Student loan borrowers plan to spend an average of $1,977 on holiday travel in 2017, according to a new Student Loan Hero survey.
That’s too much for some people, however. Nearly one-fifth of respondents say they can’t afford to travel at all during the holidays.
Here’s a breakdown of holiday travel costs student loan borrowers are facing this year as well how how they plan to pay for them.
Breaking down holiday travel costs for student loan borrowers
The cost of holiday travel can vary wildly depending on how you plan to get from point A to point B — not to mention the costs you’ll incur after you arrive. Holiday travel costs go up even more if you’re traveling with kids.
More than half of the survey’s respondents plan to fly, while 43 percent will use a personal vehicle. And 3 in 5 people plan to pay for their accommodations, while the rest have arrangements to stay with family or friends.
Find out how your holiday travel costs compare with our survey results below.
More than half of respondents plan to spend between $251 and $750 on airline tickets. Here’s how the rest of our survey respondents stack up:
Almost two-thirds of people who plan to drive a personal vehicle will spend less than $200 on gas. However, 1 in 10 plan spend more than $400.
For travelers who aren’t planning to stay with family or friends, accommodations include hotels, resorts, Airbnb, and motels. Although roughly a quarter of respondents plan to spend less than $250, more than half plan to spend $500 or more.
For some people, other travel costs end up costing the most. Food, airport and hotel parking, a rental car, and other expenses can add up fast. Although 7 in 10 people plan to spend less than $500 on these miscellaneous costs, they can surpass $1,000 for others.
7 ways you can afford your holiday travel this year
About 1 in 5 student loan borrowers can’t afford holiday travel this year. For those who plan to travel, however, it isn’t necessarily easy to come up with enough cash for the trip.
Here are seven ways you can make your holiday travel more affordable.
1. Cut back
In the months leading up to your holiday travel, find areas in your budget to trim. For example, 21 percent of student loan borrowers are giving up their restaurant and entertainment spending to afford their travel plans.
You also can consider decreasing how much you spend on other holiday-related expenses. For instance, instead of a bunch of expensive presents, your family likely would prefer a visit from you.
2. Opt for a cheaper destination
If your holiday travel plans don’t include visiting family, choosing a less expensive itinerary can make it possible to travel without breaking the bank.
In fact, 1 in 5 student loan borrowers plan to use this strategy, which includes avoiding top holiday travel destinations. Here are the top five based on survey responses:
- New York City, New York
- Orlando, Florida
- Los Angeles, California
- Las Vegas, Nevada
- Miami, Florida
This plan might require some extra research, but there are plenty of exotic destinations that won’t charge an arm and a leg over the holidays.
3. Get a side gig
Eighteen percent of respondents say they’re earning extra money with a side hustle. Whether it’s babysitting, driving for Uber or Lyft, or taking on some freelance work, finding a good side gig can give you the extra income you need to afford holiday travel costs.
It also can be profitable. According to a 2017 study by online lender Earnest, 85 percent of side gig workers make up to $500 per month.
4. Sell unwanted items
Over the years, you’ve likely accumulated things you no longer use. Instead of letting them gather dust, snap a picture and sell your unused items on Craigslist or other local marketplaces.
Eleven percent of respondents plan to go this route. It doesn’t require a budget sacrifice, and there’s not a lot of work involved.
5. Plan your travel dates carefully
The end-of-year holidays are among the busiest times to travel, so it’s essential to plan your departure and return just right, especially if you’re flying.
According to data from CheapAir, here are the cheapest days to fly for holiday travel in 2017.
|Thanksgiving||November 19-20||November 24-25|
|Christmas||December 19-20||December 27|
|New Year’s||December 27-29||January 2 or later|
6. Take advantage of credit card rewards
Thirty-six percent of student loan borrowers plan to use a credit card to book their holiday travel this season. If that’s your plan, consider how you can maximize the value you get in return for using your credit card.
If you already have a stash of credit card rewards, consider using them to pay for part of your trip. If not, you can use the trip to earn rewards for an upcoming vacation.
For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card offers a sign-up bonus worth $625 in travel when redeemed through Chase. To get it, you have to spend $4,000 in the first three months after opening the card. So, if your holiday travel costs are close to the average of $1,977 and you put them on the card, you’re already halfway there.
7. Plan your trip in advance
The longer you wait to book your trip, the fewer options you’ll have, which can drive up your costs. Comparing prices from different airlines and hotels is also critical to making sure you get the best deal.
Based on our survey, here are the top five websites respondents used to plan their holiday travel:
- TripAdvisor (25 percent)
- Expedia (12 percent)
- Hotels.com (10 percent)
- Airbnb (10 percent)
- Kayak (6 percent)
Avoid adding debt to your holiday travel plans
The average Class of 2016 graduate left school with $37,172 in student loan debt. That debt can be overwhelming, and adding more to it to pay for a vacation can exacerbate the problem.
If you plan to use a credit card to pay for your holiday travel, it’s essential that you pay off the bill in full to avoid interest. If you plan to carry a balance, any interest you’d pay could neutralize some or all of the value you gained in the form of rewards.
To avoid going into debt, apply the money-saving techniques listed above to keep your costs low. That way, you’ll be able to enjoy the holidays like you want to without having to pay for it for months to come.
Methodology: Student Loan Hero gathered the above results through a Survey Monkey survey completed on October 18, 2017. The survey collected responses from 1,008 millennials and Generation Xers. Less than 1 percent of respondents were baby boomers.
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1 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
2 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.89% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.50% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.27% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of April 17, 2019, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
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3 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the fixed rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular fixed interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the variable rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular variable interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
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Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
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Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown.
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6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
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|2.50% – 7.27%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.50% – 7.12%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.81% – 8.79%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.50% – 6.65%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.55% – 7.12%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|3.00% – 9.74%6||Undergrad & Graduate|