Although independent travel is usually cheaper, countless flight and accommodation packages allow you to bypass all the organizational hassles. A typical package from the UK might be a return flight plus mid-range Midtown hotel accommodation for three nights in New York City, starting at around £700 per person in low season and more like £950 at peak periods.
Fly-drive deals, which give cut-rate car rental when a traveller buys a transatlantic ticket from an airline or tour operator, are always cheaper than renting on the spot, and give great value if you intend to do a lot of driving. They’re readily available through general online booking agents such as Expedia and Travelocity, as well as through specific airlines. Several operators also book accommodation for self-drive tours.
A simple and exciting way to see a chunk of America’s great outdoors is to take a specialist touring and adventure package, which includes transport, accommodation, food and a guide. Companies such as TrekAmerica carry small groups around on minibuses and use a combination of budget hotels and camping. Most concentrate on the West – ranging from Arizona to Alaska, and lasting from seven days to five weeks; cross-country treks and adventures that take in New York or Florida are also available. Typical rates for a week – excluding transatlantic flights – range from £620 in low season up to £930 in midsummer. Trips to Alaska cost a good bit more.