Monday, December 29, 2008

$29 flights, DC area to Orlando, January 2009

I do not want to turn this blog into a deal finder. There are plenty of those in the internet world. You and I can always find a travel deal. The question is whether or not it will be appropriate, useful, and convenient. Here is a great deal for readers in the Washington, DC and Orlando, Florida areas.

Allegient Air is selling flights between Hagerstown, Maryland and Orlando/Sanford airport for only $29 each way. Flights are available on Mondays and Fridays during January 2009. I just looked at Allegient Air and there are plenty of seats; a couple of the dates are more expensive.

Please remember, if you buy something from, please use my affiliate link at or
======> click here

© 2008, Charles McCool

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Save Money on Disney Cruises

Would you like $600?

Next time you book a cruise, on any cruise line, find a travel agency that is a preferred provider for that cruise line. There will be at least one travel agency specializing in making arrangements for your desired cruise line. It is important for you to find this travel agency because they provide lower rates than the cruise line or other travel agencies. If that important to you then read on.

Let's say you want to take a Disney Cruise vacation. Do your research on; find the right dates, itineraries, and rates. You can shop around. In fact, I usually do, but, I end up booking with one travel agency because they have the lowest rates AND best service.

All Seasons Travel consistently sells Disney Cruises for much less than Disney. Looking at a sample cruise (7 night cruise, departing May 2, 2009, 4 persons), every All Seasons price was over $600 less than from Disney. Percentage discounts vary between 7% to 14%, depending on the Category.

Sound good? The wonderful thing for consumers is that this process works for any cruise line. not just Disney. I am not going to list the preferred travel agency for every cruise line but I will do independent travel research for you. It should not be too difficult to figure it out. Just check out the websites where people talk about your desired cruise line.

Please remember, if you buy something from, please use my affiliate link at
or ======> click here

© 2008, Charles McCool

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Holiday Gift for Travellers

Are you looking for a gift for someone that loves to travel? Looking for something unique? Practical? Something guaranteed to save money?

Get them (or yourself) a gift certificate from and me, Charles McCool. I offer two services, both guaranteed to save you money. If I do not show you how to save money, you get a full refund.

My first service I call Assisted Trip Planning. This service teaches you the best sources and methods to plan future trips. It is like getting a personal lesson in building a house, cooking a gourmet meal, or another skill. It is intended for the do-it-yourself trip planner (anyone that makes their own travel arrangements). For more details, click above or here.

The second service is full trip planning. I will research and design your trip, anything you want. I charge 50% more for this service because my focus is teaching people how to save money, time, and stress on every trip. For more details, click above or here.

Both services are fully guaranteed to save you money. No questions asked. If you are not completely satisfied, I will issue you an immediate refund.

I am a small business and do not have a bunch of obstacles for clients to buy and use any service. Let me know what you want and I will see if I can help. Fori nstance, I will print and mail a gift certifcate to someone, if you wish.

This is not my last post of 2008 but I want to wish everyone Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a wonderful rest of 2008 and all of 2009. If you are new to this blog, please read past posts. New or not, please tell others to visit Thank you.

Anything else? Comment.

Please remember, if you buy something from, please use my affiliate link at
or ======> click here

© 2008, Charles McCool

Monday, December 15, 2008

Air Traveler's Holiday Wish List

This was published in December 2002. What do you think? Still true?

The following is the last verse, to be sung to the tune of the popular Christmas Carol, "The 12 Days of Christmas." Enjoy!

On the Twelfth Flight of Christmas, the airlines* should give us:

Undamaged Baggage
Pleasant Customer Service
Easier Check-in
No Overbookings
More Non-stop Flights, Please
Better Eating Choices
Convenient Parking
Increased Leg Room
More jetBlues**
Fewer Delays
and NO Lines at Se-cu-ri-ty

* Sure, the airlines are not to blame for every air travel problem. What fun is there in teasing the airports or FAA?
** Substitute "Southwest" for "jetBlue," if desired.

