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Trains, planes and automobiles: traveling within the US

Once you've made it to a university or college in the US, you'll start to find that you’ll have quite a bit of free time to fill. Use your weekends and breaks to travel around your new area. Of course this depends on your location. For example, if you are attending school in California, there are many options within a few hours drive. If you are studying in more rural parts of the country, you might have to travel a bit further. Here are some tips for getting around and traveling in the states. Many American universities give long weekends for federal holidays, so take the opportunity to plan your trip in advance.

Andy Mitchell from Glasgow, UK
[CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]

Where to Go
Smaller Cities
Avoid the hordes of tourists and crowds and visit one of America’s smaller, but still interesting cities. Trade a trip to Miami, Florida for a trip to Charleston, South Carolina. Flights and activities will be cheaper. Trade Chicago for Memphis. Trade Los Angeles for San Antonio. Beat the crowd by exploring new places you won't find on a tourist map. Check travel websites like Tripadvisor and Yelp for travel advice.

U.S National Parks
Attention outdoorsy types, U.S. National parks are for you. See the Grand Canyon in Arizona, watch the Old Faithful geyser at Yellowstone Park in Wyoming, or stargaze in Yosemite Valley, California. The U.S. offers hundreds of thousands of miles of hiking trails all around the country. Go for the day or even a week. You won't get bored of the beautiful natural wonders and wildlife the U.S. has to offer.

Festivals
American music lovers flock from all over the country to attend their favorite music festivals. Tickets could be a bit pricey, but festivals are a huge part of U.S. music culture. Save money at festivals by camping or staying in motels close to the festival site, or book your hotel months in advance.

How to get there
Airlines
Although fairly costly, flying can be the world traveler’s best friend. To get the cheapest flights, you must book well in advance. Also try flying in the off season to avoid long lines and raised fares since the peak travel times for Americans are Thanksgiving (late November) and Christmas (late December). Some airlines will charge extra for luggage, so pack light and avoid oversized suitcases. Websites like Expedia and Travelocity are helpful for finding the cheapest flights. Expedia can also help you bundle deals on hotels and rental cars, saving you money overall.

Trains
The US Amtrak rail can get you from coast to coast for a reasonable price. The main caveat being the relatively long travel time. Check the Amtrak website to find information on train schedules and trips. A trip by train might be interesting for those who enjoy scenic views and prefer a low stress way to travel. Larger cities will have smaller rail lines that connect to the suburbs of the city, but these won’t take you to a different city. Trains can be the perfect way to get away from city life for awhile.




Car
Rental cars are a convenient way to roadtrip with your friends. Rental cars can be cheap, and you get the privilege of controlling the journey and stops along the way. Americans love to take road trips, there are even countless U.S. movies depicting this type of vacation. Use apps such as Waze and Google Maps to navigate the long winding US highways. The average rental car age in the US is 25, but some companies such as Zipcar offer discounts to under 25 college students. Of course, this trip will cost less if you already own a car.

Need additional help on how to make the best of your study abroad experience? Visit https://www.gradtrain.com 

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