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Getting To Pasadena As A Scholar On A Budget

With tickets selling for north of $150, the Rose Bowl itself costs the equivalent of more than 20 hours of minimum wage labor. On top of that, the trip there is even more expensive. Getting to Pasadena may be just as difficult as Penn State’s improbable run to “The Grandaddy of Them All,” so here are some tips and tricks (other than a GoFundMe page) for your winter break getaway out west.

Travel Dates

Out of all the potential dates, we consistently found the cheapest travel schedule across multiple airlines and websites was to fly out January 1 and return home January 4. Although this scenario does require two extra nights in pricy Southern California, waiting a day to travel home could end up saving you some money that could then be used towards your student debt, bar tab, or both.

Plus, by spending some additional time in California, you can take full advantage of all the sights Los Angeles has to offer since the day of the game will probably be consumed with traffic, the Tournament of Roses Parade, and other game day festivities.


We wrote this for the majority of Penn State students and fans who live in and around Pennsylvania, so we focused on airports in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and New York City. If none of these airports are accessible to you or if you are one of the few brave souls who left sunny California for snowy State College (who we also envy and don’t quite understand), skip to the next section.

If, however, you will be trading the cold first few days of 2017 for Pasadena’s sunshine, you probably have already found that cross-country airfare comes at a steep price.

Out of the three airports in Los Angeles, Hollywood Burbank Airport may be the priciest, but it’s also the closest to the Rose Bowl. We don’t recommend hopping on a plane to LAX with a dream and a cardigan because flights there are almost as expensive as the ones to Burbank. Los Angeles’ flagship airport is also located thirteen miles farther away from the stadium than the one in Burbank is. In freeway traffic, 13 miles could turn into an hour and pose a challenge for commuting on game day. While Orange County boasts the lowest rates out of the three, it is located about forty miles from the Rose Bowl and would be even more of a traveling nightmare than flying into LAX.

We still recommend flying into Burbank because Lyft estimates from Orange County and LAX come out to $160 and $80 respectively both ways. Despite the actual flight costing less, you could end up spending all the money that you saved on transportation, not to mention running the risk of missing part of the biggest game in Penn State football in last eight years that you just gave up your spring break trip to see.

The only reason we’d recommend flying into LAX is if you were to book your flight with a discount airline, such as Spirit, and take full advantage of a bare fare offer where you save money by neglecting to bring luggage and to pick your seats in advance. These flights which usually go to LAX come out to as much as $350 cheaper than normal flights into Burbank.


We highly recommend going with either AirBnb or a hostel while you’re in California. Most of the local hotels are excessively overpriced and in all reality, you’re heading out there to watch football, not for a luxurious vacation. AirBnB rates in the area are currently running between $25 and $160 per night. If the idea of sleeping in someone else’s house just isn’t your thing, rates for hostel private and dorm rooms range from $30 to $60 for the January 1-4 travel window.

Another option we recommend is booking a hotel with your flight as part of a package. Generally, you can save upwards of $200 per person by taking advantage of the vacation bundles that sites like Expedia and Kayak offer.

Los Angeles was made for movie stars, not college students. Even though you can’t place a price tag on the experience of seeing Penn State win the Rose Bowl in person, we hope that our travel advice makes the trek to Pasadena a bit less intimidating and a little more affordable.

About the Author

Anthony Colucci

Anthony Colucci is Onward State’s Social Media Manager, a preferred walk-on honors student, and a junior majoring in psychology and public relations. Despite being from the make-believe land of Central Jersey, he was never a Rutgers fan. If you ever want to know how good Saquon Barkley's ball security is, ask Anthony what happened when he tried to force a fumble at the Mifflin Streak. Feel free to follow @_anthonycolucci on Twitter and email him at [email protected] to hear the story or if you’re bored and want to chat.


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