Though it may seem like a tiny dot of light at the end of a long, paper lined tunnel, there opportunity to go on leisurely breaks throughout the semester do exist; particularly around major holidays, such as Thanksgiving, and the oh so festive Winter Break where one is expected to do nothing but visit with close family and/or friends, and gorge themselves shamelessly on seasonally appropriate goodies.
This may require a bit of planning if you aren’t from the Bloomington area, however, especially if you need to travel long distances. My hometown is nowhere near Bloomington, so flying or an extended drive is a necessity when I want to go back home and see my family. Luckily, there are a few options that make this troublesome task somewhat more manageable.
This is the first go-to option when thinking of going home, though it does tend to be the most expensive. For best deals, try using Kayak dot com, that gives you comparable rates. If you think you will be flying quite a bit over your time in graduate school, this is also a great time to sign up for a frequent flyer miles card at your favorite airline. Star Alliance cards encompass multiple airlines, and I find these to be the cheapest.
Vroom for Rent
When funds are tight, rental cars are a great option. There are numerous rental car companies in Bloomington, but the two I use the most are Enterprise and Hertz. Enterprise can come pick you up at your home, and they will drop you off as well for free, so it makes traveling to and from the car company easy. Hertz does tend to be a bit cheaper though. IMPORTANT: If you are taking a car between states, there may be an extra fee. There is also a fee if you want to drop the car off at a different location from where you picked it up. For example, I chose to drive home and fly back for scheduling reasons, so I picked up my Hertz car from the Indianapolis Airport, and dropped it off at a local branch in a different state. This will cost you quite a bit extra, but it still (and was) quite a bit less than a round trip plane ticket.
She Took the Midnight Train (or Bus)
There are multiple bus options as well for certain locations. For example, the Greyhound bus will take you all the way to St. Louis. There are also buses that go to Chicago, and Indianapolis for a very reasonable price. The Star America and Go Buses stop at many locations on campus, and go to the Indianapolis Airport for a very good price. Buying your tickets online can save you even more money. With this route, the price is reduced. As far as trains go, there is an AMtrack in St. Louis and Chicago that run throughout the Western side of the Midwest, and even as far as California, but unless you enjoy spending days on a train, this might not be the best option.