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.

 

JGOOT rule number 3: You MUST be flexible

Actual screenshot of a text from Brooke Merkle

As you hopefully know by now, there are 3 simple rules to “The JGOOT Way” of travel.

  1. ALWAYS have at least 50,000 miles for when rules #2 & 3 don’t work.
  2. Look for trips every day (whether planning a trip or not)
  3. You must be flexible. (Case study below)

Since being interviewed by CBS News over a year ago, Brook Merkle, her husband, and their two kids have gone on ten trips that she found with the help of her JGOOT subscription.

TEN trips!!!

But all the trip alerts in the world wouldn’t do her a single ounce of good if she looked at each of them thinking “Nah. That doesn’t fit perfectly with my schedule.” If you want to save 50% to 90% every single time you travel, you’re going to need to have at least a little bit of flexibility.

Don’t worry though. I’m not talking about massive changes to your schedule.

  • They went to Hawaii for less than what most people pay to go to Cabo by snatching up a trip she found 6 months ahead of schedule and working all future plans around that trip. (This saved them nearly $1000 per person on their flight alone.)
  • Another time, by taking a 4-day weekend over MLK weekend, she snagged $78 flights to Florida to visit family (saving about $1800 compared to everyone else who paid $450 to $600 per person for a 3-day holiday weekend flight).
  • By booking a Thursday-to-Thursday flight to Vancouver instead of Saturday-to-Saturday, they saved enough to take a private helicopter tour.

Do you need JGOOT to have flexibility?

Absolutely not. This rule can be applied to any trip you take – and at the very least – I hope it helps you get out of town more affordably.

We just make it interesting by sending you 4 or 5 of the most affordable 1% of trips on the internet each morning – for you to dream about over your morning coffee.

Happy travels!

–Joel

 

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Want daily inspiration of trips you thought you had to wait until retirement for?

My team and I analyze 500 to 1000 destinations per day from your home airport. You’ll have access to hundreds of trips we’ve already found, and over 100 new ones every month.

    • We’ll alert you whenever we find:
      • Domestic flights between $29 and $100 (These fares also work in reverse so you can invite friends to visit you.)
      • Caribbean/Mexico flights between $100 and $400
      • Europe/South America, Hawaii & Asia between the high $200’s & $500
      • Australia, India & Africa between $ the high $500’s & $1000
      • I also include business class fare discounts, one-click lodging options on Travelocity, Expedia, VRBO, AirBnB & Hostels.com, and one-click access to Flight+Hotel prices for 1 to 6 travelers.

You can try it out for the next 7 days free.

Click here for more details.

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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 I (we) are going through right now scrambling for an affordable flight (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.  (READ THAT REPORT so my future involves whale sharks and umbrella drinks, instead of vicariously living through the Smiths’ Facebook pics.)

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 I (we) 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.

Driving without car insurance = Traveling without frequent flyer points

Have you ever had to go somewhere like a wedding, family reunion or funeral and been utterly shocked at the prices of flights or lodging?

That’s exactly what happened to us for a family gathering this Summer.

My wife’s Grandmother turned 90 this month, and family from all around the country flew in to celebrate.

Unfortunately, it was 4th of July weekend – the busiest travel weekend of the year.

Although I’m great at finding amazing travel deals for vacations & fun weekend trips…

…I’m not a magician.

Sometimes, finding a good deal “the traditional way” simply isn’t possible.

(Especially when you have to go somewhere specific at a specific time.)

  • In this case, the best prices we could find (despite watching fares for months) was $400+ round-trip.
  • For a family of four traveling “the traditional way” – that would mean being forced to pay $1600+ in airfare.
  • So instead – I used my backup plan and dipped into my stash of frequent flyer points and we flew there for $11 each.

Don’t have frequent flyer points? You should.

EVERYONE should (no matter how often they travel).

It’s called point-hacking, and trust me – it’s WAY easier than wasting countless hours scraping and scrounging to find affordable flights when affordable flights don’t exist.

Here’s the trick.

Just like you can’t get car insurance after the accident…

You can’t decide to give point-hacking a try after you commit to a trip and can’t find affordable prices. By then, it’s far too late.

You have to plan 3 or 4 months ahead so you have the points ready for when you need them.

My advice? Don’t over-think it.

Just go to Chase.com and pick a travel card that pays 40,000 to 100,000 points and save them for when you need them.

Already have a travel card? Switch to ANY other card, and get a 50,000 to 100,000 “signing bonus” that can be used toward $1000 to $5000 in free travel when you need it.

Seriously…

Don’t wait until tomorrow.

Not when you get around to it.

Just go and do it today.

Why?

Even though it only takes about an hour of your time to get a new card – it can take 3 or 4 months before you can use your points.

When you find yourself in a bind and can’t find affordable flights or lodging, you’ll be glad you prepared in advance and have a backup “insurance plan.” Instead of getting raked over the coals and not being able to do anything about it – you can go there for nothing but the cost of taxes.

 

BONUS: 

Pick a premium travel card & get $50 to $100 in free food & drink EVERY TIME you visit thousands of eligible airport lounges and restaurants all around the world.

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Thinking you don’t want to go through all that trouble?

That’s what our premium trip-alert service is for.  Believe it or not – every trip we share with our subscribers is actually a BETTER deal than using points.

We have savvy points-travelers in our group who have over 500,000 frequent flyer miles. That’s a lot of free flights! But they still use our service for finding vacations so cheap they’d be better off paying with cash. That way – they can save their valuable points for:

  • Exotic destinations around the world
  • Weddings
  • Funerals
  • Guys’ Trips
  • Girls’ Trips
  • Unexpected emergencies
  • First/Business Class Flights

(In other words… Flights that are virtually guaranteed to cost an arm-and-a-leg because of their lack of flexibility.)

After you go and get your new travel credit card, click here & join our premium trip-alert service. We’ll help you find vacations & fun weekend trips so cheap – you can save your newfound points for the unexpected expensive stuff.

Between using points, and the ridiculously cheap vacations you’ll be able to take advantage of – you’ll always have the cheapest seat on the plane. You can spend (or save) the difference however you like.

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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.

Another fu¢#ing school shooting…

As you may know, there was yet another fu¢#ing school shooting yesterday.  Although it happened only 3 miles from where my kids go to school, and 6 miles from where my wife teaches, it hits no closer to home than any of the other fu¢#ing senseless killings that have become a regular occurrence around the world. (Especially here in the US).

I am one person with one vote and I didn’t write this post to get into debates about tax, education issues OR gun-control.

I DID write this post to say this:

  1. Teachers, school counselors, firefighters, police officers and most non-profit employees don’t get paid what they deserve.
  2. If you have a full-time career in one of the above categories, click here.
    • Not when you get around to looking for your next trip…
    • Not when you think you can afford a trip…
    • Just trust me…
    • I’ve written 3 books for Google about their search engine algorithms. Finding opportunities in the airline pricing algorithms is child’s play in comparison, and I’ll show you how to find those opportunities for FREE.
    • But the most important step is to start planning WAY earlier than you’re accustomed to, so don’t put it off any longer!
    • If the government can’t manage to find room in the budget to pay you a salary representative of the hard work you do serving our community, the least I can do is show you how to vacation as if you earned one.
  3. If you ever need help with a fundraising/charity auction, or go on strike for better wages – count me in for support.  (You know where to find me. Just send bona-fide details of the fundraiser/auction you are doing, and I’ll see how I can help.  (As a little ol’ starting business, JGOOT raised nearly $10,000 for charities last year, and I want to quadruple that this year.)

If you’re not in one of the above 5 categories:

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