Tricks For Cheap Student Travel Around The United States

We can all agree that the point of studying abroad is travelling. Going across your host country, discovering nice natural spots, visiting incredible cities… You definitely left your home country with a full list of cool places you wanted to go to abroad.

If you are studying in the US, travelling is essential, because it is such a big country with a lot of different places to go. But here is the thing: you are an exchange student, you probably neither have a car, nor a lot of money to spend… So, this might be a little bit tricky.

Let’s be honest, the US is great, but in terms of public transportation… it kind of sucks. Unless, of course, you live in a big city such as New York. If you come from Europe, and if you are used to use public transportation at a reasonable price, you probably already noticed this yourself. Not to mention the fact that whenever you want to travel to another state, it appears that the most common means of transportation is the plane. So how can we travel in the US when we are exchange students with a low income?


Exploring your host town.

If you are living directly on the campus of your host university, there might be a system of shuttles which can drive you to useful places, such as the store – so you can never miss your exciting weekly appointment at Target or Walmart. It might not be the freedom you’ve been dreaming about, but at least you won’t starve. And in some cases, you can even become friends with other people who use the same shuttles!

But, if you want more freedom of movement, and if you have a bit more money to spend on transportation, you can use the application Uber. It is cheaper than any cab, and it is really convenient. This way, you can go outside of your campus and explore your host town!

Finally, you might become friends with someone who owns a car and who will be happy to drive you out sometimes (but this is not an advice to make friends by interest of course). If you don’t, maybe you can join an association made for international students like you, in which some volunteers will be happy to help you out with local travel. But, naturally, these two last solutions don’t offer you a big independence – but, however, they do allow you to meet new people!

Travelling across the country.

That’s all fine and dandy but, whenever you want to take the next step and to travel out of the state you are living in, things can get a bit more complicated. You want to travel a lot, but for a cheap price. Here are some tips that will help you to spend less money when you travel in the US:

Travel during the week.

First, you won’t have another choice than to use the plane if you want to travel across the country. So, if you can, plan your trips in advance, so that you have the benefit of the cheapest prices from the airplane companies. If you have this possibility, try to plan your trip during the week: it is generally cheaper than during the weekend. Some websites will offer you really interesting prices… but only if you leave when they offer to, so most often during the week.

To avoid weekends, these websites can make you leave on a Thursday and come back on a Tuesday. However, if you prefer to plan at the last minute and live with the adrenaline of the unexpected, you can find some good prices on several low-cost company websites. Some low-cost airlines are really worth it, like Allegiant Airlines, Southwest Airlines, JetBlue, Spirit Airlines… You might find something that fits your needs! However, these companies don’t lead to every American airport, so be careful.

Rent a car.

If you don’t plan to go very far, you can choose to rent a car. In this case, most of the companies will expect you to be over twenty-one years old, and to possess either an American driver’s licence or a licence which is authorized and recognized by the authorities. In this case, try to enroll some friends in this trip with you: this way, you can divide the price of the renting – and it’s no small matter! Other advantage: you won’t be the only driver, so the journey will be more relaxing. In the end, you can choose the way to travel that fits the most with your personality and desires.

Crashing at other people’s places.

Eventually, the last way to save some money is to rent a cheap place to stay. Avoid the hotels which are situated downtown – even though they are closer to the places you want to visit, they also are much more expensive. In big cities, it is better for you to rent a place to stay outside the downtown area and to buy a week-long pass for unlimited travels on the subway. One application can be interesting in terms of prices, it’s Airbnb. With this app, you can choose the amount of money you want to spend, so it can be cheap if you want it to be.

In the end, there are plenty of ways to travel at a reasonable price – and we surely do not even know all of them. It is just up to you to plan your trip as you like it, so that you can live this trip the way you want it to be!

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Laura is a French Literature student. She is a big dreamer, and her main dream is to be a reporter who travels all over the world. She studied in the US for a semester, and since then she is convinced that she has to fulfill her dream. Otherwise, you can find her anywhere with her camera, trying desperatly to take the perfect shot - a book always hidden in her bag.

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