“A Star Is Born” and and unexpected reaction

A Star Is Born

Photo Credit: Amazon Movies

Last night, in hopes of cramming one last Oscar nominated movie in before tonight’s award ceremony, my lovely wife Michelle rented “A Star Is Born” for us to watch.

After a long day skiing (and a 4 hour drive back due to a 2-hour road closure on I-70), I wasn’t expecting to be able to stay awake, but man was I wrong.  I was either on the edge of my seat, cheering, or sobbing my eyes out throughout the entire movie.

Not only that, but we watched every “bonus scene/video” possible, and THEN we decided to watch it again.

I think the pivotal moment in the movie was how Jack surprised Ally with a “once in a lifetime opportunity” – knowing she didn’t think she was ready (but he knew she was).

And She F**king Nailed It! (I’d include the clip, but it’s 1000 times better if you watch how they got there in the movie.)

Michelle was surprised at why this movie touched me so much, and quite frankly, so am I.  I think the biggest reason is because of where I am now, and where I’ve been in my life.  More specifically – the opportunities I’ve seized, and the opportunities I have let slip by because of being caught up in the grind of daily life.

It wasn’t until my mid-40’s that I discovered travel as a way to grow…
to find perspective…
to unplug from work…
to plug in with my family…
to find myself…
to visit more friends and family…
to have more friends & family visit me…
to give my family gifts that won’t start collecting dust two weeks after I give it to them…

Ever since that discovery, I’ve been making up for lost time. Even when I can’t travel myself, I look for travel deals that I hope one of my friends or family members can take advantage of.  (And as long as you’re reading this blog, I’m not going to let the opportunity slip by to inspire you to visit more friends, family, or new places either.)

If you want to start visiting more friends, more family, and more new places, there is nothing more powerful than doing this one simple thing:

Whether you’re planning a trip or not, simply watch for opportunities to JGOOT (Just Get Out Of Town) every day.
  • If you’re subscribed to my paid trip-alert service, that’s as easy as opening my trip alerts every day.  (Don’t wait until you’re ready. Open them every day.)
  • If you’re not subscribed, here are a TON of free tips showing you how to find unbelievable trips yourself. (No, not last minute, not redeye flights, not standby flights, and unless absolutely necessary, not even using points. Just travel deals that are so low – you can’t help but consider getting out of town.)
Sound like too much work? No problem, but it sure would be unfortunate if the exact same Summer trip you’ll end up paying $400 per-person for  – could have been snatched up 5 months in advance for $47 during a 48-hour flash sale.  (Especially if you’ve got a family of 6.)

Happy travels!

Joel

 

“It’s five minutes of dreaming and fun” – Robert Horvick

Below is a recording of a conversation I had with JGOOT premium subscriber Robert Horvick after he left these kind words on our Facebook page.

Robert & his wife live in Raleigh, NC. Since joining my trip-alert service, they’ve only travelled domestically, but they’ve taken 3 trips and saved $600 to $800 so far.

They watch for trips every day but even when none of the trips interest them or work with their schedule, he describes opening his daily trip alerts as “Five minutes of dreaming and fun.”

Don’t have 30 minutes to watch the whole video? A list of highlights is below.

  • Intro: “We got married young and travel was limited to road trips. Now that kids are older…”
  • 1:05: $97 Delta direct afternoon flight Raleigh to Austin that we’ve paid $350 for multiple times in the past.
  • 3:30: $63 mid-day direct Raleigh flight to Minneapolis (not-last minute. Months ahead.)
  • 4:50: Plans for Paris next Summer
  • 5:30: Using points as a backup plan
  • 7:10: Orlando/Disney flight that added two days to their vacation for the same cost
  • 8:45: WAY cheaper to get a great deal on a flight and a bad deal on a cruise, than a great deal on a cruise and a bad deal on a flight.
  • 11:00: Opening JGOOT emails is like scratching a lottery ticket. Even when you don’t win, it’s five minutes of dreaming and fun.
  • 14:10: How we saved $600 to $800 in the 6 months since we subscribed.
  • 15:20: It’s as fun to dream while sitting at home as it is to be traveling when you are able to get out
  • 15:50: The benefits of building travel plans around deals vs Planning to travel, and hoping to find a deal
  • 17:45: Co-worker paying $3000 flights to Shanghai vs $600 including 7 nights.
  • 18:35: Getting your butt on the plane for cheap, and then getting a business class upgrade for less than the cost of lunch.
  • 22:20: How we get these trips at the price advertised.
  • 25:30: How we used to travel vs how we travel now.
  • 29:20: Recap of the two strategies behind “The JGOOT Way” of travel.
  • 31:30: Robert’s final suggestion to get the most out of your JGOOT trip-alerts

