and Money with Open-Jaw Flights to and fro US and Internal US Flights with

One of the most significant ways to save money is through finding the most efficient way to fly into and out of the States and getting around within the States.  Flight planning is one of the most time-consuming part in planning for our USA trip.  As we are not doing any self-drive during the trip, it was important for us to find the most affordable way to fly from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and then from Las Vegas to San Francisco.  This would mean spending a lot of time browsing through different airlines’ sites to find out the best fares and flight timings.

Thankfully we came across through its active involvement in the social media front in engaging its Facebook fans and Twitter followers through contests and giveaways. offered the convenience of a one-stop in comparing flights from different airlines e.g. Cathay, Singapore Airlines, Korea Air for our journey to and fro the States.  The flight comparison engine is one of the most updated one compared to other similar sites, taking into account each airline’s promotional fares. also offers the flexibility of selecting open-jaw flights at affordable prices.  Open-Jaw refers to us flying into the States at Los Angeles and flying out from another city i.e. San Francisco.  At one glance, we were able to compare across all the airlines offering such open-jaw flights and their respective prices.

CheapTickets Multi-Trip Function

What really helped us was that site’s ability to pull together information on US airlines to plan our flights from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and from Las Vegas to San Francisco.  While this is not a complete list of airlines on offer for these routes, it was adequate due to availability of quotes from the major airlines e.g. United, American Airlines, Delta and jetBlue Airways.

We really appreciated the time savings and convenience of site’s multi-stop trip functionality to plan and book international and internal US flights in just 1 booking.  We also achieved cost savings as we cut down on the transaction and credit fees that could be separately charged with each booking at different airlines’ website.  We just have to make a single payment for all our flights to and fro the States and within the States. MultiTrip Function

Check out Facebook for contests and giveaways e.g. the ‘Be Smart, Be Cheap‘ contest where is giving away2 flights to Bangkok to their facebook fans who share with them their trips taken and their tips on how to save money.

Be Smart Be Cheap Promotion Facebook

Tip Number 2: Enjoy Further Shopping Discounts at Premium Outlet Malls

Outlet Malls in the States are well-known for offering branded products e.g. Coach, Kenneth Cole, Kate Spade at very affordable discounted prices.  For example, a Coach bag which would have cost about S$500-600, can be purchased for less than US$150 at the Las Vegas North Premium Outlet Mall.  If you are visiting one of the “Premium Outlets”, you can sign up for a VIP Club membership (free!) at where you will receive an online voucher to redeem for a VIP Coupon book at the Premium Outlet of your choice (available at information centre).

This VIP Coupon book provides a whole list of discounts for various shops in the outlet mall and these discounts are usually on top of the already steeply discounted prices offered by the shops.  For example, at GAP Outlet Las Vegas North, you can enjoy 10% off purchase of US$75 or more and 10% off any one item at Nine West Outlet.  If you are hungry after a whole day of shopping, there are also discounts on food and drinks offered by the VIP Coupon book e.g. Subway 10% off entire purchase.

Registration takes only 2-3 minutes and on top of the VIP Coupon book, you will also receive a separate stack of discount vouchers for various brands in the outlet.

USA Shopping Factory Outlet Premium Outlet Las Vegas North VIP Discount Booklet

Tip Number 3: Keep in Touch with T-Mobile No-Contract Broadband On The Go

Most hotels in the States do not offer complimentary Wi-Fi with the room and can charge upwards of 20 USD for 24 hours of access with cap on how much data you can use.  Phone and Internet roaming charges are also crazy.  Luckily, we found an affordable and convenient to get internet on the go with no-contract mobile broadband plans offered by local telco companies.  As of May 2012, T-Mobile offers one of the most value for money plan – at just 25 USD, you get a data access limit of 3GB for a period of 1 month.  If you just need to check emails, facebook, whatsapp and the occasional Skype call, this is more than enough.  Perfect for keeping in touch with your family e.g. providing real-time Whatsapp updates on your bargain buys at the outlet malls (do take note of time difference between US and Singapore – while you are happily shopping away at 2pm, it is 2am back home!).

Prior to your trip, check out the best plans to sign up for and identify the T-Mobile, AT&T (depending on the plan you need) store nearest to your hotel so that you can pick one up as soon as you arrive.

