Travel and Arrival Information for New International Students

Dear New International Student:

With the summer nearly here and the school year not far off, no doubt you are already busy getting ready for your journey to Amherst College.  As you begin to make the necessary arrangements, I write to share some important information regarding travel, arrival, and orientation.  As a preliminary step, you’ll want to keep in mind the following important dates:

  • The orientation program for new students begins on Wednesday, August 26.
  • New international students are permitted, with prior notification and approval, to occupy their rooms as early as Monday, August 24, but no earlier.
  • Members of the International Student Association will be available to meet and transport new international students who arrive at Boston’s Logan Airport on Wednesday, August 26.  Students who arrive at Logan on other days should, instead, be prepared to travel independently from their arrival airport to Amherst.

Early Arrival Option:  All new students are expected to attend the orientation program beginning on Wednesday, August 26.  While U.S. students are not permitted to arrive any earlier than that day, international students traveling from abroad are invited to arrive as early as Monday, August 24, as well as Tuesday, August 25.  These extra days will allow the time needed to recover from jet lag and to reestablish your mental and physical bearings before being faced with the demands of a busy week of orientation activities.  International students who wish to exercise this early arrival option should submit the online form “Traveling Independently to Campus–Your Travel Plans,” including date and approximate time of arrival on campus by July 14.  This will ensure that your room can be made ready in advance and your keys made available for early pick-up. 

Air Travel:  If you travel directly to the United States from abroad, you will probably be able to choose from available flights with final destinations of John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, Logan International Airport in Boston, or Bradley International Airport in Hartford, Connecticut.  Which you select will depend on convenience, cost, and individual circumstances. 

Perhaps the most convenient option is to arrive at Boston’s Logan Airport on Wednesday, August 26.  On that day (and only that day), members of the International Student Association (ISA) will be traveling to Logan Airport to meet new international students and accompany them to Amherst College. [See Free Shuttle for International Students.]  Students who arrive at any other airport, or at Logan on any other day, should be prepared to travel independently to Amherst College. [See section below on Ground Transportation.] 

If arriving at Logan Airport on Wednesday, August 26, is not a viable option for you, you might consider purchasing an airline ticket with a final destination of Bradley International Airport, located in Windsor Locks, Connecticut and serving the Hartford, Connecticut, and western Massachusetts areas.  Despite its location in Connecticut, Bradley Airport is only 45 miles/80 km from Amherst, actually closer than either Boston’s Logan Airport (95 miles/160 km) or New York’s Kennedy Airport (145 miles/240 km).  Flying into Bradley may require you to schedule an additional connecting flight through one of the larger U.S. airports, and paying an additional fare.  Because non-U.S. ticket agents may be unaware of the existence of Bradley International Airport or may be confused by its location in Connecticut, rather than Massachusetts, it may be helpful to know that the airport’s identification code is BDL. 

ISA-Logan Airport Arrival Assistance:  On Wednesday, August 26, members of the International Students Association (ISA) will be available to meet new international students arriving at Boston’s Logan Airport, accompany them on our Free Shuttle for International Students to Amherst College, and assist them with moving into their dormitory rooms.  New international students who would like to participate in this service must complete the “Free Shuttle for International Students Sign-up form” and submit it electronically not later than August 13.  (In order to make use of this service you must choose a flight that arrives at Boston Logan between 7:30 a.m. and 7:45 p.m. Shuttles will depart at 12:30 p.m., 3:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.) Because passenger space in the vans is limited, requests for ISA-Logan Airport Arrival Assistance on August 26, will be honored in the order they are received.  You will receive a reservation confirmation at the email address you provide on the online reservation form. Please note that only those new students arriving at Boston’s Logan Airport on Wednesday, August 26 are eligible for this service.  All other students should instead be prepared to travel independently from airport to campus.   

Please note that the ISA airport service cannot accommodate parents or other companions of arriving students.  It is intended only for new students who are traveling unaccompanied.  For safety reasons, vans are quite small and have very limited seating or space for luggage.  Therefore, we cannot reserve seats for non-students.  Students traveling with a parent or other non-student companion should make arrangements for one of the alternative transportation methods.  Additionally, language assistants will be accommodated if space is available, but priority will be given to unaccompanied undergraduate students. 

