Before you graduate college you should probably know…

Kelly Skahan

Living on or near campus is both a blessing and a curse. You’re never far from someone who will let you borrow clear nail polish, but you also can’t be sure you won’t bump into the kid you blew off at a party last weekend. Plainly put, it’s pretty easy to see people whether you want to see them or not.

However, once classes wrap up and the last diploma has been handed out, things change. Friends scatter to cities around the country, and visits become less and less frequent as the months go by, leading to a weakening of relationships most of us thought would last forever. While leaving home after high school prompted a similar phenomenon, graduation from college doesn’t come with a guaranteed reunion every Christmas and summer. Instead, you’re going to have to do a little footwork.

The most important thing to remember is not to take visits (or lack thereof) personally. Your friends will have commitments, relationships and new jobs they can’t necessarily neglect on a moment’s notice. If they can’t make it into town at the same time for a mini-reunion, don’t hold it against them; they’re probably just as broken up about it as you are. That said, there are several ways to make travel easier up and down the coast and even across the country to help keep those relationships going without breaking the bank.

The easiest way to make visits work is to understand the beauty of crashing on couches. Hotels will inevitably up the ante on your weekend trip by several hundred dollars, and it’s unlikely you’d spend much time in your room anyway, so check with your friend to see if their living room is fair game and save your money for tours and restaurants.

By far the most underappreciated means of transportation on the East Coast is the Greyhound Bus. With routes nearly identical to those of AMTRAK, Greyhound has tickets that are significantly cheaper and has similar travel times. For a roundtrip weekend trip from Philly to New York, recent prices on the train started at $90 and took about 90 minutes each way, while Greyhound offered a $24 round-trip pass with a ride time of about two hours each way.

In addition, ordering tickets online three days in advance of your departure gives you an automatic discount, so even a last-minute visit for the weekend is easy to manage if you book your trip by Wednesday. Routes head to various stops on the way to Boston and all the way down the coast to Miami.

For those aiming to visit friends on the West Coast, prices are a little steeper. The cost of fuel almost certainly rules out the classic American road trip for recent grads hurting for cash, and a trip via train can run you over $500 from Philly to L.A., so it’s best to take to the skies when visiting the Pacific.

While most travelers want to skip out on long delays at the airport, skipping out on a direct flight and booking a ticket with a layover can save hundreds of dollars. For a flight from Philadelphia to Los Angeles, roundtrip tickets on a direct flight started at $485, while a stop in Houston dropped the price to a more-manageable $198.