I caught the travel bug in seventh grade Spanish class. While excitedly flipping through my new Spanish textbook I came upon a caption under a photo of a floor-to-wall painting in the Museo del Prado. I cannot remember the painting; I just remember that it was enough to take my breath away. Sitting in that classroom on that afternoon I decided my life’s mission: to go to Spain and see the painting in person. At age 16, after several years of working after school/weekends on our farm’s roadside pumpkin stand and mucking horse stalls at a nearby stable, I went abroad to Spain for 6 weeks as part of an exchange program. It was amazing…but it didn’t stop there. I decided that Spain was too much like the United States, and that what I was really looking for was something exotic and extreme; I needed to experience something that would challenge the track I felt my life was on. Everything up to this point in my life seemed so unattainable. I was a farm girl who watched the rest of the world live ‘normal’ and stimulating lives while stuck ankle-deep in manure (only a few times in the literal sense). Our lives’ rhythm ebbed and flowed with the needs of dairy cattle, which meant two milkings everyday, even when you are sick. Traveling for the entire family for an extended period of time was just not an option. I had to challenge this and reach something that was seemingly unattainable to me just to prove to myself that I could. And so in Spain I challenged myself to travel to Japan. When I finally reached Japan five years later in college, I found someone else who had the same travel bug as myself—my husband.
Paul and I still have our travel bugs, but must balance them against the two biggest constraints of adulthood: time and money. Everyone has limited resources at their disposal—both financial and otherwise. Being frugal means prioritizing those resources, and specifically prioritizing the money that we spend. Categories where we don’t want to spend our money like clothes and products have been chopped down to size in order to balloon budgets for the categories that we care a lot about, like travel and saving money. But what if we could also chop down our travel budget substantially while traveling more than we do now? Until last week I did not think this was possible. However, I came across something called PlaneRed that gave me hope that I am seeing a sneak peek of more travel to come: monthly subscription airfare.
PlaneRed is an all-you-can-fly monthly subscription due to come out this month (September 2011). They will offer 9-person flights (flights with 10 people or above means that TSA’s guidelines must be followed, and part of their selling point is that you won’t have to deal with TSA standards anymore) with routes only on the east coast at present: Atlantic City, New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. They have hopes of expanding to Texas, California, and the Midwest. The monthly subscription cost is estimated to be around $150. The first 10,000 signups will have access to the monthly subscription, and they expect that there will be a wait list.
While this program has not even begun and is only opening on the East coast as a test market, a girl can daydream. The way I see it, if one company is attempting to do this then I am sure it’s only a matter of time before others will start (so long as PlaneRed is successful). I would definitely allocate $150 a month from my budget to be able to travel to anywhere in the United States each month—this would open me up to being able to pop up to PA for my neice and nephew’s birthday parties, girls’ weekend out with friends, and the occasional barbecue. Not only would I be able to spend more time with family and friends, but I could also travel to other locations in the US that I have been wanting to but often do not because I choose to spend my travel money and time off at work in PA. Paul and I have both wanted to go to Colorado Springs (*$272 roundtrip for both of us), it would be fun to visit my uncle and aunt in Michigan ($619 roundtrip for both of us), my uncle and aunt in Arizona ($516 roundtrip for both of us), wine country in California ($436 roundtrip for both of us), and Paul has personally been dying to check out Montana ($876 roundtrip for both of us).
I would also be willing to pay a premium for monthly worldwide airfare. A quick look at airfare to Japan ($2702 roundtrip for both), Ireland ($1708 roundtrip), Brazil ($3,062 roundtrip)—all locations Paul and I have discussed traveling to—shows that even a highly monthly subscription would be worth it to us if we were to take two-three trips per year. Of course, this is all dependent on if we can find the time off from work, and also if we have saved up the other expenses of traveling such as food, hotel, and transportation. Still…a girl can dream.
Would you sign up for a monthly airline subscription? If so, how would you use it? Where would you go? What is your price point?
*prices are using expedia for a random date I chose, October 14th-16th, Friday-Sunday, and one stop each)