As the holiday season rapidly approaches, the images of Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas morning and New Year’s Eve hold steadfast in our minds.
During these times, people spend the holidays with those whom they love. If their loved ones live in a city outside the Yuba-Sutter area, the images of holiday travel also run through people’s minds. Embedded in those images are masses of others traveling to visit their loved ones as well.
Anticipating the rush that accompanies holiday travel, prepared travelers should be thinking of how they can help their trip run smoothly among the multitude of people taking to the road, rails and air. For this reason, “The Prospector” gathered information from Greyhound, Amtrak, and Southwest Airlines to aid college travelers in their journeys home for the holidays.
Greyhound Lines is a bus service that has destinations throughout the country. Over 800,000 people chose to travel with Greyhound last year, according to spokesperson Kim Plaskett.
“It’s difficult to get a projection, because most of our passengers buy their tickets two hours ahead of their travel time,” said Plaskett. “We have projected that we will meet or exceed 800,000 passengers between November 22 and December 2,” continued Plaskett. “That was the amount of passengers we had during the Thanksgiving time period last year.”
Amtrak is a rail service that travels to most of the continental United States. In 2001, Amtrak served more than 23.5 million passengers, an all-time high for the 31-year old rail company. Spokesperson Sarah Swain answered questions about what Amtrak expects this holiday season.
“Thanksgiving is our busiest time of year,” commented Swain. “Last year during the Thanksgiving period, we had about 500,000 passengers. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving we had 110,000 passengers, up from about 58,000 passengers on the other Wednesdays in November.”
“To help accommodate the Thanksgiving rush,” added Swain, “Amtrak is adding 50,000 seats nationwide.”
Southwest Airlines is a low-fare airline that serves over 30 states in the country. Because of the competitive nature of the airline industry, projections were not available for this article, but Southwest did offer tips for a smoother travel experience.
Southwest suggests passengers put their names and addresses on both the inside and outside of all luggage, and keep all valuables and medications in their carry-on luggage.
Southwest also suggests keeping liquid containers that could spill or break in a sealed plastic bag or unbreakable container, and carrying a list of the items in your carry-on at all times.
Greyhound and Amtrak also gave travel tips to help ease the holiday rush. Plaskett suggested that Greyhound passengers expect some delay at the bus station due to the amount of people going through the turnstiles.
“There will also be security guards with handheld metal detectors,” said Plaskett. “Also, passengers should show up one hour in advance, pack their belongings in durable luggage, tagged inside and out, medication and valuables should be carried on, and passengers should call Greyhound Lines or visit its website ahead of time for schedules and price information.”
“Passengers can bring snacks, reading material, headsets and pillows,” continued Plaskett. “Also, for longer trips, people should ask about meal stops, so they can plan accordingly.”
Swain advises Amtrak passengers book in advance as much as possible.
“Photo ID is required to purchase tickets,” said Swain. “Also, we recommend Amtrak passengers arrive at the station one hour ahead of time, and try not to travel the Wednesday before and the Sunday after Thanksgiving. There is a two carry-on limit, other than purses, briefcases or laptops.”