Get There & Get Around
Use public transit whenever you can, and walk or bike as much as possible. Choose a place to live that’s within walking or biking distance of your job and shopping, and you can eliminate almost all of your daily transportation costs. Plus, you will get more exercise and meet more people.
Depending on where you are, there may be subways, commuter rail, or buses. Fares are affordable and you may get student discounts or be able to get multi-ride passes. Most local bus lines accept cash (exact change), or you may be able to buy a multi-trip pass before you board. Your employer or co-workers can tell you about the local system, and you can find routes and schedules online.
You can travel between cities by bus, rail, or airplane.
Bus companies are privately run and stop at terminals in towns and cities. America has an excellent nationwide highway system, so bus service is reliable. Greyhound is the major nationwide bus company in the United States, serving more than 2,000 destinations. They offer weekly and monthly passes, allowing unlimited travel, and student discounts are available.
Long-distance train travel throughout the United States is by Amtrak, with highspeed trains in a few areas. You can get an international visitor pass good for up to 30 days. Student discounts are also available.
The United States has thousands of airports and every part of the country is served by airlines. Airlines operate just as they do all over the world. Book early to get the best fares. Here are some of the most commonly used sites:
A bicycle is a great way to get around. It is easy to find an inexpensive used bicycle at a yard sale, through online classifieds, or at a bicycle shop. Make sure that you purchase a bicycle helmet and lock, and keep your bicycle in proper working condition.
In America, bicyclists are considered vehicle operators and are required to follow and obey traffic laws, including stop signs and right of way.
Using a bicycle as a means of transit is less common in the United States than in many parts of the world, even in the most congested cities. Because of this, American motorists are not as accustomed to sharing the road as they may be in your home country.
Some safety tips
- Wear a bicycle helmet
- Wear brightly colored clothing
- Install reflectors and lights on the front and back of the bicycle, and always use lights at night
- Ride with the flow of traffic
- Bike along the road where cars will see you, not on sidewalks
- Use hand signals so others can anticipate your action
- Check your tires, brakes, and gears before each use
For additional information on bicycle safety, proper hand signals, and more, visit BicycleSafe.com.
CIEE suggests that students do not drive because of the high cost and the need for insurance, but you may have to rent a car if public transportation is not available in your area. Note that most agencies will not rent a car to anyone under 25 years old and you must have a valid driver’s license. Some car rental companies also require an international permit.
Some states allow you to drive with an international driving license, however other states do not, and this can result in a ticket or arrest if you are pulled over for a traffic violation. CIEE needs to be notified of any interaction with police, including traffic violations.
Every state in the United States requires auto insurance that provides medical and liability coverage, whether you rent or own a car.
- Buy more than the minimum for both medical and liability. It is more expensive, but the coverage is necessary if you are involved in an accident.
- Rental companies offer a Collision Damage Waiver, or CDW. Purchase this insurance to cover damages if you are in an accident.
- CIEE does not offer auto insurance.
- If you get into an accident, stop. When it is safe to do so, get out and check to make sure no one is hurt. Call the police. Exchange insurance information with the other driver, call your insurance company and contact CIEE when you have the opportunity. It is a crime to leave the scene of a multi-vehicle accident without doing this.
Every year, many thousands of people are seriously injured or killed in road accidents.
Keep safe with these guidelines:
- Wear your seatbelt at all times. It is the law, and it can save your life.
- Follow the rules and speed limits posted on the road. Go to your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles website to learn about U.S. road signs.
- NEVER drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The legal limit for alcohol is very low, and even one or two drinks can put you over it.
- Do not drive when you are sleepy. If you find yourself losing concentration, stop and take a nap.
- Do not use your cell phone while driving. Use of hand-held cell phones is illegal in most places. Even if you have a hands-free device, talking on the phone is a distraction.
- Never text while driving.