When I was applying for colleges last year, I really wanted to get into a school outside my home state of Texas. I accomplished this goal and now get to attend Wes! However, when it came time to actually move to Middletown, CT from Dallas, TX, I found that there were not many sources to turn to that described the long-distance college moving process.
Being low-income, it was really important for me to figure out how I was going to travel between Texas and Connecticut at the cheapest cost. The biggest problem I ran into before I came to Wes was figuring out how I was going to move all my things to campus and what I should buy ahead of time vs. what I could wait to buy once I got there. I’ve separated this article into three of my travel experiences; Orientation Move-in, Fall Break, and Winter Break. Although I am speaking specifically about my experience moving from Texas, this post can definitely help out anyone who is flying from another part of the country.
So sometime in the summer before coming to Wes, I applied for a program called First Things First. Here’s info on it if you’re a first-gen student and you’re interested: http://wesleyan.edu/orientation/first_generation.html
I got into the program and they covered my flight to Wes!! (This was a great opportunity and I encourage y’all to apply if you feel like it applies to you)
The flight was with United Airlines and did not cover checked bags though, so I paid $60 for two checked bags and brought a backpack. In those checked bags, I packed clothes, shoes, my makeup, a hair dryer, and some notebooks/dorm stuff. I didn’t pack anything I knew I would need to buy new or that would take up too much space in the luggage.
The program started 3 days before regular orientation which was great since it included a shopping trip to Walmart so I could buy things like sheets, laundry detergent, toiletries, etc. I would recommend looking up any of those college packing dorm essential lists online and seeing what applies to you!
Wesleyan also has an event called “Waste-Not” during Orientation week where students from the previous year donate their stuff (mini fridges, room decor, organizational stuff, etc.) and you can buy it for super cheap. I got a mini fridge, a lamp, hangers, and room decor for less than $40.
At times, I was worried I wasn’t going to be able to buy everything I wanted or was going to forget something that I would need later, but it really wasn’t a big deal. Amazon Prime was literally my bff the first semester of freshman year!! If I needed something I always found it on Amazon or if it was an emergency I could usually borrow it from someone else in my dorm.
Trying to pack your entire life for college in two checked bags just isn’t going to happen so please don’t stress yourself out if you think flying to another part of the country is going to mean spending loads on shipping and checked bags!!! It is so much easier and way cheaper to just buy stuff once you get to Wesleyan. Something no one told me!
So Fall Break at Wes is like two random days in the middle of October (this is NOT Thanksgiving Break, that’s a different break). Some people go home for this break while many choose to stay on campus. I chose to go home for this break because I was getting kind of homesick and flights to Dallas were super cheap at this time (compared to around Thanksgiving time) (also, Fall Break and Thanksgiving Break are the same amount of days so whatever). #1 tip I learned from booking this flight was that plane tickets are wayyyy cheaper from NYC to Dallas than from Hartford to Dallas).
Okay so here’s where some math comes in (I’m sorry):
A shuttle ticket from Wesleyan to NYC Grand Central Station = $30 ($60 round trip). These shuttle tickets are available on the Wesleyan Box Office website and basically a bus goes from/to NYC at the beginning and end of school breaks!! Here’s info on the shuttle: http://www.wesleyan.edu/transportation/fallbreak.html
A plane ticket from LaGuardia Airport to DFW Airport (roundtrip): $85 (I found this flight on Kayak.com and bought early)
I booked the flight with Spirit Airlines. Be aware: Spirit is super cheap b/c it doesn’t include any carry-on bags or in flight food/drinks like other airlines do. They do allow you to bring a backpack or purse. This wasn’t a problem for me with this trip since I was only going home for a few days but if you do need to bring more luggage, I would recommend buying a checked bag since it’s cheaper than a carry-on. Here’s more info on Spirit: https://www.spirit.com/AboutUs.aspx
So basically I took the Wesleyan shuttle to New York the day before my flight, stayed with a friend who attends SVA in NYC and then took a Lyft to Laguardia the next day. The Lyft from her dorm was about $25 since I used Lyft Line (basically carpool which makes the ride cheaper). I’m lucky and know someone I can stay with in New York but if you don’t, there are many folks at Wes who live in NY and it wouldn’t hurt to post on WesAdmits if someone would be willing to let you stay at their place for a night.
When I was coming back from Dallas, I arrived at LaGuardia and stayed overnight at my friend’s dorm again. I took the subway to Grand Central and got on the Wesleyan shuttle (already paid for since I bought a round trip ticket). Then went straight to Wes!
This seems like a lot to do just to get a super cheap flight, but even with all the added expenses like Lyft, checked bags, and the shuttle, the trip is still cheaper from NYC than from Hartford. Prices from Hartford to Dallas are usually around $500. This trip in total cost me $170.
Okay so Winter Break at Wesleyan is crazy long. The 2017 Winter Break went from December 16th to January 23rd. Yes like a month. For this trip I knew I wanted to bring a big checked bag since I was probably going to want to bring clothes back to school, especially after realizing my light jackets and jeans weren’t going to cut it in this Northeast weather :’-(
So anyways, I did this trip basically the same way I did the Fall Break trip.
Took the Wesleyan shuttle to NYC, stayed the night, Lyfted to LaGuardia, and flew home to Dallas. This flight I purchased one checked bag with Spirit Airlines for $35.
*BUT* if the time that the Wesleyan shuttle is set to go to New York does not work for you, there is another option to get there and it costs about the same price as the shuttle.
First thing, you need to Lyft to New Haven Union Station. The cost is about $40 but most people will split it with others who are also planning to go to Union Station around the same time. Post on WesAdmits and WesRides to see who wants to split the ride! Many people do for breaks.
Once you get to Union Station, get a ticket to Grand Central Station. I believe it’s $17. There is an MTA app that lets you buy the ticket on your phone and Traintime app which lets you see what times trains leave any station. I use and recommend both apps!! But you can also go online to buy and see times: http://www.mta.info/
If you need to go straight to the airport once you get to Grand Central, one of the best things I’ve discovered is NYC Aiporter (https://www.nycairporter.com/) This is a bus that stops at Grand Central and drives you straight to LaGuardia or JFK airport! It’s $16-18 depending on which airport you’re going to (wayyy cheaper than taking a Lyft). I have never had a problem using this bus and highly recommend! I have always paid for it at the stop with one of the attendants but I believe you can buy ahead of time online. It also goes from the both airports to Grand Central, Penn Station, and Times Square.
You can also use the subway to get to Grand Central or Penn Station and take the Airporter from there if you’re not going to the airport right when you get to NYC.
Soooo these have been my experiences with travelling to and from Dallas while attending Wesleyan. If you find that you cannot go home for a break, you can stay on campus (there are many people who do). Winter Break is a little different because you have to request to stay on campus before a certain deadline but you will get an e-mail about this before Winter Break if you need more info! I have not finished my first year at Wesleyan but when I do, I will add my experience on moving out of campus for the summer!