The Trials of Travel

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The student lifestyle is conducive to any with that itching wanderlust which isn’t satiated by leaving the confines of campus for a day or two. Sure we’re pretty free and independent when compared with those stuck in jobs or compulsory education, but this independence seems to come with a price (about £18,000 last time I checked).

The price-tag of being today’s student stifles and constricts our beloved freedom to bugger off to far flung places. Whether it is to find spiritual enlightenment, or merely to escape the constant drizzle of Lancaster, the act of buggering off is getting decidedly more difficult. I have therefore written this article so as to give the average, penny less, student a comparative guide to the main ways of mobilising yourself on a local and national level.

The most obvious form of transportation is the car: fast, reliable and infuriatingly expensive. I happen to be in the not unknown position of having a second hand jalopy courtesy of my parents. My beloved Fiat Punto allows me no end of freedom to travel. Should I want to leave the confines of Lancaster I simply have to fill her up with petrol and point her in the right direction (usually ASDA). Whilst freeing myself from the restrictions of public transportation, the car option does open up a few other, annoying difficulties. The price of petrol, tax and insurance is enough to deter most people, but alongside this if I feel the temptation to drive to campus for a lecture or two, I suddenly run the risk of the dreaded campus security van and its stash of ever-ready wheel-clamps. After two years of living on campus they’ve never got their hands on my wheels and now that I’m living off campus I don’t intend to let that fact change. So beware car users if you decide to run the gauntlet of bringing your car to uni with you, without constant vigilance, and perhaps some form of early warning system, the luxury of car ownership could come back to haunt you.

Without a car to transport yourself in air conditioned comfort, you can always fall back on the bus service. I have no particular bone of contention with public transportation; however with bus passes costing around £180 for the year, I decided to forego delving even further into my overdraft, in favour of using leg power to transport me to uni every day. Unfortunately, as I sit in a pool of water caused by the drenching I received during the hour’s walk from Bowerham to campus, I am forced to wonder whether I made the right choice. I attempt to convince myself that the walk was not only the cheap option, but also the healthy one, this line of thinking takes a blow as I step into Diggles to get something oozing with fat and grease to assuage the hunger pains caused by my healthy walk.

On a national scale, the lack of a car leaves you with one of three main options: trains, planes or, the less popular, hitch-hiking. When getting on a train I can’t help thinking that I really did not want to give Richard Branson that £21 for going 30 minutes down the road. If you’ve got a fair distance to cover and you’re willing to make the extra effort it can be cheaper to fly across the country. This option comes with the added bonus of getting to play tag with the airline staff, give it a go, the trip just flies past. If hitching a lift rings your bell, it is cheap, adventurous, sociable, and environmentally friendly, however will take you much longer and has the obvious, unavoidable risks.

This has been a rather simplistic over view of the options available for personal transportation, however I hope that next time you prepare to embark on a trip across the town/country, you take a moment to reflect on the other ways it is possible to get around. You never know you might save money, get some exercise or make a new and interesting friend.

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