The most important ingredient when making Pho

Hien – one of my best friends of over 40 years is an amazing cook. He taught me to make authentic Vietnamese Pho (Which is pronounced like the first part of a certain 4-letter f-word, without the “ck”).

Anyway… thanks to $39 round-trip flights, I was recently able to escape the Colorado cold, and visit he and his brother’s family outside of L.A. While there, we fixed a big pot of Pho and had a big gathering of with their whole family.

Instead of his normal process of taking 4 to 6 hours to cook the broth over medium heat, we decided we’d try to get more flavor by lowering the heat & cooking it overnight.

Best. Phocking. Soup. Ever!

It turns out the most important ingredient when making a good pot of pho is time.  Low & slow baby. Low and slow.

 The recipe is actually pretty simple: 

  • 4 to 5 lbs beef bones
  • 2 tbsp ground cardamom
  • Handful of star anise
  • 12-15 sticks of cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons of salt
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • 5-6 bay leaves
  • 1-2 onions – grilled & carmelized
  • 1 piece of ginger – sliced & charred
  • Put all of the above in about 2-3 gallons of water and simmer on medium-low for a minimum of 4 hours. (Although low for 12-24 hours will get a better result)
  • After several hours, adjust ingredients to taste, and continue to simmer.
  • When done, strain broth through cheesecloth. Add rice noodles and protein of your choice.
  • Garnishes include Vietnamese basil, bean sprouts, limes, siracha sauce, or hoisin sauce to taste.

Want to pay the best price ever for your next vacation?

Hunt for your vacation the same way; Low & Slow.

  • Rather than DRASTICALLY limiting your options by trying to squeeze a vacation to a specific place at a specific time into a pre-determined amount of time, start looking for a trip sometime 6 to 9 months from now. By planning long ahead, you can figure vacation time out AFTER you find the right deal. (Don’t worry – It doesn’t usually require that much adjusting.)
  • Pick a minimum of 10 destinations you’d want to go to and set up a fare-watch on Airfarewatchdog.com for each of those destinations.
  • Check out prices every morning, but don’t plan on booking anything for at least a couple weeks.
  • You’ll see a couple good deals that are tempting, but trust me – you’re not just looking for “good deals…” You’re looking for “Are you phoking kidding me?” AMAZING deals that you think are a mistake.  When you find one that looks good, there’s no need to wonder if you should wait for it to go down any lower… You snatch that fare up before someone else does, and you do everything in your power not rub it in the face of every other sucker on the plane who paid 3 to 10 times as much as you.

By having the patience to plan well ahead, and the discipline to look daily for the deals that are out there for the taking, you’ll be shocked at how much less you’ll have to pay for a vacation (or weekend trip) to a place you never even thought you could justify going to.

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PS – My wife used to be a 2nd grade teacher and hates that I use the F word. But hell – when you’re REALLY trying to get a point across, “effing” just doesn’t cut it.  Besides, when it comes to travel… Do you want an “effing good deal” or an “un-phocking-believably good deal?”

“Travel leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.”

My wife and I have amazing friends.

Smart friends.

Caring friends.

The one downside to that is that whenever we get together in a group – I’m often forced to be a fly on a wall as they have these in-depth talks about anything from faith & religion, to economics, to sports (I’m a fair-weather sports fan at best.)

But last weekend, we had a gathering with 4 other couples and as the girls were socially distanced in the back yard, the guys were gathered around the kitchen.

I was the normal bystander, listening passively to as my super-smart friends talked about the Broncos. Suddenly, a commercial about travel brought up our last trip to Asia.

For about a half-hour I was the center of attention among a group of guys who are infinitely smarter than little-ol-me. All because they wanted to know all about our first-class flights, our visit to the Great Wall, how the “reflection pool” in Bali isn’t actually a pool at all, glamping in the jungle (oh… my… GOSH!!!), how you get your choice of Dom Perignon or Tattinger in first-class, and of course – how we were able to take the whole trip for under $3000.

Want to travel more without spending more?

Want to create stories you can tell your future grandkids about?

Stop looking for deals two or three times a year when you get a hankering to go somewhere.  Flights at 50% to 90% below normal market rates are out there every day, but those prices will not wait around for the two or three times a year when you decide you need to plan a trip.

