Written by Bwog Staff
The holidays in New York are the most wonderful time of the year… so long as you live in New York. For the rest of us, it entails a desperate odyssey to get out of the city in order to see our friends and families. There are lots of ways to get out in one piece. Bwog’s resourceful Peter Sterne tells you how.
If you’ve shrewdly decided to live close to Columbia, then you should be able to take the train home.
Those traveling to Westchester or southern Connecticut on Metro-North should make sure to check the holiday schedule here and you should wish you had the foresight to buy a ticket online. If you (like this Bwogger) have yet to buy a ticket, make sure to get to Grand Central at least an hour or two early since the lines in front of the ticket machines will be ridiculous. Alternatively, you could take the M60 to 125th station, which should have shorter lines at the ticket machines. But remember that if you catch the train at 125th, you’ll be lucky if there’s standing room, let alone a seat, on the train.
When traveling on NJ Transit or the LIRR, the same advice applies. Here are the NJ Transit and LIRR schedules that cover Thanksgiving. Just make sure you go to Penn Station instead of Grand Central or 125th!
If you’re an Amtrak customer, be sure to take advantage of the Quik-Trak system. All you have to do is make a reservation on Amtrak’s site, print out the order confirmation, and scan the order confirmation at a kiosk in Penn Station that will print out your ticket for you. If you’re an Amtrak customer, though, you’re probably paying way too much for your ticket (especially if you’re taking the Acela!) if you’re willing to endure a longer travel time, you can get to the same place for a fraction of the price.
If you decide to fly, make sure to check if your airline offers online check-in. This service allows you to check in to your flight before you even arrive at the airport, saving you fro waiting in the long line at the check-in counter. Most major airlines, including United, Continental, Jetblue, US Airways, Southwest, Delta, American Airlines, Air Canada, and British Airways offer this useful service.
Of course, one of the biggest hassles of flying out of New York City (other than those new full-body scanners) is just getting to the airport in the first place.
If you’re going to LaGuardia with light luggage and you have an hour or two to spare, you can’t beat taking the M60 for only $2.25.
You could take a cab to JFK (check out Carsplit, always!) but it’s much cheaper to get to the E train (at either Port Authority or 50th street) and take it to the JFK Airtrain.
If you’ve inexplicably decided that your best bet is to fly out of Jersey, you should avoid the roads at all costs. There’s a reason the GWB was named one of the most congested freeways in the country. Instead, get down to the Port Authority PENN STATION and take NJ Transit to the Newark Airtrain.
The king of buses is BoltBus, which offers dirt cheap tickets and amenities including WiFi and power outlets. Unsurprisingly, every single Boltbus ticket for Wednesday is sold out. At post time, there were a few tickets available on Craigslist, but they weren’t too cheap.
For us frugal students, the next best option is probably a Chinatown bus line. But be warned: these buses are almost overbooked, so get there early and practice your Mandarin ahead of time. Fung Wah, the oldest and most famous Chinatown bus, will get you from Manhattan to Boston with no stops and no amenities for $15. If you can afford an extra $5 and want a more BoltBus-like experience, you can check out the new Worldwide Bus, which will get you from Manhattan to Newton, MA (Boston College) or Cambridge, MA (Harvard/MIT) for only $20.
If you need to go to another East Coast city, you can check out the prices of various routes that Chinatown buses cover here. If you want to stay away from Chinatown, you can check out the mainstream line Greyhound, which has guaranteed seating and rates that are sometimes competitive with the Chinatown lines.
What if you’re not lucky enough to live on the East Coast? Well, Greyhound can take you anywhere in North America if you’re willing to pay over $100 for a ticket.
However you plan to get out of the city, make sure that you don’t leave it to the last minute. Unlike TAs, trains and planes won’t give you extensions. And if you any advice on traveling during the holidays, feel free to leave it in the comments! Happy no-school, friends!