Happy Holidays!
Charles McCool

author, Winning the Airfare Game

Please remember, if you buy something from, please use my affiliate link at
or ======> click here

© 2008, Charles McCool

Friday, December 12, 2008

Hotel Scarcity During Emergencies

I spent some time today booking hotel rooms for people (including my travelling wife) without electricity because of the ice storms in New England. The power company estimated this morning that power would be out 1 to 3 days. This afternoon the estimate was several days. It is just a WAG, anyway. Fact is that the governor declared a state of emergency to cope with the crisis. With temperatures ranging between single digits (fahrenheit) and twenties, it does not take long for a house without power to become unbearable for our 21st century bodies.

So, staying in a hotel is sometimes a necessary luxury. Here is a checklist of my recommendations for booking a hotel room during a sudden emergency:

1. Act fast. The sooner you book your room, the better. As time goes on, more and more people will be booking rooms. Rooms, therefore, will become harder to find. Act fast and get yours.

2. Book refundable rates. Many chains and properties will let you cancel a reservation before 4 p.m. or 6 p.m. on the day of arrival. Combine with step 1 and book a refundable rate as soon as you can. Shall I even suggest that other properties (with non-refundable policies) might even relax their restrictions? Ask!

3. Enlist help. OK, so trolling may not be your first priority. If you are dealing with emergency stuff, contact someone to make your booking. In 1992, I used a travel desk for a booking when hurricane Andrew was evident and I happened to be near Orlando. They found me a room 50 miles away, but they found me a room.

4. Check in early. After you have taken care of what you can, go relax. Make your calls and Facebook status updates from the hotel. Also, with peak demand at hotels, rooms may be overbooked or your reservation may suddenly get "misplaced in the reservation system." Another also is that conditions will likely worsen after the sun goes down. There may be a curfew so that emergency vehicles can travel without interference. In New England tonight, everything will re-ice again. It will be even more difficult to travel at night, with the icy conditions and dark conditions (because of no street lights). Good thing there is a giant full moon, if the skies are clear.

5. Cancel those refundable bookings. Don't forget. You will be charged. Plus, other temporary refugees will need the space. In state of emergencies, assistance comes from out of the area. Those people need to be somewhere, too.
6. Share your good fortune. Do you have family, friends, or neighbors in the same situation? People are unexpectedly generous in times of crisis. Something to feel good about and be proud of (unlike misusing prepositions).

7. Be creative. If everything (services, perhaps even your work) is going to be shut down for a few days, it may be time for an unplanned vacation. During the immediate aftermath of 9/11/2001, an executive at my wife's company really thought out of the box. The company jet was forced to land in a remote area of western Kansas. Instead of remaining there for an undetermined amount of time, he bought two vehicles so that the employees could drive back to the east coast. I do not know what happened to the vehicles. That may be another story.

Anything else? Comment.

Please remember, if you buy something from, please use my affiliate link at or
======> click here

© 2008, Charles McCool

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Bonus Points for Holiday Shopping

A quick holiday shopping tip and a miniscule favor.

You should try to maximize incentives (cash back, travel program points, discount codes) with your online holiday shopping. Check out for a summary of promotions and incentives for pretty much every online merchant. I have no financial or other interest in this website. I find it useful for accruing extra frequent flyer points. There are many other websites, like, that list current promotions and discount codes.

Speaking of Amazon (here is my favor), if you buy something from, please use my affiliate link at
======> click here

By clicking on my link, I get a very small percentage from anything purchased. I have had this link for several years but just have not promoted it.

You get the same prices, discounts, promotions, deals that you get from going directly to or using any other affiliate. You can use your Prime membership, gift cards, and Wish Lists. Please be assured that I (or anyone) will have no access to your research or purchases. It is completely anonymous outside of Amazon. So, if you are buying "Dummies Guide to Divorce" or "123 Ways to Annoy Your Boss," well, it is your secret. I simply receive a report of how many clicks I referred, conversion rate (something purchased), and money spent. Over time it will add up to a loaf of bread (not a load of bread).

You can you the above processes any time throughout the year, not just at the
year-end holidays.

© 2008, Charles McCool

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Creative Rental Car Uses

For our family trip last summer, I booked our outgoing flight from Baltimore (BWI). After three weeks, we were to return to Dulles. If we were to return to BWI, I would have looked into one of those stay and park deals at a hotel near BWI or just used long-term parking. Instead, I needed to find someone to give us a ride (75 minutes each way) or pay $100+ for a shuttle. On a whim, because that's the way I roll, I checked the car rental companies. Hertz and Avis were too much. National, though, charged $30 total for the one-way rental. Sweet!

