7 Ways to Keep Winter Break Travel Affordable

For many students, winter break involves traveling. Whether going back home to be with family for the holidays or taking an adventurous vacation, the 7 tips in this article will help you make financially smart decisions about getting where you're going. Schools offering Travel & Tourism degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

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Travel On The Cheap

The holidays are approaching, and you're probably starting to wonder what you're going to do this winter. You need a break, and you want one that's affordable. Here are 7 tips that can help you keep travel costs down.

1. Score Cheap Airfare

According to an article published by ABC News, one of the keys to saving money on airfare is to know the right times to buy and fly. The editorial mentioned that one of the best times to buy a plane ticket is at approximately 3 p.m. EST on Tuesdays. The contributor went on to mention that flights that depart or arrive on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays are often less costly. Another tip to finding a budget-friendly fare is to visit the websites of low-cost airlines, such as Southwest, JetBlue and Hawaiian Airlines, and sign up to receive e-mails about flight specials.

2. Consider Alternate Travel

How about taking a bus, train or car? Check out rates with popular providers, including Amtrak or Greyhound. Both of these companies offer student discounts with the Student Advantage Card, which costs $20 and saves you 10%-20% on transportation, as well as free passage on future trips. Low-cost travel providers like BoltBus or Megabus may also be able to save you some cash. If you don't have a car and aren't too far away from your desired destination, consider renting a vehicle to get away. If you're visiting family or friends or taking your break in a major city, you may be able to save money by turning in the car upon your arrival and borrowing a relative's vehicle or taking public transportation during your stay. Then when it's time to leave, you can rent another car to return to school.

3. Carpool with Friends

Get together with friends to see if you can plan a carpooling road trip. Work out the logistics ahead of time based on who's going where. Then strategically drop off and pick up passengers along the way. You'll have fun getting to your winter break destination, and you'll be able to split the cost of gas, a hotel and a rental, if needed. What's more, you share the driving, which can become exhausting and tiresome if you're alone.

4. Don't Venture Too Far

Keep winter break affordable by staying close to campus. Plan fun and interesting day trips. If you're near a major city, take in the sights. Look into area attractions, such as national parks, museums, art galleries or theme parks. If you're visiting a city that offers a lot of sight-seeing options, consider staying in a budget-friendly hotel overnight. During your free time, you can also give back to your community by finding local charities that may need help over the holidays.

5. Participate in an Alternative Winter Break Program

Some schools and national organizations run philanthropic programs designed to enrich the lives of college students and the people they help. Local, national or international trips may be available. As one would guess, regional travel options are usually more affordable than those that require a trip abroad. However, depending on the program, participants may be able to subsidize the costs associated with the trip by gaining the support of sponsors who can fund their transportation, room and board.

6. Take Advantage of Existing Credit or Debit Card Rewards

If you have a credit or debit card, check with your financing company or bank to see if there's a rewards program associated with your account. Wells Fargo Rewards program participants, for example, can trade in points for cash credits to their banking accounts or gift cards to major airlines. There are also many credit card companies that offer airline miles for everyday spending.

7. Save Your Money

This is a simple enough idea but often forgotten amidst the rush of college life. If you haven't already, make it a point to find a job and save as much as you can. Check with your student services department to see if there are any available openings on campus. Another option is to use your skills to make money. If you're a musician, for instance, consider posting flyers for music lessons. If you're a tech major, consider advertising your skills in PC repair or maintenance. Also, make a concerted effort to cut back on your expenses where you can. Ramen noodles, anyone?

Read on for information on a popular college job that can help make your winter break travel more affordable.

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