Cutting Travel Costs: Entertainment (in LA)

Initially I was planning on making this third and final cutting travel costs post about finding free entertainment on the road, but I realized that the entertainment that we’re partaking in on our trip is completely Los Angeles centric, but it also dawns on me that entertainment everywhere will be quite the same; location focused.

Every city in every country has something unique to offer, sure there’s some overlap (how many Disney theme park are there?), but the exciting part of travel lies in experiencing something new; finding that unique treasure of an experience that you can only have in the part of the world that you’re currently in.

I don’t have a secret to finding affordable entertainment no matter where you are in the world (although I’m a big fan of using your feet and public transportation to see what your locale is really all about), but I can give you the rundown of what we’re doing in Los Angeles and how we’ve mapped out an experience that we’re really excited to have, but, for the most part, costs nothing.


Los Angeles, or more specifically Hollywood, is the television and movie capital of the world, so what better experience to have in town than to see how our favorite tv shows and movies are actually filmed and produced?

Now there are always studio tours. We went on one in New York City and toured the NBC studios where SNL and Jimmy Fallon do their late night magic. LA of course has no shortage of studios or studio tours. While we are planning on taking one, we’re thinking the Warner Bros tour which includes some of Inception (side note: I don’t actually know much about this tour, Marla knows all the details, but it sounds cool to me), plunking down $60, or whatever the going rate is for the tour, isn’t much to write about.

Part of the Show

What actually is useful to know though is that you can get quite the same experience as a studio tour, AND take it to the next level, all without spending a dime. The trick is to be part of a studio audience. Being part of a live studio audience for television costs exactly $0. The only tricky part, if you can call it that, is that not all TV shows are filmed in front of an audience. Obviously all gameshows, late night shows and many comedies are though, which makes for a wide variety of options.

Our big plans, include watching a taping of Better With You (a funny show with the main characters from Committed), a taping of The Big Bang Theory (one of our favorite shows) and one, maybe two, tapings of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (our absolute favorite – you can keep your Conan, Craig’s our fave :D).

All it took to get our tickets was a little planning ahead. After finding the dates that each show releases their tickets (typically 30 days prior), Marla just made sure to be up and online at the time they were “opening up” and she put our name in.

Within a week for the TV shows and a couple weeks for Craig, we received our confirmations and instructions on how it all works. Basically they overbook the shows with an audience, this way, since the tickets are free, they can always guarantee every seat filled.

Although getting the tickets is only step 1, all it takes is one of two things to ensure that you get in. Either arrive a couple hours early…or get there whenever and get lucky.

Now I don’t advise the second option, but we certainly got lucky when we walked up to the line for The Price Is Right.

Me, Marla and Amanda visited LA a couple years ago and decided to see TPIR. Now we knew that we had to get there early but we weren’t too concerned. We showed up a couple hours after you could start lining up, but little did we know, our timing was perfect.

Just as we were walking up to the check-in area, a lady comes running up to us and says, “Here! I’m in the early show!” and runs off. You see they film 2 episodes of TPIR a day so people who get there early can get a spot in line for each show. Well this lady just learned she was in the first and shared her second showing line number with us.

After approaching the table that was handing out the place numbers (and rejecting his suggestion of taking new, much higher numbers), we had realized that that lady had given us tickets that would get us right up at the front of the line. Out of about 300 people we were in the 30’s. And as you can see in the photo above, we got in and were right up in front, all thanks to the ecstatic lady with perfect timing. 🙂

This time around we’re not playing the luck card though. We’re gonna play it safe, arrive early and ensure our place in the tapings.

While this post isn’t some enlightened general travel hacking tip, at least you know that obtaining access to some LA entertainment doesn’t necessarily cost an arm and a leg. As long as you know what to look for.

In case you missed them, be sure to check out how we got United to foot the bill for our flight and how we’re bypassing the hotel industry for a unique experience with locals.

Alright, that’s all for now. Finishing up breakfast and we’re off to LA!

What’s your most memorable travel experience that didn’t cost an arm and a leg? Share your story in the comments!

One response to “Cutting Travel Costs: Entertainment (in LA)”

  1. ricktravelhacker Avatar

    Wow this is cool! I agree that we can all enjoy travel hacking and take advantage of all the freebies that we can get. We don’t really need to spend much. All it takes is your wits and resourcefulness.