Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and the majority of you will probably be going home for the holiday weekend. Some of you may be lucky enough to have a family member or friend drive you back. For the rest of you, though, you probably have to deal with this.
Whether you’re from Jersey or Kansas, you will probably have to deal with transportation like this. And this isn’t like the subway, either: here you’ll be on the rail or the road from one hour to 20. It’s a long trip, but if you follow some of these tips, you’ll get though it relatively painless.
First, plan your trip ahead of time. You may know how long it takes to drive from college to home, but it’s probably a lot different on a bus or a train. Amtrak and Greyhound have trip planner services on their websites, which tell you the approximate time that you will arrive at your destination. Put in the appropriate times and see how long it will take, and when your ride is going to leave. If you have to leave during a time you have class, make sure to notify your teacher ahead of time.
Second, make sure you can afford it. New Jersey Transit and the Metro North are both relatively inexpensive, and the most you’ll pay with them is around $20. However, if you’re taking Amtrak, you’ll pay a lot more. Depending on where you’re getting off, tickets can cost upwards of around $30 each way. It’s never a good idea to spend all your money on a train ticket, so make sure there is some way you can pay for it and still have enough for yourself. Amtrak also offers student discounts for holders of the Student Advantage card and other services, so be sure to check that out.
Finally, plan out what you’re gonna do in transit. If you’re forced to take the Amtrak or Greyhound, chances are you live pretty far away. Don’t pack too much stuff, as trains and buses don’t usually have much in the way of storage. Pack a small backpack or tote bag full of a few trip essentials, like books, an iPod, and maybe a few snacks. Trains and buses sometimes make scheduled stops to transfer crew or drivers, so you might be able to take advantage of those instances. Just remember; there may be a bathroom on the train, but it’s what you expect a bathroom on a moving platform to be like. You might be able to take a quick nap until you reach your destination, but just be prepared to have some wicked neck pains!
I probably should have included this in the last few points, but please make sure that you have someone to pick you up when you reach your destination. It’s really not fun when you have to wait at a bus stop for an hour because you didn’t let your parents know when you’re about to get off!
Follow these steps, and you may very well have a pleasant trip. And when you get back, you can enjoy a nice slice of pizza!
Sergio Lopez, Polytechnic Institute of NYU, Graduate Student ’12
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