I have used rental cars to move between residences, when my car was too small (or broken) or I did not have a car at the time. Of course, those were the days when I did not have much stuff. I have used rental cars to move across the country. I would rent a car (or van) for three weeks, giving me enough time to drive each way between California and Florida with some time to visit. I did this three times in a row (nine weeks total). At about $100 a week, it was less expensive and more luxurious than a moving truck. On the other hand, I have seen U-Haul dealers offering trucks for $100 or less, because they needed to get them to another location. Sort of similar to the Florida exodus car deals in the spring.

Of course, people rent cars for many purposes--to haul junk to the dump, to haul people around town, car is in the shop, whatever. If you need a car only for a short time, Zipcar is a cool concept. They rent cars by the hour.

What are your experiences with rental cars? Anything creative? Let me know.

© 2008, Charles McCool

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Lodging Ploys - Alternatives to Hotels

When planning trips, most people only consider hotels. I urge you to consider other types of lodging. Some will save you money, while others are just more fun or convenient.

Motels are our first stop. Motels have a unique history in America. "Motel" was first used by a property that called itself a motor hotel and shortened the name. These properties are smaller and usually more inexpensive than hotels. By the way, Motel 6 is a hotel chain or at least a very large motel.

Bed and breakfasts, commonly called B&Bs, are another alternative to hotels. B&Bs are individually owned and operated, thus each property is different. B&Bs can have varying qualities, price ranges, and amenities.

OK, you probably know about motels and B&Bs, so I just wanted to mention them. Following are some more interesting ploys.

Vacation rentals are one of my favorites. Properties offered for rent include houses, condos, apartments, villas, boats, castles, and so on. Vacation rental properties are much more fun and convenient than hotels, and, most importantly, usually cost less!

Timeshares are always available for rent, because owners cannot use their assigned week or plans change (work, emergency). Often timeshare properties are listed at the last minute and you can get incredible deals. I once rented a 2 bedroom condo in Florida for $100 (total); another property was a 3 bedroom condo in Kauai for $33 a night. The two above links are popular timeshare websites but listings can also be found on,, and many other places. Many people get discounted lodging by attending timeshare sales presentations.

Corporate apartments are sometimes available for short-term rentals. Oakwood is the largest agency but there are many others. Some require a 30 day minimum stay and others do not. One of my corporate stays was at a 3 bedroom apartment in South Florida for less than $40 a night. The beauty of corporate stays, besides saving loads of cash, is that they often do grocery shopping for you, they have nightly happy hours or bbq dinners, and the property is vacant during the day; while the business people are at work, we have the pool and facilities to ourselves. If you just love hotel chains but long-term rentals appeal to you, check out Marriott's Execustay or Extended Stay America, although any hotel/motel/etc. will offer lower rates for longer stays. Ask!

Don't forget about hostels. Most are not just for youth, either, especially during the off-peak periods. You just may find yourself staying in a castle, lighthouse, boat, or other unique property.

Of course, there are always options like camping, sleeping in airports or train stations, couch surfing, freeloading, and so on.

© 2008, Charles McCool

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Slash Travel Costs by Eating Healthier

In my classes, I regularly teach that it is easy to save money on overall travel budgets by staying in the right type of properties. Sometimes you will pay a little more money but sometimes not. What I advise you to do is look for lodging options with kitchenettes.

Properties with kitchenettes can save you money when you decide to dine out less and eat in more. Dining costs can easily exceed $100 per person per day. By using the kitchenette instead of eating in restaurants, you can slash more than 50% from your dining costs. You decide how much to save.

Kitchenette properties do not have to be fancy, or, like I said earlier, cost more than regular lodging. Many hotel rooms have a refrigerator and microwave; if not, you can request one or both. Hotel companies have entire suite properties, with full kitchens. Non-hotel rental properties include condos, apartments, and villas.

Think of just breakfast. Ballpark figure may be $10 per person per day. That would be $250 to $300 for 4 people for one week. By simply buying cereal, milk, orange juice, and fruit, you can save over $200.

