I’ve had a few questions about travelling in America after the Disney International College Program so thought I would make a post to address some of these. On the J-1 Visa you will have 30 days after you’re finish date to travel around America. This gives plenty of time to hit lots of different places! I’m not going to lie, it can be expensive so have some money set aside for it. Of course you will be getting paid while working for Disney to make sure to save some spending money. I will talk about costs in abit though!
Firstly I want to talk about travel buddies and deciding where to visit. Some people decide who to travel with very early on. I already had my travel group sorted by the end of November (we found out we got onto the program on the 2nd). I was lucky that two of the girls I met at interviews, Becky and Jennifer were interested in travelling to the same places as me, so we made a separate conversation/chat on facebook for it. I believe we also asked on the general facebook group for another person to travel with, to which Rachel then joined our little party. We discussed places we wanted to visit and had a look on the internet for good deals on flights and accommodation. Rachel organized a lot of the itinerary around the number of days we all agreed to stay in each place. One thing I would recommend is travel in a four. Alot of hotel rooms in America charge per room, and most rooms have 2 double beds, so it will work out cheaper. Don’t worry if you haven't found anybody yet though or still haven't decided what to do. Booking a flexible flight back from the US is the best plan of action as you can change it then if your plans change. Ask around in the Facebook group, but I would suggest having a plan beforehand. When in Florida you will still have a group of British friends, but everyone disperses to hang out with room-mates, work colleagues etc so it will be more difficult to find a travel buddy. I don’t think i ever actually hung out with Becky in Disney, and only really went out with Rachel twice! As we did already have everything booked and planned though, we didn't have to worry about it.
Next is the actual booking. We all agreed on flight times and days, booking the domestic through the Vrigin America website. Our homeward flight was booked as a return when choosing the initial flight to America, travelling home from JFK in New York. We also booked accommodation before going out there, staying at two hotels and one apartment. For the hotels, we booked through Booking.com and made sure to read reviews, find a great price and make sure we were in a good location. Now New York was different. Hotels in Manhattan are very expensive, so we took another route and booked an apartment through Air B&B. We spent alot less than we would have staying in a hotel and got to experience a different side of New York. I could almost imagine that I lived there… almost haha!
Finally, I’m going to talk about costs. My two Virgin America flights cost $337.80 while the Vrigin Atlantic flight was £583.37 return, I’m counting that as separate though as that was needed anyway. For LA, staying at Quality Inn Near Hollywood Walk of Fame for 5 nights, it was $655 (tax not included) split between the four of us. Our hotel in Anaheim was a Travelodge at $267 (tax not included) for 3 nights, split between the four of us. The costs were paid upon arrival, so it would be easy enough to save some wages up for them. The apartment on the other hand, we had to pay upfront. It worked out at £186.50 each for 6 nights. All together It worked out at just over £500 each for the trip (aka accommodation and flights), not including food, Disneyland park tickets, the New York pass and the 3 nights we spent at a Disney resort before starting our adventure. I personally took £700 with me for spend on a FairFX card plus whatever was left from my Disney wages. I did end up adding another £100 - £200 to the FairFX card (cant remember exactly how much) while I was travelling and did get paid a final Disney pay check of $200 also. It is expensive, but completely worth it as I probably wont get another chance to visit these places for a long long time. I got a job in my third year purely to save for Disney and travelling. I worked hard and worked lots of hours at Disney to be able to afford what i spend on merchandise and travel. It was the best experience of my life and worth every penny. Besides, how much does a 2 week trip to Disney World normally cost?
I hope this gave you a little insight to travelling after your Disney ICP and if you have any more questions please feel free to comment or tweet me (@hippymeow)! I also realised I didnt actually post about my time in LA, Disneyland and NY, so expect to see some photo diaries coming up!