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How to Get Show Tickets When Traveling

Getting the Best Seats to a Show
Pedestrians walk near the marquee of the Broadway show "Spring Awakening" at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre in New York.
Pedestrians walk near the marquee of the Broadway show "Spring Awakening" at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre in New York.
AP Photo/Craig Ruttle

Nobody wants to get stuck in a corner seat with a bad view of the stage simply because all the good seats were sold out. Fortunately, there are ways to get the best seats in the house:

Buy in advance -- If you buy tickets for a show as soon as they go on sale, it's often easy to get great seats to a show. Be warned, though, that this method doesn't always work. Some theaters make tickets available to subscribers before they make them available to the general public, so the best seats may be sold out by the time you get an opportunity to buy them. You could become a subscriber, but this usually doesn't pay; that is, unless you live near the city where the theater is located. In addition, some theaters deliberately hold back blocks of tickets until shortly before the date of a performance, so you may want to keep checking seat availability just in case.

Use a ticket broker -- Ticket brokers buy blocks of tickets and resell them. This practice is carefully monitored by law, because sales to ticket brokers can make it difficult for legitimate customers to buy tickets from the theater itself -- in fact, if this is done in front of the theater it's called scalping and is often illegal -- but legitimate ticket brokers make it possible to find good seats for shows even when the best seats are no longer available from the box office. The best known ticket broker in the United States is probably Ticketmaster, but Web sites like StubHub will sell tickets from users who no longer plan to use them. The Web site Front Row Tickets specializes in finding you exactly what its name promises.

There are even Web sites that specialize in helping travelers find tickets to entertainment events. For instance, Travelzoo has a special entertainment section where you can pick up last-minute theater bargains while you're on the road. TravelZoo links you to sites where you can make the purchases, and like a few other sites, they'll give you promo codes that can be used to get discounts. These codes can be entered at the Web site selling the tickets for an instant reduction in ticket price. Another site that frequently offers promo codes is Playbill, though you'll need to sign up for a (free) membership in its Playbill Club to find the best bargains.

If you're using a smartphone (an excellent way to browse the Internet while you're on the road), there are free apps that will streamline the process of finding and buying tickets. For instance, if you have an iPhone you could use the TheaterMania app, the New York City Tickets app or the BroadwayWorld app.

Another question travelers frequently ask is when the best time is to see a show, so that they can plan exactly when to take a trip. We'll answer that question on the next page.