Oscar-Winning Ways to Save on Travel (and Sanity)

PHOTO: Gravity

Travel like an Oscar-winner. It's easier than you think and I don't mean flying like Leonardo DiCaprio's Wolf of Wall Street* character on that bizarre trip to Vegas. I'm talking coach class. Economy flights. Flying like Ordinary People (1980), but doing it the cheapest way possible.

Hey, even an Oscar winner likes to save money. Here's how.

American Hustle

First of all, do not pull an American Hustle. You know what I'm talking about. You plan on a getaway for let us say, July 11 to 13, but it only dawns on you to get serious about shopping on Independence Day. That's what's called a Lost Weekend (1945). You waited too long to get the best deal.

Tip: Start shopping for U.S. jaunts about three months before the trip and finish up about three weeks before take-off. If you hope to be An American in Paris (1951) or visit some other European capital, start about five months in advance and be sure to have your tickets in hand about a month and a half before departure.

Nebraska

If you hail from a small town in Nebraska, you've probably experienced this: Thanks to airline route cutbacks to small and not-so-small cities in states across the U.S., it's getting harder and harder for many Americans to find a decent flight deal.

Tip: Whenever possible, head to the nearest, bigger airport. Hubs are best as they usually command the cheapest airfare but sometimes that's too far to drive. Luckily, eastern Nebraskans can find a range of discount carriers at airports in Omaha or Kansas City.

The Sting (1973)

That's what you could feel if you don't compare airfare prices: The Sting of regret. Paying too much for airfare hurts.

Tip: No single airline always offers the cheapest flights. You might be surprised to know that sometimes the big guys like American or Delta offer the best deals. But you won't know if you don't compare.

Around the World in 80 Days (1956)

Two things most Americans travelers never want to see is a Crash (2005) - perfectly understandable - or taking a flight that feels like the equivalent of Around the World in 80 Days. However, it could pay to rethink a longer trip and I don't mean by adding days, maybe just an hour or two.

Tip: Non-stops are great but would you trade one for a connecting flight if it meant saving as much as 60 percent on airfare? That can happen depending on the route. Compare flights to see if adding a stop (or two) shrinks your ticket price.

Gravity

Gravity matters when it comes to baggage because the more bags weigh the more you'll pay. If you bring a couple of suitcases overseas and one is significantly overweight, you could have to cough up an extra $400 or more.

Tip: Watch the weight of all bags. Consolidate your overflow into a friend's or family member's bag or just ditch those hefty shampoos and conditioners and buy your toiletries at your destination. Before you leave for the airport, put your bag on the bathroom scale.

Captain Phillips, Her

Don't mouth off to Captain Phillips (or whoever happens to be in the cockpit that day) if he tells you to stop slamming down the brews or it's time to buckle up. Likewise, avoid referring to female flight attendants with the rude Her or other snarky Terms of Endearment (1983). If an airline considers you to be unruly or offensive you could get kicked off the plane. You will get a refund, but only for the portion of the flight that has not been used so you could be out some money as well as in need of another way home.

Tip: The number one job of an airline crew is your safety; keep that in mind in case none of them are Little Miss Sunshine (2007). We passengers aren't always exactly American Beauty[s] (1999) either.

*Current nominee for Best Picture; previous Academy Award winners and nominees are noted by year.

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