Search every day for bargain flights – whether you’re planning a trip or not.  There are plenty of sites you can search for free. When you see a deal that intrigues you – book it, plan your calendar around that trip – and you’ll stretch your travel budget two to five times farther.

But you can’t tell yourself you’ll start looking tomorrow. You’re on your computer reading this now, so…

  • Go visit Google Flights right now.
  • Pick a date that works for you, leave the destination blank, and see if any trips inspire you.
  • If you don’t see anything today – look again tomorrow (because most of today’s good deals will be gone tomorrow, but rest-assured – more amazing deals will replace them.)

It really is that simple.

Don’t have the time to search for trips every day?

Click here. For about a quarter a day, you can start your search for your next story now.

 

why do we travel?

I was sitting in a dive bar in Kentucky… because as my fellow JGOOter Lee once said – no good story ever started with “so we were having a salad”.…  and I was drinking a Bourbon. I don’t often drink Bourbon, but this was Kentucky after all; had to be done. Birthplace of Bourbon. Best Bourbon around they’ll tell you.

I’m 37 years old. Never been to Kentucky. Here I was. Sitting at a dive bar. In Kentucky. Drinking Bourbon. I was chatting with the locals. I was enjoying the shabby, albeit wonderfully worn in chair. I was listening to the really awful country music that somehow seemed appropriate to its surroundings.  I was sipping on the best Bourbon I’ve ever had. And I got to thinking…

This is why we travel.

It’s not so we can rush from place to place.

It’s not so we can take photos to display impressively on our wall.

It’s not so we can brag about it to our friends at home.

It’s for perfect moments like this. Where for just a moment in time, a snapshot even, I can sit somewhere worn, listen to bad music, drink great booze, eavesdrop on the locals, and experience something I have never experienced before. 

Whether you’re on a beach, catching rides at an amusement park with your kids, trying out the latest restaurant in a big city, or taking a scenic drive in a part of the country you’ve never been to before, look for those perfect moments… Those snapshots – where you can experience something you’ve never experienced before.

 

Brooke Merkle is a blogger and director of customer support for Just Get Out of Town. She believes everyone should deliberately eat at least one bug in their lifetimes.

Want to travel like Brooke? Click here to give “The JGOOT Way” of travel risk-free for 30 days.

Nothing like stealing $2 million with a worthless hand in poker

In a poker TV show called Shark Cage, they pit various celebrities against actual poker pros. (It’s like Dancing with the Stars, but with poker players).

The majority of hands are pretty boring and get edited out because most players fold most of the hands they get.

But in one very exciting hand – Sara Chafak (Miss Finland 2012) was playing head-to-head against poker pro – Ronnie Bardah.

So to set the stage – we’ve got a table of eight, six have folded their hands, and Sara (who doesn’t play much poker at all) takes down a full-time poker professional.

The best part? He had the better hand, but she beat him with an absolutely worthless hand.

In the world of poker, it doesn’t get much better than STEALING what should have been someone else’s chips with nothing but a bluff. (So when an amateur poker player (who happens to be a woman in a male-dominated game) sits at the same table as a professional poker player and bluffs him out of $2 million in chips – stories about it get told for years.)

Want to get the same feeling by sitting on the same plane, going to the same exotic destination as other more seasoned travelers – but paying a tiny fraction of what they paid?

Just click here, and read the email we’ll send you each morning.

Much like in poker, you can look it over in a few seconds and decide if the hand we dealt you is of interest to you.

If it doesn’t interest you, you’ll sit that round out and wait until you get dealt another hand the next day.

Every once in a while…

You’ll get dealt a really good hand (you’ll see a trip that is to a place you’ve always wanted to go)…

It will be at a price that is a tiny fraction of what you’d expect to pay…

And when you book it – you’ll have to do everything in your power not to tell the other passengers that you “bluffed” your way onto the same plane as them – for a fraction of what they paid.

Here is that link again for your convenience. We’ll even let you play your first 30 “hands” for free.

Time flies when you’re having fun. But what if…

They say “time flies when you’re having fun”.

But, what if it didn’t have to? What if there was a way to slow time down so you could really drink in every moment? Really get the most out of your time and money spent?

