The other night, I overheard a fellow graduate student telling a friend that her flight home for Thanksgiving would cost $700. I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard her mention that she was only flying from Boston to Philadelphia. To avoid paying outrageous prices for your holiday travel (or racking up credit card debt), consider these money saving tips:
- Book early. Although it can sometimes be difficult, try and make your travel arrangements as early as possible. The earlier you book your travel, whether a flight, bus, or train, the more likely you are to get the best price. According to a recent fare analysis by the Airlines Reporting Corporation, travelers paid the lowest price for domestic flights when booking about six weeks in advance. For international flights, it is recommended to book up to 24 weeks in advance.
- Consider low cost buses. If the option is available to you, consider using a mass transit option such as BoltBus, MegaBus, Greyhound, etc. This is my preferred option when traveling from Boston to New York. A one-way ticket from Boston to NYC usually only costs $15 to $25. Also, many of these buses offer free Wifi and outlets for your electronics so you are entertained throughout the journey. The student mentioned earlier could easily travel from Boston to Philadelphia for a small fraction of the cost of the $700 flight. That can definitely help you stay on budget.
- If possible, make travel arrangements outside of holiday peak days. If you are able to miss class or work and travel the day before or day after peak holiday travel days, do so. In many cases, you can save a significant amount of money on your travel fare. Not only will you save money, but also some stress and aggravation caused by crowded airports and traffic.
- Use public transportation. Instead of taking a taxi to the airport or paying for parking, if possible use public transportation. If you pack lightly, this is a great money saving option, especially if you have already paid for some type of unlimited travel pass.
- Consider traveling at odd hours. Red eye flights and overnight buses are much cheaper than peak hour travel times. Although, these options sound daunting, they can actually be quite relaxing. They are usually less crowded and you can sleep during the journey.
- Carpool. If you are going to be driving this holiday season, consider carpooling with people headed in the same direction. If you are a student, there are most likely plenty of students on campus without cars who would be happy to keep you company and split the costs.
- Pack your own food. Food is always a hidden cost of holiday travel. Instead of picking up a quick, overpriced fast food meal at the airport or station, pack some snacks or a sandwich for a cheaper and healthier option.
If you’re struggling to pay off debt, schedule a free credit counseling session with ACCC today.