Our Top 5 Steps to Help You Get the Most out of Travelling America
It's a well known fact that after camp you get to travel for up to 30 days. But with 50 states and thousands of options, planning your post camp travels can be tough.
We've spoken to our team of experts to help you plan and make the most of your after camp trip.
Our Camp Leaders team have created 5 questions that you should answer when planning your travel.
1. What is your budget?
Budgeting can be tricky and is often the question that every one of your friends will ask when you pitch your amazing and detailed plan is “but how much is this going to cost me?”
In truth, every trip is different and you are in full control when it comes to setting the budget. You can live off a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter & jelly for about $2 if you have to. Or you can eat out at fancy restaurants each night - the ball is in your court!
Our biggest piece of advice is to be realistic and honest with yourself. Take into consideration everything that you want to do, and set a strict daily budget. The worst thing you can do is spend way too much on day 1 and be forced to live off cereal and miss out on cool activities for the rest of your trip.
Have a little bit of cash saved as an emergency fund, so if you do accidentally go over or something comes up that you don't want to miss out on, it’s not the end of the world.
Travel without breaking the bank.
2. Where do you want to go?
It all begins with the final destination.
Ask yourself the simple question - where do you want to go? Working backwards or with the goal in sight is a great place to begin. We suggest sitting down with a scrap of paper and making your own location bucket list. If you're travelling with camp friends, get them to do it too and you'll soon have a variety of destinations.
The next step is have look them up on the map. Can you make an imaginary line between the destinations - do they have a natural order? Remember though, sometimes the most logical route on the map might not be the most cost effective.
3. How are you going to get there?
There are loads of ways to get from A to B in the States. Ultimately, planning transport is a balancing act between cost and time. Booking on a 24 hour bus ride to save $10 may not be the best decision once you’re cramped and bored only 5 hours in. Balance up your options and make decisions as a group. Remember, booking in advance will usually save you money, so get organised and get planning! There are 3 different modes of transport we'd recommend in the US.
Travelling by bus or coach is often the cheapest way to travel. If you book in advance, some fares can be as little as $5. It certainly isn’t the most glamorous form of transport and the words ‘Greyhound bus’ are rarely followed by glowing reviews, but buses are cheap and cheerful usually bring about a good story. In a lot of countries, trains are great for shorter journeys, but the rail network in the USA isn't very reliable and most places don’t have a rail network.
We'd recommend buses for shorter trips (short in the US being under 5 hours). They can be a little uncomfortable and are often delayed, so bare this in mind when planning your trip. Websites we'd recommend are:
If your destination is anything over a 5 hour drive, then it may be time to fly. Internal flights in the US are among some of the best ways to travel and are often cheap when booked in advance. Remember, the US is absolutely massive. To give a little perspective, a direct flight from New York to Los Angeles takes 6 hours! When looking for good air fares, check out comparison websites:
Make sure you double check the flight times, whether or not there is a layover and read the small print. Most domestic flights won't include baggage so be sure to book on your luggage too (and account for this in your budget).
We all love the idea of a great American roadtrip. Renting a car is great in a group, gas is cheap and you have the freedom to move to your own schedule. Car comparison websites are great for scouting the top deals. You also get up to 38% off Alamo bookings with Camp Leaders. Things to be aware of when renting a car:
- If you opt for a one way rental & don’t drop the car off at the starting point you'll have to pay the return fee, which can be up to $300.
- Some rental companies will say that all parts of the added insurance package are compulsory but often this isn't the case. Always question any insurance policies that are added to your bill.
- Make sure that your daily mileage is unlimited if you are travelling far or through different states.
- If you are under 25 you will be charged an additional ‘under-age driver’ fee for every day of rental.
4. Where will you stay?
This decision often depends on how far into your trip you are, what your budget is and what kind of experience you want to have. Location can often be overlooked, so do your research and make sure you're in an area that suits your group. You'll want to consider the safety of the area, other people's reviews, how close you are to things you want to do or the distance to public transport. Here are our top 3 suggestions when it comes to booking accommodation in the States.
When travelling in a group, Airbnb is a great way to find somewhere that fits in your budget. In America there is a huge Airbnb community, so you’ll have loads of choice and can choose to rent out just a room or a whole appartment. Renting an entire place can also help to save on buying food, as you can cook as a group and have family style meals.
Hostels are a great way to meet people, make friends and take advantage of local recommendations. Hostels are all about bringing value to your trip. They’ll recommend everything from bike rentals to places to eat and even segway tours. If you want to do it, hostels will have the info. When booking hostels, you often only pay a small percentage at the time of booking. So when you're planning your trip, get your reservation in early as popular hostels can book up fast (especially during this peak time of year)! You can request mixed or single-sex dorms, depending on your group and often larger groups will be put in one big room.
With Camp Leaders, you get exclusive 10% discount on stays at Hostelling International. Hostels are a great way to stay in central locations on a budget, so it's quite common to bump into other big groups from different camps doing their after camp travel.
You can get some absolutely amazing deals on hotel rooms, and after sleeping in a cabin all summer, hotel room luxury is a whole new level. Depending on the city, a hotel may be a better option. If there are a few of you and everyone is happy to share, it can actually work out cheaper. Have a look online for deals and offers. If you are planning your trip at last minute, there are always great savings on last minute rooms. Top tip: many hotels have a free cancellation policy, so when planning go for it! If your plans change then there's no harm done.
5. What activities do you want to do?
There are so many bucket list opportunities in the States. From visiting the Empire State Building, to eating a Philly cheesesteak in Philadelphia, the list is endless. Once you've organised your route, travel & accommodation, it's time for the fun part - deciding what activities you're going to do. Remember that there are so many free things to do in the places that you'll visit in America. Keep your budget at the forefront of your mind, but make sure you go out and experience each place.
A great idea is to get everyone in your group to write down the things they want to do in each place. Then divide your own lists into 'must sees' and 'would like to sees'. Together you can decide what activities you can do as a big group, and what things are better for smaller groups to go off and do (based on individual budgets). Our biggest advice would be to do everything you listed as a 'must see' on your initial list!
And there you have it!, our 5 steps to help you plan the perfect after camp trip. We want to see all of the incredible things you do this summer, so make sure you tag us in your travel pics on instagram: @campleadersofficial.