A lot of people go on road trips these days (I did!). But what if you’re not old enough to rent a car? Or you don’t have a drivers license? No worries. Read here the do’s and don’ts to travel through the USA without a car.
Do: Use public transport
When people think of public transport, they aren’t so positive about it. Well, I disagree. I use public transport my entire life and so did I use it in the USA. There are trains and busses almost everywhere around the country. Amtrak is the most well-known and also very comfortable public transport service. They are mostly known for their trains, but they also have busses. Go to the website of Amtrak and just plan your trip. Make sure there is a depot where you can buy your tickets. You can also buy your tickets online, but you have to make sure you can print it out.
Don’t: Just go with the flow
Most people like to go with the flow, but when it comes to public transport in the USA, I wouldn’t recommend it. Most trains only ride like two times a day or even less. Don’t just go to the station and see what train to get. You might get stuck there another day or you’re stuck there for hours because your train already left. Check the website of the public transport service first before you go.
Do: Ask for help
If you are at a place where you’ve never been before and you don’t know which way to go, just ask one of the employees there. They are always willing to help you. Once me and my friend were stuck at a little town because we were too stupid to ask where our bus would leave. We ended up being stuck at that little station for hours to wait for the next bus. If we just asked it, it would have saved us a lot of time and money. So don’t be afraid or shy to ask for help if you need to.
Don’t: Show up late
Well this isn’t that easy for everyone (take me for example), but it’s very important to show up on time. The most public transport services have a tight schedule and they won’t wait for you another five minutes. Show up like 20 minutes before the bus or train leaves. You are not the only one that’s using the train or bus. A lot of travelers, which means a lot of suitcases, have to get in the train as well. That takes time. So be there on time.
Prepare yourself that you will be spending a lot of time traveling. The USA is a huge country and it will sometimes take ten hours to bring you from one place to another. Make sure you get out on the right station and do some research on it. Ask the staff if you have any questions. Don’t hesitate on that, because it will save you a lot of time and stress if you don’t know which way to go or where to get out. Get prepared and you will be a lot more relaxed.
Don’t: Be an asshole
If you are rude to people or just being an asshole, the staff won’t help you with questions and will even kick you out of the train or the bus. Be polite and just sit down.
Don’t: Travel without the right papers
Don’t just get on the train without buying a ticket. Also always bring your passport. They ALWAYS check you to see if you have a ticket. Sometimes they check your passport, trust me on that. Don’t get on a train or bus without a ticket. You’ll get kicked out.
Do: Bring cash
In some trains, they have a little bar where you can buy drinks and snacks. I’m not sure if you can pay with a credit card, but just make sure you also have some cash money in your pocket. It always comes in handy. In busses you can’t get any change. So bring the right amount of cash money for the ticket. Make sure you have one dollar bills and some coins too. That’s especially needed for busses.
Don’t: Take a lift from a stranger
Don’t lift. Please. You’ve never seen horror movies? It’s dangerous and scary. Those extra dollars are worth the train (and your life!).
Do: Take a flight
If you have to go from New York to Los Angeles or from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, it’s better to take a plane. The flights are not that expensive and it saves you a lot of time.
Do: Have fun
I had a lot of fun during my travel through the USA. The traveling with public transport really made the trip special and different. Not a lot of people do that and I think you are missing out on the experience. It is really rewarding to know that you don’t need a car to get from one place to another. Also, the trains travel through mountains, and nearby beaches and nature. It’s a lot of fun to see that too and you can just relax and kick back.
So that’s it for the do’s and don’ts. I hope you will try it one day because it’s really worth it!