(WoW co-founder Malayna Dawn met this guest blogger when they were both interning at KROQ-FM in Los Angeles!)
By Tracey Adlai
A few years ago I discovered that attending the most prestigious film festival in the world, Festival de Cannes, was free (with accreditation) and ever since, I’ve been on a mission to make the Cote d’Azur my playground for one week every May.
There are several different levels of accreditation, mostly reserved for film professionals, but one is dedicated to granting screening access to everyday film lovers.
To read more about how to apply to attend the Festival de Cannes, check out my article for The Valley Film Festival.
In the past, my travel partners and I were able to find roundtrip air AND comfortably share a standard suite at MMV Cannes-Mandelieu Resort, for 6 nights, for about $1,000 USD each. No joke.
With the rising cost of airfare, and, well, the rising cost of everything else, I lost my cohorts and didn’t travel abroad in 2010. I vowed then and there to never rely on having a travel partner again.
PLOTTING A SOLO ADVENTURE
Like most people, I have a full-time job, side projects, financial responsibilities, family obligations, etc. and carving out the time and saving the money to travel requires planning and research.
Once I received my Cannes accreditation in February, I started pricing airfare. Even 3+ months out, there was nothing under $1,200 USD. That wasn’t a bad price. It was an OK price. If money wasn’t tight, and if I didn’t know better deals were to be had, I would’ve have booked it. Instead, I played the variable pricing airline game and waited until I could find a flight, including all taxes and fees, in the $800 USD range. I used Kayak.com to track and compare airfare – it’s one of my favorite travel sites and one I trust because they don’t handle third party bookings.
Fortunately, the cost of staying at MMV Cannes-Mandelieu hadn’t changed (approx €130/ $190 per night). Sure it was costly for one person, but I justified the expense by being familiar with the surrounding area; I knew where the supermarket, ATM, and best croissants were. Plus, having access to the free shuttle to/from the festival offset potential cab fare. (The hotel is approx 4 miles from the center of the festival.)
After a month of watching airfare go up, I got nervous about the rising cost of my 6 days in paradise. Suddenly I had an “a-ha!” moment – I remembered that I had air miles! Since I was dipping into my reserve, I added a week to my vacation, and decided to make this a true holiday by exploring other parts of Europe.
My original idea was to fly into Paris, spend a few days in the City of Lights, take a train to the South of France, attend the Festival de Cannes, and via another train to Rome, end my trip amongst historical ruins. It was the just the vacation I wanted.
USING AIR MILES
A week into daydreaming about each destination and having my friends on Facebook chime in, I decided to start my adventure in Geneva, Switzerland and end it in Frankfurt, Germany. Air miles were cashed in and about $120 USD in taxes and fees were paid. (Yes, you still need to pay fees and taxes. Fees are tacked on for every leg of the flight and vary by airport and country. If you’re flexible, click around and see which destination has the lowest.)
My adventure was scheduled to begin in Geneva on Tuesday, May 10. Because the Festival de Cannes has fixed dates, and I prefer to attend the first week to connect with filmmakers and industry professionals in town for premiers, I knew that I needed to travel south by Friday, May 13, or Saturday, May 14th. Given that I needed to spend 4 to 5 days in Cannes, I was free to explore starting May 18th, as long as I was in Frankfurt on May 24th to return to the U.S.
Now that I knew when and where I was arriving and departing from, it was time to fill in the blanks!
(to be continued in a future WoW post! Stay tuned….)