If you are flying home for the Winter Break, you are already aware that packing to go home on a plane is very different than packing to drive home in a car. You might have packed three suitcases moving to Clark or bought a lot of your necessary items for dorm living in Worcester, but Winter Break is a strange length of time (around a month) where you need more than a small bag you would pack for a long weekend trip, but still can’t pack your whole life into a bag. As someone who has flown back and forth between Clark and California for four years, here are some tips I have to help make your packing and flight experience easier!
2 to 3 Weeks Out
This might seem a bit early to pack, but it is a good time to start thinking about packing. Most students fly out within a day or two of finishing their last final, and that is a very short period of time to pack, say goodbye to friends, and then get to the airport. You will be very busy studying the week before and of finals, so use this 2-3 week period beforehand to prepare:
- Make a packing list (an easy, mindless task to do if you need a break from studying).
- Locate any lost items you know you would want to bring home. This includes your passport or any other important identification information you need to get on the plane.
- Call your parents and ask what items you already have at home (Rain jacket, shampoo, toothbrush, workout shoes, etc.)
- Make a list of people you want to make plans with at home and places to visit.
- Be aware of any take-home exams you might have to do once at home.
- Think of pleasure reading books you might want to purchase in hard copy or from an online source to read on the plane while you still have free time to go to the bookstore.
- Check Amazon (or other rental sources) to see when your textbook rentals are due back so you aren’t late. This often requires finding your own box and other shipping materials.
- Make sure your friends know when you are leaving.
- Schedule transportation to the airport. You can utilize an airport van service such as Worcester Airport Limo, which you can reserve and that will pick you up in a 12-person van at whatever time and location you need. They also carry your bags for you! You can also ask friends to drive you, post in Clark’s Craigslist or get the train schedule.
- If you have any prescriptions, make sure you have enough to get you through the next few weeks, and any amount needed at home if you can only get your prescription here in Worcester.
5 to 10 Days Out
- If you have time between studying and classes, start to locate your suitcases you will need for the plane. If there are any items in your closet you know you won’t need in Worcester in the next few days that you will need at home (like clothes for warm weather), throw them in your suitcase. This saves you time later on, and now you have more space in your closet.
- Check any upcoming weather conditions that could interfere with your flight. Check conditions for Boston, your home airport, and any layover locations. www.noaa.gov is a very accurate weather source, and they even show radars and graphs that display wind and humidity hour by hour.
- Be aware of how much food you have. This isn’t as much of an issue in the dorms, but if you live off-campus and are not on a meal plan, make sure you are aware of food that will expire soon and don’t purchase large amounts of food that you will not be able to finish before heading home. That being said, if you are at the grocery store, purchase small snacks to bring onto the plane.
- Return any textbook rentals that you can.
- Purchase any items you might need for packing, such as plastic bags to protect shampoos and other liquid items.
- Logon to your airline provider’s website, and see if they have a free option to pick your seat on the plane.
1 to 4 Days Out
- Schedule time to hang out and say goodbye to friends. Study sessions can count!
- Pack! A day or two before, you should really have all items in your suitcase other than outfits laid out for the next two days of school, toiletry items, and your backpack.
- While packing, donate any unwanted items to the Clark Thrift Store.
- Weigh your suitcase. The weight limit for almost all airlines is 50lbs, and often you have to pay for your first or second bag. A suitcase scale is a very useful investment, or use a normal scale and have a strong friend stand on the scale with your bag and subtract their weight. Make sure you leave a pound or two of wiggle room for last minute items or scale differences.
- Check your Clark mailbox in the mailroom.
- Mail any rent checks for the months you are home if needed.
- Download new music, games, etc. to keep you entertained on the plane.
- Check into your flight 24 hours before!
- Weigh your suitcase again!
- Dress in layers. The weather in Worcester might not be the same as the weather at home, so make sure you are prepared to go outside in more than one location. Puffy jackets also make a great pillow for the plane.
- Download the app for your airline provider and put in your flight information. These apps are free and allow you to scan your boarding pass and get updates for any flight information changes.
- Eat a big meal before you leave and drink plenty of water so that you aren’t starving and rushed at the airport.
- Make sure you have all of the essentials in you carry-on bag, like headphones, phone charger and/or portable charger, book, coloring book, other activity, something to rest your head on, wallet with ID, water bottle (empty when going through security and then refill from a water fountain in the airport), and snacks.
Notes on Packing:
- Personally, every year I over pack when I go home for Christmas break. I forget that the temperature at home is pretty much the same all day and that I need fewer items than at school. My most useful tip is to pack twice. Pack your bag a couple of days beforehand, putting in items as if you were leaving that night, and see what the weight is at. Go to the library or to dinner, or go to bed and then unpack and repack that same bag. Every time I do this, I take out about 5lbs of items that after thinking, I realized I didn’t need.
- Think realistically. Even if where you live is very cold, are you really going to wear six different heavy jackets in a four-week period? Likely not. Are you really going to wear that shirt you haven’t touched in 2 years? Likely not, so donate it and save yourself space!
- Make sure you plan for any holiday parties you might go to.
- You will almost always come back to Clark with more than you brought home due to holiday gifts or your own shopping, so leave room for extra items or be prepared to pay for another suitcase.
Hopefully this article will be useful to you in planning your packing while also dealing with the stresses of finals weeks! December is a fun, but busy time, and your time at home with family will be worth it!