Nov 18, 2008

Lowered gas prices alleviate travel woes for break

by Kerah Kemmerer

Students are ready to hit the road. Those who take time to prepare should have few issues as they set out to enjoy the holidays at home.

For students who are driving, several precautions should be taken according to a report from the University of Michigan at Flint (UMF). The tips include mapping out a course beforehand as well as making sure a road assistance company is accessible. Also, be sure the vehicle’s insurance coverage extends to out-of state incidents.

Other practical, but sometimes overlooked, advice includes planning to stop at shopping centers since out-of-state drivers are a greater target at roadside rest stops, driving in the daytime rather than late at night, keeping car doors locked at all times, and keeping a cell phone on and charged.

“I am setting my trip up in halves,” senior Brooke McDowell said. “That way I won’t have to drive the 10-hour trip to Alabama all at once.”

When stopping to take breaks, do not stand around the car or spend time packing or unpacking the trunk. Be sure to walk quickly, in a business-like manner and once ready to leave again, do not roll down the window to answer any questions from strangers, according to UMF.

One suggestion is not to pull over for anyone, including a police officer. It is better to turn on caution lights, drive to the nearest exit, pull into a well-lit busy parking lot, and call 911.

“Pack food and water,” senior Brandi Llewellyn said. “It will save tons of time and money.”

Seat belt safety is crucial in saving lives. For front seat belt wearers, survival rates are increased by 50 percent, according to Texas Department of Transportation. The department outlines the proper way to wear a seat belt, stating that lap belts should fit snugly across the hips rather than over the stomach, while shoulder belts go over the shoulder and across the center of the chest.

Also, never tuck a shoulder belt under your arm or behind your back. A report made in 2006 from the National Highway Transportation Safety Association estimates that 15,383 lives were saved by the use of seat belts.

Air travel is a good option for avoiding the hassles of driving. Some basic preparations for flying (driving too) include getting plenty of sleep before you leave, eating well-balanced meals while traveling, exercising as much as possible on your trip by walking around from time and drinking plenty of water, according to

Be prepared to remove shoes during the airport checkpoint, keep a carry-on bag de-cluttered and liquids in checked baggage, according to Plan to arrive no less than an hour before the flight is scheduled to depart, have government issued identification ready, and do not attempt to carry liquids, lotions, gels or aerosols onto the plane. Liquids weighing 3.4 oz. or less are permitted when packed in a resealable plastic bag. Finally, do not wrap gifts that are carried on as they will be examined and may be unwrapped by TSA officials, according to Lynchburg Regional Airport.

For cost effective travel, flying may not be the best option. However, when it comes to comfort, there is no question for junior Alex Marsh.

“Flying costs more, but it is more efficient,” Marsh said. “You can sleep on a plane and they give you those nice pillows.”
Junior Michael Pixomatis likes the benefits of train travel.

“It is fast and easy,” Pixomatis said. “You do not get slowed down by rush hour.”

Make sure to plan well in advance to ensure a seat and to avoid paying a higher fee as prices rise closer to the departure date, according to It is also suggested to travel light, bring a blanket if traveling overnight, pack food for convenience and pay careful attention to train announcements so as not to miss the stop. Students who wish to take the train can find Amtrak in downtown Lynchburg at Kemper Street Station.

An online forum offers different opinions on traveling by bus. Some recommend taking your own food, bringing music to block out noise, dressing down so as not to attract attention to yourself and being extremely aware of the surroundings. Users of the yahoo forum strongly suggest using the bus as a last option due to the nature of long delays and less than ideal comfort conditions.
Most importantly, avoid traveling when tired or alone and always be aware of the surroundings.


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