3 things to consider for After Camp Travel.

Here are three things to think about when travelling after your 9 weeks at camp. Whilst adapting to the American way of living, you might as well go and visit the further corners of the states and its cities. Besides, it's not everyday that you're on that side of the pond, so make the most of it! Whether it's jumping from state to state and crossing off the major cities or hiking across the beautiful national parks with just your backpack. No matter if you consider yourself a light packer, you will no doubt conglomerate a treasure trunk of souvenirs across your journey. Here are top three fundamental factors to consider on your travels.

1) Group size 

The days leading up to the end of summer are sad but exciting. You have to say goodbye to all the wonderful people you’ve met throughout your camp adventure but it’s also a countdown to the start of your second chapter. The first question you’ll ask yourself will be “who am I travelling with?”. Group size is a major factor. On one hand, a big group will save you money on travel as well as accommodation (only if you manage to find a good airbnb).
However, on the other hand, it is likely that everyone would want to do something different and gathering back at the house will become a bit tricky with timings. Who will hang on to the house keys for the 7 bedroom villa? There are also a lot of people to satisfy and half the group might want to stay out till 3 in the morning and the others might plan a night-in watching movies.
Even basic things will become a bit more long winded if you have a complex group of people. I’ve seen some sour faces being made from even the most simple of disputes like “Who will get what room” (does it even matter)? On paper travelling in a large group (5+ people) sounds like a great idea and don’t get me wrong, with the right group of people you’ll make memories for life.

Smaller groups are a lot more manageable and you’ll make decisions quicker and come to compromises almost instantly. You’ll only need to call a single uber instead of 3 and housing will be so much easier to find. Where are you going to find accommodation for 11 people anyways? In essence smaller groups give you more freedom in what you do. However, in my opinion it’s best to keep your plans flexible and travel in pods of groups. Instead of travelling as a 12 man unit, it’s worth splitting it into 2 6’s or even 3 4’s and finding a place relatively close to each other. In summary, big groups make travel a lot more of a shared experience and can save  you money in the long run but travelling in a smaller group decisions are made quicker and it’s less hassle with accommodation and transport. The quote “If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together” (Martha Goedert) has never been truer.

2) Don’t limit yourself to America 

The second question you will ask yourself is “where am I going?”. This brings me onto the second point which is that you don’t have to limit yourself to just America. After camp, the West side of the globe becomes your playground! You can head up north into Canada where there is no language barrier or maybe decide to bathe in the sun for a few more weeks and travel south to Latin America. There are so many amazing places to go and visit and being this spoiled for choice can make you feel a bit overwhelmed. Don’t worry, the plan will craft itself as you meet more people and hear their travel plans and ideas. You have 30 days in the States but that condition is limited to ONLY the USA.

 Remember once you cross the American border your J1 visa is not valid anymore. Your 30 days have just turned to 0 and you can not go back into America on your visa. You can however, travel back in to catch your returning flight or travel touristically but will have to buy an ESTA first (about $12). This is essentially an automatic electronic check that determines if you are eligible to pass through the US. The Esta is very important when travelling back in as travellers without it are at risk of being detained and even being sent “back home” (no idea what that means).

Alternatively, you can always fly home from outside the US. You can change your flight if you already have your return ticket booked (depending which airline) and It might even end up cheaper! When you cross the US border to latin America, on a European passport you can stay there for up to 180 days without a visa – Which is double as long as being in camp!

Honestly there are so many options that if you want to ditch Europe and start a life in Mexico, please be my guest!

3) Baggage size

Lugging a suitcase around the city can be a painful experience, especially when you’re jumping from taxi, to bus, to metro. But what else are you going to do with it? Baggage size is also an important factor to consider when hopping around the country and it all depends on the kind of travel you are planning to do. Consider how much stuff you are taking and for how long will you be away for? Are you going to travel back through your camp or through a town you started in? Maybe you decide to repack and leave your heavy suitcase in a storage space or with a local American counsellor that you met at camp. This is definitely a big help because it makes it so much easier to take public transport and even flight across the country. They might be kind enough to host you for a few days. Whatever you do… Don’t forget your luggage for your return flight!

Most major cities have storage spaces that will securely keep your luggage over a week or so and it might even be cheaper than paying for checked in baggage. How will you travel? New York to Chicago is not exactly a two-hour drive so will you take the train or maybe a flight is slightly more convenient?

The top tip for luggage is definitely travel with a hiking bag that you can ideally travel with everything you own and travel light. Second best scenario is rubbing shoulders with an American councillor that is more than happy to hang onto your huge suitcase that weighs the same as a small child. It will save you so much hassle!

Well there you have it! 3 things. 3 things to think about. Or maybe not? Regardless of what you do, you cannot predict what kind of plan you will craft over the summer so it’s best to keep an open mind and a flexible schedule. It’s also hard to say what kind of person you will become after camp. Maybe you are nervous with the journey to camp but will become a crazy travelling guru after a taste of freedom and independence on the road? I know I did! That’s how I ended up travelling to Mexico (but that’s for another blog 😉 ) There is no perfect way to travel after camp, but one thing is for certain, you will look like a mug if you forget your suitcase in the storage space at JFK airport.

Good luck and have fun!




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