How to Spend Three Months in America Part One: East Coast

23 June 2017

Summer’s officially here, and if you’re planning on spending your school break or hard-earned vacation time on a trip to the US, there’s plenty to keep you occupied! In fact, you could easily spend a full three months exploring the diverse people, places, and cultures that make up this vast country. So how do you make sure that you get to tick all the right boxes – see the big sights while also getting to go off the beaten path to discover the “real” America?

Since we at HI USA know a bit about budget travel and eye-opening adventures, we thought we’d help you plan a slow travel trip with stops at HI USA hostels and awesome must-dos. Take a look at the first month’s itinerary tackling the East Coast, and don’t forget to check back in for the rest of the tour!


HI New York City

Why go: See the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, or a show on Broadway, and experience the buzz of the city that never sleeps.
How long should I stay: 3-5 days depending on your Big Apple bucket list.
Do I need a car: Nope. New York City has a pretty efficient public transport system that can get you to the big sights and beyond.
Must do: Everyone who goes on Jerry’s Grand Tour offered at the hostel raves about the knowledgeable guide and experience of walking around New York’s boroughs with a local.

HI Boston

Why go: As one of the oldest cities in the U.S., Boston has a wealth of history showcased in excellent museums and monuments, plus it’s a bustling metropolis with good food and culture.
How long should I stay: 2-3 days
Do I need a car: You can walk or use the T, which also runs outside the city to places like Cambridge, where HI Boston leads its famous “Unofficial” tour of Harvard University.
Must do: Get your fill of lobster, which is possible even on a budget.

Beautiful scenery in Martha
Beautiful scenery in Martha’s Vineyard

HI Martha’s Vineyard

Why go: Epic beaches, cute New England architecture, and all the lobster rolls you can eat.
How long should I stay: 2 days
Do I need a car: Getting around the island from the hostel is easy – there’s a bus stop right out front and a bike path in back.
Must do: Unplug and unwind on the beach, catch the ferry to Hyannis and spend the night at HI Hyannis to see more of the Cape.

HI White River Junction (Hartford, Vermont)

Why go: Get a taste of historic, small town America and explore the vibrant local art scene.
How long should I stay: A day or 2 to allow yourself to unwind and unplug in the small town.
Do I need a car: The hostel is close to the Amtrak station and you can explore White River Junction by foot.
Must do: Check out the impressive collection of cartoons at The Schultz Library at The Center for Cartoon Studies.

HI Richmond

Why go: Southern charm, endless history, and easy access to the great outdoors.
How long should I stay: 2 days
Do I need a car: Richmond is fairly spread out and a car can be convenient, but you can also get around the bustling downtown, which has plenty to offer, without a car.
Must do: Rent a bicycle and explore the East Coast Greenway and the James River.

Checking in at HI Washington DC
Checking in at HI Washington DC

HI Washington DC

Why go: Incredible architecture, international cuisine, and some of the best museums in the country.
How long should I stay: 2-3 days
Do I need a car: You can get around pretty easily by foot or bike and there’s also a good metro system.
Must do: Bring good walking shoes and set aside a full day to just check out the National Mall. For your second day, ask the friendly front desk folk for their off-the-beaten-path recommendations.

HI Baltimore

Why go: Visit the old stomping grounds of Edgar Allen Poe and Billie Holiday, scope out the historic boats, eat a lot of crab cakes with Old Bay Seasoning.
How long should I stay: 2-3 days
Do I need a car: There’s pretty good public transport in Baltimore, and it will get you all the way to Washington DC too.
Must do: Catch a baseball game or one of Baltimore’s quirky festivals, make new friends during the hostel’s walking tours or at DIY taco night!

A sunset in Baltimore
A sunset in Baltimore


Many cities in the East Coast are easily accessible by train, which is perfect for budget travelers and is a much better way to see the country than a plane. You’ll also be spared the hassle of renting and driving a car. There’s also the option to go with Bolt Bus or Megabus, which both make it really easy and cheap to travel between Washington DC, Boston and New York City. Visit the Amtrak and bus websites for routes and schedules.


Ready for more? Check back for the next leg in the Southeast and Midwest with stops in Chicago, Illinois and Austin, Texas.


No matter what season you are planning your trip for, remember to pack for all four as climates can vary across the country. Lastly, remember to just enjoy you travels and go with the flow – plans change, road friends come and go, and sometimes you’ll want to stay longer than you thought.

Take a look at our Green Footprints series to see how you can travel responsibly, and share you travel snaps with us on Facebook and Instagram!