Any Nittany Lion who’s traveled to or from JFK Airport in New York City to catch a flight knows that it’s not really an enjoyable process. However, with University Park Airport not offering any flights to NYC and no train service between State College and the Big Apple, driving really is your only option. As such, make sure that this only option is as enjoyable and affordable as it can be.
Here are five ways you can start saving money during your travels between JFK and Happy Valley, whether you’re jetting out for a semester abroad, going on a vacation with all your friends or just getting back home for break.
1. Find carpooling friends.
There’s a good chance that you’re not the only person you know at Penn State that’s traveling to JFK to catch a flight, especially if you’re traveling during peak weekends, like around Thanksgiving or Christmas. See who you know who might be willing to carpool. Suddenly, the cost of your gas is split in half (or even thirds or fourths, if you feel like you can fit multiple travelers and all their luggage in your car!). Not only will carpooling help you save a little cash on the way to and from the airport, but it’ll make the four or five hours of driving time more bearable, too.
2. Pick your flights appropriately.
Speaking of that four or five hours you’re going to have to spend in the car to get between JFK and State College, Pennsylvania, that’s something you want to consider when booking your flight. If you book an early-morning departure, or a late-night arrival, you’re going to suddenly incur a new cost — that of a hotel stay near the airport, unless you’re really wanting to drive through the central Pennsylvania mountainsides in the dead of night, after a long travel day (which, for safety reasons, we really don’t advise). Look for flights that depart and arrive in the middle of the day, so you don’t have to add a hotel night in the city to your overall travel costs.
3. Pack your snacks.
Your overall travel costs can also be impacted by all those Sheetz runs you make between State College and NYC. After you purchase so many iced coffees, nacho platters, chicken strips and hoagies, eventually you’re left wondering where that extra $50 that grandma gave you for your birthday went. Pack some snacks for your journey and take along thermoses of water and coffee to quench your on-the-go thirst.
4. Ask for that student discount.
Even if they’re not blatantly advertised, so many brands out there will give you a student discount if you just simply ask for it. So, make sure that you’ve packed your student ID and whip it out at every chance you get.
5. Book your airport parking with online.
As any frequent traveler can tell you, airport parking can become majorly pricey. Don’t get ripped off — look for your JFK parking online! Many websites allow you to search through all the available parking at JFK airport and see what’s most affordable, as well as what’s most convenient, so you can make the best choice possible. With parking starting at as little as $8 per day, you’ll save a ton.