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Freshman 101: Getting Home for the Holidays

In just four days, Thanksgiving break will be upon us–and God, it could not have come at a better time. I think I speak for this entire university when I say that after the week we’ve had, a nice break is sorely needed.

But as it is wont to do, Thanksgiving break snuck up on you this year. You were so busy, you didn’t see it coming. And now, you’ve got to get out of town by Friday and haven’t figured out how you’re getting home.

Have no fear, loyal reader. We’re here for you.

By Car: If you have a car with you at school, this is an easy one. You drive it home. Problem solved!

But let’s say you don’t–and, for whatever reason, mass transit scares you. Or maybe there’s no bus to where you’re headed. You’re looking to mooch off of someone who can take you home.  And we’re not here to judge.

First things first, check out the cork boards in the commons–especially in East. This week, moreso than others, there will be plenty of fellow students who’ve tacked up flyers, saying they’ll take on a rider or two in exchange for a few bucks. Don’t be afraid to hang one up yourself–there are probably plenty of drivers who don’t realize they could make a little cash to take on a passenger.

If that’s not doing it for you, there’s always Craigslist’s ride share listings (though I’d be more than a bit apprehensive getting into a car with somebody I met off of Craigslist. You’re probably going to get stabbed. But hey, it’ll make for a great story!).

By Bus: This is probably the most popular option for car-less Penn Staters, what with a bus station abutting campus on Atherton Street. Fullington Trailways, which operates out of that station, has plenty of routes for students heading pretty much anywhere east of Ohio. There are buses to Philly, Pittsbugh, Washington D.C., Baltimore, Newark, New York City, and Long Island–and they all make stops in between, in cities like Williamsport, York, Altoona, and King of Prussia.

But once again, there’s another route for the more adventurous–and more frugal. Megabus offers trips to New York, Harrisburg, Philly, and Pittsburgh which leave from the Walmart up North Atherton, and are typically cheaper than the Fullington options. After that, you can go for the less established “Chinatown” buses–like GotoBus or Dragon Deluxe, which both connect State College and New York City–but I’ve heard some horror stories.

Lastly, there are the Alumni buses that a number of chapters have set up. Information on the Washington D.C. bus can be found on their site, and it might be worth giving a call to your local alumni chapter to see if they offer similar discounts to students.

By Bicycle/Foot: These options work best if you live in State College. If not, I don’t recommend it.

By Train: This article is aimed at freshmen, and I know most of you haven’t been here long, but I hope that by now you’ve realized that there isn’t a train station in State College.

However, there is an Amtrak stop in Lewistown, which is (only) about 45 minutes away down Route 322. Now, last year, UPUA spent a couple thousand bucks on establishing a shuttle service, but I’ve been told they haven’t picked the contract up for the 2011-12 school year. As a lover of rail transit dating back to my days as a diehard fan of Thomas the Tank Engine, I’m a little miffed, but as someone who’s criticized UPUA for spending needlessly, well, I’m not sure how many people took them up on the offer–certainly not enough to squeeze a second year out of it.

I mean, if you really want to take a train, be my guest, but it’s going to take a little creativity.

By Plane: Did you realize that State College had its own airport, with direct flights to Detroit, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C., and connections across the country? Probably! But then again, if you’re just looking to book a flight now, I’m pretty sure it’ll cost a pretty penny. If you’re loaded, go for it. That kind of convenience can’t be beat, especially if you’re from somewhere well outside the area.

But looking ahead to winter and spring breaks, Harrisburg’s airport might be an option to keep in mind–it’s not too hard getting to H-burg (do people call it H-burg? Don’t even care.), it’s got direct flights up and down the East Coast, and will probably be cheaper than State College.

By Hitchhiking: Do not try this. You will not get home. You will end up in somebody’s torture dungeon, Silence of the Lambs-style.

So, with all that said, are there any travel suggestions we missed?

About the Author

Devon Edwards

Devon is a 2012 Penn State graduate and current law student at NYU. Devon joined Onward State in January of 2011, after a lengthy stay in the comment section. His likes include sabermetrics, squirrels, and longs walks on the beach, and his dislikes include spelunking, when you put your clothes in the dryer and they come out still kinda damp but also warm, and the religious right.

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