This site is not for you if…

Actual screenshot of a text from a subscriber

Actual screenshot of a text from a subscriber

Yesterday, I got a text from one of my subscribers, Brooke Merkle, while she was on vacation.  When CBS News profiled her less than a year ago, she had taken her family on 3 JGOOT-inspired trips, and was going on her fourth trip to Hawaii. She’s now gone on ten JGOOT trips total and she’s not even the record-holder! (To my knowledge, that would be Daniel Streske – who has been on more adventures than he can count since becoming a JGOOT subscriber.)

Granted, Brooke is a teacher, and she gets out of town more than most of us because her husband has a flexible schedule and they travel just about every time she and her kids have a school break…

And Daniel works hard 4 months a year, and plays hard 8 months a year…

Both have the ability to travel more than most of us.

BUT…

Brooke & Daniel’s schedules aren’t the primary reason they are both traveling more than they used to.

  • The reason Brooke, Daniel, and so many other JGOOT subscribers are now traveling more is because they no longer occasionally look for a vacation, painting themselves into a corner asking something like “What will it cost to go to Cabo for Spring Break?”
  • Instead, they now watch for deals every day and with a slightly different question in mind; “What exceptional travel deals that fit my schedule in the next several months can I take advantage of?”

For a family of four, the former question can easily be a $5000 to $10,000 question. The latter can easily be a $500 to $2500 question. (Yes… For a family of four, and yes – during peak times like weekends & holidays when everyone is out of school.)

This site is not for you if…

  • If you tend to wait until a month before a trip, and you have a very specific timeline to work with.
  • It’s also not for you if you’ve got your sights set on a specific place at a specific time every time you travel.

You don’t need my services in either of the above scenarios.  You have two choices:

  1. You can keep looking the way you always have and find exactly what you’re looking for on Travelocity or Expedia.
  2. Or you can read this free report at least 3 months before you expect to take a trip (preferably 6 or 8 months in advance).

Either way, you don’t need a JGOOT subscription. The fares I share on JGOOT have about a zero chance of helping you if you have little to no flexibility on when/where you want to travel. If that’s the case for you, I don’t advise wasting another minute on my site.

Although The JGOOT Way will allow you take a family of four on vacation for the same price as what 90% of other travelers pay per person…

…it simply won’t work if you aren’t willing to make some slight adjustments to take advantage of the deals that are there for the taking day in and day out.

  • Sometimes, that might mean snatching up a trip to Belize, Aruba, or Thailand instead of Cabo (Yes, when you travel The JGOOT Way – you can vacation in Thailand for the same freakin price as what most people pay to go to Cabo.)
  • Other times, that might mean vacationing the second week of July instead of the third week…
  • Maybe it means booking a Thanksgiving vacation instead of Winter Break because the same destination is 1/3 the cost
  • Or taking a Thursday to Thursday trip instead of Saturday to Saturday.
  • Or maybe taking an extra day off of school/work

If you want to start spending less than what 90% of travelers spend on travel – you have to stop thinking like them.

Little adjustments to how you travel can mean massive savings.

Is JGOOT the best site for you to save big on your next trip?

I don’t know.  Although my trip alert service has a 30-day no-questions asked refund policy, feel free to try the following first:

  1. subscribe to my free trip alert service,
  2. check out other free tips on my blog,
  3. and watch a few videos on my FAQ page.

If The JGOOT philosophy resonates with you, great.  If not, that’s cool too. If you have a strict schedule with no flexibility, there is no need to fill your inbox with trips you can’t take advantage of, and you can click the “unsubscribe” button at any time.

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

 

 

An epic Vegas bachelor party… On a budget.


Years ago, my brother-in-law was getting married. (We’ll call him Kenny, and we’ll call his fiancé Kelly.) I was his best man and he wanted to have his bachelor party in Vegas.

