For many students, Thanksgiving break is the first opportunity to go home during the semester. As such, there’s quite a bit of anticipation and excitement leading up to the event. However, the holiday season is also one of the busiest travel times of the year, which poses many challenges. From price jumps to weather fluctuation and traffic congestion, there are a lot of unknowns involved.
Luckily, there a few ways you can bypass many of the biggest threats to successful bus travel. Whether your journey home requires bus tickets to Tucson, AZ or Portland, ME, follow these five tips for a safe and convenient Thanksgiving break bus trip.
1. Buy Thanksgiving Break Bus Tickets Early
The affordability of bus travel is the obvious choice for budget-minded young adults. Yet one of the key components of stress-free holiday travel is buying bus tickets sooner rather than later. There are certain times of the year when travelers can snag reduced last minute rates, but the week of Thanksgiving isn’t one of them. In fact, prices typically climb the closer it gets to the holiday because more individuals are purchasing tickets. Rising demand results in fewer seats, and consequently, the fares end up being double or even triple their original amount.
Fortunately, you can avoid the rush by booking bus tickets at least a month in advance. If you’ve missed that deadline, make your purchase as soon as your travel dates are finalized. There’s also the potential for further savings through your school. Reach out to campus organizations to learn about any special discounts that are available for students. Some schools also book charter bus trips to popular cities in the region to reduce travel costs for their scholars.
2. Pack Light
College students usually receive only about three to five days off of school for Thanksgiving. Luckily, this smaller timeframe means you need only to pack the essentials for your trip. Skip the large suitcase, and instead, bring a small carry-on bag. Choosing to pack light ensures you can grab and go at connection stations and at your arrival point.
Packing light doesn’t mean skipping out on entertainment. Bring along reading material or electronics like a smartphone, tablet, or laptop. Many bus carriers, like Greyhound and Barons Bus, offer fleets fitted with individual charging ports or outlets as well as WiFi. Such features ensure that you won’t end up bored, regardless of traffic delays. However, it’s better to be safe than to have a dead battery, so bring along a charger just in case.
3. Plan Ahead
Every year, there’s a huge travel rush around Thanksgiving, so you need to plan ahead to avoid congestion-related delays. Typically, the largest amount of traffic takes place on the Wednesday before the holiday, but there are location-specific variations. For example, congestion in the Windy City peaks on Tuesday evening between 5 and 6 p.m. while Atlanta’s worst on-the-road traffic is on Wednesday from 3 to 5:15 p.m. As a result, it’s best to book your bus tickets to Atlanta and Chicago for Monday or early on Tuesday to avoid the crowds altogether.
Along with your departure location, you also need to consider any connecting stops. If you’re switching buses in a metropolitan area, be sure to leave enough room between your arrival and departure times to counteract potential traffic delays. Following this method of booking decreases the likelihood of you missing your bus connection.
4. Keep an Eye on the Weather
An early bout of snow or ice in November isn’t likely to affect travel in the southern states. However, if you’re buying bus tickets to Boston, there’s a higher risk of weather issues. Monitor the forecast leading up to your travel date so that you have the opportunity to make adjustments if needed. For instance, if the meteorologists suddenly spot a chance of snow the day before your departure, then look into changing your trip start date. Such a precaution is an excellent way to avoid travel frustrations and multi-day delays.
5. Plan Your Return Carefully
While the emphasis is placed on departure dates, your return timetable is just as important. The goal is to avoid the end-of-Thanksgiving rush, which usually occurs on Sunday. If your journey back to campus is short, you may be able to get away with a Sunday morning trip. For longer distances, book your bus travel for Saturday morning or opt for an overnight journey in the evening.
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