I wish I had learned these tricks earlier.
Every year for the past two years I have had the opportunity to travel overseas to see my wife compete. International competition is an awesome experience, and one that I can’t recommend more. Yes, this is a ‘showcation,’ which means that you are unlikely to do very much sight seeing, but the chance to see how equestrian events are run in other countries and the thrill of seeing your wife compete (and succeed) in a different part of the world is something not to be missed. In years past, we have only made one trip per year. This year we’re planning two.
International travel in support of your wife is amazing. But it’s also expensive. Each year, no matter how hard I have tried, I have been unable to buy a plane ticket for under $1,500. True, this is nothing compared to what your wife will spend to get her horse across the pond (add another zero), but it is still a lot of money. I just dropped another $1,500, but I learned some valuable lessons in the process that will definitely save me as I plan for trip number 2.
1. Plan ahead
The biggest mistake that I make every year is waiting too long before making travel arrangements. It’s not that I leave it to the last minute, but I leave it long enough that I feel like if I don’t buy a plane ticket ‘now,’ I run the risk of rates going up. Inevitably what this means is that I buy my ticket for $1,500 and put my head in the sand as I pretend like I got the best possible deal.
Best best approach is to know your dates well in advance. You know the date’s of your wife’s competition, and you know that she is going to leave before you and return after you. This gives you the luxury of being able to determine your travel dates independently. What works for me is to leave immediately after work on the Friday before the competition, and to return in the afternoon on the Monday immediately following. This gives me time to get over jet lag and have time to hang out with my wife before the stress of competition fully sets in. It also means getting 10 days of ‘showcation’ for only 6 days away from the office.
You know the dates of the event. You know the days you want to take off. There’s no reason not to start looking for flights the second your wife says ‘Honey, I’m going to compete at Badminton this year.” With 6-9 months notice, you can afford to wait and jump at the opportunity to take advantage of deals when they appear.
2. Put the internet to work
Let’s face it. You have a day job. A man has got far more important things to do than surfing travel sites for deals every day. Fortunately, there are some really helpful tools to help automate your hunting process. I wish I had known about these sooner.
I have known about and used google flights for years. But only just discovered the fact that you can use the same search tool to automatically notify you when the flight you want suddenly drops in price.
Of course, this last time around I checked the option just before purchasing my ticket. Three days later, I received this in my inbox:
Obviously, the next time my wife says “Honey, I’m going to compete at __________ this year,” the first thing I do will be to program my travel plans into this handy search tool and let Google do the work. (I will also stop ignoring emails from Delta. Had I purchased my tickets just a week prior, I would have saved 50%).
3. Collect the points
If you don’t already have a strategy for collecting travel points, its about time that you started. Choose your favorite airline (mine is Delta). Select your favorite hotel chain (still looking…I have lot of Hilton points, but haven’t had a lot of great experiences). Be loyal. Collecting those points will benefit you in the long run.