College Student Probs: Campus Driving and Parking= Nightmare

As my sophomore year at the University of Kentucky approached, I was particularly excited for two reasons:

1. I would be living in an apartment instead of a dorm
2. I would be taking my car with me this year

I felt like a true college student now, unbound by freshman limitations.

Of course, just like when we were younger and couldn’t wait until we were 13 years old or until we could watch a rated R movie in the theatre, we’ve always over-romanticized the next step to becoming an adult. And what is being an adult if you can’t go anywhere off campus? Well. Within less than a week, oh have I realized that having a car in college can surely be a nightmare…

To give you an idea of the parking situation at my apartment complex: All the residents receive a parking pass. There are, more or less, enough parking spots for each resident. No one who is not a resident can park in the lot, except visitors, who only can in certain spots at specific times throughout the week. All violators will be towed.

I returned late the first night at my apartment, tired and eager to just get into bed. I also didn’t want to park too far from my room because it was dark. And I was alone. To my frustration, not only were there no open parking spots, but there were people parked in handicapped spots and all along the curbs! And, of course, there is always that guy with the big truck who takes up two parking spots. There was just no way all those vehicles belonged to residents. So, after circling the three parking lots, I surrendered and parked along the last open curb, praying I wouldn’t find a ticket on the windshield the next morning…

…The next morning, I didn’t find a ticket. I didn’t find my car. Yup, it got towed. There went a whopping $122 to win my precious hostage back… Mental note: Try not to drive if possible; especially at night.

Not only is finding parking at my apartment a problem, but whenever I want to go anywhere in Lexington, I am fighting my road rage. Every hour feels like rush hour. Coming from Louisville, I’m not quite used to the way the roads are set up in Lexington. I don’t understand the curvy four lanes or why a light will turn green when the light right after it is still red… The green light is meaningless because we can’t even move!

And half the drivers in Lexington belong in this show:

Anyway, I’m also not too savvy with directions; I know how to get to places on campus on foot, but not exactly with a car yet. So it’s a bit difficult debating between driving and hoping to find a place to park somewhere closer to my destination or just making a 30-minute walk.

Although it is nice to have a car and have the freedom to drive places whenever I need or wish, there definitely are disadvantages, at least on my campus. But, when it comes down to it, the pros outweigh the cons in my situation because I can drive a little over an hour to return home, and I’ll be off campus volunteering and working on stories for my broadcast journalism class weekly.

So, if you’re thinking about whether or not you should take your car to campus, or you share the frustration of having a car there, here are some words of advice:

• Realistically ask yourself how often you would have to drive or leave campus during the year
• Find out bus schedules; some are free service and run even late at night
• Look up when free parking is available in certain parking lots or garages
• Consider buying a campus parking pass
• Consider riding a bicycle
• Try not to drive your car late at night if you do have limited parking spaces
• (Probably the most helpful) Make friends who live around different parts of campus or the city

-Do you think having a car on campus is an issue at your college?
-What’s the most convenient mode of transportation for you?

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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