Ways of Traveling Home: Pros and Cons

With my first semester of college coming to a close, I’ve been thinking about how I will transport a month’s worth of clothes and supplies home with me. Luckily, I live in New York, so there are many means of traveling home that I have to choose from: driving, taking the train, taking a bus, and even flying.

I’ve actually had the opportunity of taking all four over the course of this semester. Here are some of the pros and cons of each:

1. Driving
Driving is probably the best method of going home if it is feasible. It is the most direct way, and, for me, the drive only takes about 3 1/2 hours depending on traffic. It’s also great because you can fit as much storage as you want without worrying about traveling problems. The cons? There really are none — unless you’re not a huge fan of your driver…then you’re in for a great trip.

2. Taking the Train
Taking the train, or “training” as I like to call it, is probably your second best option. While it can get pricey at times, if you wait to book it until soon before you leave, it can actually be pretty economical. Just make sure not to sit next to someone you’re going to have problems with. My personal train experience thus far has been great the two times that I have done it. It’s also better if you can “force” your seatmate to the inside because sitting next to the aisles is always better than being crammed into a seat for multiple hours. However, even if you find yourself in the predicament of a seatmate who is insistent on having the aisle, it really isn’t the end of the world because Amtrak does a good job of keeping a safe enough distance between you and the person next to you to avoid any potential major conflicts. The only downfall is that the trip could get extended if you live far from where the train drops you off. Getting to South Station in Boston where most of them depart isn’t the problem, it’s where it brings you to.

3. Taking a plane
Now most of you are probably shocked that this is even an option for going home for anyone on the East Coast, especially New York, but it is a viable option. Over Thanksgiving break, I flew home on Tuesday night because the flight was actually cheaper than the train, as crazy as that may sound. The flight was great — I was actually on the ground for more time than I was in the air. Taking a plane is especially convenient if you can avoid checking a bag since you can leave right upon arrival.

4. Taking the dreaded bus
Taking a bus is like gambling — you really never know what you are going to get. Taking a bus is definitely the cheapest means of getting home, as my one-way bus back to New York was a mere $30. However, the price does come with some drawbacks, especially if you get unlucky. First of all, the seats are extremely close together. I’m talking butt-to-butt closeness. My advice with taking a bus would be to try going with a friend you don’t mind being squished with for the ride. When I took it home for one weekend, I went with my friend, which made the experience somewhat better. The second thing to be wary of is timing. My bus home from South Station to Grand Central said it was going to arrive at 5, and didn’t get into NY until around 8:30. Our bus driver took us to New Jersey and back for whatever reason — probably just to prolong our torture. In fact, my friend’s bus home ended up taking about eight hours. Not because of traffic, but because the bus driver actually got pulled over by a cop for speeding and not even having the proper registration. They were stuck on the side of the highway for over three hours until another bus arrived with a new driver. So while the bus may seem like an extremely enticing option, just do your research about which bus line you’re taking and when you’re traveling home — it will make all the difference.

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