Here are your options for moving around: car, taxi, bus, train, subway, shuttles, train, plane. Below you can read little more information and my opinion about every option.
Do you international driving license or friends who have? Yes, great. Especially in smaller cities car is essential because the public transportation might be hard to find or there might not be mass transport at all.
In States accepted drivers licenSes vary. In some States you can drive with your home country’s license but some require you to get either international driving license or American one (if you move permanently you have to get American one in some point so I recommend you to get it straight away when you arrive)
Using a car is very cheap in States, gas is almost free and streets are good and quite save because you really have to follow the rules. In New York I wouldn’t want to drive but all smaller cities and highways between them are fine. Rules are about same than in Europe and about all cars are automatic so it’s pretty easy to drive here.
If you don’t have a car you can rent one in every intermediate or big cities. Renting is cheap option if there are many of you but renting it yourself is quite expensive. In States there is basic rental fee, tax and some additional fees if you’re young (18-21) or want some extra things like better insurance or navigating system.
Great way to go around, usually free of charge. Many shopping centers, bars and some other attractions that are not in center have own shuttle busses that you either can call or just hop in from subway stop, bus station, etc.
What comes to student exchange, summer job programs, etc I recommend you to ask for a ride or shuttle. Those might either be free or cost little amount of money. However they are usually cheaper than other ways to move around.
- SUBWAY (in big cities like Chicago and NYC)
Good idea when traveling short distances, especially if you have do that a lot. Subway systems usually work well and are quite safety at least on daytime or if traveling in a group.
Subway prices for single ticket might be quite expensive because you have to buy a metro card, however they are cheaper than taxi. For example subway from JFK to Manhattan was 7,5+1$ (costs one extra dollar when buying with cash) whereas taxi would have been around 60$. It was quite difficult to go to subway with suitcase but saving 50$ was in my opinion worth of that. Getting into NYC metro is all about technique and training. 😉 If you travel a lot buy a metro card! It’s cheaper in long run.
Fast way to move around especially when the distance is hundreds of miles of more. In States national and international flights are very popular and there are flights leaving about every minute. So it’s quite easy to find one that fit’s your schedule. Planes are sometimes expensive but you can always find good deals. Additionally, if you fly I a lot you can take part of aircrafts membership programs to save money while flying and staying in airports. LEARN MORE ABOUT HOW TO FIND CHEAP OR EVEN FREE FLYIGHTS HERE! (Click!)
Easy and safe. Taxis are little cheaper here than in Europe. The price depends on city. You can find taxi fare calculators for big cities via internet in small towns they usually have good special discounts for students, just remember to ask for them if you’re student. 😉
In my opinion using taxi is a good idea when you’ve been out late or you’re going to some place where it would be hard to find public transportation or walk. When you’re alone it’s good idea to take a taxi because of security issues and it’s easy and as a group even cheap way to travel around.
In States busses are usually used by poorer people but there are also young people and tourists. I have traveled with Megabus and van Gaulder. They both are corporations that operate with longer destinations (like 50+ miles). I found both safety and comfy, they even have Wi-Fi connections.
Bus trips cost something from one dollar to hundreds. However they are usually a lot cheaper than flying or taxi, especially if you’re early bird with tickets. With Megabus the first tickets are always sold with one dollar! I found busses safety and good way to budget travel without a car. However busses are slower and they often stop in weird places to find. Like small gas stations in the middle of nowhere. Keep this in mind particularly when traveling in countryside. Google bus stop locations always before booking.
Slow, often late (especially the ones that drive thousands of miles). Cheap though. I haven’t tried because too many of my friends have negative experiences.