As Easter is quickly approaching many people may be considering going home for a while. I travelled home this weekend for the first time since Christmas and I had forgotten how much you need to remember and how many things you need to do before you leave.
My first piece of advice for anyone thinking of going home is to book any travel as far in advance as you can. This often means you can get it a lot cheaper than you would on the day and also means you can organise and plan your trips within plenty of time. For rail travel the cheapest tickets are available 12 weeks prior to the date of travel, a benefit of booking tickets in this way means that even if something comes up meaning you can no longer travel the tickets are that cheap you won’t be too much out of pocket. As well as booking tickets in advance if you are frequently planning to travel by rail, a railcard is an excellent investment. With a 16-25 railcard you can save 1/3 on train journeys. This combined with booking in advance can equal massive savings over time. Last year I travelled home around once or twice a month and using my rail card and advance booking I saved over £500. Apps such as Trainline are also a valuable tool as they find you the cheapest ticket for your journey and work out which trains you need to get, where you need to change and which would be the fastest route.
Once you have your main method of transport secured it is also important to consider how long it will take you to get home and if other methods of transport are required. For me when travelling home I need to get the university free bus into Ormskirk, the train from Ormskirk to Liverpool and then another train from Lime Street to Nottingham. I would suggest that if you are travelling home for the first time using new methods of transport that you leave extra time for your journey or even have a practise run to see how long it actually takes. There’s nothing worse than being stuck in traffic or missing a train that means you miss the train on the final leg of your journey. Ormskirk has plenty of travel options for students and using a combination of bus or train you can generally end up getting wherever you need to be.
Before travelling you need to think about what you’re taking home. From experience on your first few trips home you’ll try to pack your entire wardrobe, five pairs of shoes and a month’s worth of washing into a carry on size suitcase for three nights at home. This will soon fade away when you realise lifting a heavy suitcase on a train is what nightmares are made of. Try to pack the bare essentials and if possible have duplicates at home to save in what you need to carry. When I’m packing I like to make a list as I’m guaranteed to forget something essential. As long as you have your keys to get back in, money and tickets for where you’re going you’re basically set, I’d consider these things to be my essentials. As well as this make sure you have something to do on the journey. Trains can be the most boring of places especially if it is dark and you cannot see anything out of the window. I like to have something to watch on my iPad, something to read or some work to finish off to make the journey that bit quicker.
When leaving Uni there’s also a few things to think about. Consider what you have in the fridge before coming home. No one wants to come back to lumpy milk and green cheese. A quick check of dates in your fridge and cupboard before you leave should prevent this. As well as checking what you have that might go off make sure you have something in for when you come back, depending when you travel you may not be feeling like doing a full shop and an empty fridge is not what you want after a long journey back.
Last of all enjoy your time at home, the journey can be stressful and you’ll have checked and double checked that you’ve got everything and still forgotten something but it is all worthwhile. The more you travel the better you will get and you’ll become accustomed to the little tricks that make every journey easier.