How to See Four Broadway Shows in Four Days for $100

Broadway shows are notoriously expensive and as much as I love the Hamilton soundtrack, I can’t afford to not eat for month just to bop around to “Yorktown.” 

And, while I haven’t been able to see Lin Manuel Miranda’s masterpiece quite yet, in my first week in New York I’ve won lottery tickets to a show a night for four days straight - and some nights more than one! 

 Seeing Wicked from the Orchestra for 85% off!

Seeing Wicked from the Orchestra for 85% off!

I almost hesitate to share my secrets because I really want to see Hamilton for $10 - more importantly, I believe the arts are for everyone should be accessible and not just for the 1%, so I want to share my tips and tricks for seeing the best shows for visitors and NY locals alike. If you’re balling on a budget and enjoy live entertainment - this post is for you.

The Apps: 

Start by creating folder on your iPhone (if you’re anal about organization like I am) - label it something flamboyant and then download these: 

Today-Tix: This is probably one I use the least, but it does have a super smooth interface and is a great place for the following a handful of specific shows and also is a solid resource if you need to plan further in advance and want confirmed seats at a discount. It’s great for:

  1. Finding shows you’ve never heard of, they list everything on-and-off Broadway as well as other one-off productions and limited engagements. 
  2. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child ($20 per-half): Today Tix is the venue for “Friday Forty” which takes place (shockingly) every Friday and provides winners the opportunity to purchase tickets for both halves of the show for a total of $40. As the show is sold out for the next 12 months and tickets are currently running around $300 for each half… $40 is a total steal. 
  3. Saint Joan ($30) and Sweeney Todd ($30): Every day you can enter to win tickets to the brilliant off-Broadway production of Sweeney Todd. And while it doesn’t officially open until April 25th, the Broadway show Saint Joan - a production about Joan of Arc - the app releases limited rush seats each morning at 10 AM for the preview performances. 
  4. Discounted confirmed tickets - way better than waiting at the TKTS booth in Time’s Square you can purchase same-day tickets, as well as tickets for many future performances, at a reasonable discount (though not as cheap as lottery) through the app. 

When purchased through TodayTix, you meet one of their representatives outside the theatre. Seats are randomly assigned, although unlike lotteries (which can be anywhere) there’s typically an option to select a rough area of the theatre (mezzanine, orchestra, etc).

Broadway Lottery: Broadway Lottery is clunkier than Today-Tix but offers WAY more options. It puts all the digital Broadway lotteries in one place, and once you input your information it saves it, making entering each day way easier. Shows on the app include: 

  1. School of Rock ($37)
  2. Anastasia ($42) 
  3. Phantom of the Opera ($28) 
  4. Springsteen on Broadway ($75 - Limited Engagement) 
  5. Dear Evan Hansen ($40)
  6. Frozen ($30)
  7. Mean Girls ($43)
  8. Book of Mormon ($55) 
  9. Bands Visit ($40)
  10. Kinky Boots ($42)
  11. Aladdin ($30)
  12. The Lion King ($30)
  13. Spongebob Squarepants ($30)
  14. Wicked ($35)
  15. Escape to Margaritaville ($40)
  16. My Fair Lady ($42) 
  17. Angels in America ($37 per half, $78 for both - Limited Engagement) 

Hamilton App: The “holy grail” of Broadway at the moment, Hamilton has it’s own app. You can enter everyday for performances the following day. Winners are able to purchase tickets for $10/each! 

Other Sites: 

  1. Stub-Hub: This can be a great resource for discounted tickets, periodically you’re able to find cheaper tickets than you could win in the lottery! Ticket prices usually plummet the day of the show as people no longer able to attend become desperate to sell. 

  2. Broadway for Broke People: www.broadwayforbrokepeople.com is a solid resource that lists all the shows as well as opportunities for in-person lotteries, student tickets, and rush. These often involve going directly to the theatre box-office the day of the show but additionally there are several shows that require entry through their own websites. 

  3. TDF: The theatre development fund is an organization open to a wide range of people, including freelancers, artists, teachers, active military, and students. Once you join (and pay the $29 fee) you gain access to their discounted ticket program and are able to purchase tickets for less than box office prices in advance and online instead of waiting in line at their booths in midtown. 

Especially these days, theatre and the arts are unique and important opportunities for us to come together to celebrate all it means to be human! I hope you're encouraged and empowered to know Broadway isn't as inaccessible as you may have thought. Oh, and if you ever win Hamilton tickets, I'm totally willing to be your plus one. 

