Flying home is a great option for students from that foreign land called “the North,” located above the Mason-Dixon line. Columbia Metropolitan Airport is only 20 minutes away with cab fares for around $25. Flying out of Douglas International Airport in Charlotte could be a cheaper choice, even if it is 1.5 hours away. Fortunately, there is the Columbia Charlotte Shuttle, which costs $49, picks you up from your dorm and takes you right to the airport. AirTran flies out of Charlotte and gives students under the age of 23 the opportunity to fly standby for sometimes half the price. To book your ticket home, search for flights on travel websites that consolidate multiple search engines into one; skyscanner.com and kayak.com are two great resources.
Columbia to Washington, DC, $203 (indirect) one-way, 6 hours, 45 minutes total
Charlotte to Washington, DC, $49, AirTran U standby one-way, 1.5-hour flight
Charlotte to Washington, DC, $130, one-way, 1.5-hour drive plus 1.5-hour flight
The Amtrak train is a great alternative for students living on the East Coast without a car. The train goes right through Columbia and has stops in every large city along the Eastern seaboard. However, since there are so many destinations, the train is constantly stopping, making the trip home take longer than it would to drive.
Columbia to Washington, D.C., Amtrak, $75, one way, 11-hour ride
There is also the obvious choice: driving home. Sure, it could be tiring to do alone, but you now have the perfect opportunity to sing “Glee” songs at the top of your lungs without anyone’s judgment. Ask someone from your hometown to drive with you, or make flyers around campus to find a ride. Also, consider posting and perusing Craigslist for rideshares; it’s a great way to find cheap or even free rides back, or close to, your hometown -- just be careful with what information you share (maybe Facebook-stalk these people so you know that they aren’t serial killers).
Columbia to Washington, DC, $64.88, car with 20 MPG, about an 8-hour drive
Terrible Travel Tales
“I sat in the backseat while my friend and her mom sang Christian songs at the top of their lungs for two hours straight,” says a third-year visual communications student.
“There’s nothing like being miles up in the mountains when your gas tank hits empty, and there aren’t any gas stations for miles,” says one third-year exercise science student.
“I was stuck in traffic for five hours with someone who really had to go to the bathroom. Let’s just say I’ll never look at Bojangles’ cups the same way ever again,” says a second-year business student.