If your holiday family travel includes visiting a few colleges along the way, here are are some travel tips to keep you safe and sane while on the road or in the air.
Set appropriate expectations
Even if you're planning an informal, drop-in visit to a college during winter holiday travel season, it's still a good idea to know what you can expect should you arrive on a whim. If possible, check the college's website before you leave home. Find out whether classes are still in session, exams are underway, or students are packing up and leaving campus to head home for the holidays.
Since campus tours are often lead by students, many colleges suspend campus tours while their students are on break. If you have scheduled a visit in advance and encounter travel delays, call the admission office and let them know your status.
Check your flight but not your bag
Before leaving home, make it a practice to check your flight's status. If you did not sign up for flight alerts when you booked, you have several options for keeping up to date on arrivals and delays:
- Google your flight number. Enter the name of your airline + the flight number in the search box. (Example: USAIR 1234)
- Check your airline's website. Here you will be able to enter your flight number for a status report.
- Visit the Federal Aviation Association's website for a map of flight delays nationwide.
Since delays often occur during peak travel periods and during winter months due to changes in weather conditions, you may want to consider flying only with carry-on luggage. This is especially true if you're flying stand-by. This way, you won't be delayed or inconvenienced by not having your luggage with you when you arrive at your destination.
Be a smart phone-savvy driver
- While still at home, prep your smart phone by adding the college's address and admission office phone number to your contacts.
- Sign up for text or e-mail alerts from the college or university you plan to visit.
- If using a separate GPS system, set up your college destination before you pull out of the driveway (not while driving!).
- Add weather alert notifications to your phone as well as the numbers to call for road condition updates, which are available from the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration's website.
Visiting campus during the “off season” can be fun and interesting, but it may not provide you with access to all of the information you need to properly evaluate the college or university. Enjoy your visit, and make plans to return when campus is in full swing to really experience what it would be like to be as student there.
Do you have a holiday college visit story to share or a great travel tip? Please comment below to share your tip!