Although academics will take up much of your time, there will be ample opportunity to explore what makes the U.S. so desirable and beautiful! For great advice about saving time and money while traveling, we recommend Learn4good.com, a complete guide to jobs, travel and accommodation worldwide.
The United States covers a lot of territory. Many international students don't realize just how big the United States actually is. When you plan your trip, don't forget about the large distances you may encounter. Remember, the continental United States (all the states except for Alaska and Hawaii) is so large that the country is divided into four time zones - Eastern, Central, Mountain and Pacific. Don't let the size of the country discourage you, however. Whether your travel budget is large or small, you can sample some of the finest attractions with just a little careful planning.
A valuable source of information is Council Travel, a unit of the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE). The agency specializes in both student and budget travel, and is an excellent place to obtain charter plane tickets, guidebooks, hostelling cards and travel gear. Many establishments also honor university identification cards. Discounts probably will not be large, except for those given on air travel booked through special student travel agencies.
Read travel guides. Be sure to take advantage of the many travel guides available online. The Harvard Student Agencies publishes a number of books in its "Let's Go" series, which range from the entire U.S. to selected cities and regions. Students of the University of California-Berkeley publish a limited selection of helpful travel guides as well. Both series are geared toward the budget-minded student traveler.
Use a combination of planes, trains, buses and automobiles to get the most out of your travels (and your budget). Getting to your destination can be done several ways, but the quickest is by air. To ensure the best fare, always try to purchase your ticket in advance. Normally, the cheapest travel times are Mondays through Thursdays in the morning hours with an overnight Saturday stay.
For the more price-conscious student, trains are a great mode of travel - especially for those wanting to see a bit of the American landscape. Amtrak is the nation's main passenger provider, and similar to the airlines, offers lower advance-purchase fares.
Buses run more frequently than planes or trains, but are slower and sometimes less comfortable. Greyhound is the major national service provider, however, city bus companies can sometimes provide more extensive regional service.
Plan where to sleep. Getting there is half the battle, but then there is the consideration of where to stay. Lodgings situated a few miles out from a city are generally less expensive than the ones in the heart of downtown. Compared to hotels, motels are less costly and normally conveniently placed near main highways.
Perhaps the best option for student travelers is a youth hostel, where men and women sleep separately in dormitory-style rooms. Hostels are good places to meet other travelers from around the world.
A bed and breakfast (B&B) is a private home with one or more rooms available to travelers. Overnight stays include a morning meal. These homes can be quite comfortable and a great opportunity to catch aglimpse into American home life. B&B prices are generally more expensive than hostels or motels, however, the warmth of the experience can be worth it. B&B and hostel directories are available through student travel agencies and budget travel guidebooks.
Wherever your travels may take you, you're sure to find beauty, culture, adventure and new friendships along the way. Happy travels!