Megabussin’…that was what I did all day Monday on my way home to NH for Thanksgiving. If you’re an out-of-state student, without a car, and you love your family, you may be forced to make similar tough decisions when it comes to holiday travel. Because, as I’ve learned, flights get pretty expensive, especially around Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is the worst holiday for travel. I think this is especially true if you’re a student. The break is relatively short (5 days, add a day or two depending on when you have classes) which means limited flexibility on when you can come and go, which means little to know options for choosing the cheapest/best flight, if there is one.
While you can try and convince your parents to throw down a few hundred dollars on a flight (good luck, kid), I’d recommend a few other options based purely on personal experience.
- You can book early. This never works for me but the semester schedule is always posted at least a semester in advance. I’m sure a few months earlier booking could mean a hundred dollar discount on your flight.
- Carpool! Befriend someone from your area if you haven’t already. Ask them if they have a car and how they are getting home, they might be looking for someone to share the ride and the gas money with!
- Take a bus! Some go with the train but in my experience trains are almost as expensive as planes and not much faster than buses. I’d go with the bus. I’ve done Megabus several times and give it my recommendation.
- Stick around! Some students (and their families) bawk at the idea of not being home for Thanksgiving but the reality of is this–Christmas break is just two weeks away which means another flight or another ride home. Plus, with finals right around the corner it might be preferable to spend some quiet time on campus and go to a local friend’s place for turkey dinner.
Bus services like Megabus offer fares to cities like NYC and Boston for as little as $1 (most likely $10-$15). Those prices do go up depending on if its middle of the week or weekend and if its a holiday. Even Thanksgiving week, however, you’ll find the fare prices much easier to digest than anything flying out of the airport.
Plus…they’ve got free wifi! (which you can depend on maybe half the time, but hey)
What I usually do is take an evening bus (leaving around 7pm from D.C.) to Boston, which arrives around 6 a.m. If you’re a light sleeper this might not work for you but I’ve always been able to sleep fairly well on the bus and then wake up home at my destination! This way, I don’t lose a day traveling and I don’t have to spend money on lunch at the rest stop.
This is true for all methods of travel but one key piece of advice I can offer is make sure to give yourself plenty of time getting to the bus station for your departure. In D.C. they have changed the bus location several times so check the website and your reservation before you leave.
And remember, the reward is strong motivation, even during times of hectic travel.