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November 12, 2019

5 Ways to Get Your College Student Home for the Holidays on a Budget

5 Ways to Get Your College Student Home for the Holidays on a Budget

Photo by Tobi from Pexels


In the last few months, you may have written a hefty fall tuition check, paid for pricey textbooks, and sent your college student money when they were in a pinch.  Now, the holidays are approaching (which are expensive enough as it is), and you want your child there to celebrate with you. But, how can you make this happen without further breaking the bank?

Here are 5 ways to get your college student home for the holidays on a budget:

Use those airline miles or credit card rewards

If you’ve been diligently saving up those airline miles or credit card rewards, now may be the perfect time to cash them in.  With a large enough balance, you could potentially cover their entire trip -- without shelling out another dime!

Pay for a car share

If your college student likes to drive, but lacks their own set of wheels, have them check out car shares, like Zipcar.  Zipcar provides on demand car rentals that don’t require your child to be over the age of 25.  They can purchase a membership to the platform for just $15 a year. The price of their trip home will vary based on the amount of time they need the car and the distance they will travel.  However, gas and car insurance are factored into the rate so there are no hidden costs.

Tell them to take a bus (or a train)

Although it’s not particularly glamorous, traveling by bus or train can be extremely economical -- particularly for college kids.  Buses can be great for local or regional travel, while trains typically work better for going longer distances. Your student can get a 10% discount on their Greyhound bus trip or a 15% discount on an Amtrak train ride, getting them home for the holidays on short money.

Encourage them to carpool

If your child knows another trustworthy student that’s headed your way, encourage them to carpool.  They’ll both have some company for the journey and they can split the total travel cost, making it cheaper for both of them.  If they don’t know anyone offhand, they can check out The College Carpool website.  The platform serves about 50 colleges and universities across the nation and helps students find potential carpool partners.

Mix and match methods

Sometimes, it takes some extra creativity and effort to get the best deal.  Depending on your situation and location, it may make sense for your child to go part of the distance using one method, and part of it using another.  Perhaps they could carpool to a city close to home and then take a bus for the second leg of the trip. Or, if you have more than one college student -- and they attend different schools -- maybe they could meet up and then travel home together from there. 

Final thoughts

Between the fall semester costs and the usual holiday expenses starting to pop up, it’s only natural to try and save some money.  Getting your college student home for the holidays is non-negotiable. However, the way you cover their travel bill absolutely is.

Laura Gariepy

Laura Gariepy is a freelance writer that specializes in personal finance, careers, and small business.  She owns Every Day by the Lake, a written content creation company that helps busy business owners connect with their target audience.  You can follow her on Twitter @EverydayLake.

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