Updated November 2018
Women travel for breast augmentation wanting to reduce the cost of their procedure. But for some, it's because they've had their eyes set on a particular surgeon. Cost and surgeon skill then become two factors that weigh heavily in the decision to proceed with an out-of-town augmentation.
What often is overlooked, however, are the logistics. Without proper planning, you actually stand to lose time, money, and a bit of sanity.
We'll share how to minimize this waste and provide you with insider information from real women who've traveled for breast enhancement.
7 ways traveling breast augmentation patients save time and money on lodging and transportation
The average cost of a breast augmentation runs about $6,000. This doesn't account for your lodging, transportation, and everything in between. To keep unexpected costs down and to help you better manage your time, the ladies of JBI have these tips.
1. Use your surgeon's travel coordinator to find discounts on hotels & car services
Traveling for surgery has become more common over the years, encouraging some surgical practices to have on-hand coordinators to assist patients with travel needs. These coordinators aren't travel agents, but they can give you pointers or share discounts they've networked with local hotels and car services for their patients. Statistics show the average daily rate (ADR) of hotels in the U.S. to be $131. Cities like San Francisco, New York, and Boston are among the highest, with TripAdvisor pinning ADRs at $380. A hotel discount alone could get you a savings of $50 or more. You can then shift resources to other areas of your budget.
2. Stay close to your plastic surgeon's office to avoid high ride fares
After your surgery, you'll be released the same day. You'll have up to two follow-up appointments with your surgeon—in his office—before you head back home. If you aren't renting a car, you should book a hotel near your surgeon's office, not the hospital where you're having breast augmentation surgery, to avoid paying high fares on taxis or rideshares. Hospitals can be several miles from your doctor's practice. One JBI member remembers spending $160 roundtrip for a taxi ride to and from one post-op visit.
Another option is using your surgeon's car service, if there is one. They can get you to and from appointments for an additional fee. You can compare this amount to the projected cost of a rideshare like Uber or Lyft—by setting up a mock ride in their app, using only steps 1 and 2—to determine which is most budget-friendly.
3. Get a hotel that serves free breakfast
You'll be required to eat before taking your medication. Many former traveling patients recommend getting a hotel with free breakfast and stockpiling a few goods you can snack on later. "I was unable to go out on my own those six days, but I was able to hobble downstairs on the third day to stock up on fruit, muffins, and yogurts," said NormaJeane from New York.
If breakfast isn't provided, request a room with simple kitchenette features like a microwave and refrigerator. You'll pay more for the upgrade, but it comes under the price tag of room service for your three meals a day. In New York, a club sandwich costs an average of $24 and in Los Angeles, a bottle of water averages $6.80. You could be looking at $40 a meal with taxes and fees.
4. Use your hotel's free shuttle service to get to and from the airport
Some hotels have a free shuttle service. Check its restrictions as it may limit where you go and how far you can travel. A hotel-sponsored ride to nearby destinations is great, but the true cash value is in shuttles that transport you to and from the airport.
5. Purchase your flight early to save 10 percent
The sooner you purchase your ticket, the more you'll save and the more options you'll have for choosing a seat. Data from the Airlines Reporting Corporation examined 2017 ticket sales from online and corporate travel agencies in the U.S. and found that buying your ticket at least 50 days in advance and flying midweek can save you nearly 10 percent. So, if your flight is $350, you'd net a savings of $35.
6. Grab a bulkhead seat for more space at no additional cost
You can grab more space for free by nabbing a bulkhead seat located behind walls, curtains or screens that separate seat sections or classes. Since you won't have anyone in front of you, you won't be cramped and will have easy access to the aisle. You'll just have to check in early and be one of the first to line up for boarding to get it.
As a backup in case this option isn't available, choose an affordable airline like JetBlue which, according to Airfare Watchdog, gives you up to three inches more legroom than leaders like American and Delta.
7. Pick an airline with free baggage checks
Consider an airline like Southwest, which allows two bags to be checked for free. You'll miss out on the legroom and seat space, but you'll save $50 or more. Most airlines charge $25 for your first bag and $35 for your second—each way.
If you must pay for baggage check, do. Your luggage may seem light on the way over to your destination but it will feel weightier after breast augmentation. "I brought a very small rolling suitcase and had my laptop in it too," said NormaJeane. "When I arrived at the gate I was in such pain trying to carry my laptop and my oversized handbag in my arms...Ugh, it was terrible."
Brandy76 said her bags felt "100 times heavier." She ended up shipping her luggage back, and it cost her $40.
Get more tips before traveling for breast augmentation
Our breast augmentation forum is rich with tips from real women who traveled for their surgery and now want to share with you what they've learned. Step in and make yourself comfortable. Just don't forget the notepad. You'll want to write these down.
Hagen-Miller, L. (2018). Why More People are Traveling Abroad for Plastic Surgery. Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health-news/more-people-are-traveling-abroad-for-plastic-surgery#1
Hawaiian Airlines. Ola Pono Series Part 1: Flight Exercises. Retrieved from https://www.hawaiianairlines.com/our-services/in-flight-services/in-flight-entertainment/ola-pono-series/part-1-flight-exercises
Lieberman, M. (2018). Airfare Study Claims This is Exactly How Far in Advance You Should Book Your Flights. Travel & Leisure. Retrieved from https://www.travelandleisure.com/travel-news/cheapair-airfare-study-best-time-to-book-flights-2018
Swanson, A. (2015). Chart: the average cost of room service in 15 U.S. cities. Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/03/28/chart-the-average-cost-of-room-service-in-15-u-s-cities/?utm_term=.d10a48a7521d
Geoghegan, S. (2015). Your Flying Health and Fitness Guide [Infographic]. Thomas Cook. Retrieved from https://www.thomascook.com/blog/infographics/your-flying-health-and-fitness-guide/
Radka, R. (2018). Wild Pitch: US Airlines with the Most Legroom in Economy...and the Least. Airfare Watchdog. Retrieved from https://www.airfarewatchdog.com/blog/44252939/wild-pitch-us-airlines-with-the-most-legroom-in-economy-and-the-least/
Mack, L. (2015). How to book the best airplane seat. Cheapflights. Retrieved from https://www.cheapflights.com/news/booking-the-best-airplane-seat
Swanston, B. (2017). Which Airlines Have No Baggage Fees? USA Today. Retrieved from https://traveltips.usatoday.com/airlines-baggage-fees-61226.html
Bortz, D. and Snider, S. (2018). 7 Insider Secrets to Booking Cheap Airfare. U.S. News. Retrieved from https://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/spending/articles/insider-secrets-to-booking-cheap-airfare