Travel costs can keep some students from eating Thanksgiving dinner with their families at home.
Many of America’s college towns look more like ghost towns during Thanksgiving break, but some students will remain in their dorms, never having packed a bag.
Frequently, it’s the cost of travel keeping them from reuniting with their families.
Columbia University and Jewish Theological Seminary student Mirit Sands expected to gain independence when she moved to college, but she didn’t expect to feel so far removed from her family.
For the third consecutive Thanksgiving, more than 1,200 miles will separate 21-year-old Sands from the turkey on her family’s table.
The distance from her New Orleans house to her New York campus prohibits Sands from traveling home during the semester, especially when airline fares peak near the holiday.
According to travel booking site Travelocity, Thanksgiving flight fares are up 9% from last year, averaging $398 for a domestic round trip.
“I don’t go home for Thanksgiving break primarily because flights are way too expensive. If I were purchasing a flight to go home for Thanksgiving, I would look to book a flight for Tuesday or Wednesday or maybe even Sunday or Monday, but then I would be missing classes,” Sands said.
While many of her friends travel home for the break, the senior will stay in New York, as she has done since her single college Thanksgiving at home freshman year. This year, her younger sister will be at school with her, a “piece of home” and a reminder of the Thanksgiving they’re missing in New Orleans.
“Just like every other family, my family has our own special Thanksgiving traditions, and it hurts knowing that all my friends are with their families and I’m not,” Sands said. “I miss sitting at the kids table or sneaking a piece of turkey in the kitchen before the meal started. I miss celebrating my Thanksgiving.”
Many schools close dorms during the holiday, but understanding that the cost of travel, among other factors, leave some students unable to go home, universities are becoming more accommodating.
The University of Tampa leaves all of its residence halls open for the long weekend.
Ohio State University’s Office of International Affairs hosts a free turkey dinner for more than 1,400 students, faculty and staff each year.
Some long-distance students endure inconvenience just so they can afford going home.
Liz Garrison, 20, adds hours and miles to her journey from the University of Florida to her home in Ohio. Instead of flying out of Gainesville’s regional airport, Garrison rides an hour and a half south to Orlando with her sorority sisters to catch a plane bound north so she can save more than $100 on airfare.
The sophomore said she knew it would be difficult to travel home when she chose to attend UF, but the added step to her itinerary wasn’t in her initial plans.
“I thought flying out of Gainesville would be a lot easier and cheaper than it actually is. I didn’t think I’d have to fly out of Orlando every time,” Garrison said.
Although Garrison said she feels lucky that her friends are understanding enough to schedule their drive home around her Orlando departure time, she thinks sometimes they don’t realize how fortunate they are to be just a short drive from home.
“It’s kind of funny because people are like, ‘Ugh, I don’t want to do this four-hour ride home’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah, OK…’” Garrison laughed.
Her door-to-door travel time totals about eight hours, an entire day of fighting holiday traffic and airport crowds.
When Garrison does finally make it home and her family reflects on what they’re thankful for, the cost and difficulty of their reunion won’t be on her list.
Powered by Facebook Comments