The holidays are just around the corner, bringing visits to family and friends along with them. For many students, this means traveling home, so it is important to prepare properly for any anticipated travel plans.
Here are some tips on how to prepare for the holidays the right way:
Organize your gear ahead of time
For all residents who have not notified their hall directors that they will be staying for the holidays, residence halls closed on Dec. 16 at 1:30 p.m. Before leaving for winter break, it is important to pack the essentials for a few weeks by locking windows, storing bikes in your dormitory, emptying trash bins and storing food properly. For more information, contact your residence hall director.
Be ready for difficult weather
Although December has been unexpectedly dry this year, unexpected blizzards and snowstorms are common in Colorado and many other midwestern and northern states throughout the season. Whether you are a Colorado native or you are an out-of-state resident, driving in Colorado can be dangerous if the proper precautions aren’t taken. Consider packing or purchasing items such as a scraper or snow brush, a flashlight with extra batteries, jumper cables, a first aid kit, a gallon jug of water, a sleeping bag or blanket, etc. in case of an emergency.
A full weather advisory and a list of phone numbers can be found here on the National Weather Service website.
If you do find yourself stranded or disoriented while driving, one of the most dangerous things you can do for yourself is to panic. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, one of the most useful tips for driving through hazardous weather is to “stay with your car and don’t overexert yourself. Let your car be seen. Put bright markers on the antenna or windows and keep the interior dome light on.”
“Be mindful of carbon monoxide poisoning,” they added. “Make sure your exhaust pipe is clear of any snow and run your car only sporadically — just long enough to stay warm. Don’t run your car for long periods of time with the windows up or in an enclosed space.” More winter weather driving tips and resources can be found here.
For those that are flying home to see family, the weather is still an important factor, especially when leaving for the airport. It may be a good idea to leave early if you are scheduled to be flying out on a stormy day. All types of weather including fog, heavy rains, strong winds, and snow can affect traveling by plane, so it is important to plan accordingly. Thunderstorms and snowstorms are the most dangerous to travel in, so be sure to take this into consideration.
Depending on where you arrive and depart from, major airports like DIA provide live updates on their website for flight delays, security line wait times, and open overnight parking garages.
Be mindful of COVID-19
In addition to standard traveling woes, the pandemic continues to loom large over the holidays, especially with the new Omicron variant on the rise. If you are flying home, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has some vital tips for traveling home during the holidays to limit exposure to the virus.
Be sure to check your destination’s COVID-19 case count before traveling, and follow all travel restrictions of state, territorial and local jurisdictions. This includes proof of vaccination, testing and quarantine requirements.
If you are not fully vaccinated, a COVID-19 viral test is required both before and after your trip if you’re flying internationally. It is also important to note that wearing a mask fully over your nose and mouth in airports and airplanes is required regardless of vaccination status.
Travel plans can often feel stressful, and the pandemic over the past year has increased this stress. But with the right preparation, the holidays will be a joyful time to spend with family and friends.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Haley Lauritzen at Haley.Lauritzen@colorado.edu.