With the holidays and winter break coming closer with each passing week, it’s important to have some travel plans. And back-up plans for when those travel plans don’t go as planned. Going to UNH means that a lot of us have to go through Boston in order to get home. And for those of you where this is your first holidays in college, trust me when I say that holiday travel can get extremely hectic.
So here are some tips on travel in Boston for all points south and some cheap, easy and even free alternatives for when your plans don’t go quite as planned.
Top 4 Tips on Traveling to Boston From UNH
Getting from UNH to Beantown.
For the extensive guide of getting to, from and around Boston, make sure to check out my blog post: Getting to Boston from UNH. When it comes to traveling for the holidays, though, there is no travel tip more important than this: the early bird gets the worm. Or rather, the earlier you get to the train station, the better your chance of getting your first choice of seat. The recommended time to arrive for the Downeaster is 20 minutes before. At the holidays though, you might want to consider like a half-hour or earlier.
You also might want to take a look at your schedule because the earlier you leave campus, the better. And especially with the construction going on with the train tracks. The trains have been running late or have been canceled. I would also highly recommend downloading the Amtrak App to keep up with the status of your train.
Wildcats and the Order of the Bus Terminal
So you’re in Boston and need to head southbound towards Connecticut, New York and beyond. That means that you’re going to now be spending a lot of time in South Station. Some things to know.
- BE EARLY! I can’t say how important being early to your bus is when it comes to Thanksgiving travel at South Station. Remember that it’s not just UNH using the station. It’s BC, BU, Simmons, Emanuel, Emerson, Tufts and all of the other schools in and around Boston using those buses. For those of us who have been doing this trip for a while now, we know how long those lines can get. If you don’t want to be at the end of that line and maybe get on the first scheduled bus to your destination versus the fifth: get there early.
- Food. So if you only enter through the bus terminal, it looks like there are only three options for a meal at the South Station Bus Terminal. Luckily, just a few hundred feet away is the South Station Train Terminal with its variety of food choices ranging from Chinese to froyo and more. And none of these options are expensive which is great!
- Water. Have water with you. This is a dry season and you might have a long bus ride. Have bottle of water with you to keep hydrated!
So your travel plans have been interrupted…
Traveling in Boston is not perfect. Sometimes buses leave early, trains are late and sometimes there are cancellations that could leave you stranded in the city for hours. That means you need to have a back-up plan of things to do if you don’t want to just sit on the floor of a transportation center.
- Option 1: The MFA. The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston has two great things for when we Wildcats get stranded in Boston. First, with your student ID it is free. That’s right Cats, FREE. Just mention the deal and show your ID and you’re all set with your free ticket to a world of art. Second, complimentary coat and bag check. Now you don’t have to carry that heavy suitcase around!
- Option 2: Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market. If you’re there before noon or on a weekday it is pretty relaxing. You can find a seat in the food court and casually browse through the shops without wading through large amounts of tourists. Just remember there’s a little walk from Park Street! Note, walking around here is free but everything else will cost you.
- Option 3: Take a Walk around Park Street. Depending on how much time you have and how much luggage you have with you, go take a walk. Getting off at the Park Street T Stop offers a lovely walk through the Boston Common and Public Garden. And, if you’re feeling really adventurous, you can keep going and do some window shopping on Newbury Street! Then you can just take the T from Hynes Convention back to Park and avoid the long walk back. Unless you want to, of course.
Back on Track and Back in Line
Now that you’re bus situation is all settled after your wandering around the city, it’s time to emphasize this point again: Be early! Get in line and have everything out and ready. Have your ticket in hand, earbuds in and keep the line moving when they finally start letting passengers on board. Your readiness helps keep everything moving. Note, decide if you want to window seat or aisle while in line because when it comes to holiday bus transit, you most likely will have a bus buddy.