Lunch and dinner costs (and savings) can be more dramatic.

Not only will you save money but it is more healthy. You can choose quality ingredients and create sensible portions. One meal can be on your balcony or watching TV, another can be in a park or on the waterfront.

What do you think? Do you have your money saving tactics? Send me e-mail or post a comment. Thanks!

© 2008, Charles McCool

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Myth #3: Lowest Hotel Rate Can Always be Found at {fill in the blank}

Many believe that, Expedia, Priceline, the company (Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, etc.), or some other website either automatically gives the lowest rate or will guarantee to match it, if a lower rate is found elsewhere. Just like with Travel Myth #1, there is no single website that will always give the lowest price on a hotel room.

First of all, read the price-matching guarantee restrictions. Guarantees only apply to publicly available rates (see below) and exact matches (room type, dates, restrictions). If the rate cannot be cancelled, then the price match guarantee does not work. Guess what? The lowest rates on company websites, like, cannot be cancelled.

Second, the lowest price may not even be found on the internet.

{wait a few seconds for reality to hit...}

OK, I said it. Often, better deals can be found somewhere other than the web. This does not mean you have wasted your time on the computer (after all, you found this blog!). Lower hotel rates may be found be calling the property directly. Ask the hotel if they have any special rates; I use keywords like visitor, weekend, and promotion.

Even lower rates may be available from a wholesale source, like a city's visitor center. These rates, from the visitor center, often include free parking and/or meals. Many visitor centers offer their rates online but many only make reservations by telephone.

If you are driving, stop at the state welcome center and pick up a lodging discount booklet. If the welcome center is open, ask about lodging deals.

A wonderful website for researching hotel rates is Travelaxe is a great time saver as it searches, company websites, and dozens of other websites.

Upcoming posts will be about saving money, time, and stress on lodging. If you have a specific topic or issue you would like discussed, send me e-mail or post a comment on any blog entry.

© 2008, Charles McCool

Friday, November 14, 2008

Stealthy Rental Car Maneuvers

Some tactics to help you save money, time, and stress on car rentals:

One way rentals may cost LESS than standard rentals (pick up and return to same location).

For a trip to Germany, I planned to fly into Frankfurt and then visit Trier, Saar and Mosel valleys, and the area. When I compared rental car rates, it cost less to pick up in Trier and return to Frankfurt than to pick up and return to Frankfurt. Why? I don't know, but I took advantage of it. Bonus was being able to take the train from Frankfurt airport to Trier (very nice) and get some tips from the passengers.

Every year, during late spring, there is an exodus of cars from Florida. Car rental companies rent cars for as low as $1 a day. You can find great deals on one-way rentals. Book early (before March) for the best deals (rates and availability).

Car rental companies want their cars to be as close as possible to the home location (where the car is registered). Someone may pay a relatively high rate for a one-way rental but the return one-way rate will be relatively low. I had a RAV4 this summer, between Vancouver and Calgary, at a rate lower than other rental classes. The car was registered in Alberta and Avis was happy for me to drive it one way. I was happy to get a nice vehicle for a great rate.

Matching Rates or LESS

Different locations usually match rates. During trips, I often find an office that is more convenient than where I rented. There may be a downtown or suburb location that is better for me than going back to the airport. Even though my reservation is set up to pick up and return from the airport, I will return it to another location and get the same rate. Sometimes it is even LESS because of some promotion or fewer taxes and fees.

On one of these returns, I asked if I could get the same rate on a future rental. The agent said it was a fantastic rate, she did not think so, pushed some buttons and booked it. It never hurts to ask!

For that Vancouver to Calgary rental, I had a reservation at the downtown location but noticed a desk when I arrived at the train station. He had a low mileage (kilometerage?) RAV4 for the same rate as my reservation (midsize car).

Free (or Cheap) Upgrades

When an agent offers me an upgrade, I view that as an invitation to negotiate. For instance, I reserve an economy (i.e., cheapest rate) car and the agent offers a better car for "only $10 a day extra." Agents receive commissions or bonuses on their upgrades.

My first question is always, "do you have any economy cars?" If they do not have cars in the class I rented than I ask for one in whatever class they do have. I have ended up with luxury cars, jeeps, SUVs, even a monster Ford Expedition one time. So, free upgrades are certainly possible. The larger car might end up consuming much more gas and thus not be a good deal for you.