Ground Transportation from Airports to Amherst

From Hartford’s Bradley International Airport (www.bradleyairport.com):

Valley Transporter:  A moderately priced and very convenient option is the Valley Transporter Airport Service (www.valleytransporter.com), which provides van shuttle transportation door-to-door from the airport terminal to your dormitory.  Reservations are required, must be prepaid by credit card (Visa or Mastercard) or secured by a Mastercard or Visa and paid using cash or travelers check, and should be made as far in advance as possible—three month notice is recommended, or at least one month prior to your desired date of transport.  You will need to provide your flight information at the time you make your reservation. For further information, Valley Transporter may be contacted by telephone at (413) 253-1350 or (800) 872-8752, Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. U.S. eastern standard time, and Saturday & Sunday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. U.S. Eastern Standard Time.  Reservations may also be made on-line through the above website.

Taxi or Limousine:  It is possible to travel from Bradley Airport by commercial taxi, readily available outside the airport terminal.  Before engaging a taxi, confirm the charge with the driver, as these are not mileage-metered trips. Other car/van services may be found at http://www.bradleyairport.com/Transportation.aspx. There is also an option of taking a taxi north to the bus station in Springfield, Massachusetts. At the station, one can connect to a Peter Pan bus traveling to Amherst. 

Bus:  Traveling from Hartford to Amherst by bus is possible, but difficult. 

Getting from Bradley Airport to Union Station via bus shuttles (Hartford’s Bus/Train Station): At Bradley International Airport, follow the signs for Ground Transportation to the lower levels of the airport.  The Connecticut Transit bus called the “Bradley Flyer” is available at the arrival gates of the “A,” “B” and international terminals only.  More information may be found at http://www.cttransit.com/routesschedules/bradleyflyer.asp. The “Flyer” runs once every hour.  When you board the bus, pay for your ticket and ask for a free “transfer ticket.”  Get off the bus at the last stop in downtown Hartford (stop name: “Old State House”).  At this point, you will be just four blocks from Union Station.  Cross the street and walk one block south to the nearest bus shelter (stop name: “Main Street at Travelers”) and catch the “A” or “E” city bus which run every 5-10 minutes.  Use your “transfer ticket” and take the bus one stop to “Asylum Hill.”  Union Station will be visible when you get off the bus at Asylum Hill.

Getting from Bradley Airport to Union Station via taxi: To get to Union Station more directly, without taking the aforementioned two buses, you may take a taxi from Bradley Airport.  When you arrive in Hartford’s Bradley Airport, follow signs to Ground Transportation to the Taxi Stand.  Ask for a taxi to Union Station (Hartford’s main bus/train terminal).  This trip will take approximately 20 minutes. 

Getting from Union Station, Hartford, to Amherst:  When you arrive at Union Station, purchase a Peter Pan Bus or Greyhound bus ticket (www.peterpanbus.com) to Amherst Center, Massachusetts at the Peter Pan/Greyhound bus counter.  One way tickets from Hartford to Amherst must be purchased at the ticket counter, not on the bus.  (Note: Amherst College recommends against using the online ticket purchasing option advertised on the Peter Pan bus website.)  Buses run frequently throughout the day.  Traveling from Hartford’s Union Station to Amherst by bus takes between two and three hours. You will change buses in Springfield, MA, which is easily accomplished (the driver will direct you). Whether you are riding in a Greyhound or Peter Pan bus, when you change buses, you will change to a Peter Pan bus.

Be certain that you get off the bus at the Amherst–Town Center stop, from which the Amherst College campus is a reasonably short walk. Do not get off the bus at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst stop (Amherst UMASS), which is an entirely different school.

From Boston’s Logan International Airport (www.massport.com/logan):

Valley Transporter:  The easiest transportation between Logan Airport and Amherst is the aforementioned Valley Transporter Airport Service (www.valleytransporter.com). The trip takes about two-and-one-half hours.  While this is a somewhat more expensive option than public transportation from Logan Airport, it is much more convenient and less burdensome for someone who has already traveled a long distance and may be carrying considerable luggage. [See earlier section for details on Valley Transporter.]