On all of my trips this summer, I began using mindfulness practices from my everyday life while on vacation to really capture the essence of the place I’m visiting.

I use my camera as a reminder to really look at what I’m seeing…pay attention to the details…and capture them for later.
I’ll set an audio reminder on my phone to stop for just a moment and pay attention to the sounds and the smells around me…to pay attention to any sensations I’m feeling.

Just these little things make you get out of your head, slow down, and enjoy the whole experience more.
You’ll come home more enriched by your experience, more aware of how your travels impacted you, and with better photos for your memory books. The experience will stay with you longer and impact your life more. And best yet, the time will seem to stretch as you slow down, even for just a couple of moments, and really take it all in.

This post was contributed by JGOOT Subscriber & veteran traveler Teri Aranda Hales. If interested in having a successful & flexible career (or a “side income” that will allow you to travel more) – give her a follow on Facebook or Instagram!

Want to travel more & spend less? Give JGOOT a risk-free 30-day trial at justgetoutoftown.com

My favorite scene from Good Will Hunting

Do you remember the bar scene from Good Will Hunting?

I LOVE that movie…

Every time I watch it, it makes me want to go out and read a ton of books, and get me some of them “smarts” for myself.

But then I don’t.

I settle back into my normal life, and whenever I go and hang out with my REALLY smart friends or family members, I say to myself “I wish I read more.” 

And the funny thing is – It really would be that simple. If I just started a daily ritual of reading even half as much as that – I really would be a lot smarter.

The key is consistency. It’s as simple as that.

(I could say the same about exercise and that I wish I was a lot more fit, but that’s a whole different story.)

Do you wish you traveled more?

Just like a daily gym regiment that will make you more fit, or a daily reading ritual that will make you smarter…

If there was only one thing you could do to ACTUALLY travel more – it would be the same, simple, thing:

Look. Every. Day.

Whether you’re planning a trip or not, by looking every day, you’ll regularly find travel opportunities that are too good to pass up. They’ll be 80% 90% less than you were expecting to pay, and the more destinations you keep an eye out for – the more often you’ll find those deals.

Many of them will be months in advance and will fit nearly perfectly with your schedule.

But there is one thing that is for sure… Those travel deals won’t wait around for when you finally get around looking for them.

So if you want to stop saying “I wish I traveled more”, and start actually traveling more, just start looking every day.

Don’t want to do all of that work yourself?

Click here. For as little as 26¢ per day, we’ll do the looking for you and we’ll send a daily summary email of travel deals that you can review over your morning coffee.

Just for fun – Here is another great scene from the movie.

Your move, chief.

This recipe is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser

This dish is not served often enough. Most people think it takes too much time to plan, but when done right, it takes less time than just about any dish you cook “the traditional way”.

It’s guaranteed to please the whole family, but the best part isn’t the dish itself… It’s the stories that follow for the rest of you & your loved ones’ lives.

Oh yeah – and if done well – the price you’ll pay will be a story in itself.

It’s called “Vacation”.

Most people don’t serve it nearly enough because, when done the traditional way, it’s time-consuming and EXPENSIVE.  Until we discovered this recipe, my entire family (myself included) thought that too.

But ever since trying “The JGOOT Way” of travel, both sets of parents are loving it. Our brothers, sisters, friends and cousins are visiting each other more often. By traveling smarter, they’re not wasting hundreds (if not thousands) on airfare alone and they’re taking more vacations. They’re staying at nicer resorts and doing cooler excursions.

All-in-all – “The  JGOOT Way” of travel has become a family favorite, and if you try the free recipe below, I think you’ll like it too.

Vacation “JGOOT Style”

  • Average cost: 50% to 90% less than what others on the same plane are paying
  • Time required: A few hours a week
  • Ingredients: Hawaii, Maldives, Paris, Cabo, Australia (and season-to-taste with any other destinations on your bucket list.)
  • Optional ingredients: Any destinations you have friends & family you wish you visited more.
  • Secret ingredients:
    • Advance prep. (6 months is recommended. 10 is better. Heck – Don’t even worry about how far in advance. Just start looking whether you’re planning a trip or not.)
    • Flexibility. (This is key. Painting yourself into a corner and going to Maui June 20th to June 27th leaves absolutely no room for cutting costs. It’s virtually guaranteed to cost you 3 times as much as watching flight-prices to all islands in Hawaii in late June – and island-hopping if needed. (And it’ll cost you 5 to 7 times as much as what you’ll pay for Caribbean destinations in late June.)

