Finally getting to go home after a long couple of months at college can be an exciting ordeal, especially if it’s been a while since you’ve last been home. Now that you’ve survived your final exams, and packed your things, there’s the concern of actually making the trip.
Not everyone has family readily available to drive 2-8 hours in order pick them up from school, and while making that road trip may seem intimidating or even troublesome at first, there are quite a few tips and tricks that you can employ to make your journey easier and less stressful.
Here are just a few.
Have a traveling buddy!
Don’t like to travel alone? Do you have a friend from school who lives in the same area as you? Travel together! This is a pretty economic and environmentally-friendly option, because you are ride sharing and splitting the expenses.
A good way to decide who the driver will be is to inspect both of your vehicles and determine which car is best equipped to make the trip. Ask yourselves: Which car is in the best shape? Which car gets the best gas mileage? Which car is more comfortable? Splitting gas costs shouldn’t be a problem and you can always switch off the next time you have to travel home together.
Timing is essential
Though it’s very easy to just pack up your things and go when you please, you need to make sure you’re leaving at a time when you know you aren’t going to be stuck in traffic. Obviously, this all depends on where you attend school and where you live, but a good rule of thumb would be to leave either early in the morning or later in the evening. Avoid the morning rush to work and the evening commute back home, and you should be good.
Utilize this trip to pick up/drop off things
Since you can’t go home every weekend, it’s a good idea to go through all your things and think about what you might not need anymore. If you’re going home for winter break, try packing up your summer wear (leave a few pieces, just in case.) Did you come to the conclusion that you actually didn’t need that toaster oven that you have in your dorm? Pack it up. If you haven’t used an appliance or worn an outfit since the beginning of the semester, then it’s safe to say that you most likely won’t be using it for the rest of the school year. Additionally, when you’re at home, try grabbing all of the things that you do need and pack them up immediately, so you won’t forget when it comes time to leave.
Also, when you’re at home, take advantage of the amenities that weren’t free in college! If you have a load of laundry that needs to be done, wait until you get home to do it!
Have your electronics prepared & familiarize yourself with your route
If it’s your first time driving home from school, then it would be a good idea to gain a basic understanding of where you’re going. Though you will most likely have GPS on you, it’s just a good idea to look at the routes you’ll be taking (and any alternate routes, should you have to deviate from your main course.) Using a traffic app like Waze is helpful for identifying alternative routes around traffic jams along the way.
Additionally, charge your phone before you leave. If your trip is long, carry fully-charged power banks with you. USB cords and car charger adapters also work. If you’re playing music during your trip, think about downloading the songs onto your streaming devices so you won’t be using a lot of data (or if you drive through an area where the signal is patchy.)
Make sure you’re properly prepared for the trip
This means making a list of everything you have packed, things you need when you get home, things you need to drop off, and checking to see if everything is working properly with the car that you’re taking. Do all the necessary checks like making sure you have enough gas, air in your tires, etc. This will also attribute to getting better gas mileage on your trip.
It’s also worth noting that you should have a list of numbers that you can call should you encounter a problem on the road and must pull over. Perhaps one of the most important things to remember is to call someone before you leave! You don’t even have to call necessarily; just send a text to one of your parents or a sibling and tell them when you’re about to leave.
If you have an iPhone, share your location on ‘Find my Friends’ with them in case they are worried about your status. That way, they’ll know when they should be expecting your arrival. In your car, make sure you’re stocked up on water and snacks, a first aid kit, and any other road trip essentials.
The ride back home can be exciting and equally nerve-wracking, but if you follow these tips is sure to be (relatively) stress-free.
About Haley Kieser: Haley has a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration and Entrepreneurial Studies. She loves to travel, write, adventure outdoors, and watch football on Sundays!