Planning a trip to Hawaii

Yesterday, a premium subscriber called with a question about the best way to plan his Hawaii trip. Since it was going to be a long/involved conversation, he agreed to do it on camera so others could “listen in” too. It turned out to be a pretty fun/productive one so I’m sharing it here.

No time to watch all 67 minutes? Highlights are listed below.

** If you’re not already a premium subscriber, click here for more tips/tricks like this AND 100 to 150 trip-alerts that are better deals than using frequent flyer points.

Chad, by the way, has a very unique business called “Your Family Bank”. He has a very unique way of getting people out of debt 10 times faster through subtle changes in your spending habits. Feel free to give him a call at 720-291-8602 to see if he can help you.  

  • 1:00: Planning a trip to Hawaii to visit daughter for birthday
  • 4:10: Value of points with specific airline vs with Chase, Citi, or Amex.
  • 6:10: Free resources to get the most out of your miles.
  • 7:20: Why points should always be as a last resort
  • 11:25: How Michelle & I flew to Hawaii for $22 and 25,000 points each (vs $51 and 50,000 points each)
  • 15:40: Finding deals so cheap you wouldn’t waste the points on them.
  • 17:00: Teaser about a hack to get the Southwest Companion pass
  • 17:40: Teaser about getting out of debt in a fraction of the time
  • 19:30: Deciding whether or not to keep a credit card after using the miles earned from it.
  • 21:30: Why cards from Chase bank should be among your first 5 credit cards.
  • 22:20: Why the $450/year Chase card is far better than the $95/year Chase card.
  • 24:00: Long demo of Award Hacker & how to use
  • 33:40: Discussion of RewardStock (and even better version of AwardHacker)
  • 36:00: backup plan #2 – finding trips that are better trips than redeeming points using your JGOOT subscription
  • 40:00: How to watch for good deals on your own without being a JGOOT premium subscribers
  • 43:05: Why you should bundle lodging/car reservations at same time you book the flight.
  • 45:00 – 52:00: Misc banter about navigating the JGOOT site. (Feel free to skip)
  • 52:30: Where to go & stay in Kauai (Including the only resort we would go back to in Kauai)
  • 55:50: Napali Coast Hike (an absolute must)
  • 57:00: Avoiding a disappointing boat ride (Do the Napali coast. don’t do the 90-minute each way island snorkel tour.)
  • 59:30: Misc things to do on the South side of the island
  • 1:02: Teaser about power of getting Southwest’s companion pass if you’re self-employed
  • 1:06:50 – Wrap-up with Chad’s thoughts on his JGOOT subscription and advice to future subscribers

 

“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

 

JGOOT Subscriber story: “Flights so cheap we got to bring the grandparents!”

Nikki Sandschaper and her husband are both school teachers – which might seem great for vacations, but considering the only time teachers can travel is during peak seasons, that can get pricey quick.

In this interview, we talked about one of their JGOOT-inspired trips where they not only went over the most expensive week of the year, but they were able to take their parents too.

Don’t have 20 minutes to watch the interview? Skip to the parts that interest you below.

Not getting JGOOT daily trip alerts? Try it risk-free for 30 days.

Want to share your JGOOT travel stories?  Email me & let’s talk about it!

Intro: Meet Nikki

0:55: “We like experiences over things”

1:35: First “adult” New Year’s eve in years thanks to grandparents watching kids.

2:10: How to just grab the cheap flight & use AirBnB to accommodate all 5 of us.

4:55: Recommendations on how to “get your feet wet” with international travel.

6:00: Using JGOOT as inspiration for finding your next vacation destination.

7:00: Nikki’s favorite feature of JGOOT – finding affordable trips when school is out (which is normally peak/expensive season)

9:00: Adjusting dates to find dates that work for you.

13:40: Discussion point: Rather than Planning to take a trip and hoping to get a good deal – Find a good deal, and plan around those dates.

14:00: Why you need to be watching for deals LONG before you plan on taking a trip.

15:00: How to get friends & family to visit you for $30 to $100 round-trip (Demonstration of reverse-search feature)

18:00-18:40 – Technical difficulties

18:45: Closing advice from Nikki: Why it’s great to subscribe even if you’re not planning a trip soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exploiting the airline industry’s “Achilles Heel”

Whether dealing with discount airlines, or one of the big three – all airlines use extremely expensive software and algorithms to extract every dollar possible out of every seat on every one of their planes.

But much like Achilles’ heel, even the millions of dollars airlines put into predicting how much customers will pay for a seat on their planes, they don’t always get it right.

About .1% of the time, the airlines get their “supply and demand” charts wrong and they find themselves in a bind. As early as 10 months before a flight, if they don’t have at least 15% of their seats booked, they realize they’re not on-pace to fill enough seats on the plane.

