Getting Around: A Guide to Transportation in the U.S.
One of the difficulties of traveling to the United States is that getting around once you’re there can be confusing. There are several different types of transportation that are used, and every city is different. Some major cities have excellent subways and trains, while others have extensive bicycle paths. Other cities rely more on personal vehicles and buses. Before you go, it is helpful to know about the different types of transportation in the U.S. that you may encounter. Here are a few of the most common.
The United States is one of the few countries in the world that is mainly dependent on cars. It can be very difficult to get around without driving or taking a taxi, even in major cities. However, there are a few things to know before driving off into the sunset:
Renting a Car: Do your research before you go. Different rental companies require different documentation. If you are at least 25 and have a valid driver’s license written in English, it should be fairly easy to rent a car. If not, then consider purchasing an international license before traveling abroad.
Using a Taxi/Cab: Some cities in the U.S. call it a taxi, some a cab, but it means the same thing. Taxis are convenient ways to travel in big cities, but usually it is too expensive to take them city-to-city. When you use a cab, sit in the backseat unless there are enough passengers to fill the car. Tell the driver where you would like to go, and once you reach your destination, be sure to tip the driver a few dollars. If you do use the taxi for a longer trip, tip about 10-15% of the total fee.
Buses: There are two types of buses in the U.S.: buses to travel within a city and buses to travel to a city. Most cities have their own bus systems that you can purchase multi-day bus passes for if you are planning on staying for a few days. If you want to use a bus to travel from city to city, there are also a few bus companies, like Greyhound, that are usually inexpensive. You can also look into bus companies like Megabus and Bolt Bus that offer very low fares if you book far in advance.
Trains: Many countries have elaborate rail systems, but people in the U.S. do not use trains very often. There are a few services that run throughout the country connecting cities by train, but not every city in the U.S. has a station or rail access. The cities that do have rail systems are mostly the bigger ones. If you are looking for a city with a train or subway mass transit service, then you should consider traveling to one of these cities:
- New York City, New York
- Washington, D.C.
- Chicago, Illinois
- Boston, Massachusetts
- San Francisco, California
City-to-City Train Services: If you want to see the U.S. through a train window, you can reach almost every major city by train. This is a great option if you want to see a lot of the country inexpensively. Trains are typically cheaper than other forms of transportation, although they can take a long time, so be sure that you consider this in your schedule.
Although some people think that bicycles are outdated and inefficient, many Americans are embracing this form of transportation. In fact, cities have started an effort to create bike lanes on streets and through parks.
If you want to see a city the way the locals do, or if you are looking for a healthy alternative in fresh air, then you might consider traveling to a bike-friendly city.
If you are worried about transporting your own bicycle, don’t worry! There many kiosks in major cities that allow you to rent a bike for an hour, afternoon, or an entire day. This frees you from the hassle of traveling with a bike.
Some of the best cities for biking in the U.S. are:
- Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Portland, Oregon
- Boulder, Colorado
- Seattle, Washington
- Eugene, Oregon
- San Francisco, California
However you choose to travel, the United States offers many different options for your convenience. Be sure to do your research before reaching your destination so you know which kind of transportation is best for your trip. No matter what you choose to use, remember to have fun exploring!
This blog post is intended as an informational tool. This blog is not an endorsement of the companies or products mentioned.