Hair Nerds live at industry events and tradeshows. Why? Mostly, because this is prime #NerdStalking real estate. Unfortunately, none of us are married to oil tycoons… However, if you are in fact a tycoon of any sort and are looking for 2 Lil’ Hair Nerds to throw money at… Well then, we are your girls!
One of the questions I am asked most frequently is, “ OMG, how do you guys afford to travel all the time?!”. We are all based out of California which helps because we are lucky to have a handful of amazing events close to us, but mostly we have just refined our travels and we have it down to a science.
Take a look behind the curtain and you will see HN rolls on the cheap… Here is our no-fail guide to Nerd Travel minus the divorce papers!
Pick an airline/program
Choose an airline that flies to the majority of your destinations and then stick with them. We fly Southwest mostly because they go everywhere we do, and while we hate the “cattle call” process… We dig their low fares and rack up the frequent flier miles. Joining a frequent flier program is so important because you are earning free flights.
When I wanted to bring my #Hairhusband and oldest #Hairbaby to NAHA this year, I cashed out points and flew them for free.
Be sure and check with your credit card company and find out if you are eligible to earn points towards frequent flier miles. If you are a responsible credit card user, you might also consider signing up for an airline sponsored card. You typically end up getting a free round trip as a sign up bonus.
Sales and Promos
We have a general idea of 80% of the shows we want to hit at the beginning of the year. I sign up for the e-mails from Southwest and Jetblue and they send info on 1-day sales and such. As soon as I see a killer fare, I pounce on it. The key is to have the money set aside so once a sweet price appears you are ready to go.
I stick with airlines that have a policy of crediting your account if you find a lower fare. Example: I purchase a flight to Orlando for $300 roundtrip and two weeks later they have a sale offering my flight for $250. I can call them up or hop on the website and they will credit $50 into my frequent flier account .
You can also use a site called Yapta to track flight itineraries. They send e-mail alerts when there has been a price drop. So I can go about my business and if anything changes they give me the head’s up.
Know When/ Where to Book
Flights tend to be less expensive Saturday and Tuesday because of weekend/ business travelers. Look for flights at God Awful hours. The 5:30am will almost always be less expensive than the 10:00am because like me no one wants to get out of bed at 3am to make a plane.
Also, if you are flexible on airports you can save a lot of dough. Flying into Burbank instead of LAX or Dallas Lovefield instead of DFW can not only save you green, but up your convenience by routing you through a smaller airport.
Where to Stay
Hotel Loyalty Programs
What can we say? We are obsessed with loyalty programs. We achieved #DiamondElite status of a particular chain several years ago. Now on top of earning points each time we stay at one of their properties, we also receive automatic upgrades to suites, an extra 30% point bonus, special amenities and discounts like free parking.
We know that when we stay at these hotels they are going to do their very best to ensure we have a pleasant time because of the amount of money we spend with them each year. We are their extension client who likes to come in every week and get her color refreshed and tips well.
The most important thing to do is find a chain you love whether it is Marriott, Hilton, whatever and research their program. Some are better than others. Also, where you are traveling is going to make a difference. Make sure properties are available in the places you plan to visit.
When selecting a location we always look at amenities that matter to us like on-site gym, restaurant, Wifi, complimentary breakfast, etc.
Tip** Examine the cost vs. amenities ratio. Sometimes it makes more sense to get a room with a higher rate if they include shuttles, breakfast, wifi and other extras you will have to pay for at a less expensive hotel.
It is tempting to get your own hotel room and have a space and bathroom all to yourself! Think twice before incurring the expense of a room for just yourself.
The Nerds always stay together because let’s be honest you want your shear-slinging besties close when you are on a Hair-Venture. Plus, who will blow your hair out if you are by yourself?
That’s What Friends Are For…
Anytime we fly into LA for the weekend, our favorite Passionista, Nina Kovner, comes to the rescue in her little black Prius. When Nina is busy we call up Hollywood Hair Guy, John McCormick and bribe him with our undying love to grab us from the airport or drive us to an event. Even Pete from Attachment Media, has driven up from San Diego to escort us to an event.
The point is there are Hair Friends in every city and all you have to do is ask. Because hairdressers are a tight knit community.. you never know, your next ride might turn into your new hair bestie.
Cabs can get expensive in a hurry so we make sure to pack the vehicle full. Put your friendliest Nerd up front. We always make Carrie sit up front and while we have feared for her life a couple of times, we usually avoid the price gouging . A $50 cab ride turns into $12.50 a person with a full vehicle.
Also, if your cab driver seems particularly uncreepy get their card. We always call Marc who owns a town car service when we are in Orlando, FL. He arrives at the airport with bottled water and the air conditioner blasting. He takes us everywhere that weekend and usually gives us a trip or two for free. #RelationshipBuilding
If you follow @TheHairNerds on Instagram you are familiar with our mini bar set up. You can travel with 2 unopened bottles of alcohol (check with your airline for specific guidelines) in your checked baggage. Did you know you can also stash the small 1oz. bottles of liquor in your carry-on? Just be sure and pack them in your quart size ziploc. You may get a knowing look from your TSA agent but trust us.. you will save a million dollars.
We aren’t saying never go out and have a drink… we are just saying alcohol is expensive and you could spend that extra money on another HairVenture.
Nothing breaks the budget faster than several nice meals a day plus cocktails. So hit up your local Starbucks in the morning for your caffeinated beverage of choice and grab a fruit cup or sandwich to have for lunch. *Note* We didn’t ask you to give up your Starbucks.. we like to save money but we aren’t sadist…
Another alternative is packing a couple of snacks in your suitcase like granola bars, almonds, protein bars, fig newtons (our secret fav.)… We always include a couple of super yummy late night snacks like sour gummy worms to fuel a creative writing session after too many cocktails.
If you are staying at a hotel that offers breakfast, be sure and make the trek downstairs to take advantage of having a hearty breakfast on the house.
The key is to have plenty of snacks and alternatives available for yourself so there is no guilt when you corner a celeb hairdresser and want to go out to a nice dinner. Carrie and I are basically an old married couple and try to always split meals because portions are huge and how often are you really eating that doggy bag of leftovers in your hotel room?
You know this is a big one because who wants to wear a dress again after you take a thousand pictures in it at NAHA. We tend to stick pretty close to the hairdresser wardrobe of all black for classes, shows, etc. so we are pretty well prepared for those events.
For award shows and large events we have taken to the idea of clothes rentals. Think of it as netflix for cocktail dresses. There are a couple of companies that offer these services. You pick the dress and they ship it to you for either a monthly fee or a one-time rental fee. Think $30 instead of $350. Yeah… we like the sound of that, too.
In the end, you have to face the facts that HairVentures are going to cost money, but you are investing in your future so we think it is worth it!