Top 10 Sites to Save Money on Interview Travel

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Well it's that time of the year again! Many FPMD readers are now jetting across the country in search of their perfect residency or fellowship position.  Last year I wrote a post about Money Saving Tips for Interview Season. Instead of rewriting the same post over and over again each year, I want to put together this "evergreen" article so new readers won't have to dig through the archives. This will be nested under the "TOP 10" menu in the navigation bar.  Here are my top 10 sites to save money on interview travel.

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Transportation

Depending on how many residency/fellowship interviews you travel to, this can quickly add up to thousands of dollars.  

1.  Airfarewatchdog 

My all-time favorite destination for finding cheap flights online. Airfarewatchdog constantly searches the internet for the cheapest flights between cities. Only deals that fall below a certain pre-set $ threshold are listed. Unlike other online flight search sites, Airfarewatchdog also include Southwest deals. Two very useful features are the Fares From a City and the Fares to a City listings which tracks the current best bargains for flying out of or into a city of interest.  But the best way to use Airfarewatchdog is to set up fare alerts and be notified when a new flight deal pops up.

 

2. Google Flights

When you receive an interview offer, you are limited to a few or sometime only one interview date. Which means you won't have the luxury of waiting for the next cheap fare alert to pop up in Airfarewatchdog. In these situations, I go straight to Google Flights. There is nothing wrong with the Priceline, Expedia and Kayaks of the world, and arguably they all have the same features when it come to finding prices. But the ease of use of Google Flights is unrivaled and it quickly replaced Kayak as my most often used online travel booking site.

 

3. Southwest Airlines

Ok, everyone knows that Southwest is special - free checked bags, no change fees, pick your own seat etc. One other thing Southwest is special for is the fact it won't allow "any automatic device, program, or algorithm" to monitor its fares. Which is the reason why you won't find their fares listed with any of the traditional online search engines listed above (including Google Flights). So before you click "Buy," be sure to head to Southwest.com to see if you can get the same flight at a lower price.

 

4. Amtrak

Depending on where you live, there is a decent chance you may have never experienced the train. I've lived in the US for 16 years and 2017 was the first year I've ever ridden an American train. It was actually a great experience. Lots of leg room, free WiFi, overpriced dining car food all add up to a much more pleasant time than being stuffed into a metal tube with 28 inches of legroom. Of course, you won't want to travel from coast to coast via the train. But for short hauls (E.g. Northeast), Amtrak often represents a great bargain vs. flying.


ACCOMMODATIONS

Hotels aren't cheap, which is why you won't find any traditional hotel sites below.

5. Swap & Snooze

Started by a couple of ER residents who went through the messy interview process a few years ago themselves, Swap & Snooze is an online community where medical students & residents can sign up to share their homes with other medical students & residents on the interview trail. Not only do you get a bed or couch to sleep on, you can also pick up some insider tips from your host(s) on the program you’re applying to. The best part? It’s all FREE

 

6. Rotating Room

Rotating Room has been around longer and was created with a slightly different purpose - to help 4th year medical students sublet rooms during their away rotations.The listings on Rotatingroom.com are designed to be rented monthly. However, I have heard from several different sources that the hosts can be very receptive to interviewees. The benefits are the same as Swap & Snooze. One slight drawback? You may have to pay something.

 

6. AirBNB

AirBNB is an online marketplace where private individuals list their apartment, condo, or house for rent. The company's catchy slogan Belong Anywhere has help it become one of the most valuable companies in the hotel industry, with a market valuation behind only Marriott. Of course, you would have to be comfortable staying in someone else's house.  I personally have used AirBNB for stays in Chicago, Toronto, Atlanta, Austin, Washington DC, and Miami and I have yet to have a bad experience. (Sign up via the FPMD referral link for $40 toward your first booking).

 

7. Hotel Tonight

If you are uncomfortable staying in a stranger's home and prefer a more traditional hotel lodging experience, then you should try out Hotel Tonight. Hotel Tonight is an app based service that partners with traditional hotels to rent out unsold rooms at steeply discounted rates. And you can book up to 7 days in advance of your trip which makes it perfect for those last minute interview invites. (Sign up via the FPMD referral link for $25 toward your first booking).


Getting Around Once You're There

Some cities are easier to get around by public transportation than others. Here are some ways to save on your ride to & from the airport.

8. Uber 

Despite the many recent controversies that have beset the company, Uber remains one of the best and cheapest ways to explore a new city. As of this writing, the company that pioneered car-hire on demand is active in 84 countries serving more than 737 cities.  And because of competition, Uber has continued to lower their fares in many cities. (Sign up via the FPMD referral link for $5 off your first 3 rides).

 

9. Lyft 

Think of Lyft as the Pepsi to Uber's Coke. You can read more about the differences between the two HERE. I've used both services regularly and honestly have not found much difference between them. In fact, I usually will check the fare to my destination using both apps and then go with the one that's cheaper. (Sign up via the FPMD referral link to get your first ride free).

 

10. AutoSlash

Let’s face it, as widespread as Uber and Lyft has become, they’re not in every city. For that rare occasion when you need or simply prefer to drive yourself, I recommend AutoSlash.com. AutoSlash is unique as it books you a rental car like any other rental car booking site, but then it continuously monitors your booking and rebooks your reservation if they find a lower price!  I used AutoSlash for my U of Hawaii interview and was able to score a 4 day rental for $40!


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Future Proof, MD

Dr. Bo Liu is an aspiring radiologist-in-training and the founder and editor of the White Coat Money Blog.  He has an interest in interventional radiology and helping his medical colleagues get ahead in this mad world of medicine and money.  When he's not crushing the list at the PACS station or typing up your next favorite blog post, you can usually find him at the local badminton club, movie theater or the most recently opened restaurant.