Fatigue, Delays, and Smells: Surviving Travel as a College Student

By: Emily Simons

As we all settle into our routines for the semester, it’s easier to plan travel opportunities. Whether that means going home to visit family or finding new cities to explore, here are some of the pros and cons and travel tips I’ve learned through trial and error…many errors.
Unfortunately, buses are the cheapest, albeit saddest, form of travel. Strange smells, cramped quarters, and potential delays can seriously dampen the start of your vacation. No matter if you choose Megabus or Greyhound, your butt will become numb. Bus travel is not recommended for longer than 9 hours (roughly the time it takes to reach New York, or Toronto). While Greyhound is often more expensive than Megabus, Greyhound does offer an indoor station with seating and a useable bathroom. If waiting outside with a group of strangers is more your style, Megabus is for you. On the pro list for Megabus, there are more location options and time flexibility. Just remember that regardless of which company you choose, there can always be delays, breakdowns, and other inconveniences.
Whether going cross country or international, flying will be the easiest, even if it’s the more expensive option. For cheap flights try to book a couple months in advance, especially before airlines figure out college schedules and accordingly jack up prices. If you find yourself without any plans for Thanksgiving or Christmas, don’t be afraid to book a last minute flight somewhere unexpected. Last minute tickets can sometimes be the cheapest around. Remember to check out WOW airlines, or try to get your flights transferred through Toronto. AirCanada has much better customer service, more seat space, and better food. For the smoothest experience possible, do not take a checked bag. Carry-ons are your friend here, and TSA/customs will usually leave you alone. You can also skip jumbled baggage lines and travel more freely with less luggage.
On the bottom of the list is trains. While an overnight train trip is on my bucket list, there it will stay until after graduation. Expensive and more time consuming, traveling by train is really about the journey as much as it is about the destination. A ride can easily set you back a grand if you want a bed to sleep in. But if you have the time and money, these trips can offer the most beautifully scenic views America has to offer.
Lastly, here is a list of travel lessons I will always stand by.

  • Wash your face and brush your teeth before you leave; you really don’t know when you’ll be able to next.
  • Pack a Water Bottle (and preferably a snack).
  • Always have some cash on you in case of emergencies.
  • If you have a small bag or purse, pack an extra pair of underwear, your luggage may be lost or stolen.
  • It’s usually ok to talk to strangers and sometimes necessary. Just keep a distance.

Safe Travels Everyone!