When he gave me the list of friends he wanted to invite he said “These guys are all in grad school and most of them are on REALLY tight budgets.”

Dude…

How are we supposed to have a bachelor party in Vegas on a tight budget? Cover charges for one night of club-hopping alone was going to break the bank for most of these guys.

OK… Challenge accepted. Let’s roll our sleeves up & get this figured out.

Two of us had a ton of points, so a couple free flights and a couple free rooms added money to the dance club-hopping budget.  But still, $20 to $25 cover charges and $10 to $15 drinks can add up fast when you’re on a tight budget.

A few guys were within driving distance so they said they’d bring a couple cases of beer. Pre-drinks for 10 guys will save another few hundred bucks. Not exactly living the dream, but hey – you gotta do what you gotta do when many in the group are on a beer budget but have champagne taste.

Then, during the planning stages, LIGHTNING STRUCK!

We realized we were going to be there during Mardi Gras. Granted, we weren’t going to New Orleans, but what the hell – we could have a little fun with some mardi gras beads. We hopped on ebay and found about 500 sets of beads from China for under fifty bucks.

Knowing people in Vegas would get arrested for public displays of boobs, we came up with a different plan.  We had Kenny wear a t-shirt that had had a bunch of checklist items custom printed on it with a list of things people could do to “earn” a set of beads.

Things people could do to earn beads included:

  • Yelling “I love Kenny!” (at which time he was obligated to yell “I love Kelly!”)
  • Buying drinks.
  • Asking Kenny to dance (and he HAD to say yes.)
  • etc.

About 400 of the beads were regular beads that cost less than a nickel a piece.  100 of them were “special” beads. They were extra large, and were things like beer extra-large hearts, dice, a pair of aces, etc. They cost 5 to 10 times times as much as the normal beads at a whopping $.25 to $.50 each.

Little did we know how much those beads would change the course of our night.

People. Ate. It. Up.

Saturday morning, we realized the beads were so cheap they stained our shirts, but we didn’t care. We wore them out Saturday night too.

By the second night, people were greeting us as we walked into clubs yelling “I love Kenny!” People were buying drinks, they were making Kenny feel like a king, we were ALL dancing non-stop.  Not just the girls either. Big, buff dudes were greeting us with “I love Kenny!!” in the middle of a crowded dance club!

THEN there were the “special” beads…

We made sure Kenny was the only one of us who had the special beads. He only had a couple at a time, and people almost always asked “What do I have to do to get a set of THOSE beads?” Kenny named the terms at first and it was initially stuff like dancing with him.

BUT we quickly realized that people REALLY wanted those beads and were offering to do things we wouldn’t have even imagined.  I think our record was someone offering to buy us a round of drinks.  The guy easily dropped $100 buying us all drinks so he could get his girlfriend a set of coveted heart beads…

Fifty-Freakin-Cent-Heart Beads.  (Out of respect for them, we waited until we left that club before pulling another set of heart beads out. 😉

It was better than we ever imagined, and we felt like celebrities all weekend. Not bad for a bunch of grad-school dorks (and an even dorkier over-the-hill brother in law walking around with a backpack full of beads.)

The moral of the story?

Travel memories hold a special place in your heart, and stick with you forever.  That trip was one of the most tight-budgeted trips I’ve ever been on, and it was over a decade ago. But those memories still seem like yesterday, and will forever bring a smile to my face.

An unexpected ending:

Bleary-eyed and hung over Sunday afternoon, we said our goodbyes at the airport before heading to our respective terminals. As Kenny and I got on the tram to head to our terminal two girls came running up beating on the window yelling:

“I LOVE KENNY!”

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If you’d like help creating more surprisingly affordable travel memories of your own, become a JGOOT premium subscriber.
(*Beads not included) 
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Reach out and touch someone

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In the late 70’s – long-distance calling was extremely expensive ($.10 to $.25 per minute), rates were very confusing, and most people only called for really special occasions. So AT&T launched a campaign about how their new calling plans allowed you to “reach out and touch someone” for $.02 to $.10 per minute and forever changed how people treated long-distance calling.

