After a long fall semester of studying and an intense finals week, a five-week winter break seemed like an eternity to spend at my leisure.
So how did I spend all this time, while my high school friends treaded back to school after only two weeks into my long break?
Two words: ROAD TRIP.
Destination: Houston, Texas.
After going our separate ways after high school, five of my friends and I reunited to plan an amazing trip together. With a crew including three Kansas State and three University of Kansas students, we proved school rivalries can be overcome with friendship.
I had already traveled with many of these friends for high school competitions, but this time was different. We planned everything. From neatly organized snacks to some must-dos in the state of Texas, this trip was ours.
However, issues still arise no matter how much planning you do. Luggage got misplaced, rainy weather cancelled a full day at the beach and one car took a more “scenic” route than we intended (i.e. we forgot to follow directions even with phones telling us where to go).
Since the majority of us were previously involved in some form of science club, naturally our first stop in Houston was the Space Center. The most riveting learning experience was seeing how NASA’s Mars Exploration Program was going — if we haven’t taken humans to Mars by 2039, I will be quite disappointed.
We also landed ourselves on the beach in Galveston, the Pyramid Rainforest Center, Houston Museum of Natural Science and a Tex-Mex Restaurant.
Overall, visiting Houston was a blast and will forever be a remarkable memory. Creating a vacation when you’re young is not just about traveling, it is also a learning experience.
Here’s a few tips for anyone wanting to take a trip with friends.
1) Make sure the group syncs well together. If you are creating a group, it probably is not wise to merge your different friends from different aspects of your life. It should be a group that has all spent time together before so the trip can be an experience to grow more comfortable with people you already know. You don’t want to end up stuck in a crowded car with people who don’t get along.
2) Bring snacks and sandwiches. Is it possible to bring too much food? No. Chances are, something will happen to make the group late for dinner at some point so it’s good to have plenty of food on hand just to be safe.
3) Establish payment methods at the beginning. It is important to figure out how gas and accommodation expenses are being split beforehand. Cash works, but apps like Venmo work very well to keep the costs aligned. You don’t want anyone leaving the trip feeling ripped-off!
4) Make a wants-list. This is a chance to finally NOT follow an hour-by-hour schedule! Making a wants-list will help prioritize what the greatest number of people would like to do. For Houston, it was very clear everyone wanted to go to the Space Center, therefore, that was high up on our list of musts.
5) Have fun! No matter how the trip goes, stay positive! Everyone is learning, experiencing and building relationships. No point in remaining salty based on something unexpected happening on day one.
Sierra Staatz is a freshman in biological and chemical engineering. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.