As you know, your education will extend far beyond what you learn in the classroom. Preparing for an overseas adventure is really an education in itself, taking care of all details with regard to admissions offices, enrollment procedures, immigration, transferring funds…
By most international students' accounts, all of the preliminary work is well worth it; they are quite satisfied with their U.S. education. Students just like you also report that the best part of their experience in the United States is traveling -- enjoying a new environment outside of the academic world.
Most international students plan to explore parts of the country before or after the academic semester. Sometimes they opt to travel during school holidays such as Fall Break, Thanksgiving, Christmas or Spring Break; check your own school's calendar for specific vacation date and be sure to visit the student travel center for your travel needs.
It is important to plan a general itinerary before you leave your home country for the States, if you want to budget properly and take advantage of lower costs by purchasing your travel tickets in advance. Try to use a combination of airplanes, trains, buses and automobiles to get the most out of your travels -- and your budget! Amtrak, for example, is the United States' primary passenger rail provider.
The Internet has made it easier than ever to gather information about your travel options. We also have combined some of the best student travel resources into our student travel center homepage where you can find great student airfares, hotels and much more.
Once you decide where you'll go and how you'll get there, consider your accommodations options. Perhaps the best option for student travelers is a youth hostel, where men and women sleep separately in dormitory-style rooms. Hostels cost less than most hotels, and provide the added opportunity to meet other travelers from around the world! For more information on hostels please see our international youth hostel section.
Like most places around the world, lodgings situated a few miles out from a U.S. city are generally less expensive than the ones in the heart of downtown. Compared to hotels, motels are typically less costly and located near main highways. Here a few sites of discounted hotel and motel chains, along with their toll-free telephone numbers you can use once you arrive in the States:
- Best Western International: 1-800-528-1234
- Econo Lodges: 1-800-424-6423
- Howard Johnson: 1-800-446-4656
- Red Roof Inns: 1-800-843-7663
- Super 8 Motels: 1-800-843-1991
- Travelodge International: 1-800-255-3050
A Bed and Breakfast is a private home with one or more rooms available to travelers. Overnight stays include a morning meal. B and B prices are generally more expensive than hostels or motels, but the glimpse into American home life may be worth the few extra dollars. One of the most comprehensive websites is http://www.bbonline.com
Use Your School's Resources
While making your travel plans, make sure to check out your school’s Office of International Studies website. Most schools will offer information concerning travel arrangements in the immediate area, such as nearby airports, shuttle/taxi services, and temporary housing options. If you’re having trouble finding information on your school’s site, contact the office directly to see if they have recommendations for international students traveling to the US.