Now, nearly 50 years later, at $.10 to $.25 per mile, most people think flying is too expensive, meaning traveling across the country to visit a friend or loved one “just to say hi” is reserved for special occasions only.

Just like AT&T revolutionized the way people stayed in touch 50 years ago, “The JGOOT Way” is changing the way friends & family stay in touch today.

Every week, I share a few dozen different flights with my premium subscribers that are between $.02 and $.05 per mile.  That’s about 1/4 of what most people pay to fly, 1/10th of what most people pay to drive, and believe it or not – a better value than what you would pay when using frequent flyer points. (Here is an article describing that math.)

As a JGOOT premium subscriber, any time you see a trip alert in a city where you know someone, you can either:

  • Have one-click access to the flights I found so you can go visit them
  • Use my “reverse search” link & fly them out come visit you.
  • (Fares I find in the Domestic US are rarely over $100, and as low as $29 round-trip, so there is rarely an excuse for not “reaching out and touching someone” you care about.

Don’t want to pay $.26 per day to have me find those deals for you? No problem. Here is a post on how you can regularly find $.02 to $.05 per mile flights yourself for free.

Just for fun, here are a couple more AT&T commercials:

The great composer does not set to work because he is inspired, but becomes inspired because he is working.

“The great composer does not set to work because he is inspired, but becomes inspired because he is working.” – Ernest Newman, Born Nov. 30, 1868.

One of the best copywriters I am proud to know (Colin Theriot) wrote an article using the above quote as inspiration for copywriters experiencing writer’s block.  I couldn’t help but think how applicable it is to travel as well.

“Take our whole family for the cost of one person” trips don’t wait for when you’re ready to plan a trip.

They pop up and disappear in a matter of days (sometimes hours), and the odds of them being available “when you’re ready to look” are slim-to-none.

The key is to watch for them every day, whether you’re planning a trip or not.

I don’t care if you subscribe to my service or set up a couple dozen free fare-watches on AirfareWatchdog

Make travel a priority by watching for great deals every day and guess what:

  • You’ll stumble across $29 round-trip flights to your soon-to-be fiancé’s home-town over a weekend and you’ll go to meet her friends & family. (True story.)
  • You’ll take your first vacation in 10 years because you stumble across a trip you can take to London that will cost under $1200 including flight and lodging – for both of you. (True story.)
  • You’ll re-discover yourself on a solo trip as a newly divorced parent on a $58 trip to Costa Rica. (When you WERE planning on staying home feeling sorry for yourself while the kids are on vacation with their Mom.) True story.
  • You’ll find yourself spending Thanksgiving in Cabo because you stumbled across $110 round-trip flights. (True story.)
  • You’ll stumble across cheap flights to Turks and Caicos & book your family of five for less than what others on the same plane paid for one person. You’ll then text your friends around the country who also travel “The JGOOT Way”. They’ll join you, starting an amazing lifelong “Friendcation” tradition. (True Story.)
  • Although you weren’t planning on checking Hawaii off your bucket list until retirement (when the $1300 flight will fit in your budget) – you’ll go for your 10th anniversary because you found $341 flights. (True story)
  • You’ll tell your out of town parents about a flight they can take for less than the cost of a babysitter. During their visit, they’ll watch the kids while you get to go on a long overdue date-night.  (True story.)

My blog and my Facebook page are open books on how you can travel anywhere you want for pennies on the dollar using a few simple strategies I call “The JGOOT Way”. Feel free to poke around, and if you ever find a trip using “The JGOOT Way” of travel, let me know!

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Don’t want to do all of that digging yourself?
We dig for the most affordable 1% of trips on the internet every day, and share them with our premium subscribers.
Feel free to check it out.
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Thanksgiving musings

It’s the end of the day on Thanksgiving. Our friends & family have left & the dishes are done.
Today, I watched in amazement as my teenage kids were not only engaged in something other than their phones, but were excited and enthused to be involved in conversations with friends and family who came to our home throughout the day.
  • My daughter was enthusiastically telling a group of kids about visiting one of the biggest amusement parks in the world and how she and her cousin made a pact to ride the legendary 120 mile-per-hour roller coaster.
  • My normally quiet son was the center of attention as he told a group of adults about SCUBA diving with sharks in Turks and Caicos…
  • Although they rarely get along, watching them tag-team a story about our dive instructor in Honduras who pronounced “Joel”, “Jason” and “Julia” as “Yoel”, “Yason” and “Yulia” – had everyone laughing hysterically.