On the road (Travel Hacks)

Part Two:

This is "Part Two" of my "Travel Hacks" series - if you haven't read Part One, scroll down and read it before reading this post! 

DSC06909.jpg

So you've followed the right Twitter accounts, signed up to get cash-back through eBates, created your frequent flyer accounts, downloaded Hopper and are ready for your next trip! You've found an incredible deal, now what? 

First of all, you should buy it immediately! Why? Because under Federal Law, airlines are REQUIRED to give you 24 hours to change or cancel your ticket at no cost. Here's the fine print: 

  1. 24 Hour Cancellation Policy:
    1. Your flight must be originating in the United States of America. In example, a one-way flight purchased from Atlanta to Paris would qualify but a one-way flight in the opposite direction would not. 
    2. This is a requirement for ALL airlines selling tickets departing the United States and is not limited to American carriers. For instance, Air Canada, British Airways, and other foreign-flagged carriers must follow the same DOT regulations. 
    3. "Nonrefundable" fares ARE eligible, although obviously once the 24 hour window has closed you will be hit with hefty cancellation or change fees. 
    4. Your flight must be at least 7 days away. 
    5. If you decide to change your flight within 24 hours, you will be responsible for any change in fare, but not a change fee. 
    6. The only airline that's a little different is American Airlines. When you purchase with American, you're given the option at check-out to put your flight "on hold" for 24 hours, locking in the fare. If you decide to go ahead and book it instead of putting it "on hold" you will be responsible for any change or cancellation fees. 

I know that's a lot of information, but 99% of the time, you won't have to worry about the fine print. The two big things to remember are: your flight is originating in the US and it's at least 7 days away. 

Second, it's important to understand the difference between fares and how the 24 hour cancellation policy is helpful. 

  1. Fare Types: When you find an airfare deal, they won't last long. This is where the 24 hour cancellation policy comes in handy. If you see a great price to a destination you're interested in, you should purchase the ticket IMMEDIATELY, even if you're not sure you will be able to get the time off work, etc. Once you've purchased the ticket, you've locked in the fare and now have 24 hours to talk to your boss, significant other, or run the numbers to see if you can afford the trip. There are three different types of sale fares you'll see online: 
    1. Mistake Fares: These are "too-good-to-be-true" fares, like the $203 RT fare to Tel Aviv I purchased last week. These can happen for myriad reasons: human or computer error, currency conversion mishaps, or omitting surcharges and fees. This happens more often than you'd think too! Recently Air New Zealand forgot a zero and priced RT first-class tickets from the United States to Auckland for $1,500 instead of $15,000! Unfortunately I missed the boat on that one! Again, with mistake fares you have to act FAST! It's also worth noting the airline is not obligated to honor the fare, but most of the time they will - if they chose not to honor it, they are required to notify you within 24 hours.
      1. My favorite site for mistake fares specifically is: http://www.secretflying.com/ 
    2. Flash Sales: These are typical 12-24 hour sales for a particular set of city pairs, i.e. New York to London or Atlanta to Paris. The airline typically sets aside a specific number of tickets at a particular price point and when they're gone they're gone. These occur with regularity, often at the beginning of the week. You can sign up for "Flash Sale" alerts from most airlines, but Southwest and Delta are known for having them most often. 
      1. Every week Delta has "Weekend Getaways" - they announce them on Monday morning. You're required to depart on Friday or Saturday and return on Monday or Tuesday. You can sign up for their weekly alerts or simply bookmark the page here: https://www.delta.com/content/www/en_US/shop/deals-and-offers/north-america/last-minute-flights.html?icid=FS_US_Weekly
      2. Southwest does flash sales at least once a month, often more than once. You can sign up for their "Click N' Save" emails here: https://www.southwest.com/html/email/click_n_save_signup.html?clk=GSUBNAV-OFFERS-AD1-CNS160329
    3. Attack Fares: Unlike "mistake fares" which are accidental, "attack fares" are intentional. They occur when one airline "attacks" another airline's hub. For instance, American Airlines recently had tickets from Atlanta (a Delta hub) to Barcelona for $495. To protect their turf, Delta responded by matching American's price as well as retaliating with the same deal out of Dallas, an American hub. Attack fares are great because there's no fear of your ticket being cancelled and you often have the freedom to choose your carrier. In this example, if I were a loyal Delta flyer, since Delta matched the American price, I now have the ability to travel on my carrier of choice. Attack fares are most often unadvertised, so follow the Twitter accounts I listed in the previous post. 

