You’ve had a stressful spring term, and you’re ecstatic for the summer: you’ve decided to plan a vacation to _____________.
A. Visit family and friends.
B. Unwind and relax.
C. Get out of Monmouth.
D. All of the above.
If you answered “D”, I am right there with you. With the end of the term fast approaching, nobody blames you for a lack of motivation or focus. However, planning a trip can be stressful. It takes finances – which you don’t have because of the whole ‘college’ thing – as well as organization and thinking ahead. From transportation to actually enjoying the city you’re in, there are hundreds of details to iron out.
Plane, bus, car, or train?
If you’re planning on taking a plane, buy tickets now. I mean right this second. While buying tickets to my super secret summer destination (it’s Singapore) I ended up paying about $150 more on my flight after waiting 15 minutes. I’m not exaggerating: get your tickets as soon as you possibly can if you’re travelling by plane. With flying, you also have other things to take into consideration. How long is your trip? Could you get away with just a carry-on? Remember, most airlines will charge you for checked bags. Many international flights, however, will allow one checked bag free of charge. Be sure you read the airline policy on baggage before you get to the airport so you can make the decision to pack lighter and save $100. For amazing ways students can save money on flights go here.
Bus tickets can be cheap, but buses are warm, crowded, and can be unreliable. If you have connecting buses, make sure you have backups in case you run late and miss the “connection”.
Do you see a road-trip in your future? Maybe a car is the best choice. If you’re travelling cross country with friends, account for gas money in your fees for the trip. Car trips can be fun, just be prepared with spare tires, jumper cables, and snacks! It is clearly a more logical option to drive if your trip remains in state or not too far away. On the fence about driving? A train might be a good idea.
Personally, I love trains. They’ll get you where you need to go in about the same amount of time as driving would, but you don’t have to drive. Taking a train allows you the chance to work, read, or nap while on the road: a luxury you don’t get when you’re behind the wheel. Depending on what you drive, a train ticket might be around the same price as gas would. Same with buses, though, if you have connecting or changing trains make sure you have a back-up plan if something goes wrong.
If you’re planning international travel, hopefully you have a passport! If your passport expires within a few months of your trip, it could be time for a new one.
How much can I stuff into one bag?
Before you say “it all fits!” while having your little brother sit on your suitcase so you can get it zipped, stop and think. I would say that it is typical to purchase things while on vacation. If one of these things isn’t another suitcase: rethink your “it fits!” mentality or you may have no room for your newly- bought knick knacks. On your flight or drive to wherever ‘there’ is, try to leave a little extra room. I hope you’re headed somewhere warm, so clothing shouldn’t take up too much space in your bag. What can you buy once you arrive? Shampoo, conditioner, and soaps might not need to be packed. Most importantly: are you really going to read three books? Extras like books, papers, and crossword puzzles are probably more hassle than they’re worth: be sure they’re not taking over. Analyze your need for electronics (especially the necessity – or lack thereof – of a computer) before you go. Bringing your computer can stop you from seeing the world: don’t let Netflix ruin your vacation.
I won’t post packing lists here, because I’m sure you are all capable of Googling that yourself. I will, however, give you a small list of things I’ve forgotten previously:
~ Face Wash
~ Feminine Products (Bring them even if you’re not expecting your period, because somebody else will forget.)
~ Hair Ties/Bobby Pins
Hopefully, with this information, you feel empowered to go plan your amazing summer trips! I encourage you to be flexible, as something is bound to go wrong. It’ll be a lot more fun if a delayed flight doesn’t completely ruin your vibe.
Your trip will be what you make it so plan ahead, be prepared, and have a great summer break!
By Quinn Murphy