If I cannot convince them to give me a free upgrade, then I negotiate the price of the upgrade. When they offer something for only $10 more per day, I counter with $2 a day. I have not paid more than $4 extra per day but sometimes they are not willing to negotiate.

Ask for a Better Car

Another way to get a free upgrade is to ask for a different car. I have received (and rejected) cars that were dirty, smoky, or damaged. I have requested larger vehicles because I intended to visit family or friends (and wanted to eliminate the hassle of more than one car). I have requested vehicles with low mileage, better traction (in winter weather), or certain models. I do not always have my request honored but asking ensures that it may happen.

What do you think? Do you have your own stealthy car rental tactics? Send me e-mail or post a comment. Thanks!

© 2008, Charles McCool

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Luxury Does Not Always Cost More

With rental cars, the least expensive cars typically cost the least. The more expensive the car, the higher the rate. Makes sense, right?

This common-sense process, however, is not always true.

Car rental companies always have special deals. The special deals could be one free day, car class upgrades, dollars off the overall rate, free GPS/car seats, etc. Often, the special deal will be in certain car classes, because the car rental company has excess inventory (too many cars). A great example is car rental companies offering great daily and weekly rates on SUVs during the winter months in snowy destinations, such as Denver, Burlington VT, and Manchester NH. By the way, there are often too many convertibles in Florida during the winter months, so look for lower rates there and then.

To find these lower rates on higher class vehicles, intentionally show the rates for all vehicles (instead of just looking for the lowest rates). When the results are displayed for all car classes, I am often pleasantly surprised. A full sized car may be less than the economy class. A premium class may be less than the mid sized car. Another strategy is to look for these deals on information websites, like I have even rented from a company I usually would not because of a great deal. Two examples include a great daily rate on a jeep and a great weekly rate of a small pickup. Again, it all depends on the car company's inventory. If they predict that they will have too many cars in a certain class, then they will lower those rates.

© 2008, Charles McCool

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Almighty Rental Car Discount Code

Here is the secret to getting lower car rental rates. Are you listening? Ready?


You can use a booking website, like
Kayak or Orbitz, to scan and compare rates from various car rental firms. These rates, unfortunately, do not include any discounts. They are public or non-discounted rates. I call these rates the "sucker prices." Hardly anyone pays them. They are like rack rates for hotels and full fares for airfares. In my last blog post, I mentioned that discount codes are the key to getting lower car rental rates. Discount codes, then, are the secret to getting lower car rental rates; but, it is not really a secret.

How do you find a discount code?

Look, first, at your memberships. Rates on Hertz are heavily discounted with
AAA discount codes; there is a different discount code (or CDP, in Hertz language) for each AAA club. Costco, Sam's Club, AARP, and many other organizations offer discount codes. ORganizations may have discounts for only one car rental firm (like AAA's discount for Hertz) or for many agencies (like Costco).

There are countless rental car discount codes and sources for discount codes. Your workplace, school or alumni association, or other group may have discount codes. In fact, if you have your own small business, contact car rental firms (and other travel suppliers) and negotiate your own discount code program. Discount codes may also appear in ads (internet, newspaper, magazines), be printed on inserts in your credit card bill or bank statement, or be presented by an airline's website after buying a ticket. The
Entertainment book is a fantastic source of car rental discounts.

You can even scour the internet for codes. Just type "discount codes" and the name of the car company] into Many of the results point to unhelpful websites. Two excellent sources are and

Can you use discount codes for programs you do not belong to? Many people do. I have used codes that I found online or other sources to save loads of money. There were discount codes from organizations I did not belong to, nor would ever qualify for membership. I did my homework and suggest you do the same. Never use a code that is identified as for employees only, for instance. If the code is unknown, search for it online (type the code + the car company in google, e.g., avis K199060); that should reveal the source.

Now that you are aware of the power of car rental discount codes, find them and use them. No more sucker rates.

© 2008, Charles McCool

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Myth #2: Hertz is Expensive

In my recent travel class, a well-travelled attendee was surprised that I frequently rent cars from Hertz. "After all," she said, "Hertz is the most expensive car rental company. Isn't it?"

