One of the greatest things about working at summer camp, besides the awesomeness of actually being at camp for 9 weeks of your summer, is that your J1 visa allows you up to 30 days of travel after you leave camp.
But America is a very big place and it can be very difficult to decide where you want to go, let alone what order you want to visit those places in or even how you’re going to travel.
So I’m here to help! I’ve worked at summer camp for 4 consecutive summers now (and am about to go out there for a 5th), and over the years I’ve done my fair share of travelling, both before and after camp. In my opinion, the best way to start planning your post-camp travels is to first decide what kind of trip you want to take. Are you going solo or with a group of friends? Do you want to plan it all yourself or jump on a tour like the ones Trek America do? Are you going to fly, use the famous Greyhound buses or go on a famed American Road Trip?
Once you’ve decided those things, you’re well on your way to the trip of a lifetime… but where are you going to go?
In my experience, if your camp is on the East coast, most of your new camp counselor friends will be doing a classic trip visiting cities such as New York, Boston, Washington DC, Chicago, Miami, perhaps New Orleans and maybe even Toronto and Niagara Falls if a little jaunt across the border appeals. I did a similar trip after my first summer at camp back in 2011 and it was an few 3 weeks!
However, depending on how long it is before you fly back home after camp, you might want to head to the West Coast too, with San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon being heaps popular destinations for people travelling after camp.
The USA has so many fantastic cities and sight-seeing opportunities across the whole country and if you work out who you want to go with, and how you want to do it, travelling post camp can be an adventure of a lifetime. So what do you need to do now to get the ball rolling?
Step 1: Who are you going to travel with?
Do you have friends from home coming out to meet you after camp? Do you want to travel on your own so you get to do exactly what you want? Or are you going to wait until you get to camp and plan things with your new friends (this is what I’d personally recommend…everyone is going to be going travelling and it’s always fun to plan and travel together!)
Step 2: How do you want to travel?
Have you always been dreaming of a road trip across the States? Me too. So you need to find out how much car rental is going to be, or do you already know someone in America who has a car and wants to travel with you? Or have you got a little less time so you’re going to need to fly everywhere? If that’s the case, it’s best to book flights as early as possible to get the best prices. Or if you’re short on cash but aren’t in a hurry, I’d suggest travelling by bus (either Greyhound or Megabus) but places that aren’t too far away from each other. Yes you might have to sit on a bus for 11 hours, but it won’t cost you more than $20! Another option is to book yourself onto a group tour with a company such as Trek America or Intrepid Travel, and let someone else do all the planning for you!
Step 3: Where are you going to go?
East coast or West coast, that is the question. Do you just want to take in the classic sights of cities such as New York and Boston, or do you desire something a little further afield and off the beaten path?
Step 4: Book your travels!
Shop around to get the best deals. Check out the tour companies to see if there are any sales going on, and get yourself onto Skyscanner or Kayak to scout out all the best flight prices. And as for accommodation, I’d recommend hostelbookers or Airbnb – these are the two sites I usually use.
Step 5: Enjoy every minute. No explanation needed!