Home from college? Holiday travel tips for college students

Holidays are great times to relax and enjoy the company of those you're surrounded by.

Holidays are great times to relax and enjoy the company of those you’re surrounded by.

Classes starting to get you down? Are you tired of sharing a shower with what feels like a gazillion people? If you see one more line at your favorite dining hall option will you scream? Then you might be ready for a break. It’s about that time of year again—time to head home from college for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Make the most of your time away from school with some holiday travel tips for college students.

Your escape plan

If you didn’t book a plane ticket three months ago, don’t despair. You can still find a way home for the upcoming breaks, even if you don’t have your own wheels. On November 9, 2011, Kelci Lynn Lucier wrote “Holiday Travel Tips for College Students” for USNews.com, which suggested, “In addition to online search engines that help find the lowest fare, some companies still offer the classic student discount. Greyhound and Amtrak, for example, offer reduced fares for college students and shouldn’t be forgotten as ways to get home.”

Of course you can always carpool, too. Not only will you save on gas, but depending on how long a drive you have, a little company can be a great thing. If you absolutely must fly and the online travel sites aren’t helping the ticket price fit into your budget, consider leaving on an off-day rather than a peak travel day. For instance, look for flights that depart on Thursday instead of Friday.

Book that flight

Bottom line, the family wants to see your smiling face when they sit down to carve that turkey or rip into some presents. You can make it home from college via the friendly skies with some planning. College Spot offered a great top 10 list geared toward holiday air travel in “Top 10 Cheap Holiday Travel Tips for Students.” Chief among the tips are that you should expect to pay more for holiday travel and layovers are nothing to fear.

The top 5 tips they offered are:

  1. Book Early—“It is never too early to book your flight home for the holidays.”
  2. Be Flexible—“Having flexibility in your travel days can pretty much guarantee you savings.”
  3. Fly on the Holiday—“It may not be the best way to maximize your holiday time, but airlines offer deep discounts to people flying on the holidays themselves.”
  4. Consider the Alternatives—“If the city you’re leaving from (or heading to) is serviced by several airports, make sure to include them all in your search.”
  5. Read the Fine Print—“Carriers are now charging for everything from checking your bags to booking an aisle seat, and even for small things like headsets and bottles of water.”

On the road again

If you opt for hitting the highways to make it home from college, know you won’t be alone. But if you aren’t a seasoned road warrior, it is best to be careful when you are planning a road trip. Motortrendcertified.com advises college students in “Tips for college students traveling during the holidays” about some holiday travel tips they will want to follow to stay safe in the car:

  • Give yourself time. This may be the first time you have ever been responsible for coordinating a trip. Know when your dorm is closing and when you have any exams so you don’t leave too soon.
  • Know your travel surroundings. If you haven’t driven home much before, you may not know the best route. Ask friends who have traveled back home before you or even good ‘ole mom and dad for the best routes.
  • Travel with a friend. Driving with a buddy can help split up the driving responsibility on a long trip and save you gas money, too.

And if, worst case scenario, you simply can’t afford to make the journey home make sure you let your family know that you are trying to be smart about your finances, not that you can’t take another bite of Aunt Mabel’s cranberry and brussels sprout casserole. They will understand and respect that you are being responsible about money. Odds are you won’t be the only person on campus who won’t be heading home for the holidays. Find some others who have opted to stay in town, have a little celebratory feast and use the downtime to get in a little extra studying.

Have any tips or suggestions on how to afford holiday travel while in college? Leave your advice in the comments below.

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