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Fall Break, Thanksgiving, Winter vacation, Spring Break - red-letter days on a college student's calendar! A time to come home, see your family, relax, and reconnect with old friends. But before you leave campus, be sure to run through the following checklist:
Unplug your computer and appliances. If you can, bring your computer home with you.
Empty your refrigerator. Some residence halls turn off the electricity during school vacations. After a few weeks most food turns skuzzy anyhow.
Take out all the garbage.
Take your home and school keys, IDs, wallet, cash, credit cards, checkbook, passport, airline ticket confirmation and information, regular medications, glasses, and contact lenses.
Don't travel without cash.
Charge your cell phone before leaving.
Close the windows, turn off the lights, and lock the doors.If you're flying home:
- Figure out how you're getting to the airport - call in advance for cabs (remember, everyone else is leaving too), arrange to share rides or vans.
- Be sure to have a photo-ID and allow plenty of time at the airport before your departure - these tend to be prime travel times.
- Dress comfortably, and be prepared to remove shoes and belts at security checkpoints.
- Don't pack anything valuable (like cameras or laptops) in your checked luggage.
- Don't make your luggage too heavy. Most airlines charge a "heavy" fee if luggage exceeds a certain weight. Some also charge for any bag checked, regardless of weight. Check with your carrier prior to packing for their regulations.
- Make sure your checked luggage has security locks approved by the TSA (Transportation Security Administration). This ensures that if security needs to look inside your bag they can disable the lock easily and relock it without breaking it.
- Carry-on luggage saves time and doesn't get lost. Include a change of clothing, your toiletries, your cell phone charger, medications and prescriptions, and something to keep yourself busy in case of delays.
- TSA (Transportation Security Administration) has instituted a 3-1-1 rule for any liquids in carry-on bags. It goes as follows: 3.4 ounce bottle or less (by volume); 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger placed in screening bin. What this means is one-quart bag per person limits the total liquid volume each traveler can bring. The 3.4 ounce container size is a security measure. If in doubt, contact your carrier for more information, or place any liquids in your checked bag.
- Put luggage tags with your name and both your home and school phone numbers on ALL your bags.
- If your travel plans are flexible, consider getting "bumped" to a later flight in exchange for free airline tickets.
- Check fluid levels and tire pressure before you go. Fill the gas tank.
- Map out your route and alternatives ahead of time in case of delays or construction. If you can get your hands on a GPS, whether it's a mounted one or through your cell phone, this will be a great addition to your journey, but don't rely on it solely (and please do not drive while working your GPS device or phone!).
- Make sure you have your current license, registration and insurance cards.
- Emergency equipment you need: charged cell phone, jack, jumper cables, can of tire inflator, flashlight, flares, first aid kit, and ice scraper. (A membership in an emergency roadside assistance club will give everyone peace of mind.)
- Let your parents know your travel route and estimated timetable. Keep in touch with them throughout the ride home.
And while you're traveling, you can look forward to sleeping in your own bed, raiding the refrigerator and seeing all the people who are happy you're coming home!