After a three year hiatus from flying I have spent the last few weeks planning and perfecting my next adventure on visiting my missing States. Followers of my early posts might remember that I have yet to set foot in – Utah, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Hawaii.
The most logical and economical research has put Austin as the arrival airport. Virgin Atlantic have a new service to the Texas Capital as well as British Airways.
I am looking at a 10 day route that will give as much ‘bang for my buck’ as possible and to get to visit both Oklahoma and New Mexico.
Fare comparisons have confirmed that Austin is the cheapest airport to fly to. On a personal point I really despise these new fare levels that the full service carriers insist on offering. The visitor sees a price of say £650 and then discovers that if you want to travel with a suitcase it is often an additional £100 to add a bag. Seat selection is at least £40 depending on your choices. Why can’t the customer see a full fare and then deselect what they don’t want?
Anyway the plan initially was to fly to Austin and use a website that offers flight with hotel and only book a hotel for one night on arrival as this brings the airfare down a little. Selecting an airport hotel with hotel shuttle would then allow to collect the car the following morning saving a day’s car hire.
This was my first route with mileage and nights
UK – Austin TX 1
Austin – Dallas TX 195 2
Dallas – Oklahoma City OK 206 2
Oklahoma City – Amarillo TX 259 1
Amarillo – Tucumcari NM 115 1
Tucumcari – Lubbock TX 184 1
Lubbock – Austin 372 2
This is a minimum of 1331 miles with the prospect of seeing some of Route 66 from Oklahoma City to Tucumcari.
Sounds amazing right? On further consideration I started to feel daunted by the quest spending most days on the road with limited time to explore. I then thought that by cutting a night in both Dallas and Oklahoma and staying along the route would be a better option to be further along each day. Which ever way I look at it I will be spending ages in the car. So what to do?
The cheapest car hire I found was via Costco Travel but is still around £450 for mid-size car. This is still massively expensive compared to pre-pandemic times. Weirdly the smaller car on offer was more expensive.
Some good news was that the US no longer want a negative test result for Covid before arrival. The other factors that are in play right now is the impact of the cost of living crisis both here in the UK and over in America.
Currently an average car in the UK will take over £100 of unleaded as prices are around £1.89 per litre which equates to to over £8.30 a gallon. US gallons are smaller than UK (128 fl oz vs 160 fl oz) but as gas prices are a minimum of $5 per gallon in America it still is cheaper than the UK but will impact the pocket on my proposed itinerary.
The UK pound is tumbling for whatever reasons and the current exchange rate is £1.00 = $1.20 and that is the inter bank rate so the tourist rate is around $1.15 to the British Pound.
It is all very depressing really and I think that I will delay for a while but plan to spend longer over there to facilitate the ongoing dream!