Many trips I research do not have traditional round trip flights. Instead of flying into and back from the same airport, I set up flights from different airports.
By using different airports, though, I must find reasonable one-way rental car rates.
One recent itinerary was really interesting.
Round trip open jaw flights between DC and Jacksonville/Pensacola airports cost about $220 each. There is no more than a $10 difference flying DC-Jacksonville-Pensacola-DC ($216) or DC-Pensacola-Jacksonville-DC ($226).
However, I found a tremendous difference with rental car rates.
While I preferred flying into Jacksonville, driving to Pensacola, and flying home from Pensacola, I do not prefer it for $2,500 extra.
Writing this article a week after researching the details, I am still shocked at the car rental difference.
Yes, the car rental company charges $300 a day for a basic car from Jacksonville, if you drop it off in Pensacola. The same company, however, charges $178 a week for a car from Pensacola when dropping off in Jacksonville.
Same route (in reverse), same dates, probably the same car type. Astronomical difference in rates.
Flip Your Trip
This is a simple Flip Your Trip example. Instead of flying into Jacksonville and returning from Pensacola, I flip the trip and fly into Pensacola and return from Jacksonville.
Easy peasy, Luigi—plus I save $2,500.
Some itineraries are more complicated, of course.
Flip Your Trip Travel Tips
Some principles to keep in mind when trip planning.
- be flexible. Being open to dates of travel, destinations, routing, and other factors, provide more opportunities to save money, time, and stress—and be a happy traveler.
- one way flights. In the above example, I found one airline to provide an open jaw flight. For many trips, I use different airlines for each flight, booking a one-way flight with one carrier, then the return flight with another airline.
- smaller airports. Renting a car from a smaller location and returning to a larger location generally costs less. Sometimes the opposite, though, so check both.
- off-airport car rentals. Lower car rental rates might be available from downtown, neighborhood, or other off-airport locations. Here are some other car rental strategies.
- comparison shop. My favorite car rental company might charge hundreds (or thousands) more than a competitor. By being open to all suppliers and not being brand loyal, I give myself the best chance at a great travel deal.
- enlist help. If you are pressed for time, not confident with booking resources, or whatever reason, using a travel professional might be for you. After you guide them, tell them you are flexible about dates and routing, they can do the work and find the lowest price or best combination.
Would you Flip Your Trip to save big money? Have you done so?