The US has more than 1 million international students enrolled in its higher education institutions. Studying abroad, and especially in the US, means you have just plenty of opportunities to travel around while also studying your degree, which is one of the main advantages to pursuing a degree abroad. Wherever you look, starting from your host country, you will find so much to see and explore. The US is a great place to pursue your education for a wide variety of reasons, among which travelling around the US while studying tops the list. The culture, the sights, the opportunities to grow – all plentiful in the US, so make sure you use your time wisely.
Below you will find everything you need to know about travelling around the US while studying.
As an international student in the US wishing to travel around and see what your host country and the United States have to offer, you are also likely on a student budget. Although you might need to spend more money as you are travelling around from one city to the other, or even one state to another, within a city, there are many affordable (and sometimes free) things and activities to do. Considering your travel plans depend on your host state and proximity to other states and travel-worthy destinations, the following sections will elaborate on activities international students usually do while visiting the US.
Here are some budget-friendly things you can do as you are travelling around the US while studying your degree:
Go Sightseeing, There Is Just So Much to It
Sightseeing is among the most fulfilling things you can do during your travels in the US as an international student. Sometimes, something as simple as joining a sightseeing tour will be enough to give you your daily share of exploration. Tour guides will know all the tourist-worthy places, and you get to interact with other people, as well as learn about the American culture and history. Sightseeing includes visiting numerous places of interest, especially for internationals. However, it does not mean you need a tour to go sightseeing. You can create a list of all the places you want to visit (ask the locals) and go alone, or with a friend. With the proper directions, it is all so simple, especially if you are not into crowds.
Young Pioneer Tours are the leading travel operator to “destinations your mother would rather you stayed away from”. Check out their full international group tour schedule, or browse through the tours of their regional offices and let them plan your next travel adventure.
Parks Might Seem Plain, but There’s a Certain Vividness to Them
To make your experience even more complete, make sure you visit the US national or state parks. Depending on your location, you will likely find a national park nearby. In the US, there are 62 national parks, and thousands of state park units. If you want to breathe some fresh air away from the concrete and enjoy the scenery, you should definitely visit a park. Besides, you can get advantage of the many hiking, walking, or kayaking activities, depending on what you prefer. The untouched natural beauty in the US is one of the things that makes the country unique, and its diverse landscapes are definitely one of a kind.
Beaches Might Just Be a Favourite Pastime Activity
Beaches are a great visit-worthy option for those who like the blue crashing waves under the sunlight. The sound of the ocean can be quite soothing, especially if you are looking for a place to relax. Spacious sandy beaches, salty scents, and a tranquil sound mix of the crashing waves of the ocean and gulls is what defines beaches in the US. There are just so many to choose from either in Florida, San Diego, and California (but not only). Although not every state has a vast coastline, you can still enjoy the one nearest to you. Waikiki Beach in Hawaii, for example, is one of the most famous beaches in the world.
Catch a Glimpse of the Entire City of New York From the Empire State Building
If you want to channel your inner athlete, you might want to visit the Empire State Building and climb 102 floors of stairs. Besides, the view is worth it – you will get to see the entire city of New York from up above and notice how small everything looks from up there. You do not have to climb all 102 floors by foot, since there is also the option of using an elevator. All in all, the experience is unparalleled and definitely a must-do! And, while you are in NYC, there is also the option of sightseeing cruises on a yacht, or you can also visit the famous Metropolitan Museum of Art, enjoy the NYC graffiti and street art, or even watch a famous Broadway show.
How to Travel Around US While Studying?
Depending on your location and destination, travelling around the US is largely comprehensive and efficient, whether you want to travel within your city, state, or the whole country. Public transport in the US is pretty budget-friendly, especially for international students, and it is also used by employed individuals who travel to work everyday. If you are travelling further lengths, you might choose to use the numerous airlines within the USA, and if you are lucky, you might find cheap tickets. Make sure to search for airlines that offer relatively cheaper tickets.
