Hello, lovelies! Well, it’s midterm, which means life is crazy and I am freaking out a little, but after a weekend getaway to Chicago to see the boy, I’m feeling a lot more grounded. Which, by the way, is kind of the best thing. I’ve been spending a lot of time lately mooning over all the places I’d like to travel, and while I haven’t made it out to Boston, or the Pacific Northwest, or Poland, or really any of the places on my list quite yet, I’m still sating myself with short trips! Sure, students might go home for a weekend, or take vacations with friends or family on break, but short trips to new places are a great way to soothe your wanderlust without breaking the bank. Whether you’re travelling solo or bringing along some friends, getting out of town for a weekend is freeing in the extreme.
College Travel – Mastering the Weekend Getaway
Picking a Destination
This is, of course, the biggest decision. Where you go depends on what you want – an outdoor adventurer is best suited to parks with hiking trails, shopping and bustle can be found in your nearest large city, and another college’s campus can offer you a refreshing change of pace. You don’t have to stress over this too much, though. After all, if you hate it, you won’t be there long, and if you don’t, you can always come back. If you’re at a total loss – you just want to go, not necessarily to a specific place, consider your limitations, like transportation or accommodations, to give you a list of options to choose from.
Setting a Date
Assuming you’re a student, your academic calendar is your biggest decision-maker. I like to leave myself at least two days before and after my departure and return, so I have time to prepare and catch up. Travelling immediately before or after a major deadline, like an exam or essay, is a great way to make your trip stressful and un-fun. I don’t recommend it.
As college students, we have a lot of options. Obviously, if you or a friend who’s willing to tag along have a car, you could likely drive. If you’d like the convenience of a car but don’t have one of your own, renting is an option. Public transport around campuses tends to be good – they attract bus companies like magnets. This is especially useful if you’re planning to travel to the nearest large city, which likely has a healthy population of kids who want to get home for the weekend. I’m personally a fan of passenger rail, I can see why it’s so popular in Europe and Asia. In addition to being picturesque and charming, I find trains are often more reliable and, honestly, cleaner, than any other public transport option. With any option, booking ahead is the best way to save money – last minute tickets can cost twice or three times as much, depending on the company.
Assuming you want more than a day trip (which is fun and definitely better than no travel at all), you’ll need somewhere to stay. If you’re headed into a city or college town where you know someone, there’s no harm in asking if you can crash on their couch. If not, hotels are built for a reason, and rooms are cheaper if you book in advance and/or share with friends. For those looking for a more unconventional place to stay, most major cities will have youth hostels, and real-estate sharing programs like Airbnb will let you stay in someone’s actual home. Which might be a little weird, but hey, isn’t travel all about new experiences and pushing your comfort zones? Or something?
Confession: I’m a chronic overpacker. I’m the kid who showed up to cross country meets with six glowsticks and a screwdriver, just in case. In case of what? I still don’t know. Taking a small bag will make your life easier and curb your tendency to overpack, if you have one. I find that limiting myself to one pair of shoes, bringing small travel bottles shampoo and such, and leaving heavy tech like my laptop at home keep my packing light and efficient. I’d also recommend packing in order of use – you don’t want to have to dig to the bottom of your bag for your pajamas the very first night.
These five steps have been essential for all the trips I’ve planned in college, and I have to tell you – getting away for a weekend is so freeing. If you haven’t taken a trip for yourself yet, don’t hold yourself back! Solo travel is a lot more empowering that you might think, and nothing helps you make friends quite like travelling together. My map librarian heart is singing at the thought of all of you guys going out on amazing adventures! Do you have any trips planned?