Bus:  Bus transportation from Logan Airport is a bit longer and less direct, but also less expensive.

Getting from Logan Airport to Boston’s South Station Bus Terminal:  You can take a taxi or a Peter Ban bus (http://www.peterpanbus.com).  Peter Pan Buses pick up passengers at Terminals A, B, C and E only.   International flights arrive in terminal “E”.  Domestic flights arrive at terminals “A”, “B”, “C”, and “D”.  For specific details on where Peter Pan buses pick up passengers in each terminal, please see:  http://peterpanbus.com/bus_travel_destinations/boston-logan-airport-bus/#Gate%20info.  Peter Pan buses leave about once every hour.  The trip to South Station takes about 45 minutes.  Depending on the time of your arrival, you may be required to connect to another bus at Boston’s South Street Station for your trip to Amherst.  The trip from Boston to Amherst takes about three hours (sometimes more, depending on the time of day you are traveling) and may require an additional bus change, which is easily accomplished (the driver will direct you).  With allowances for time between connections, the entire trip can take five hours or so.  Should you decide to take bus transportation, be certain that you get off the bus at the Amherst– Town Center stop, from which the Amherst College campus is a reasonably short walk (see enclosed map). Do not get off the bus at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst stop (Amherst UMASS), which is an entirely different school.

From New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (www.panynj.gov):

Bus:  First, take the NY Airport Service Bus (www.nyairportservice.com) from JFK Airport to Port Authority (the central bus station in New York City). These buses depart approximately every thirty minutes from directly outside the airport terminal.  Next, at NYC Port Authority station, go to the Greyhound/Peter Pan ticket counter and purchase a Peter Pan or Greyhound bus ticket to the center of the town of Amherst, MA.  Buses traveling from New York City to Amherst typically depart from Gate # 83 in the north wing of Port Authority station; however, you are advised to confirm your departure gate with the ticket agent.  This bus ride takes about four-and-one-half hours (with a possible change of bus in Hartford, CT and/or, MA).

General Travel Information

Early Arrival Procedure:  International students arriving anytime before Wednesday, August 26 must pick up their room keys at the Campus Police/Security Office in the Physical Plant Building (campus map:  https://www.amherst.edu/aboutamherst/visiting/map) before proceeding to their dormitory rooms.  If you make prior arrangements for the ISA Logan Airport Arrival Assistance Service in Boston on Wednesday, August 26, ISA driver-escorts will bring you directly to the Campus Police/Security Office and then to your dormitory room.  If, you are traveling to campus via Valley Transporter or private car, this can also be rather easily accomplished on your own, as you can stop briefly to pick up your key before proceeding to your dormitory room to unload your luggage. If, however, you are arriving in the town of Amherst by bus, you should refer to the ISA Local Arrival Assistance section below.  Students arriving on Wednesday, August 26 may pick up their room keys at the orientation desk in Converse Hall between 9:00 a.m. and noon.  After that time, keys will be returned to Campus Police/Security.

ISA Local Arrival Assistance:  As already stated, if you are not arriving at Boston’s Logan Airport on Wednesday, August 26, then you should coordinate your own ground transportation arrangements from your arrival airport.  Several ISA members will be on campus, however, to assist new international students during the early arrival period.  In particular, they will be available – with prior arrangement – to meet new students who arrive by bus in the center of Amherst and who may need assistance with carrying luggage, obtaining room keys, locating dormitories, etc.  [Please note that taxicabs in the town of Amherst are scarce, so you should not count on being able to travel from the bus stop to your dormitory in a taxi.  It’s much better to be met by an ISA student].  If you would like to avail yourself of the ISA local arrival assistance, you should send an email to Dean Clarke at lclarke@amherst.edu and to the International Students Office at internationalstudents@amherst.edu. Even students who intend to travel directly to their dormitory via Valley Transporter or private car are advised to inform us of your early arrival plans, as ISA members will be available throughout the early arrival weekend and the orientation week to help new international students get settled.

