With today’s skyrocketing oil prices, the coming-of-age journey to college is getting more and more costly, sometimes limiting which college a student chooses. No longer can you throw everything but the kitchen sink into the trunk of your car and hightail it to freedom-land. In our current economic state, you have to plan ahead and consider your best options, whether you’re moving to College Station or California.
Formerly considered a stress-free form of travel, plane tickets are now more closely related to deals with the devil, considering all the add-on costs and fees. As of August, to recoup fuel costs, airline companies are charging individual fees for first, second, third, oversized, and overweight bags checked. If you’re checking a second bag that weighs more than 50 pounds and the total height, length, and width is 63 inches, Delta will charge you $255 each way! But the tack-on fees don’t stop with baggage. Jet Blue is now charging $7 for a pillow and blanket kit — but it’s new and you can keep it — while US Airways charges for all beverages, even water, on flights within the U.S. Before even considering purchasing a plane ticket, scour airlines’ websites for these fees.
If you’re set on traveling the not-so-friendly skies, be wise about what you pack into those checked bags. First, consider limiting yourself to two bags. The average price for a second checked bag is $25, which is cheaper than shipping 50 pounds worth of stuff. Also, only pack the essentials: clothes, toiletries, and must-have memorabilia. Keep all of your important documents and electronics in your carry-on bag because airlines have a lovely habit of losing checked bags. Make sure you can handle the bags you’re checking. Two huge roller bags and a smaller carry-on roller will be hectic to wo/manhandle if you’re traveling alone.
Fuel prices have made moving by car or U-Haul a last resort, expensive form of travel. A U-Haul truck alone is going to cost you hundreds of dollars, not to mention the few-hundred more for gas. PODS and Upack are two companies that are gaining popularity by taking the stress out of the equation. They deliver a crate to you, you fill it, then they pick it up and deliver it to your destination. Prices depend on the city: a single PODS container to Chicago can cost $600, but it can cost $1,200 if you’re traveling to a city without much PODS traffic.
Whether you’re moving into a dorm or an apartment, flying or driving, only ship or bring essential items. If you’re moving to a big city or campus, buy local. On websites like craigslist.org or your college’s bulletin boards you’ll often find steals on everything from coffee makers to couches. If relatives want to give you a parting gift, resist the urge to ask for specific items like that adorable, art-deco wall mirror. Ask for cash, then buy to your heart’s content when you’ve reached your destination. Also, make a list of things you want to bring before you start packing. This eliminates the last-minute, grabbing-everything-in-sight rush that leads to heavier, more expensive traveling.
Moving to college is no longer that reckless, free-spirited journey we see in movies, but you can control the stress level if you plan wisely. College is supposed to be a new stage in life, so don’t bog yourself down with excessive baggage. Start fresh with a lighter load and a heavier wallet. •