Step 1:

Go to AirfareWatchdog.com, enter your home airport, and enter any and all ingredients at this time.  (Don’t forget — the more destinations you watch, the better your odds of finding something.

If Hawaii is on your list, keep an eye on cheap flights to all islands. You can usually grab a $20 to $50 flight to island-hop to a specific island you have your heart set on.

If any destinations in Europe are on your list, enter neighboring countries too. You’ll exponentially multiply your odds of finding not just a good deal, but a deal so amazing – you won’t give a second thought to shortening or lengthening your vacation to take advantage of those prices.

Step 2:

Watch and wait.

Check your alerts every day. You’ll mostly see mediocre deals. Don’t waste your time on them (those deals are for the suckers who didn’t plan ahead.)

What you’re waiting for are deals so amazing – you won’t be able to resist. You’ll be able to fly four of you there for what the family sitting right behind you will pay per-person, and since the trips are usually months in advance, you will easily be able to plan your schedule around them.

Don’t want to do all of that work?

Join thousands of premium members who have delegated that work to us for as little as $97/year. We’ll search 365 days a year, cherrypicking the best deals of the day and we’ll tell you about them when we find them. You can peruse them over your morning coffee, and wait for one that strikes your fancy.

When you see a trip you like, you’ll know you’re getting maximum savings because you’ll book it straight with the airlines or Travelocity/Expedia – with no expensive commissions or “convenience fees” going to a middleman.

If you’re not thoroughly impressed within the first 30 days, you can cancel and ask for a full refund.

 

 

Honey! I shopped “The JGOOT Way” at the grocery store & saved 46 percent!

“Honey! I shopped The JGOOT Way at the grocery store and we saved 46 percent!”

Although my wife Michelle usually plans all of our meals out well in advance, it was a busy week for both of us. So rather than planning at the beginning of the week as normal, Michelle went to the store, grabbed the sale flyer at the front of the door, and planned dinner based on what was on sale.

  • She saw that NY Strip was 40% off so steak was our staple. (Cheaper than chicken breasts that weren’t on sale!)
  • Although we might normally make potatoes with steak, asparagus was 60% off.
  • We haven’t had couscous in a while, but guess what?!?! They were 25% off, so couscous it was.
  • Although ready-made salads aren’t normally our thing, a bag of Caesar salad was on sale for $1.99 (From $4.29).

Had she walked into that store with a pre-planned dinner in mind, we’d have spent a nearly twice as much on our grocery bill. Guaranteed.

By creating our dinner menu based on the 1% of the items in the store that were significantly on sale, we also got to step out of our normal routine with a lovely steak dinner on a weeknight – at a great price to boot.

Simple, right?

Want to choose from nothing but 50% to 90% off flights for your next vacation?

Stop thinking “What are flight prices to Vegas?” or “How much is it to go to Paris?”  That’s a guaranteed recipe for paying high prices (or getting a mediocre deal at best.)

Start asking one simple question: “What is on sale?

When you find a trip you like at a good enough price, plan ahead and go there.

Want to review the best priced flights to take advantage of over your morning coffee?
Give our premium trip-alert service a try risk-free for 30 days.

 

Extra credit:

Whether you subscribe to my paid service or look for trips yourself…

Start searching for what is on sale every day and just watch what begins to happen to your travels.

 

Divorce lawyers, Taco-Tuesdays & vacationing with reckless abandon

It was 2012 and I was in the middle of a brutal divorce.

Although the kids’ Mom and I were doing a decent job of shielding our kids from our disagreements, our lawyers were duking it out like the final fight scene of Rocky IV. All of my assets were frozen, and after paying the majority of my income to maintenance (AKA “alimony”), I was left with about $2000 per month  in order to keep me from “wasting money on frivolous travel.”

Screw that!

Having gone from living large on two incomes vacationing every chance we had – to living in a sad and lonely apartment complex… From eating out as a family 5 nights a week – to taking the kids out on Tuesdays because Tacos were 39¢…

…Travel was one of the ONLY constants I could give my kids and I wasn’t about to let some asshole divorce lawyer tell me I’d be in trouble if I did it.