Packing and Supplies:  As all international travelers know, you will want to minimize the amount of luggage that you must carry and keep track of during your journey, so you’ll want to be selective in your packing.  Your dormitory room will be equipped with a bed, mattress (measuring 36 inches by 80 inches), desk, chair, bureau, and bookcase/shelves for each student.  Students provide their own bed linen (sheets and pillowcases), blanket (not needed until the weather turns cooler) or other bed covering, and towels.  You will also need, although not immediately, a desk lamp to provide good reading light.  Because these items tend to be bulky and to occupy a lot of precious luggage space, it is suggested that you bring only the bare minimum with you – enough to maintain you through the first week or so on campus.  There is a well-stocked shopping mall nearby, easily reached by public transportation, where you can purchase any additional items.  New students often make trips together to the mall for this purpose during the orientation week and it can be fun to go on a shopping expedition with roommates for furnishings.  Similarly, warm clothing for the cold (and often snowy) New England winters will not be needed immediately.  In fact, the weather usually remains quite warm, even hot, in this area through September. Even in the autumn months, sweaters and a medium-weight jacket are usually sufficient.  So there will be plenty of time to purchase a winter jacket and boots here.  If, however, you prefer to do this kind of shopping at home, you might consider having your family ship these items to you after your arrival, rather than carrying them as luggage. 

Baggage Restrictions:  Airlines have become increasingly restrictive about the size and amount of baggage that you may check or carry on-board for international flights.  In fact, some airlines will allow only one suitcase to be checked for free and are charging an additional fee for any additional checked baggage.  In advance of your trip, you should consult the websites of any airlines you’ll be traveling on during your trip to Amherst, so that you have a clear understanding of the size and number of bags you’ll be able to check or carry on-board. 

Security Restrictions:  There are also restrictions on the contents of carry-on baggage.  Certain items (e.g. knives and other weapons) can never be brought on-board a plane.  Other items may be brought on-board in limited quantities (e.g., liquids, gels, or aerosol toiletries in containers less than 100 ml each, placed in a single 1 liter re-sealable plastic bag), with larger amounts permitted to be packed in your checked baggage.  Still other items may be brought on-board in your carry-on baggage in quantities larger than 100 ml (e.g., medications in “reasonable quantities” for your trip), but must be presented separately to the security officer at the airport security check point.  A full listing of permitted and prohibited items for checked baggage and carry-on baggage on flights operating to, from or within the U.S. may be found at:  http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/prohibited/permitted-prohibited-items.shtm .  Additional airport security restrictions may vary from country to country, so you should also check the websites of your airline and of your departing airport for specific, additional security restriction.

Customs Restrictions:  Under U.S. Customs regulations, you should not pack (either in checked or carry-on luggage) any agricultural items (including meats, fruits, vegetable, plants, or other products made from animal or plant materials) or anything that could be interpreted as drug paraphernalia (such as pipes or tobacco rolling papers).

Carry-On Baggage:  Despite the restrictions on the number and size of baggage that you may carry onto the airplane (rather than check), you should try to include some essentials in your carry-on baggage:

  • Airline tickets, passport, I-20AB forms (F-1 students) or DS-2019 (J-1 students), financial documentation.
  • Eyeglasses, contact lenses, medication, personal toiletries in permitted quantities and a change of clothes, in case your baggage is temporarily misplaced in transit.
  • Sufficient cash for anticipated ground transportation expenses or emergency phone calls.
  • “Day-of-Travel Information Sheet” at https://www.amherst.edu/campuslife/deanstudents/international
  • This “Travel and Arrival Information,” page in case you need to make an unexpected change in ground transportation arrangements due to flight delays.

Additional Questions?

It is our hope that this page answers most of the basic questions and initial concerns you may have about your arrival at Amherst.  If, however, there is some additional information you need, please don’t hesitate to contact the International Student Office by phone (413) 542-2612, by fax (413) 542-2478, or by e-mail internationalstudents@amherst.edu