College students spend most of the their year away from home. So when the holiday season finally arrives, they often flock home in droves to be with family and get a much needed break from school. But traveling home for the holidays can be expensive and students often don’t have that kind of money on hand. Don’t waste money on expensive, last-minute flights, gas money, rescheduling, and bookings. If you want to save some money this year, remember the following advice as you plan your Christmas holiday travels.
Know your Schedule
The very first thing you’ll want to do when booking your holiday travels is to plan in advance, and don’t take gambles. These two simple principles can save you a lot of time, money, and headache. Don’t book a flight home until after you know your finals schedule. You may know when your finals week is, but talk to each of your professors because they may have their own scheduled testing times for their finals. By doing this you’ll be sure to not miss any tests and you’ll avoid having to pay extra to reschedule a plane ticket.
Most colleges are very strict about their finals’ policies. You can’t be sure a professor will let you take a test earlier than scheduled because of a booked flight. So be extra careful to schedule your travel plans home accordingly so they don’t overlap with any of your final exams. Likewise, if you check thoroughly with all of your professors, and you find that you’ll be done with your final exams early, then you’ll be free to book an earlier flight and enjoy some extra time to get home and enjoy the holidays!
If you can, book your flight or train ticket as soon as possible. The earlier you book, the better deals you can get. But if you look for tickets within a month of Christmas break, prices will skyrocket. In order to save money you’ll want to avoid last minute booking as much as possible. Even buying a ticket a month in advance is better than buying plane tickets the week of.
Changing your flight in the last minute will also cost an arm and a leg in rescheduling fees. But you can avoid needing to reschedule a plane ticket by having your finals schedule all planned out in advance so you don’t make any scheduling mistakes. You can also avoid needing to reschedule flights by getting to the airport early. That way you’ll have plenty of time to go through security and reach your gate.
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 with each other. Websites like zimride.com post schedules, contact info, and prices for rides too. There are also private Facebook groups set up to help students from the same community arrange rides. Car pooling is generally always cheaper than flying so take advantage of these resources and get home without spending too much.
However, make sure you use websites and networks that can be trusted. Be careful in choosing your carpool buddies. It’s always a good idea to ride with people you already know, or link up with fellow students on University approved carpool sites and Facebook groups. Always let your loved ones know how you’re getting home and who you’re driving with. Remember, safety first!
Make sure you’ve explored all your options. Expensive plane tickets aren’t the only way to get home for the holidays. 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 plane ticket. Compare prices and compare the overall hassle in order to figure out which travel option is best for you.
Try Google Flights
Make sure you explore your options for plane tickets because there are a lot of choices out there. Some airlines are going to have cheaper fairs than others so don’t only look into tickets from one airline. One of the best ways to check multiple flights at once is to use Google Flights, where you can search your destination and travel dates and find an array of choices.
Know your finals schedule, know your options, and stick to 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!