6 Tips for Affordable Holiday Travel on a College Budget

Are you a college student gearing up for the holidays? Going back home to spend time with your family is exciting, but the cost of travel can sometimes be a burden, especially if you’re on a tight budget. Not being able to afford traditional holiday travel expenses can also take a toll on your mental health and emotions during this transitional phase of your life.

However, fear not! We have some handy tips to make your travel back home a little more affordable. Read on to learn how to save money on your holiday travel expenses.

1. Start Earning Airline Miles

You’ve probably heard about earning miles from your parents or friends, and it’s time to jump on the bandwagon. Certain airlines like Jetblue, Southwest, and Alaska offer opportunities to accumulate points that can be used towards future travel. Signing up for these reward programs as early as possible will allow you to gradually accumulate points.

There are various ways to earn points, including dining out or taking online surveys. Although we don’t encourage excessive credit card spending, doing some research can help you maximize your point accumulation without going overboard.

2. Monitor Flight Prices Regularly

Travel prices are notorious for their fluctuations, and it’s essential to stay updated on the latest deals. While some sources claim that booking 50 days in advance is ideal for securing the lowest prices, it may not always hold true for holiday travel.

Therefore, we recommend checking Google Flights regularly for your desired travel dates. Flexibility in your schedule can also work to your advantage, as you can choose the cheapest flight options. Set up a Google Flight Tracker to receive email notifications when the flight of your interest drops in price.

3. Optimize Your Travel Days

If you want to save money, consider being strategic about your travel days. Generally, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday tend to offer cheaper flights, as they are less popular choices for traveling. Depending on when the holiday falls, booking a flight on one of these days can be highly beneficial.

Additionally, the further away you book your flight from the actual holiday, the more affordable it will be. Planning to fly out a week before Christmas, for example, could result in significant savings. Whenever possible, try to be flexible with your travel dates to take advantage of these cost-saving opportunities.

4. Take Advantage of Flight Alerts

Make use of flight alert apps like DealRay or Hopper, which can be easily accessed from your smartphone. These apps provide personalized search results, recommend the best travel days, and notify you when the airfare matches your budget requirements.

You can also subscribe to newsletters from platforms like AirfareWatchdog and Going.com for international travel deals. Remember, when you receive alerts, be prepared to make a swift purchase, as flight prices fluctuate rapidly, and deals can disappear in a matter of hours.

5. Clear Your Browsing History

Airlines sometimes track how frequently you search for specific flights. They may assume that you’re highly interested in a particular route and increase the ticket price accordingly. To bypass this, clear your browsing history, cache, and cookies before conducting a new search. By doing so, you can potentially access lower fares that may not have been visible during previous searches.

6. Join Cashback Programs

Many airlines and travel websites offer cashback incentives whenever you book flights. Although you won’t receive the cashback immediately, accruing these rewards over time can eventually earn you a free flight.

Cashback programs aren’t limited to air travel; you can also explore platforms like Rakuten and Ibotta, which provide cashback on everyday purchases. Every little bit counts, so starting small can help you save money on your travel expenses in the long run.


By implementing these tips and planning in advance, you can significantly reduce the cost of your holiday travel while lightening the financial burden on your family.

Don’t let budget constraints dampen your holiday spirit — embrace these cost-saving strategies and enjoy a memorable time with your loved ones. Happy travels!

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