So when I stumbled across cheap flights to Houston that aligned (almost) perfectly with my kids’ Fall break – it was time for the first-ever vacation with just the three of us.

“Don’t do it! Her lawyer will destroy you.” my lawyer told me.

I didn’t care. For the prices I paid, this was a vacation I NEEDED to give my kids. It was a bonding experience I wanted to have for the three of us during this delicate/fragile stage of our lives.

Sure enough… A month after our trip, my lawyer dragged me into her office to go over a letter from the kids’ mom’s lawyer demanding explanation and details for my latest frivolous vacation. Her lawyer claimed if I could afford to travel like that, I must have been hiding money.

“Tell me about this flight to Houston over the kids’ fall break.”
They were $41 each, so I couldn’t resist.
“OK, so $82 times 3. That’s not bad.”
No, $41 was round-trip, so $123 total.

“How about the all-inclusive cruise?”
That was what sealed the deal on the vacation. My son and I were $184 each, and my daughter was free. It included all meals and entertainment. Between birthday parties, bowling parties, presents, and bouncy-houses – we’d have spent more than that just staying home.

 

“The kids told their Mom about a cool limo ride from the airport. What about that?”
I had planned on taking the bus, but our flight was delayed so we missed it. Cabs were quoting $120 each way, so I went to the “departures” section of the airport and found a limo driver dropping someone off. I asked him if he was free for a ride and he said he’d take us to Galveston for $50 cash (The bus was going to be $75). He enjoyed my kids’ excitement so much, he offered to pick us up for the same price when our cruise returned.

“Well, that shouldn’t be too bad since you only spent $491 for a 6-day vacation for three of you.”
Especially considering we are spending far more than that paying you AND her lawyer $350 an hour to argue about it. [I ended up firing that lawyer.]

Although we’ve taken dozens of trips since, my kids still talk about that vacation. Despite being broke at the time… Despite the legal fees as a result of that trip costing more than the trip itself… Despite being about the worst timing possible… It was the best money I could have invested towards my kids’ and my future memories.

Happy travels.

Joel

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Want 3 free tips on how YOU can travel for ten or twenty cents on the dollar? Click here.
Want to hire my army of researchers so you can review our daily finds over your morning coffee? Click here.
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A rarely known hack that can pay for a vacation (or three) per year

As you (hopefully) know from reading my blog, I’m a big advocate of using frequent flyer points any time you have to go somewhere that is going to cost more than the prices I share on Just Get Out Of Town.

I’ve used frequent flyer points to fly round-trip to:

  • Hawaii for $22 (Because the best cash price I could find was $1326)
  • San Francisco for $11 (On a week’s notice when flights were $380)
  • L.A. for $11 for a last-minute funeral when flights “the normal way” would have cost over $300
  • $47 to Cabo (Which was supposed to be over $500)
  • $86 to Puerto Vallarta (when flights “the normal way” were $465)
  • $96 to Turks & Caicos over a holiday weekend (instead of $650)
  • etc.

But wait! There’s more!!!

If flying for pennies on the dollar isn’t motivation enough, if you can get your credit score well above 700 – you can actually EARN enough extra spending cash for an extra vacation or two a year.  It’s called “credit piggybacking“, and people with excellent credit can earn several thousand dollars a year (if not tens of thousands of dollars) from doing it.

Here is a link if you’re interested in learning more about earning some extra cash through credit piggybacking.

But be warned – None of the above is possible without a score that is above 690. Fortunately, if you don’t have a score at least that high, fixing your credit is usually a very easy fix.

Since I met Tomika Davis, I’ve boosted my credit score to nearly perfect with just a few strategies she teaches. Personally – having good credit has been worth tens of thousands of dollars to me over the years.  (That’s a screenshot of MY score as I write this article).

If you’d like to boost your credit score so you can start traveling more through point hacking OR  maybe even earn some extra travel money with credit piggybacking – give my friend Tomika Davis a call for a confidential consultation. 720-507-5575

I was not paid for recommending either Tomika OR BoostMyScore. I just want to see as many people as possible benefit from the perks that credit hacking has to offer. If a less than perfect credit score is holding you back, Tomika knows her stuff and can probably help you easily solve that problem.