Sadly, if I traveled the way most people traveled, not a single one of the above stories would have happened (because none of them would have fit in the budget.)

And sure – I travel more because I can take my whole family on vacation for what most people pay for one person…
BUT for me – “The JGOOT Way” is not just about saving money on vacations…
  • My kids are learning important skills in life (conversation and story-telling)
  • They are learning about humility & compassion by visiting third-world countries
  • We’re maintaining better relationships by visiting more friends and family.
  • They have amazing memories that NO ONE can ever take from them – no matter what tangible assets they will inevitably lose in the future.

Today, I am thankful for you reading this right now. I hope that means you’re interested in more travel, and whether you read the free tips on my blog, are getting free trip alerts or premium trip alerts  – I look forward to hearing about your next JGOOT-inspired trip. Feel free to comment below, or drop me an email any time.

 

Coming to you from the future

Hey. I know this is weird, but this is the future you, and I just got in a time-machine. I’m contacting you from 6 months in the future because I’m (we’re) in a bit of a bind…
So our friends John & Sally are going to have to cancel their holiday weekend trip in exactly 6 months due to a family emergency.  They’ve got a two bedroom penthouse unit at an all-inclusive resort, and the whale sharks are migrating. They’re going to call and tell you (us) that if you (we) want to go – all you have to do is buy the flights.

Rights purchased from: https://www.123rf.com/profile_macsim

Unfortunately I (future you) have been  trying to find decent flights for the past two days, and I can’t find ANYTHING for less than $1200 each. (If it weren’t for that damn A/C going out last month, we’d have room in the budget to fly us and the kids out, but $4800 is just too much.)
In a panic, I called that Just Get Out Of Town guy – Joel. He said he’s not a travel agent and it’s too late for him to find anything better, BUT… All we have to do is cash in that emergency stash of 100,000 frequent flyer points he showed us how to get 6 months ago. Then, instead of $4800 – we could fly there for a couple hundred bucks.
Needless to say, I (we) had to tell John & Sally that we couldn’t make it. They then called the F^@#ing Smiths – who are now plastering pictures of themselves swimming with whale sharks all over f^@#ing Facebook.
Damn Smiths…

Do our family a favor, and do the following two things right now:

1) Print out this free report from Joel and try it out.  (Trust me – it’s not nearly as much trouble as the trouble you’ll go through looking for an affordable holiday weekend flight to the Caribbean in 6 months (to no avail).
2) Upgrade to Joel’s premium service. The dude is wicked-smart (like “writing books for Google” smart). He’s going to post an amazing mistake fare tomorrow and we could go on BOTH trips for less than the cost of what we normally spend on one vacation. But if you don’t upgrade your subscription, it will sell out before you get it.

No time to talk. I’ve got to get back to the future.  (If we’re not swimming with whale sharks in exactly 6 months, please have a cold drink waiting for me.)

Oh yeah. One other thing:

Call the A/C repair guy. Not having A/C for two weeks this summer was a bitch, and the guy who replaced it for $7000 said if you had re-charged the freon for $250, it wouldn’t have broken down (and we’d be the ones swimming with whale sharks).

Sincerely,

Future you

Formula for a cheap vacation AND free babysitters

Need a quick getaway without the kids, but don’t have family in town to help watch them?

This little trick will take 3 or 4 months of advance planning, but it is sure to:

  1. Find a dirt-cheap vacation to a place you didn’t think you could afford.
  2. Find free babysitters you can trust while relaxing on the beach.
  3. Get you lots of brownie points from family who will be elated at your generosity of flying them into town to spend quality time with your kids.

Step 1: Download this quick-start guide that will show you how to get 50,000 to 100,000 frequent flyer points in the next 30 to 60 days.

Step 2: Once you have earned your points, keep a close eye on the 50% to 90% off mistake fares you get through JustGetOutOfTown.com

Step 3: When you see a fare that fits your schedule (and budget), look up how many points it will take to fly Grandma & Grandpa (or the friend/relative of your choice) into town during your trip, and fly them out for a visit. (By using points you can easily pick dates that work around the cheap vacation you found, and since those flights will only cost $10 to $50 – it’s cheaper than ANY babysitter in town.)

