|Photo courtesy of kallebo|
I just recently graduated from college in San Diego, yet New Jersey was where I called home. That meant flying back and forth at least twice a year. Now this may sound expensive to you, and it may be annoying, but with these tips you can minimize expense and avoid the hassle.
- Be flexible. I know breaks are only a few weeks long, but if you have a few days of flexibility, the savings can be great. Flights are priced on popularity (in addition to the constant of gas prices), and a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday is going to be expensive. If you can stay that weekend and fly out on a Monday or Tuesday, its going to save a lot of money. Just think of it as a way to celebrate being done with the Semester.
- Know the tools. Go to Kayak.com and search for your flight. They will not only let you check the prices from various days, but from various airports. Bigger cities usually have a few options and its worth checking out. I love kayak.com though for one reason. They track the prices of tickets for you, see what the trends are, and can actually send you an email when a ticket that you are looking for changes price. It’s helped me buy tickets at the optimal point time and time again.
- Buy late. I know this may sound counter intuitive, but I’ve found this to be a great plan of action. Plan early, buy late. The conventional wisdom is to buy a ticket 8 weeks in advance. Now I’m not saying that doesn’t work, because sometimes that’s the optimal time to buy it. BUT, on non popular days (refer to #1), tickets will be cheapest a few weeks before the flight. The airline is just trying to recoup money for gas, and the prices drop. However, that is why you need to PLAN EARLY. If you don’t, and you don’t see that the flights are filling up, the prices will by sky high by the time you check and you have to pay top dollar.
- Pack light. Leave a week’s worth of clothes at home. I know you love all your clothes, but trust me. If you do this, you might not have as huge a wardrobe as if you packed a suitcase, but this saves on baggage fees. You can have two carry-ons and save the money that they charge for the bags, which is only going up and up. You can also store your belongings over the summer near your college to avoid lugging everything home.
- Miles, miles, miles. Finally, since your flying to and from college, it might be smart to set up a frequent flier plan. This might mean getting a credit card with rewards, or just setting up an account with the airline itself. I myself did one with Southwest, and after every 9 flights I got 1 free. It may not seem like a lot but everything counts.
Good luck and fly safe! Feel free to post comments about booking flights home from college.