Going home for the holidays: Flights
With the Christmas break approaching, many of us will be wanting to go home to celebrate with our family and loved ones. For many of us international students though, travelling home can only be done by plane. Sometimes this just isn’t possible due to the steady increase of plane ticket costs.
In this blog post, I will be breaking down step-by-step the financial challenges you may face when booking tickets to go home, and some things you can do to reduce these travel costs.
Let’s get it out of the way. Traveling back wherever home is for you can be very expensive. If you live nearer to the UK, this may not be as big of a problem. However, if you’re like me and need to hop on a 15+ hour flight to get back, flight expenses may be more of a problem. Together with luggage expenses (extra checked baggage prices can be crazy!), the costs of flights can rack up very high. Given that Edinburgh Airport, which is the closest to St Andrews, is a smaller airport, prices will be slightly more elevated than flights that take off from larger airports, such as Heathrow Airport.
Other costs should also be considered. If you’re switching accommodation
s between semesters (or if you’re reading this blog post when considering going back home for the summer break in May), you may not have a place to put your belongings. So, you may need to consider also spending money on storage companies. If you’re in private accommodation, you need to also consider rent and paying it even when you’re not even there.
Lastly, traveling to the airport can also be a source of expense. Many take the train from Leuchars to Edinburgh Waverley, and then hop on the trams to the airport. If you usually take this journey, try booking your train and tram tickets in advance as these are often cheaper the earlier you get them. However, if you’re a student under the age of 22, I would recommend you put your Young Scot NEC card to use. I usually take the direct bus from Dundee to Edinburgh Airport which is completely free of charge (because of my Young Scot card). It is a lot more convenient and less stressful – highly recommend!
Tips on booking tickets
With the Christmas break specifically, I know students often feel unsure of when to book their flight because of exams. By the time you’re reading this, exam schedules should be out, so you can plan accordingly when you want to head home.
Sign up for student discount on airlines
Some airlines have student schemes which give discounts for flights. From personal experience, you can sign up for an account with airlines as a student to get discounts on the first few flights you book with them.
Compare flight prices
There are websites that will find flights for your destination and compare the different prices from different airlines. One that I personally use is SkyScanner, which compiles all the flights on the dates and places you need. Google Flights is also great for a quick search.
Can’t go home?
Sadly, wanting to go home does not mean you can. Students often cannot go home for the holidays as they are not in the financial position to do so. It can get lonely and isolating especially if your flatmates/friends are getting to go home but you aren’t. Here are a few ideas you can do during the holidays.
If you still want to travel somewhere to cool off after the exams, doing a short trip within the UK or Europe might be more in your budget. Again, utilizing the flight-booking tips will come in handy for this process. Also look at other forms of travel such as trains or buses. Remember to compare and contrast these prices to find the best deal possible!
Connect with others
There will be students who continue to stay in St Andrews over the holidays for a multitude of reasons. Whether it be due to pursuing an internship, or similar financial situations, try to find a friend you meet up with every now and then. With the days continuing to get darker earlier, it can be isolating being alone all the time. Reach out to your friends and try to look out for any events on social media.
*The St Andrews Money Mentors are not affiliated with any of the brands/companies mentioned in this blog post. All opinions are based on the student’s personal experiences. If you are planning to use these companies, please do your own research before going ahead.