The numerous modes of public transport in the US include:
- Light rail,
- Commuter trains,
- Vanpool services.
- Ferries or water taxis.
Tips on Juggling Study and Travel
Travelling around the US while studying as an international student might seem challenging at first, but if you pack smart, get the proper directions and information, learn how to manage time (and money), you will be able to do it! International students love the US, simply because of the many opportunities and support it offers students, not only on an academic level but also on a personal level. The most important advice you will hear as an international student in the US is learning how to manage your time and finances, especially if you plan on travelling around.
Ethical Traveler website has made this interesting list of 13 easy-to-follow tips on how to act if you would like to become a more responsible traveler.
Here are some pieces of advice you might find useful during your travels around the US while studying your degree:
1. Balance Course Schedule With Travel Plans
If you want to have a stress-free travel experience, without feeling guilty about missing assignments or classes, make sure you balance your course schedule with your travel plans. You can make travel plans during the holidays, any other free days, or during the weekends. You do not have to miss out on university assignments, simply plan ahead and you will be alright. What is important is that you make use of the full study abroad experience and travel around the US while also studying your degree. Learning how to manage your time will be a big help during your travels.
2. Be Practical While Packing
Packing makes or breaks the travel experience. Packing smart is a skill, which should be obtained if you are going to travel around often. Usually, you are advised against bringing a big luggage with you, especially if your trips will be shorter and packed with walking around and exploring. As an international student travelling the US while studying, you will likely have to also bring your electronic gadgets such as your laptop. An ideal solution would be to invest in a compact laptop which can easily be carried around, in a backpack or even a larger handbag.
3. Search for the Hidden Travel Gems (Ask Locals)
Tourist traps are lovely, most of the time they are majestic locations you might have always wanted to visit. You will find so many tourist attractions in the US, filled with crowds of people staring in awe and taking photographs. An advice would be, after you have explored the tourist attractions, turn your head the other way, and take the road less travelled. Who knows what you will find in a less crowded place, during one afternoon, in New York, LA, or Chicago. Maybe your future favorite coffee shop, maybe a mural tribute to your favorite artist, or maybe a green space that simply soothes your mind? Sometimes, taking the ‘road less travelled’ will indeed make all the difference. Just make sure you stay safe!
4. Try to Enjoy the Moment
Granted, you will have moments during your travels when you will get stressed or overwhelmed by all the university work and assignments you will have to do once you get back. If you find yourself visiting the Grand Canyon National Park, make sure to fully be there and enjoy that experience. Try to enjoy the moment, because who knows when you will return again to that exact same place? Considering you have already planned your university schedule/travel plans ahead, you will have plenty of time to deal with school work. If the schedule is tight, you can engage in university activities while travelling as well (especially during the evenings), so don’t forget your laptop.
5. Do Detailed Research
Before visiting a place, make sure you do detailed research regarding the place you are visiting. In America, people practice different religions, and lead different lifestyles, depending on the region, rural and urban areas, and other factors. It’s important to be informed before heading to your destination. Apart from this, keep in mind that you should also do research on hotel availability, safety, as well as transportation. It is safer to travel prepared, especially if you need a place to stay overnight or leave your belongings. Public transport is largely comprehensive and efficient, but it might be a challenge in more rural areas. So if researching does not seem efficient, you can always ask the locals, they will likely give you correct directions and information.
After the US, your next destination should be Asia where you’d be able to explore its amazing nature. The LuxurySocietyAsia website includes practical and helpful tips on organizing your travel and offers detailed guides for your trip.
6. Learn to Manage Your Finances
Last but not least! During your travels around the US as an international student, you will find that you will be spending a lot more money. An advice would be, depending on your finances, you should create a budget plan containing all the expenses you need within a month or week. Keep the plan with you at all times, be it on a smartphone app, notes app, or piece of paper. This will help you save money as well as plan your next trip. When money’s on the rocks, you might travel around closer destinations, so you do not spend a lot on transport and hotel rooms. There is plenty to see everywhere!