Holiday Travel on a Student Budget
The holidays are right around the corner; if you are like many college students, you can’t wait to get away from campus for a break. Thoughts of mom’s Thanksgiving feast or putting up the Christmas tree may already be running through your head, but you’re probably wondering how you can afford to travel. No worries, we have put together several options for the budget-savvy student.
Before you book any travel, consider getting a Student Advantage Card. For a $20 annual membership (you can tack on an additional 3 years for $10), you can get 15% off Choice hotels, Dollar Rent-a-Car, Greyhound and more. Or, for a few dollars more, you can get an International Student Identity Card that will give you access to additional travel deals and discounts, as well. You can apply for either of these student programs online, making it easy to take immediate advantage of the benefits and discounts.
If you are interested in air travel, be sure to check out Bing’s flight and price predictor tool to determine the best time to fly to ensure the cheapest rates. Even if you find you must travel during the peak-season, use a student travel site like STA Travel or Student Universe. These sites locate discounted rates for students traveling in the U.S. and abroad. Also, consider flying into a smaller airport. By making the longer drive (1-2 hrs), you may save yourself $100 or more. If you like to live more on the edge, there’s also AirTran U standby tickets for only $49 -$69 each way. The downside to these tickets is the blackout dates (Nov. 23, 26-28 and Dec. 15 – Jan. 2) and you are not guaranteed a seat. However, you will get a full refund if you don’t get a flight.
Is flying out of your budget or not your style? Consider taking the train or bus. Although the travel may take a little longer, you can usually save 15% or more with student fares (or using a student discount card) off the regular fare rates and they are typically much cheaper than airfare fees. The other upside to taking the bus is the more relaxed luggage rules. It’s best to check the routes for Amtrak, Greyhound, Megabus or any other carrier before making any preparations, as routes are different throughout the country.
If still find yourself strapped for cash and not able to afford any of the previous travel options, consider putting up a notice in your dorm to recruit others who may be driving home to an area near you. By sharing a ride with two or three other students, you can split the gas and hotel bills and make some new friends along the way.
By using these budget-savvy tips and planning ahead, hopefully you’ll soon find yourself far away from campus and enjoying mom’s turkey while listening to Uncle Bob’s bad jokes. Happy Holidays!