For any student, the holidays are a wonderful time to catch up with friends and family back home and also take a much needed break from academic studies. All across campus, students are busy packing suitcases and sharing their holiday plans.
If you’re an international student anticipating your holiday break, you’re no doubt just as excited as all your fellow classmates. Whether you’ve decided to travel back home, take a mini-vaca with new college friends or kick back on campus, it’s important that you get your airfare sorted out as soon as possible to avoid any unnecessary stress.
Flying Home for the Holidays
If you’ve decided to fly home to be with your family during the holidays, make sure you purchase your tickets several weeks or even months in advance. As the holidays draw nearer, airfare costs will continue to rise, which means the sooner you book the better.
Be sure to compare prices from several different sites and airlines to find the best deal on airfare. Some travel agencies even cater specifically to students, have offices near college campuses, and/or offer cheaper airfares than you may find elsewhere so be sure to do your research.
You’ll also want to figure out how you’ll be getting to the airport. Some colleges offer shuttle services to the airport itself or to a nearby bus or train station. In other cases, you may need to take a taxi. See what your friends are doing – if your flights are around the same time you could save money and split a taxi.
Just make sure you arrive at the airport a couple hours before your flight is scheduled to leave. Most US airlines suggest arriving three hours before departure time to ensure you have plenty of time to check your baggage and pass through long security lines.
Decided to fly home at the last minute to surprise your family and friends? You might just luck out. American airports are notoriously busy (and airfares, notoriously expensive) around the holidays, but you may find a good deal on airfare at the last minute.
Traveling in the US
If you’d rather take advantage of your time off from school to explore more of the US, there are tons of places to see and things to do. As with those who are planning to fly home, you should try and book your tickets as soon as your plans are finalized. Although you are unlikely to find cheap flights like those offered by airlines such as Ryanair, you might just be surprised at the great deals you can find when you book early.
If you’re having trouble finding a round trip from LA to NYC for a reasonable price, consider traveling to someplace more local. Why not take the train or bus to San Diego? You could also consider renting a car (as long as you have the appropriate paperwork to drive as an international student) and taking a road trip with some friends.
Remaining on Campus
If money is tight and you can’t afford to travel, there are plenty of things you can do right in your own college town. Many campuses sponsor or at least know about holiday activities specifically for international students who aren’t going home. Stop by your school’s international office or speak with your student adviser about potential day trips and other outings.
You can also simply spend the time relaxing and catching up on your sleep or, if you’re feeling particularly motivated, preparing for next semester. Whatever you do just make sure you reach out to your family back home because they’ll definitely want to wish you a happy holiday!