Don’t Look Back

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snoopythanksgivingOnce again, many of us will be making the pilgrimage from Morningside to a home, whether it’s yours, your grandparents, significant other’s. There will be queues at the airport, train stations and bus terminals. It will be stressful. To help ease the pain, Bwog has once again compiled advice from the most experienced travelers on how best to brave the pre-Thanksgiving exodus. Bear in mind that some readers may have preferred routes or differing past experiences. We are only trying to help! Bwog wishes everyone a safe, cheap, and relatively painless journey home.  And have a happy Thanksgiving!

Some simple tips

  • Leave TODAY.
  • Take Xanax.
  • Charge your iPod.
  • Invest in a neck pillow.
  • THINK AHEAD. Double-check your departure times and locations, any baggage restrictions, and especially how to get to and from your area of departure/arrival.
  • If you are thinking about taking a cab, sign up for Carsplit, Columbia’s cabshare service that organizes taxis to LGA, JFK and Newark.


Planning on driving?

  • Remember, Wednesday November 25th is the worst traffic day of the year. So be prepared.
  • 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.
  • Check metrocommute for up-to-date traffic alerts in the area.

Okay, maybe take the bus.

  • Try to get a bus that has guaranteed seating (Vamoose, Bolt, etc.)
  • Bolt Bus sold out? There are still tickets left on Greyhound. Alternatively, you can always try Craig’s list. Occasionally people post tickets they can no longer use.

  • 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 Broadway. 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.
  • 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 ticket-holders 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.


Or the train.

  • If you live in the Philadelphia 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 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.


If not, that leaves… the plane.

  • Check in online! If your airline has this feature, take advantage of it. It will save you a lot of time and effort upon arrival at the airport.
  • 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 Triborough Bridge is frequently excessive after 12 o’clock on the Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving.
  • Airlines are charging for bags! US Airways is $20 for the first, $30 for the second, and $100 for three or more. However you can save $5 by checking in on-line. Delta is $15 for the first, $20 for the second.
  • With its $2.25 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.

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  1. hmm

    False on that last bit. The easiest and fastest way to JFK is to take the LIRR from Penn to Jamaica, and THEN to hop onto the AirTrain at Jamaica Station. The E is slow as hell.

    Taking the LIRR instead of the E will tack on $5-$8, depending on the time of day, but it will save you at least 30 minutes. And taking either method is still $25-$35 cheaper than taking a cab by yourself.

    • BC 2010

      I thought this too, but I hopstopped the journey yesterday afternoon and it told me that the LIRR option would only be 13 minutes faster (on a Monday night at 8pm). Being the cheapskate that I am, I took the E, and it was actually a super fast ride. I won't take the LIRR again, unless it's at a super obscure hour when e-trains don't run frequently.

      Moral of the story: hopstop the two options and the time you want to travel to see what makes sense.

      • wrong again  

        Hopstop is only as accurate as the schedules for the subway trains that the MTA posts... and when was the last time you relied on one of THOSE to plan when you want to take the #1?

        LIRR is the most reliably fast way to get to JFK quickly, not the E.

  2. D Moser

    Great ticket prices still available for last minute travel on, the orginal express, city to city bus service !

  3. challenge

    For Amtrak, you can just swipe the same credit card you used to reserve the tickets online at the Quiktrak machine. No one with a will to live should ever brave the ticket window line...

  4. will  

    the macy's thanksgiving parade get in the way of my getting up north of here early early thursday morning?

  5. bwog!  


    no one is signing up and I would really love to split a cab...

  6. advice?  

    Does anyone know where it's going to be relatively easy to find a cab at 4am on Thanksgiving Morning? I need to get to LGA for the one flight out of town that was reasonably prized. I honestly have no idea as I've never given an eye to the taxi situation on broadway at 4am.

  7. ...  

    Its as easy as stopping off at your local drug dealer for some xanax!

    • poor simile  

      As a lameass who has never bought Xanax off a drug dealer before, I have no idea of the level of difficulty of said action. Please use a simile likely to be understood by the, upstanding, bookish, and nebbish. Maybe in reference to how long it takes to put on a boy scout uniform? thanks.

  8. but what about  

    westchester. i hear it's way faster to get there than long island. way faster. cab to 125th st. station then metro north to the home county.

    • Old Man

      125th can be heinous with traffic, meaning both the M60 and a cab could be a long trip.

      I highly recommend going down to Grand Central if you're using Metro North, it's a simple 1-2-3 to Times Square, S to GCT. You will NEVER get a seat if you wait for the train at 125th. GCT is much nicer and warmer to wait in, and you can buy beer!

  9. seriously?

    take a xanax? what kind of tip is that? not everybody at columbia is a pill popper.

  10. Its easy  

    Its really easy. My boyfriend takes a 6:30am flight out from laguardia a lot and he never has a problem getting a cab from broadway at 4am.

  11. for the record

    i took the M60 yesterday, and it had a LUGGAGE RACK on the bus. it was like christmas a month early.

  12. BadAnalogyGuy  

    This is actually pretty useful. Like a stopped calendar, even bwog is right every 6 years, or possibly 12 if the leap year lines up wrong, or maybe even 7 if there would usually be a leap year, or 6 normally and then another 7 instead of another 6 because the leap year skipped an extra day on the first that threw it off but there was no leap year on the second rotation through. So like a stopped calendar, bwog is right either every 6, 7, 12, or 13 years.

  13. JJ 5

    The LIRR is always faster and very reliable. There are scheduled times when the trains depart instead of the subway which shows up whenever they feel like it. Don't forget about the CityTicket on weekends, which costs only $3!

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