Thanksgiving Travel Tips

It’s easy to assume that most students will visit family over Thanksgiving break. It’s a great time to enjoy the company of friends and family that you probably haven’t seen since the beginning of the semester; all the while eating to the point of exhaustion. It’s a holiday where you don’t have to pass on the gravy and can get as many plates as you want. I can’t think of anything that would put a damper on this holiday; except maybe the driving part. No matter which way you spin it, traveling across the U.S. in a cramped car with siblings and the family dog is a pain. It’s even worse while sitting in stand-still traffic, not even 100 miles from home. For those flying, I don’t even want to think about the security checkpoint lines.  Lucky for you, I’ve dug up some pointers for those who aren’t veterans of Thanksgiving traveling. I’m hoping these can make your trip a little less miserable, and a little more comfortable.

For Drivers:Family Car
1. Leave Early, Stay Late. Obviously for some this may not be possible, but the roads are going to be packed. I recommend scheduling a Tuesday-Tuesday trip. You can also consider leaving home Tuesday and coming home Saturday. Regardless of travel dates, you’re going to be competing with obnoxious amounts of traffic.  According to Consumer Travel, November 24th is the single busiest travel day for Americans (That is Wednesday before Thanksgiving).  On some interstates, the traffic becomes horrendous in the early evening, so this is something I would highly advise for those traveling long distances.

2. Don’t Just Rely on Your Mirrors. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one of the months with the highest car crash severity is November. Also, consider that the Thanksgiving holiday is one of the most deadly periods of the year for Americans. So think twice when you’re trying to cut your ETA a few hours by speeding (not trying to be all fatherly, but just saying).

3. Lighten the Load. Remember, you’ll only be gone for a a long weekend, so plan accordingly. There’s no reason to bring extra bags to fill the car to the brim, only creating more stress for your ride. More Space in the Car = Comfort = Better Trip.

4. Cruise on Through. You might as well click on that cruise control once you’re well on your way. This feature has more benefits than keeping pace at a constant speed. Cruise control will save you gas, prevent you from speeding (unless you set the car speed above the speed limit), and give the driver’s legs some much needed rest.

5. Lose the Gas Guzzler. Unless it’s needed, consider driving your smaller car to your destination. It will save you a lot more in gas expenses than driving an SUV. For those traveling with family, an SUV or Van may be your only option. Also, consider whether comfort or price are more important. If someone is squished in the back with the suitcases on their lap, you may want to consider a bigger vehicle.

6. Forecast the Best Route. There’s going to be traffic almost no matter which way you head, but by looking at traffic flow and other factors ahead of time, you can plan the trip more efficiently, saving money and a headache.

7. Bring Snacks. Grab some peanut butter crackers, some drinks, etc. to save a few extra dollars, and a few extra stops. Four stops at a gas station can take up an hour that could be better spent on the highway.

For Flights:
Thanksgiving Plane1. Pack Light. This is reiterating what was said for those driving. Make sure you’ve packed the lightest amount possible, because those extra checked bags can be awfully pricy (unless you’re flying Southwest!).

2. Arrive Early. With Thanksgiving being one of the most traveled holidays of the year, the security checkpoints will be extremely busy. Try to arrive at the airport at minimum 2 hours before the flight departs. This time of year, most airlines won’t wait for the stragglers.

3. Fly Smart. If you haven’t booked your flight yet, you better get on that ASAP. The tickets only get more expensive closer to your departure date. Surf around on some travel websites like Expedia or Kayak to find the best deal for you.

4. Avoid Busy Days. If you want to have a less crowded flight, consider flying on days besides November 24th, 25th, 28th, and 29th. This is Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday, and Monday, respectively. It shouldn’t be too awful if you can’t avoid them, but it would be ideal to schedule around these dates.

5. Be Sociable. Being on a flight is a great opportunity to meet new people and have friendly conversations. Just be careful talking to strangers, try to avoid conversations about politics, religion, or the one percent.



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Tips For Safety On Campus

Campus safety has always been among the most important issues facing students attending college. Many of us have been forced to walk home alone at some point, because of procrastination (those late nights in the library) or because sometimes it’s a good move to walk home instead of driving (those late nights at the fraternity house). If you want to be as safe as possible, follow these steps to avoid being caught in a dangerous situation.

safety whistle

  1. Don’t walk alone. Avoid this at all costs if you can. Walking alone late at night makes you a target, especially for females. If you are forced to walk alone, stay aware of your surroundings and avoid talking on the phone.
  2. Know the phone number for campus safety. Many schools have emergency phones strategically placed throughout campus, however it’s best to have the number saved in your phone.
  3. Carry a whistle. This will get the attention of others in case of an emergency.
  4. Always be cautious of who you invite into your home or dorm. You will meet many people in college, but be careful because there is always a small portion of people who are malicious.
  5. Keep your doors locked and windows closed. This applies to your car as well. National statistics show that theft reports increase on campuses. There were 24,069 burglaries on campuses nationwide in 2009. I once knew a graduate student whose laptop was stolen, and he was forced to start all over on his dissertation. That sucks.
  6. Follow your instincts. If something isn’t right, more than likely you will get the feeling and act accordingly.
  7. Stay alert! While walking around campus, keep your eyes scanning your surroundings. Look behind you, in front of you, and check both sides all the time. You will want to know if there is a shady character walking 50 yards behind you.
  8. Avoid binge drinking when possible. Statistics show that the majority of crime on campuses nationwide are alcohol related.
  9. Take a self-defense class. Most colleges offer these free of charge and they are useful in the future, not just during your college years.
  10. Sign up for your school’s campus alert system. Many colleges have these now; they are used to inform students of crimes reported on campus.

It’s better to be safe than sorry, and taking these steps will increase your chances of staying safe even in dangerous situations.



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