Step 4: Grab the mistake fare and Just Get Out Of Town!

OR… If the mistake fare is REALLY good, save your miles for a rainy day and take grandma & grandpa with you.

Nikki Sandschaper - Happy JGOOT Subscriber

As a travel-obsessed parent and a teacher, I am thrilled that I can search for deals during school breaks!  We found such a great deal to Cabo over the Winter holidays that we took the grandparents too! Thank you!”
Nikki Sandschaper

Since becoming a JGOOT premium subscriber Nikki and her family have been to Florida, Mexico, Europe, and most recently – Asia.  Check out her inspiring travels on her Facebook page.

Tips from an expert: Taking better vacation photos

Photo by Trey Ratcliff

Nearly a decade ago, I got to go on a photo-walk with renowned photographer – Trey Ratcliff.  (Click here to see some of his work.)

I’m not a professional photographer, but ever since applying things I learned from Trey – I’ve been asked to shoot weddings, events, and births of babies – all because of personal vacation photos I occasionally post to Facebook.  More importantly – the photos I bring home from vacations become heirlooms that my family and I get to keep forever.

If you want to bring home more memorable photos whenever you travel, I highly recommend any of Trey’s training materials.

He has:

Again – here is a collection of some of his amazing work.

 

“It’s not safe to travel”

After objection #1 (“Your deals seem too good to be true“), and objection #2 (“I don’t have the funds to travel right now“), third most common objection I hear regarding travel is : “It’s not safe to travel outside the U.S.”

I couldn’t disagree more.

Other than a handful of politically unstable countries, the majority of places around the world are just as safe (if not more safe) than right here in the U.S. As long as you have a little bit of self-awareness when it comes to not making yourself a target – travel outside the US is no less safe than any big city in the US.

Nas daily – one of my favorite travel vlogs (Video Blogs) has multiple videos on the subject. Nas has even left laptops, bikes & purses out for people to take in various countries, and items that wouldn’t last 2 minutes at most big cities in the U.S. can sit there untaken for hours.

If you do want to travel more, I recommend the following 3 things:

  1. Set money aside for travel. (It takes FAR less than you think with proper planning, but without setting aside a travel budget – travel will continue to take a back seat to things like broken furnaces, braces for the kids, etc. Next thing you know, you’ll be looking back on your life – wishing you had traveled more.
  2. Follow different travel bloggers to stay inspired and informed.
  3. If you’re really concerned about your safety, take a self defense course. You’d be surprised at how little you need to know to drastically increase your odds of A) not being a target, and B) protecting yourself from the other 99.9% of attackers who have no training at all.  If you don’t want to attend a class in your town, there are plenty of great resources online. Click this link (or this one) for a couple great ones that cost less than a month’s membership at a brick-and-mortar martial arts studio.

Happy travels!

–Joel

 

“Had been wanting to visit Coeur D’Alene & your $39 flight made it possible.”

This premium subscriber just booked a bucket-list trip for $39, and saved about 500% more than the cost of his premium subscription.

Much like the majority of premium subscribers, he found a trip he wasn’t necessarily looking for, but when you find prices that good to a place that’s on your bucket list anyway – you’d be crazy not to take advantage.

Still wondering if a premium subscription is really that much better than your free subscription?  Try it out 7 days for free & see what all of the buzz is about.

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.S. Scott believes the simple act of spreading gratitude has the power to change the world.  Click here if you want to join his gratitude mission.

It takes a village. (A “JGOOT Village”)

Got a question about an area you’ll be visiting soon?
Have pictures & advice to share from a place you’ve recently been?
Want to brag about the price you paid to get there?

Introducing JGOOT Village:

A free place for travelers to discuss places they’ve been, places they’re going to, and anything else having to do with “The JGOOT Way” of travel.

I literally started this group 10 minutes ago, so to encourage sharing from group members, each week, I’ll give away a free quarterly JGOOT premium membership (worth $47) to:

  1. One group member who adds a useful post about a place they’ve been – and gets the most “likes”.
  2. One group member who comments on someone else’s question with useful information about things to do (and gets the most likes).

Join the Village Here