I realize this is a ton of information. If you don't remember anything else:

DSC_1522.jpg
  1. When you find a deal buy it immediately! 
  2. Remember you have 24 hours to cancel or change your mind. 
  3. Bookmark "Secret Flying", sign up for Delta & Southwest's flash sale emails, and follow the Twitter accounts from the last post to keep up with the various types of special fares.

In the next post, I'll cover airline loopholes and how to leverage other regulations to your advantage! 

My goal in sharing these secrets is to empower YOU to go see the world. But not just for yourselves. My hope is in a world more divisive than ever, you would see the humanity in those you meet throughout your adventures. And that, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, socio-economic level, orientation, or gender... everyone's story weighs the same. 

Go and wander!  - JM

On the road (Travel Hacks)

IMG_8248.JPG

Part One:

Most of what I write about is intimately personal. My life experiences and diverse stories about intimacy, faith, and mental health. Yet, the common thread throughout my writing is the importance of people, empathy, and human relationships. In 2017, with racial tensions, a refugee crisis, and cultural appropriation constantly in the news, I think it’s more important than ever to gain a new perspective. 

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime."  - Mark Twain

Over the years I’ve been able to travel to forty countries on five continents, visiting major cities and rural towns. These adventures have shaped who I am, cultivated empathy in my soul, and brought new perspectives into my life. Along the way, I’ve discovered international travel doesn’t have to be expensive. Here are some samples of deals I've found, or booked for friends in the last year:

Image 2.jpg

Las Vegas: $48 RT on American Airlines (ATL - LAS) 

London: $305 on Virgin Atlantic (ATL-LHR)

Dublin: $278 on Air France (DCA-DUB)

Amsterdam: $395 RT on KLM / Delta (MSP-AMS)

Sydney: $361 on Qantas (SFO-SYD)

Milan: $398 on Emirates (JFK-MXP)

Sao Paolo: $275 on Delta (DTW-GRU)

Hong Kong: $348 on American (ATL-HKG)

In the last two weeks, I've booked tickets to Tel Aviv, Israel for $203 RT on Air Canada and Tokyo for Skymiles and $58. Here are some of my strategies:

IMG_2131.JPG
  1. Frequent Travel Programs: This is traveling 101. Whenever you get on a plane, sleep in a hotel, or rent a car, make sure you are earning points for your travel. It can be advantageous to know which alliance your airline is in and stay as loyal as you can to one. The main three are:
    1. SkyTeam: (Delta, KLM, Air France, Korean Air, etc)
    2. Star Alliance: (Air Canada, United, Lufthansa, etc) 
    3. One World: (American, British Airways, Iberia, etc) 
  2. Leverage Social Media: This is my favorite way to find deals. Even if you’re not a big social media user, you can create a free Twitter account just for this purpose. I have the following accounts set to alert me whenever there is a new post. When deals are posted, you have limited time to act. Here are my four favorite accounts to follow, again - it’s super easy to setup alerts for alerts when they tweet! If you don't want to setup Twitter, each of them have their own sites and Facebook pages as well:
    1. @tpg_alerts
    2. @theflightdeal
    3. @faredealalert
    4. @dansdeals
  3. Credit Cards: I’ll elaborate on this strategy at a later date. I briefly mention it here because it can be a good way to earn points quickly. However, there are other ways to travel for cheap. 
  4. Ebates: E-bates is something you can embed in your browser and earn cash-back when you shop online. They send you quarterly checks or direct deposit. It’s not always a lot, but 1-3% back here and there can add up. Especially on airfare, hotel, and rental cars. Sign up and learn more here: https://www.ebates.com/r/CONKLI260?eeid=28187
  5. Priceline: The “Name Your Price” function is great for rental cars, hotels, and flights if you have some flexibility. You’ll also earn 10% cash back on your travel using the above free eBates program. 
  6. USAA: USAA is totally free to join and contrary to popular belief doesn’t require you to be in the military. Once you sign up you can receive up to 30% off your rental car rentals. The big one though is there’s NO UNDERAGE DRIVER FEES! I’ve been renting cars since I was 18 and haven’t once paid the ridiculous $25/day underage fee. 
  7. Hopper: This is my favorite iPhone travel app. You’re able to set a range of dates and places you’d like to go and Hopper will monitor the prices for you and send you a notification when it predicts prices are at their lowest. 

I hope as you go explore you'll discover as Stevenson did, "there are no foreign lands, it is the traveler who is foreign." May you return with more empathy, stories, and self-awareness than when you left! 

Look for "Part Two" later this week! 

Bon voyage, 

- JM