Tips for travel on a student budget

December 18, 2011


by Liz Harmon

‘Tis the season to be jolly, but for the college student, being strapped for cash can take the jolly right out of the holidays. The economy is tough and even tougher on the average college student when it comes to travel costs. But there is good news. Travel companies are making it easier to help students afford travel this holiday season.

In 2010, the American Automobile Association (AAA) estimated that 42.2 million Americans traveled 50 miles or more from home over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. As the number of travelers gets higher, the costs for gas and tickets are sometimes either really high or conveniently low.

When searching for airline tickets, take the time to do proper research online. Several websites are currently offering discounts to college students. The airline AirTran is offering one-way tickets as low as $49. Students must meet certain eligibility requirements, such as age and baggage limitations, to receive the price so don’t forget to read everything in fine print before purchasing any tickets.

Purchase tickets well in advance. The longer someone waits to buy a ticket, the more expensive it will be.

Prices are high for gas, but it’s a necessity that must be endured if traveling by car. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Mobile Sources has tips for better gas mileage.

Go easy on the brakes and gas pedal. Sudden braking and “jackrabbit” starts expend more fuel.

Avoid long idles by turning of the engine. Idling burns more gas than restarting the car.

Take out unnecessary heavy items from the car.

Avoid high speeds. Gas mileage can improve about 15 percent by driving 55 mph rather than 65 mph.

Keep tires inflated and aligned as well as regular tune ups and other car maintenance check ups.

Carpooling and ridesharing can save the college student money. Since 1999, has been the leading carpool and rideshare website. Sharing rides with others can help save money on fuel, vehicle wear and tear, reduces stress from driving and reduces traffic and greenhouse gases. The website is offered to countries all over the world and is free to sign up.

Don’t forget about the option to travel by bus or train. Amtrak and Greyhound both have college student discounts, too, and many students ride the discount bus line Megabus, which offers advance tickets starting as low as $3 and increasing over time. Each mode of travel has their unique pros and cons. Accommodations, time, price, safety and environmental impact are factors to consider when choosing your mode of travel.

Create a budget, list what is important for you and then create a pros and cons list to help choose what travel option is best.

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