Traveling During the Semester: 8 Tips for Getting Away

This past weekend, I traveled from our lovely campus in Philly all the way to Austin, Texas to attend Austin City Limits Music Festival. Many of the people I told about this adventure I was about to embark on were surprised that I was going so far for just one weekend in the middle of the semester.

My view while in flight to Austin

Often in college, it can seem like you are living life in a bubble, as if everything you do and experience starts and ends on campus. However, with some strategic planning and an adventurous spirit, traveling in college is easier than it may seem. Here are some tips that I have come up with after a weekend traveling:

1. Check your classes’ syllabi:

This is a key element in planning. In most classes, your professor will present a tentative calendar full of all the assignments, quizzes, tests, and activities that will be going on in class. If you know this information in advance, you can plan your trip around the level of coursework you will have going on at different times. If your travel dates are flexible, try to avoid traveling too close to an exam or other important classwork. Traveling can be stressful, and you don’t want that to impact how you perform in your classes.

2. Talk to your professors

Tell your professors your travel plans! Even if your plans won’t directly affect your participation in class, just give your professors a heads up. If you need to travel during a particularly busy time in the semester, they can help to make sure you don’t fall behind by offering to meet during office hours or helping you to make a schedule of extra studying to do.

3. Plan your transportation

If you plan to fly to your destination, make sure you prepare a plan for transportation to and from the airport. If your roommates have cars, ask them to drive you. In my experience, I left for Austin at 4 am and I didn’t want to make my roommates drive me to the airport so I called an Uber. Taxi services like Uber and Lyft are ideal for transportation to and from the airport. They both come in app form, are relatively inexpensive, and drivers are readily available on demand. If you do not have an Uber account, use this link for your first free ride!

4. Take care of homework on the journey

Whether you are taking a plane, train, or bus, the time spent on the journey is perfect for getting work done. Instead of watching a movie or playing Solitaire in your seat, use this time to knock out some homework because you definitely won’t want to do it when you get back to campus after your trip.

5. Pack Lightly

If you’re only going away for a few days, you won’t need your whole closet. Pick outfits for each day you’ll be gone and bring only the necessities. To cut your losses and remove the chance of lost luggage, try to bring just a carry-on bag. This could be a duffle bag or big backpack, whatever is the smallest bag you can fit all of your stuff in. If you decide a carry-on is the way to go, make sure you are aware of the airport regulations on liquids. Travel bottles for toiletries are available at any drug store, so stock up! Also, buy some clear plastic gallon-size bags to hold all of your liquids and ensure easy access when pulling them out at airport security.

6. Have a back-up plan

Weather and circumstances can be unpredictable, so when booking a flight, check for alternatives just in case. Try not to book the last flight back to campus so that in the event that it gets canceled or delayed, you will still be able to get back before class.

7. Find discounted plane tickets for students

One of the best parts about being in college is that everyone (okay, maybe not everyone) want to give us cool discounts. Student Universe is a great website that finds discounted flights just for students! Just enter your travel plans and Student Universe will find you some good options.

8. Forget hotels, go Airbnb

If you haven’t heard of Airbnb yet, consider yourself #blessed by this post. Airbnb is a service for both travelers and hosts, where people rent out extra living spaces in their homes for cheap. And it’s safe! The best thing about Airbnb is that you can be a rolling stone and still feel at home. So, if you’re traveling to a new place and need somewhere to stay, book with Airbnb.

The Austin Skyline from Zilker Park
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