Nov 17, 2009

Planes, trains and automobiles: Find a way home for Thanksgiving

by Tiffany Edwards

The Thanksgiving holiday exodus is almost upon the Liberty University campus. Students who have been living solely on Pop Tarts, Mountain Dew and ramen noodles are drooling with the anticipation of going home to their first home-cooked meal in months, right after they face the battery of exams, essays and projects due during the last three days before Nov. 20. This means they have to make reliable travel arrangements in addition to studying for tests, completing projects and possibly adjusting a part-time work schedule to make it home before mom’s apple pie gets cold.

Before sending out mass e-mails to every class on their Blackboard listing, students should consider the various options offered by airlines and train stations. Amtrak offers discounts for students, active-duty military personnel and veterans.

For example, Amtrak currently offers a round-trip fare from Lynchburg to New York for $249. With the 15 percent discount for veterans and students added, the cost is reduced to $211.65. A round-trip fare to Orlando, Fla., normally costs $411, and $349.35 with the veteran and Student Advantage discount, saving a student $61.65 on train fare.

For students looking for affordable airfare, offers a round-trip flight to Orlando, Fla., from Richmond for $428 through AirTran Airways. Travelocity offers the same flight for $393 through U.S. Airways. When shopping for flights back home, students should check multiple sites such as Travelocity, Expedia and, to name just a few.

The Student Advantage Card offered by Amtrak costs $20, and gives a 15 percent discount for adult train fare for a year. The card itself can also be used at other locations such as Dick’s Sporting Goods, Target, Foot Locker, AMC Theaters and many other stores with discounts of up to 50 percent, which would definitely come in handy during infamous Black Friday shopping.

For students who will not be able to take the trip home, it never hurts to share Thanksgiving dinner with friends off campus, or to travel home with good friends to spend time with their families. There are many parents who are happy to open their homes to displaced college students during the holiday, with a little persuasion from their own children, of course. Just make sure to be a good guest. Do not wear out your welcome, and do not be so helpful with preparing the feast that you set the kitchen on fire.

Contact Tiffany Edwards at

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