By Morgan Thornburg
Clean, warm clothes littered the floor as student Tara Brooks decided exactly which outfits to pack for her trip to visit her boyfriend in San Diego during the Thanksgiving break. She, along with many other students at Humboldt State University, faced the important question of how to return home for the holidays.
Due to its remote location, Humboldt students are forced to decide whether or not they want to return home, and if so, how they are going to get there. For many students, “home” is a very long way away. Brooks had to travel 773 miles to get from the university to her final destination in San Diego. Those who want to visit friends and family for the holidays have a few options for doing so: they can catch a bus, ride a train, take a plane or drive themselves. Each means of transportation has its own benefits and disadvantages.
For Brooks, taking trains and buses through Amtrak was the route to go. She took a bus from Arcata to Martinez, a train from Martinez to Bakersfield, and another bus from Bakersfield to Southern California. This trip took 24 hours, which is a bit longer than it would have taken to drive. However, she found that using Amtrak was the best option overall.
“Amtrak was a lot cheaper than my other options,” Brooks said. “I don’t have my own car, and I don’t trust other drives, but plane tickets are just too expensive.”
For others, taking a train isn’t necessary. Jane Mathews took the Greyhound bus to San Jose. This trip took nine hours. While it would have taken only six hours if she driven herself, she decided it was cheaper and easier to take the bus.
“I chose the Greyhound because it was the cheapest option, and I could leave straight from Arcata,” Mathews said. As a freshmen student, this was Mathews’ first time returning home. She did not have a traveling companion, but said she felt safe on her journey.
For those who have a time crunch, such as Megan Alfi, taking a plane can be a lot more convenient. Alfi decided to fly home for Thanksgiving break because her birthday was the first Saturday of break and she wanted to spend that time with her family. In order to get the cheapest price available, Alfi’s mother decided to buy the tickets in advance.
“When I was out of the country over the summer, my mom just bought the tickets,” she explained. “I didn’t really have any say in it.”
However, Alfi was more than happy to return to her home in Seattle as quickly as possible. Her journey included two different planes, one from Arcata to San Francisco and a second from San Francisco to Seattle. The trip took approximately five and a half hours, but would have taken 11 hours if she had chosen to drive.
“It’s fast, but expensive,” Alfi noted.
Some people prefer to drive themselves, or to catch a ride through the Ride Share Board, located on the second level of the J in front of the Housing and Dining office. Junior Kaliegh Bradly has been driving herself home to Sacramento for the three years that she’s been at Humboldt State. She visits both her family and her boyfriend at least once a month.
“I drive myself because it’s cheaper,” Bradly explained. “I can take other riders and get 20 bucks per person for gas.”
Bradly finds other riders through the Ride Share Board and social networking. If necessary, she can take special routes to drop people off at their destinations along the way.
“I enjoy driving, so the longer drives don’t really bother me,” Bradly said. “It’s really pretty going towards Redding and I just listen to a lot of music.”
Of course, not everyone wants to go back home for the holidays. Ian O’Brien and his friends decided to spend the week on a backpacking trip at the Lost Coast. Instead of going home, he and five of his friends spent four nights in the wilderness.
“We went hiking, slept, ate a lot, and attempted to make fires to keep warm,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien does plan to visit home in Colorado for the winter break, but he said he isn’t sure if he will drive himself or take a plane.
As the long winter break nears, Humboldt students have many options to consider for how to get home – if they chose to go home at all. When choosing a means of transportation, students must consider pricing, travel time, and, of course, the different luggage limits.