The way they fix that problem and get to their 15% target? They drastically slash prices on a handful of seats. Since staying on pace to fill as many seats as possible is EXTREMELY important to the airlines, these price slashes have to be enough to get someone’s attention so they can fill those seats in a hurry.

You never know when or where those price-cuts will happen, but one thing is for sure… They disappear FAST, and as soon as they do, the airlines go back to charging what they know passengers will pay.

Want to spend less than everyone else on the same plane as you?

Watch every day and look for the .1% of seats in planes that are 70% to 90% below normal prices.

Not when you get around to it…

Not 1 or 2 months before you’re ready to plan a trip…

Every. Day.

Unbelievably good deals to destinations all around the world are out there every day, and all you have to do is watch for them.

Don’t want to look every day?

That’s fine, but Murphy’s law says that perfect trip 6 months from now will pop up in the next week or two, and when you get around to planning for it in 3 or 4 months – you’ll probably pay double to triple than what you could have paid if you watched for that trip every day.

Don’t think .1% gives you enough options to choose from?

Think about this:

  • If the average international airport flies to 700 destinations around the world…
  • If they have an average of 4 flights to those destinations per day…
  • If there are 365 days in the year…
  • If there are an average of 250 seats on those planes…
  • That gives you 204,000,000 options to choose from. (700 * 4 * 365 * 250)
  • If you only took flights that were among the cheapest .1% of those 204,000,000 choices, you’d have 204,000 options to choose from (per year).
  • With that many options it’s virtually impossible not to find something that can work with your schedule.
  • Besides, how many trips do you need to take a year?

Is “The JGOOT Way” perfect?

No. 

Will “The JGOOT Way” get you to exactly where you want to go, when you want to get there?

Absolutely not. 

Will it allow you to take an annual vacation or two to amazing destinations at a price YOU are willing to pay (vs what the airlines (and hotels) are charging everyone else who doesn’t know any better?)

Hell yes.

Want someone else to look every day so you don’t have to? Try my trip alert service for a buck.

 

 

 

 

Like the Gideons give Bibles to Hotels

Sean and Janelle of Toward Awakening Travel were kind enough to invite me to talk about the concept of remnant travel at their monthly meetup in Denver.

Here is a recording of that interview, and here is a copy of the quick-start guide I gave to attendees. (I give it away like the Gideons give Bibles to hotels.)

“I wish I could travel like you”

Every time my wife & I get together with friends, they comment on our most recent Facebook travel pictures saying “I wish I could travel like you.”

The funny thing is…
if you want to travel like me, all you have to do is… Travel like me.
  • When you travel like me, you spend an average of 85% less than what everyone else is paying for the exact same trips.
  • And when you spend 85% less than everyone else on the same plane as you, you tend to travel more.
It’s that simple.

Here is how you can take an entire family on trips that cost less than what most people pay for just one person:

  1. For vacations, watch every day for deals that are months in advance.  Don’t just look for “good deals”… Keep an eye on hundreds of destinations, watching exclusively for AMAZING “needle in haystack” deals that are too good to pass up. They’re out there every day – you just have to watch for them.  When you find one that’s 60% to 90% less than what you’d normally pay, book it well in advance and plan your schedule around it.   Trips my subscribers and I have taken include $110 flights to Cabo, $192 flights to Aruba, $154 flights to Cancun… $325 to London, $290 to Spain, and so on. (Those are all round-trip prices, BTW.)
  2. I also keep an eye out every day for cheap fares where I have friends/family who I like to visit. I’ve booked $29 weekend flights to Indianapolis (where my wife grew up), $39 flights to L.A to visit friends, $84 flights to visit my brother’s family in Raleigh… When I found $50 flights where my friends Peter & Tania lived, I invited them to visit us for a ski weekend. The list goes on.  None of these trips are trips I would have planned. But when you can take a long weekend visiting friends/family for those prices… Why not? 
  3. https://www.123rf.com/profile_albund

    Photo Credit: Allan Stewart. 123rf.com/profile_albund

    Finally – As a last resort – I always keep a stash of at least 100,000 frequent flyer points for scenarios when I CAN’T find a cheap trip that fits my schedule.

    • For example:
    • When my wife wanted to go to Hawaii, but my cheap ass refused to pay $1326 PER PERSON just to get there??? Points to the rescue. We went for $22 each.
    • When friends from Indianapolis snatched up a JGOOT deal to Turks & Caicos & invited us, we’d have normally had to say “no” because flights from Denver were over twice that. ($650). But we dipped into my stash of points, joined them for $96, and started a multi-family “friendcation” tradition that is now 3 vacations strong.
    • When we had to fly to a friends’ Dad’s funeral and couldn’t find tickets less than $450 each, we used points and went for $11.