Mobile Broadband USA No Contract Singapore T-Mobile Contract activation Modem

Tip Number 4: Prepare Loose Change (US$1, US$5) for Ease of Tipping

Be aware of the tipping culture in USA; be it the taxi driver, waitress, bellhop, doorman – all would be expecting a tip for providing their service.  Don’t get caught in embarrassing situations where you only have a 100 USD note and you can’t tip the 1-2 USD to the bellhop – no change is given for your tips!  So prepare more small notes e.g. 1 USD or 5 USD just in case.  Request for small notes from your moneychanger when you exchange your Sing dollars to US dollars.

USA Dollar Forex Exchange Singapore $1 Tips Preparation for US Trip

Tip Number 5: Enjoy Discounted Tours, Shows with Online Promo Codes

When you make reservations online at US-based websites, there are usually boxes prompting you to provide promo codes (if you have it).  Do some research before booking for such promo codes.  For example, Viator offers a 5% discount on all tours and activities booked on the site if you can find their promo code at their Google Plus account (offer ends 31 May 2012).  In this case, we did a quick search and found the promo code GPSAVE for an instant 5% discount (savings of over US$50 for us!).

Some companies also offer promo codes when you like their Facebook page and sign up for their mailing list so do browse around their sites for more of such deals.  Also check out or for a compilation of promo codes by company – you might just be able to find some great deals and score some savings.

Viator Promo Code


Zhiqiang & Tingyi

Comments (12)

  • JesseReply

    12 June, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    I especially noted the tip about getting a broadband from T-Mobile in a prepaid terms. Would come in handy for tourists who want to experience the country’s top of the line network provider.

  • AmandaReply

    14 June, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    These are really great ideas on a great holiday trip in USA. Online discounted tours i s a great way to save for the hotels, air fair and more. Thanks for sharing..

  • JessieReply

    17 June, 2012 at 3:51 am

    Hello there, will you be able to provide your itinerary as well?

  • MonsterReply

    22 June, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    Great getting traveling to your website all over again, it is usually months to me. Properly this type of information which has been recently been carried on to wait to acquire such a long time. We’d like this specific article so that you can comprehensive our vision inside college, and contains the same theme along with your post. Many thanks, beneficial encourage.

  • USA West Coast California Los Angeles – Las Vegas – San Francisco Trip Summary | Singapore Travel BlogReply

    24 June, 2012 at 11:16 am

    […] the right trip preparations and resources e.g. multi-stop trip functionality, you will be able to pick up bargain deals e.g. […]

  • BalencReply

    29 June, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    I do think this is one of the most vital information for me. And i am glad looking at your write-up. But wish to remark upon some general things, The web page style is perfect, the posts is really nice : D. Good job, many thanks

  • Hipolito M. WisemanReply

    21 July, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    I just want to say I am just newbie to blogs and truly loved your page. Very likely I’m going to bookmark your site . You actually come with awesome articles. Many thanks for revealing your website page.

  • Bargain Shopping at Las Vegas Premium Outlets North | Singapore Travel BlogReply

    18 August, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    […] Registration takes only 2-3 minutes and on top of the VIP Coupon book, you will also receive a separate stack of discount vouchers for various brands in the outlet.  For more trip budget planning tips, see: […]

  • EmilyReply

    25 August, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    Thanks for the tip on T-Mobile broadband. Sorry to sound like a tech idiot. I suppose i will have to stick the broadband sim card into a device, right? So i will have to buy the device as well? Cannot use the sim card directly with iphone 4S, right? Thanks for your help!

    • Zhiqiang & TingyiReply

      25 August, 2012 at 3:51 pm

      I think you can plug the sim card directly into iphone (but do confirm with the service providers since they all have different policies). What we did is to bring along a mobile wireless modem (the black oval shaped thing in the picture above) and plug the sim card in – and we get wireless connection for multiple devices e.g. laptops and phones.

      We bought the mobile modem thing for about S$150 2 years ago – i reckon it might be cheaper now; got it off hardwarezone forum from some sellers.

  • A Singaporean Guide to Travel Hacking – Eight Tips to Save Time and/or Money on Airfare, Accommodation, Local Transport, Food, Attractions | Singapore Travel BlogReply

    11 November, 2014 at 10:00 am

    […] had used an airfare aggregator to secure both our international flights from Singapore to Los Angeles and domestic flights from Los Angeles to Las Vegas earlier during our 2-week no-driving USA Los […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *