Holiday Travel on a Budget

Kendra Davis

Expensive plane tickets got you down? Would you rather stay on campus and eat turkey by yourself than break the bank with travel expenses? Good news: you don’t have to. With the following tips, you’ll be able to go home this Thanksgiving with more money than expected. If you’re getting home by…

Public Transportation

Though NJ Transit and Port Authority Transit Corporation don’t have specific Thanksgiving specials, for those who live on the outskirts of Philadelphia, in New Jersey, or southern New York, there is hardly a cheaper option. Regardless of departure time or date, a one-way ticket from 30th Street Station to Atlantic City and surrounding towns is between $8 and $11 on NJ Transit, a ticket to New Brunswick and surrounding areas is around $7. On PATCO, a round-trip ticket to any New Jersey station is $2.90 and $2.50 to any Philadelphia or Camden station.

Pros: Direct service to numerous destinations in New Jersey and Pennsylvania and no need to arrive more than 15 minutes early

Cons: Trains and buses are often in mediocre condition and have no wireless connection.


New bus lines, such as MegaBus and BoltBus, are providing comfortable, reliable and affordable trips from 30th Street Station to big-city destinations like New York. While the double-decker buses may not travel directly to your hometown, it’s hard to go wrong with rides as cheap as $1.50. According to, the best prices are available on Tuesdays and Wednesdays in the early morning or late night. Conveniently, those are the two days that most of us will be going home for Thanksgiving. If you don’t mind catching another bus from the Big Apple to your area, then this is a good option for you.

Pros: Free Wi-fi on all buses, and no need to arrive more than 15 minutes early

Cons: Multi-stop trips, along with traffic and weather tend to cause significant delays


Though Amtrak often gets a bad rap for being overpriced, there are several ways to make using it very affordable. The first is to book your train ahead of time – it’s never too early. Amtrak constantly offers promotions that reward passengers for booking early. To find out the latest deals, go to and click on the “Deals” tab. You can also reduce the fare by selecting the best “Type of Passenger” when you have chosen your train. While we may not be eligible for the “Senior” or “Veterans Advantage” options, anyone with a AAA membership saves 10 percent, and college students can purchase a Student Advantage card for $50, which offers them 15 percent off all trains taken throughout their college years. The card quickly pays for itself, as it provides over 100 discounts for other companies, such as Greyhound buses, Target and Urban Outfitters. A similar card, the International Student Identity Card, is available to international students.

Pros: Direct service to many destinations across the country (particularly the East Coast), and minimal to no delays

Cons: Unreliable to no wireless connection, and you have to arrive at station roughly an hour early


While air travel may be the inevitable option for some of us, flights back home are not impossible to afford if chosen wisely. Research done by Travelocity showed that you can cut airfares in half by simply choosing a less common day to travel; the most popular, and thus expensive days, are Sun., Nov. 22 and Wed., Nov. 25, while the cheapest are Mon., Nov. 23 and Thurs., Nov. 26. So, if you don’t mind missing Tuesday classes (or you don’t have any), it would be well worth it to go home on Monday. Alternatively, if sticking around campus for an extra day or two doesn’t bother you, flights on Thanksgiving day are far less expensive than those on the surrounding days. You could also try coming back a day early on Saturday to save some bucks.

In general, Southwest Airlines offers the most competitively priced tickets to 68 cities nationwide. Additionally, the first and second checked bags are free, which is a deal itself. Many other airlines offer decent holiday sales, as long as the traveler books as far in advance as possible. Use Web sites such as or to research the latest deals and compare prices between carriers. Once you have found the flight you’re looking for, however, be sure to buy it directly from the airline’s Web site to avoid the fees associated with the host site.

Pros: Service to countless destinations, comfortable seating, on-flight snacks and entertainment

Cons: Long wait times before departure and after landing (especially with checked baggage) and frequent delays