Howard University student Chanee Holmes, 21, was happy about going home to New Orleans this Thanksgiving. When the time came to make her travel arrangements, however, Holmes’ happiness subsided. She realized that going home for the holiday was no longer an option. There was no way she could afford the airfare.
“Cash is tight right now,” said the senior advertising major. “As a result, I have to pick and choose when I can go home. Going home for Thanksgiving is just not in my budget. I wish I was going home though; I want to be with my family.” Instead, she will spending the holiday with her friends in Washington.
Holmes says she checked fares for various airlines, but all were out of her price range. She did not even consider the option of taking the train or the bus, because she knew the travel time would be too long.
“I didn’t want to be on the train for more than 12 hours,” she said. “I don’t think being home for just four days is worth the travel time.”
Many college students like Holmes are not taking the trip home this Thanksgiving. The weak economy has caused airlines to raise their prices, forcing students to decide if Thanksgiving is really an important holiday. Many students are claiming the four-day break is not even worth the money.
According to Delta Air Lines, a round-trip flight from Washingtonto New Orleans costs about $700. That is more than what the average college student can afford. Some parents these days cannot afford to spend that amount of money more than once in a year.
Buses and trains used to be the alternative option for students, but their prices have gone up as well. Greyhound Bus Lines charges about $300 to travel to Tampa Bay, Fla. That is the reason why Howard student and pre-physical therapy major, Z’Kera Sims, 21, will not be going home for Thanksgiving.
“It’s still too much money in general to go home, but this year it seems like the airfares are out of everyone’s budget,” said the St. Petersburg, Fla., native.
Travel fare is not the only reason students cannot afford to go home this holiday. Many college students have jobs where their bosses are demanding they work during the Thanksgiving break.
Tennessee State University student Eboni Smith, 23, will not be traveling home to Chicago not only because of travel expenses but also because her job is requesting she work.
Smith, a senior business management major, is a sales associate at Target. Smith says the retail chain is counting on improving its sales this holiday season so they need all the workers they can get. Though Smith would like to go home for Thanksgiving, she could not resist the opportunity to work during the break.
“It really boils down to me either paying my bills or going home, so I’m choosing to pay my bills,” she explained. “I still would like to go home, but at the end of the day, I can’t afford it.” Smith says travel expenses are so far out of her budget, that she does not even know if she will be going home for Christmas. “Hopefully, I can go home for Christmas,” she said. “I really want to see my family. I have not seen them since June and I really thought I would see them this Thanksgiving. I was wrong.”
George Washington University student Melanie Towers, 22, will also miss out on Thanksgiving this year. The senior forensic science major will be working during the holiday to save enough money to go home for Christmas. The Lansing, Mich., native says she knew earlier in the school year that she would not be going home for Thanksgiving.
“I saw that the economy was suffering, so I knew that my chances of going home were slim to none,” Towers said. “I didn’t want my parents to worry about paying for my plane ticket. I just told them I would be home for Christmas.”
Towers says this will be her first time not spending Thanksgiving with her family. Fortunately for Towers, she has friends who are willing to accommodate her. Unfortunately, Towers will not be the only student across the country to miss this Thanksgiving for the first time.