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I just read an interesting travel hack from the site, LifeHacker. I found the article on my iPad in Apple News, so I assumed that this would be trustworthy, solid piece of advice.
I was wrong!
To be fair to the article, it was focused on the advice of one person who wrote in claiming her mother sometimes saved money by using this method, and the article did give a few warnings about using that method. Unfortunately, by publishing the article to such a large audience, it came across more as a tip or advice for using this method rather than advising against it.
The advice in general is this: double book round trips for places you know you will visit frequently when you are able to plan in advance, and overall your cost of travel will be significantly less.
What does that mean?
Let’s say I wanted to go to New York City from Jacksonville, FL from April 1st to April 10th, and I also wanted to visit from June 1st to June 10th. I can book a round trip for my April trip and a round trip for my June trip, OR, I can cross over the two trips like this:
Trip 1: Leave Jacksonville to NYC, April 1st; Return to JAX June 10th
Trip 2: Leave NYC to JAX on April 10th; Return to NYC from JAX on June 1st
So I’d have to book a round trip ticket originated in JAX and another round trip ticket that originated in NYC. On top of that, the dates look strange. I have to get a return ticket in June for my April trip!
Supposedly, this is much, much cheaper. The theory is that a round trip ticket to a popular destination, especially at popular times, for a short trip can be quite expensive because both legs of your trip are popular travel times. This is compounded when you have a second trip to the same destination coming up at another popular time.
In theory, double booking round trips that are split could make the trips a lot cheaper, because you’re not flying both legs of each trip on popular dates.
Unfortunately, this is NOT true!
I got excited and started looking up prices online. Some of the dates were popular times and some were not.
How did I come up with these amounts? I used skyscanner.com and compared 4 different trips: The first was the first split trip, the second was the second split trip, the third was the first of the regular round trips and naturally the fourth was the second regular round trip. I used the cheapest prices as my examples across the board rather than “best,” as the whole point is to save money. I then added up the total cost of the two split trips and the total for the regular trips and compared the two. If the article I read was correct, then the weird trip should be significantly cheaper.
The best domestic savings I could find by booking like this was, drum roll, please:
I tested 6 different domestic trips. Two of the trips were literally the exact same price, and one was a $1 difference. One was a $5 difference and another was $9. One was $7 MORE EXPENSIVE to do the trip that way.
Here’s the deal, though: Splitting up trips and generally messing around with airline tickets to save money does put you at risk from being banned from the individual airlines! I’m not sure if that has ever happened with this strange round trip double booking, but why risk it for an identical or just barely cheaper price?
But the main problem is that the article encouraged doing this for international travel!
When you fly internationally, you have to let the government know. The US government checks to see that you have clearance to fly. When you arrive at customs, they want to know when you’re leaving and why you’re there.
It seems to me that if I were, for instance, to do this little trick with two split round trips to London, that would mean that one of my tickets would be a round trip from London, originating in London and returning to London, and the other would be originating in the US and returning to the US. What would I say to the customs officers landing here in the US from that ticket that originated in London? That I’m trying to save money so I double booked tickets? That I’m really not staying in the country the way that my ticket says I am?
At the very least, this could be extremely time consuming and/or require me to call the governments of both countries I’m traveling to in order to feel confident in my ticket purchase. At the worst, perhaps I could end up in the customs office jail while they sort things out.
But could it be worth the risk? Would the savings offset the potential hassle?
I did two more searches. The two round trips from Miami to Milan in June and July (very high tourist seasons) came out to $947 with the weird splitting method and $1015 without it, with a savings of $68. Over two trips.
Not worth it.
I also tried a Jacksonville, FL to London trip this way during the two very high travel times of Christmas and Easter. I knew it would be an expensive trip and in theory, these expensive times would save me the most money. My total savings?
So before you run off and try the advice of any article online (including this one), do your research. If you’re interested in more advice about travel, don’t forget to sign-up for the latest updates from LaurenGlobeTravel!
I hate it didn’t work, but it definitely sounded like a super weird strategy!
That’s interesting. We fly frequently and I have never heard of this. Thanks for doing all the research. It definitely is not worth the risk!
Interesting. Smart you thought to look in to it. It’s always good to know little tricks like this, it may not work all the time but nice to have one more option if they options seem slim!
I have never heard of doing that. First of all sounds like too much stress and like you said, not worth the risk of getting banned.
I love that you tried this to see if it would work! It seems like too much work to me, so I think I’m glad it didn’t pan out.
It sounds like a lot of effort for not much return. Then, there’s the risk
I’m not sure I would be able to keep that all straight in my head! I would be worried of messing something up and paying way more in the end.
I am tired reading this! Sounds like a lot of time and energy-thank you for sharing that it doesn’t work.
Thank you for doing all that work and sharing. I would have thought that it would be cheaper too. Glad to know about your results.
I haven’t heard of this method. I do like to get a good deal though!
Such a strange travel tip that LifeHacker gave out. It seems like so much work and unnecessary risk. Thanks for explaining everything so well.
Great advice! Always double check that any money saving tips are legit. And worth it.
That made my head hurt a little (I can’t do math 🙂 so thanks for testing it out as it does sound like a good theory. And good advice/warning regarding airlines banning people as some of those travel hacks are frowned upon.
I am so glad you figured this out and I did not have to. I have heard of hacks like this but I do not have the patience to work it all out. I have also head the airlines frown upon these strategies. Thanks for the sound advice!
This almost made my brain explode–lol. I think even if it did work, I would not put my brain through that. I may just be slow, though.
Lol I doubt you are! I had a super hard time even figuring out how to explain this, haha 😀
Seems like A LOT OF WORK! This just stressed me out thinking about figuring out this method. HA!
Thanks for sharing all your research. It’s certainly important to check things out before you book.
I’m not a fan of hacks in general, seems a little too good to be true. Good research on your part and sharing!
Never heard of this…ever. We book almost all our flights one way and travel full-time. I’d think the most difficult part of this is that your have to be checked in with the airline for each flight to keep them valid. You can’t fly home if you never checked in for the first flight…sort of thing. And the only 2 times we’ve ever entered countries where we were told we had to have proof of Exit flights we’re the Philippolines and Sri Lanka (but the latter turned out to be false…) Crazy ways to travel though and so many options for sure
I have never heard of this before. After reading your post, it doesn’t sound like it’s worth the headache!
Good for you sharing a more honest review!!
We’ve never heard of this. Thank you for sharing.
Thanks for being our own travel myth buster! This is very good advice, especially since I do travel often.