A Point of Departure
Written by Bwog Staff
As Columbians begin to trickle slowly away from Morningside Heights for the much-anticipated and well-deserved Thanksgiving Holiday, the queues at JFK, La Guardia, Penn Station, and yes even the Port Authority Bus Terminal are beginning to fill out. In typical fashion, Bwog has asked its most experienced travelers for tips on how best to brave the pre-Thanksgiving exodus that is sure to take place tomorrow afternoon. Bwog wishes everyone a safe, cheap, and relatively painless journey home. Bon voyage!
Planning on driving?
- If you’re going to Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Ithaca, or anywhere that makes you pass through those places, don’t be conned by your GPS into taking I80/I380/I81 out of New York: it’s a guaranteed way to be stuck in traffic/construction hell. Take I87 North, then take NYS Route 17- it splits, one way going to Albany, the other going to Binghamton, where it meets up with 81 again. It’ll shave a cool 45 minutes off your trip, and Route 17 is really scenic. – Really specific, but it changed my life.
- If you are crazy enough to go down I-95, at least try to leave in the early afternoon (1-2 P.M.) or else you will be caught in the Great New York Exodus.
So you’ve decided to take the bus.
- Try to get a bus that has guaranteed seating (Vamoose, Bolt, etc.)
- If you (for some bizarre reason) want to take a cab to Port Authority, ask the cabbie to take the West Side Highway / 9A to 34th street. Saves lots of time otherwise spent waiting at red lights on Bway.If you’re leaving via Port Authority bus terminal, needless to say get there early because the lines are insane, but also bring sedatives for the ride, because who knows how bad the person next to you is going to smell.
- For God’s Sake. Don’t drift off! Seriously it’s not about the smell. It’s about the attitude!
- If you must go through Port Authority, avoid traveling at night. The bus terminal stranger inhabitants come out at this time. Additionally, though lines may be shorter, the extra time between buses negates any gains this might yield.
- If you’re going to Chinatown, be prepared to slash other ticketholders because any of the major bus companies will have way overbooked each trip. Getting early makes no difference, you just have to fight through the mob to get a seat. Also, don’t go at night because it’s a relatively long walk from the subway stop through the non-so-nice part of Chinatown.
Tales of the rail
- If you live in the Philadephia suburbs, take the NJ Transit to Trenton instead of the Amtrak to Philly. It’s cheaper and Trenton and 30th Street are nearly equidistant from many Philly suburbs.
- If you’re riding in one of the fancy new NJ Transit double-deckers, head to the bottom level if it’s crowded. Most people seem to prefer the top level and you’re better off trying to find a seat below.
- If you are going Amtrak, make sure to print your barcode out ahead of time for the automated ticket scanners – saves you about 30 minutes standing in line for the ticket window.
- If you’re going to Long Island (probably the most painless travel time) and are taking the LIRR it will be a little more hectic than usual. Check train times in advance at mta.info and leave either before or after the usual rush hour flow of people. You will actually get a seat this way, and won’t have to pay peak prices.
And finally, for all you jet-setters.
- Everyone must know this by now, but if your flight is departing from LaGuardia, expect superhuman wait times. Pack the iPod and the book. Maybe the entire syllabus for next semester’s core requirement.
- Early morning flight? Bring your own snack, because Cinnabon won’t be open yet.
- Some of the major airports have express lines (or express check-in kiosks) for people without any bags to check.
- If you are taking a cab to JFK be sure to depart at minimum 3
hours prior to your scheduled flight, as traffic on the RFK né
Triborough Bridge is frequently excessive after 12 o’clock on the
Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving.
- Remember, many airlines are still charging for any checked
bags. So, basically that means don’t take your laundry cross country
to have your mom wash it for you.
- With its $2.00 fare, the M60 bus is much cheaper than a cab to LaGuardia, but be prepared for the most crowded bus you’ve ever seen. Give yourself at least an hour-and-a-half of extra time before your flight for the M60’s lengthy ride. Also, don’t take more than a travel suitcase on the bus lest you incur the wrath of other riders, and for the love of God, keep your baggage UNDER the seat.
- The easiest, cheapest, and fastest way to get to JFK is the E. Take it to the AirTrain, which is a fun monorail thing that only costs $5 and goes right into the airport.
If you feel strongly about any certain travel plans or have any advice that you would be more than magnanimous enough to share with a fellow Columbian headed home for the holidays please kindly email your travel advice to [email protected].