The world is full of helpful articles and blog posts for broke college kids. But what about those college parents who want to visit those broke kids? You have the dual burden of paying for the education and making visits to the campus. Here are some ideas to help you save money when you make those college visits.
Managing Travel Expenses
Keep your eye on bargain airfare sites if the campus is too far to drive. Even if it’s close enough to drive, discount airfares can make it cheaper to fly if only one of you is making the trip. If you choose to fly, try using Uber to get around at your destination instead of renting a car. If you drive, you can find the best gas prices along the way using Google Maps. Plug in your final destination, then at any time during the trip, tap the magnifying glass “find” icon and choose “gas stations.” Google will show you the gas stations along the way as well as pricing information when it’s available. I love using the Gas Buddy app too.
Lodging For Less
There are lots of ways to save on hotel costs. If your whole family is making the trip, see about renting an apartment on Airbnb or another alternative lodging site. Even if the rate is the same as a hotel, you’ll have more space and you’ll be able to cook for yourselves in the kitchen. If a hotel suits you better, look for coupons from sites like Hotels.com. Both of those pages will also donate to your favorite charity every time you use a coupon.
Shopping With Your Student
Once you arrive, your college kid will be eager to go shopping for snacks, dorm room items, and school supplies. Find out what they need ahead of time so you can check your own closets and cupboards. Look for Walmart coupons before you leave home so you’ll be ready. Ultimately, the best thing you can do for your kids is to set an overall spending limit and guide them in figuring out how to prioritize their shopping list, eliminate the non-essential items, and get the most from every dollar. Those skills will do them more good than anything you might buy at the store.
Check sites like Groupon and Living Social for great deals near the campus. If you have enough room to gather for a meal in your hotel or temporary apartment, think about ordering in and picking up your own beverages. If the weather is nice, stop by the grocery store salad bar and create a picnic to take to the park. It’s always a good idea to pack some nuts or protein bars so the whole family doesn’t feel obligated to visit a restaurant every time one person gets peckish. I’m sure we’ve all been there!
Once you figure out how to make the trip without breaking the bank, traveling to visit your college student should be a fun time for the whole family. You’ll treasure the memories of those visits forever.