Young students, away at school during the year, flock home in droves over the holiday season. These students (or their parents) often fork out good money to get their kids home on time. Don’t waste money on expensive, last-minute flights, gas money, or rescheduling of bookings. If you want to save yourself some money this year, remember the following pieces of advice as you plan your Christmas holiday.
Know your Schedule
Plan in advance. And don’t take gambles. These two simple principles can save you a lot of time, money, and headache. Do not book flights home until you are positive of your finals schedule. Universities post schedules months in advance, often available the first week of classes. Check with your professors to confirm finals schedules, as they often change throughout the semester.
Most colleges are very strict about their finals policies. “But I’m flying home that day!” is a completely unacceptable excuse when asking for a test-taking exception. Don’t bet on them letting you take a final early because of a pre-booked flight. They expect you to act responsibly and with foresight as a grown-up college student. Unplanned or selfish scheduling on your part will find no sympathy at universities.
If you can, book your flight or train ticket as soon as possible. The earlier you book, the better deals you can get. If you book within a month of Christmas break, prices will skyrocket. Avoid that if you can. Changing your flight last minute will also cost an arm and a leg in fines and fees, so again, be sure of your finals schedule.
If you live fairly close to home, try to find people to carpool home with. This is a great way to save money on gas, miles on your car (if you ride with someone else), and a much more enjoyable way to spend a long drive. Many universities offer carpool-organizing services that help students link up and arrange carpools home. Websites like zimride.com post schedules, contact info, and prices for rides that can be much cheaper than flying. There are also private Facebook pages set up to help students from the same community arrange rides. However, make sure you use websites and networks you trust. Be careful in choosing your carpool buddies. Remember, safety first!
Make sure you’ve explored all your options. The automatic plane-ticket home route might not be the best one. Sometimes driving can be cheaper than flying. Bus tickets may be more or less expensive than planes. Trains could also be a good way to go. Each area, method of travel, and time has its specific advantages and disadvantages. Make sure you know what is best for you. Also remember that the cheapest option may not be the best one. The headache and stress of organizing complicated, but cheap, travel routes may not be worth saving fifty bucks on a
So know what you want. Know your schedule. Know your budget. If you do, you should be able to make it home fine, with a little money left over, and enjoy a wonderful holiday season with your family!