by Chris Rutz
Money, money, money Part II. We talked about expenses for Spartan travel in Part I. Here is more information on how to get to your Spartan destination cost effectively.
There are a lot of different means to go about saving money on travel. Of course the best way to travel on the cheap is bum a ride off of someone, stay with someone you know nearby, or campout at the race. I have done all of these. Some people chose Expedia, Priceline, Orbitz etc… to make their travel plans. For me I have very good success with directly booking with my favorite travel partners. I like to be able to change my mind. You never know when you might get injured, sick, or just cannot make it. I am always looking for the best deals without having to fully commit and make a nonrefundable deposit. So for those of you that have to buy a plane ticket, rent a car, and stay at a hotel, here are some tips that work for me. My number one tip is to join AAA. For about $55 you get great discounts on top of their other benefits. Second big tip is networking. When I dove into Spartan Racing for 2012 I knew no one at the races. Today, every race I go to I am able to share a hotel room and sometimes a car. I am trying to figure out how to share an airplane seat, lap child anyone?
I do not work for, nor am I sponsored by any of these companies. But we really do need a few official travel partners of Spartan Racing. Is anyone listening?
Southwest Airlines is my carrier of choice. Phoenix is one of their major airports so I can usually find great fares on Southwest. The best part is that there is never a change fee with them. If I rebook, cancel, or change a flight, there is no fee to do so. I book my flights early and typically over the course of time the airfare goes down. I check the flight periodically and if the price has dropped I rebook the flight the same flight, and get credit for the difference. I have had fares drop over 50%. I fly enough with them to be on their A-List so I can get in the express security lanes and board the place first. This makes the travel a little less tiring, which helps come race day.
Rental Car –
It seems I am always able to get great rates with Hertz by going directly to their website. Much of this year they have had a special for $14.99 ($13.49 for AAA) per weekend day for an economy car. I always reserve the least expensive option. Rental companies hardly ever have an ‘economy’ car and you will likely end up with something a little nicer. I typically get a Focus, Cruze, Jetta, or Mazda3. Small cars equal great gas mileage, so this saves money on gas too. I can cancel at any time, or even just not show up, and there is no charge. As a bonus I get points on Southwest.
No favorites here. I have an online resource through my employer that I typically use. I punch in the city I am traveling to and a radius and then it pulls up what is available by price. Similar tools are available via AAA and other travel websites. The key here is similar to what happens with Southwest. Rates change. Book early and check back frequently to see if the rates have dropped. If they have, rebook, no penalty. You will have to decide how much time and effort it is worth to you to keep checking. Always book a double bed room. This gives you the flexibility to share the room as the race date approaches as people look for a room on Facebook. I also know a bunch of people that are willing to sleep on the floor. So you should likely never have a problem filling your room up. Most of the Spartan Races have event pages. You can usually find someone to share a room with, depending on your sense of adventure.
Okay, now that you have framework to help you save some money on your trip, next up we will talk about how to make the most of your trip to the race.
Who is Christopher Rutz?
Christopher is a member of the juwi Solar Obstacle Racing, has 6 top three finishes in Spartan Races this year and is the current leader of 2012 Spartan Race Points Series. He manages a health and fitness blog, www.livethetoughlife.com and a Facebook page, Tough Training. We’ll be featuring his blogs about how to travel Spartan style over the next few months.