Whenever I discuss rental cars in my classes, I specifically use Hertz as an example, because the general impression among travel consumers is that they charge more than other companies.

Is it true? Does Hertz charge more? Why do I use Hertz?

First, a crucial factor for getting lower car rental rates is the discount code. The next posting will focus on discount codes. My Hertz discount code gives me competitive rates.

True, Hertz' rates are usually higher, maybe even the highest, if you have no discount code. Hertz' rates are also higher for business rentals (during the week) than consumer rentals (weekend or weekly rentals).

Second, it is more convenient for me to use Hertz since I can usually get a car and leave the airport quicker than with other companies. Not always, but usually.

Combine competitive rates and convenience; it is a no-brainer. I often use Hertz.

© 2008, Charles McCool

Packages - Less Expensive Than Airfares

Buying more and paying less. Who doesn't like that concept?

It is fun to beat the airlines at their own game. After all, air travel is a game--the rules are always changing, players come and go (mergers, bankruptcy, dropped routes). Even when you think you have it all figured out, you don't!

Sometimes travel packages cost less than the airfare.

Take a moment to let that sink in...

Yes, travel packages can cost less than just the airfare.

A travel package is a combination of travel components--like airfare, hotel, rental car, and/or activities (meals, attractions). So, it would make sense that if the airfare is combined with lodging and rental car, then the price would go up. Not so fast, my friend! The airline world is not the real world.

The other day I looked for a flight between the East coast and Honolulu. The lowest airfare was $1,660, because the departure was the next day. A travel package (with the same airline) was $1,374. By ADDING hotel and rental car (7 nights, in this case), you save almost $300. Note that $300 savings is from the airfare. The savings are much more if you factor in the costs of lodging and rental car.

Travel packages include various components (like air, hotel, and car) BUT you do not have to use them all. People will buy travel packages simply to get lower airfares (as above). I have heard of people using their hotel only a couple of days during their trip, and even not at all. Same with the car.

Even more fascinating is that travel packages are offered by the airlines (through their vacation desks). It is not a sneaky tactic; just simply click the "Vacation" tab on the airline's website. So, while the airline offers a $1,660 fare, the airline's vacation desk offers a $1,374 vacation (including air, hotel, and car). Classic!

This is just one recent example. I have seen much more dramatic differences, like $799 packages and $1,800 flights. Packages generally have less restrictions than airfares, such as no Saturday night and advanced purchase requirements.

Please share your experiences with travel packages or any of the other concepts, by adding a comment or sending e-mail.

© 2008, Charles McCool

Friday, October 31, 2008

Alternate Airports

Many metro areas have a major airport and one or more smaller airports. Fares to those smaller airports may be lower than fares to the major airport.

Check for
alternate airports on both ends of the trip. You may have a choice of airports to start your trip (from home) but there may also be alternate airports at the destination.

Alternate airports are usually smaller airports.
Smaller airports are less stressful and often more convenient to the true destination.

Some major airports and their alternates include:

* Los Angeles (
Burbank, Long Beach, Ontario, Orange County)
* San Francisco (Oakland, San Jose)
* Miami (Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm Beach)
* Boston (Manchester, Hartford, Providence)

A complete list can be found at:

Flying into Long Beach, instead of Los Angeles, for instance, places you closer to
Disneyland, downtown, and many beaches. Retrieving your baggage, renting a car, and exiting the airport are much quicker in Long Beach than Los Angeles. Even if the fare to Long Beach was a little higher than to Los Angeles, if would be a more pleasant experience (less stress, more convenient). The beauty, though, is that many fares are the same or less, especially on jetBlue routes.

© 2008, Charles McCool

Split Tickets, Part 2

Split ticketing is a powerful and exciting strategy that will allow you to save money, fly on preferred airlines, and create stopovers. Here are some suggestions for utilizing this air ticketing ploy.

Check for flights to South America and Central America through Miami, Los Angeles, or New York.

Flights to Asia and Australia through Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Flights to Hawaii through Los Angeles airports (check them all), San Francisco (Oakland and San Jose also), Seattle, and Las Vegas.

Flights to Europe through New York.