Here is her number again: 720-507-5575

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 trips that she found with the help of her $100 per year JGOOT subscription. TEN TRIPS at an average savings of $350 per person, per trip.

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

BUT…

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

  • The reason Brooke’s family is now traveling more is that 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?” (For a family of four, that can easily be a $5000 to $10,000 question.)
  • Instead, they now watch for deals every day 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?” (Which 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, find exactly what you’re looking for on Travelocity or Expedia, and pay the prices they’re charging.
  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 to 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 taking the kids on a Thanksgiving trip instead of Winter Break because the same destination is 1/3 the cost
  • Or maybe taking an extra day off of school/work to save $2500 on airfare.

Bottom line:

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 premium trip alert service is stupid-cheap, and you’re more at risk of missing out on an amazing deal that saves you thousands – than the twenty bucks you’ll save by putting off upgrading another couple months…

…There is no sense in even trying it out if you aren’t willing to change the way you approach finding travel deals. If that’s the case, feel free to continue to receive my free trip alerts and check out the free tips on my blog &  Youtube Channel until you’re convinced that “The JGOOT Way” will save you tons of money on your travels. If you don’t agree with my way of finding travel deals, feel free to use the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of any email you receive.

Happy travels!

–Joel

[UPDATE: Upon returning from her 11th trip (a $450 first-class round-trip flight to the Dominican Republic) Brooke responded to an announcement that I was hiring. Now, she works on the JGOOT team, and has taken  12  13 JGOOT – inspired trips! Click here to read a letter from Brooke.]

“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

 

Abe Lincoln, sharpening axes, chopping down trees, and traveling for pennies on the dollar

We all like to think we’re good at finding deals when it comes to travel. (And most of us are.)

But The JGOOT Way of travel isn’t about finding “good” deals…

Anyone can find a good deal…

The JGOOT Way is about finding deals so freakin’ cheap – the stories from the price you paid eclipse the stories from the trip itself.

Stories like when you’re going through a divorce, you’re forced to live on $2000 a month, and you to take your kids on your first vacation with just the three of you. How? By finding $41 round-trip flights to a cruise-port that perfectly fits with their days off of school. Since it was Fall Break (and cruises are dirt-cheap) you hopped on an all-inclusive 5-night cruise for less than what you would have spent taking them to the five obligatory bowling and bouncy-house parties that were planned that week. 

Stories like when you’re dating a girl, and it’s getting serious (but not THAT serious yet). You stumble across $29 round-trip flights to her home-town in two months. Together, you laugh about the rumors flying about why you flew home to meet her friends & family.

Stories you get to tell your kids (and future grandkids) about how you woo’ed that same girl by taking her on a vacation over Thanksgiving at a fancy all-inclusive resort. (Not because you were Mr. Money-bags, but because you found $110 round-trip flights to Cabo, and you booked an all-inclusive resort that got a 65% discount by booking it at the same time you booked your flight.)

I don’t care how good you are at finding “good deals” you are… It’s not physically possible to find a travel deal that came-and-went when you weren’t looking.  Other than occasional dumb-luck, the ONLY way to find a price so cheap you get to brag about it for the rest of your life is to do one simple thing:

Look.

Every.

Day.

I know, I know – You’re probably expecting this blog post to be a build-up to convince you to pay $97 per year to subscribe to my daily trip-alert service, but…

Screw that. I’m not even going to include a link.

Here’s a free tip on how you can do all of the above yourself for free:

Just promise me you’ll stop thinking “I’ll get around to that when I’m ready to plan my next trip“.

That’s the reason people think travel is so expensive…

That’s the reason I had to hire an assistant just to tell over 100 people a week that my service won’t be of any use to them this time around, and that there is no way around them having to pay $650 per person for what would have been $124 flights had they started looking two or three months earlier.

Just trust me…

This isn’t a pitch for my paid service.

It IS a pitch to convince you to stop looking for travel deals the way you always have done it.

Whether you’re planning a trip or not, set up some fare watches today using the free tip in the video above.

Look at those prices every day and I promise you one thing;  There will come a day when the price you find is so low – you simply won’t be able to resist the temptation to just get out of town.

“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

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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