A bulky suitcase, no access to Google Maps, or accommodations that look nothing like the pictures, can make your travel in the U.S. (or anywhere!) very frustrating. I’ve prepared a few hacks that may help make your life easier! Enjoy and bon voyage!
Roll your clothes.
Traveling with lots of clothes and a suitcase that barely closes is very frustrating. Roll your clothes to save space and to locate your outfits faster.
Email a copy of your passport, vaccine card, and important documents to yourself.
You never know what you might need if you lose your passport or an important document. Having copies is going to make it much easier to get it replaced.
Check the Google Map street view and take a screenshot of the destination where you’re staying.
Google the address of the place you’re staying to assess its proximity to the airport, the closest public transportation options, and sightseeing locations. And then switch to the street view mode to get the feel of the place, the local area, and what you might experience staying there.
Download Google Maps offline.
Save maps or areas you’re going to visit for later use as “offline areas.” If your Internet connection is slow or absent, Google Maps will use your offline maps to give you directions.
Know when to take a plane vs. a train vs. a bus.
The U.S. is very large and the travel distances can be very lengthy. For shorter trips (e.g. NYC - Washington, D.C.), taking a bus is the most economical. You may also be able to get affordable train tickets but those need to be booked way in advance. Always do a quick search and check if booking a domestic flight is a cheaper (and faster!) option.
Download your own entertainment.
Some domestic flights in the U.S. may not offer in-flight entertainment, and the wi-fi signal on the bus or a train may be very unreliable. If you have shows, movies, or books that you like, download them all in advance to have your own entertainment options.
Never pay for water at the airport.
Always carry an empty water bottle with you and save money by refilling it. When you’re taking domestic flights in the U.S., you can fill it up after you pass through the security check.
Rent a car like a pro.
If you’re planning on renting a car in the U.S., try setting your car pick up and drop off locations at a local airport if you can. This choice will usually give you the cheapest rates.
Save money with with InterExchange discounts.
Travel costs add up fast! Save some money on hostel accommodations and sightseeing in major U.S. cities by using our special discounts.
Have a travel journal.
Visiting a ton of new locations in a short period of time means lots of new impressions, activities, and acquaintances. Write down 3-5 most interesting things that stood out to you the most at the end of each day. This little trick will help your memories stay with you longer :)
An international exchange alumna originally from Ukraine, Tanya started her career at InterExchange in 2011. Tanya is passionate about travel and cultural exchange and enjoys meeting J-1 exchange participants at InterExchange events.