Always check around for the cheapest fares from other cities. There may be incredible fares between Chicago and South America or Atlanta and Hawaii. You really never know. Two good sources are and Kayak's Buzz feature.

Happy hunting!

© 2008, Charles McCool

Split Tickets

"Can you really do that?"

In my
travel classes, I hear that often from the students. One of my favorite ploys is to find two separate round-trip tickets for a flight that requires a connection anyway. Not only can you save money, but you can choose to fly on airlines you want and you can create your own stopover. What does all that mean?

First, you might be able to save significant money. Fares between the US East coast and Australia are usually at least $1,200 ($1,050 right now). I was lucky enough to find a fare last week between Los Angeles and
Sydney (or Brisbane) for $500 (on Virgin America). Combine that with a $200 fare between the East coast and Los Angeles, and I will save $300 to $500. A specific example is Nashville to Lome (Togo, Africa). That fare is $2,700 but splitting fares through Europe (Frankfurt, Paris, London, etc.) will save $1,200.

Second, you can choose the airlines. Only one airline at the moment has fares under $1,500 between
Washington-Dulles and Australia. However, many airlines fly between Dulles and Los Angeles. Many others fly between Los Angeles and Sydney. I might as well pick airlines that I want to fly on instead of the only one offering a full round-trip between Dulles and Australia.

Third, you can make your own stopovers. In other words, you can have tow (or three or more) vacations during the same trip. If I bought the only sub-$1,500 fare between Dulles and Sydney, that airline would not allow me to stopover in Los Angeles; I would have to take the next connecting flight. By buying separate tickets, I can choose how long to stay in Los Angeles before flying on to Australia. It is even possible to get really clever and arrange the two round trips so that stopovers can be made in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and perhaps even

© 2008, Charles McCool

One Way Flights

"I did not know you could do that", someone said when I told them that I bought one way tickets for a recent trip.

Why would I buy one way tickets? Why should you consider them? The simple answer is that you can potentially save lots of money or find more convenient flights.

Sometimes, a round trip flight is more expensive than it should be because one the flights (outbound or return) has fewer available seats. For example, your outbound flight is as cheap as it can be but the return flight is $100 higher. In this case, buy your outbound flight as a one way ticket and look for a return flight on another airline for $100 less.

How do I do that?

Kayak, click the "One-way" button and search each date. On Orbitz, click the "One-way" underlined option. It is that simple with other booking engines, too.

There are other times to look for one way flights.

* Buying a one way flight allows you to drive or take a train in one direction (or take a "permanent vacation").

* Buying one way flights lets you use different airports. Instead of a simple round trip between two cities, let's say you will fly from New York to Los Angeles, drive up highway 1, and fly back from San Francisco.

* For long trips (like a summer in Europe), buy two one way tickets instead of a round trip ticket, since most round trips require a return within 30 days.* One way flights may be more convenient with the routings (nonstop or better connection airport), days and times, or whatever (preferred airline, frequent flyer bonus, to fly with family/friends).

Fortunately, one way flights are easy to find, as the legacy carriers must offer them to compete with smaller airlines (like Southwest and jetBlue). Finding one way car rentals can be a challenge but that is another skill for another time.

By the way, my recent one way flights were Baltimore to Seattle and Calgary to Washington-Dulles. That shows you can get creative with your routings to have wonderful trips.

© 2008, Charles McCool

Myth #1: Lowest Airfare Can Always be Found at {fill in the blank}

I was getting ready to give a talk at the Baltimore Travel Expo, when someone came up and said she did not need to attend because she always finds the lowest airfare on XYZ. XYZ could have been Travelocity or Kayak or any booking engine; it could also be through a certain travel agent, airline, or other source. People continually tell me that their source always gives them the lowest airfare. The fact is that no one source always has the lowest airfares, just as one particular store does not always have the lowest filet mignon prices.

For that particular person at that travel show, I spent less than a minute proving I could have found a lower airfare. She paid $800 for her previous flight and I quickly showed her I could have bought it for $400. She stayed for the presentation.

There is no secret. There is no one source that always has the lowest airfare (or best car rental rate, hotel price, etc). In the upcoming posts in this blog, I will explain different travel skills to use that will allow you to save money, time, and stress on all aspects of travel (not just air travel).

© 2008, Charles McCool