So there you have it.

If you want to travel like me, all you need to do is… Travel like me.

My blog and my Facebook Page are open books on how you can find travel deals yourself for free.
Don’t have the time to sort through hundreds of fares per day to find a needle in a haystack? As a premium JGOOT subscriber you can:
  • leave the haystack behind, and have the “needles” delivered on a silver platter every day. (With “needles” being unbelievably good travel deals that have been cherrypicked from thousands of regular priced trips.)
  • I’ll share a far more comprehensive guide than this one, webinars on how to easily collect 100,000 frequent flyer points in the next 60 days, and…
  • You’ll also have private access to my member-only group where you can ask questions & get answers from other premium subscribers who are regularly traveling for a fraction of what 98% of travelers are accustomed to paying “the traditional way”.

The 60 second method to finding amazing travel deals

Remember that scene from Karate Kid where the culmination of all of Daniel’s “karate training” painting fences, waxing cars, and sanding floors comes together?

Click on the video clip below and watch Daniel’s face as he instantly goes from exhausted, discouraged and pissed – to seeing a whole new world of possibility.

 

Daniel’s breakthrough is like travel

Just like Mr Miyagi had Daniel do a bunch of stuff he didn’t think would help at all with Karate… I’m about to tell you the most powerful thing you can do to find a mind-bogglingly cheap trip:

Look every day. Even when you’re not planning a trip.

Let’s first talk about how most people book a trip.

  • They decide to book two or three months before a trip. They spend hours hunting down the optimal times/dates, and sometimes they get an OK deal.
  • Sometimes, they give up and have to repeat the procedure several other nights.
  • Eventually they either settle on something that seems like the best deal they can get, or they don’t go at all.

“The old fashioned way” is impossible…

Looking for a travel deal “the old fashioned way” might get an OK deal with enough work. But getting an exceptionally good deal is simply not possible except by random luck.

The exceptionally good deals only last days or hours, and came and went while the average traveler wasn’t even looking. The result? The average traveler ends up settling for mediocre deals or not traveling as often – never even knowing they could have paid 50% to 90% less.

The JGOOT Way: “Give me 60 seconds a day & I’ll show you the world”

Whether subscribed to my free or paid service, you get several trip-alerts a week – all from your home airport. Every one of them represent the best travel deals I could find on the internet for that day.
    • Whether you’re planning a trip or not, take 60 seconds a day and read the emails I send you with an open mind.
    • Rather than thinking “This trip doesn’t fit my schedule.”
    • Try thinking “Could I slightly adjust my schedule (or slightly adjust the dates) to take advantage of this ridiculously affordable trip?”

Most days, the trips either won’t interest you, or they won’t fit your schedule and that’s fine. You’re only out 60 seconds.

But some days…

You’ll see a trip that’s so affordable you won’t even have to think about whether it’s in the budget. You’ll know that going any other time would cost two to ten times as much, and if you adjust your vacation schedule just a little – it won’t impact your budget nearly as much as finding that exact same trip “the old fashioned way”. (It won’t take as much time either.)

I promise

Whether you use my service, or set up dozens of free Google fare watches and watch fares yourself…

If you simply take a minute a day to look at trip possibilities for 7 days in a row – you’ll begin to see a whole new world of affordable travel that are physically impossible to find “the old fashioned way”.

Not receiving my free trip alerts? Click here.
Want access to 15 to 20 times as many trips? Click here.

If you’ve read this far, thank you. I’m honored. Would you mind helping me get word out about “The JGOOT Way” of travel and sharing this post on Facebook, Twitter, etc? Thanks!

JGOOT rule number 3: You MUST be flexible

Actual screenshot of a text from a subscriber

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 emergency use only.
  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.

All for as low as $8 a month (If choosing the annual plan.)

Click here for more details.

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Marrying beer budgets and champagne tastes when traveling

I don’t know about you & your travel partner, but when it comes to travel, my wife’s & my preferences are like oil & water. (Or better yet – I have a beer budget, and she has champagne taste.

  • I like to go where the deal takes me so I can travel two or three times as often – knowing I will have seen as much as possible during my time here on this beautiful planet.
  • Michelle has a specific list of amazing places she wants to check off her bucket list. Everything else is just getting in the way of checking off that bucket list.
  • I love to visit a country with camera in-hand, be up early and see/do lots of cool “off the beaten path” stuff. The place I stay doesn’t really matter because it’s simply a place to put my head after a long day exploring.
  • Michelle loves to relax, recover, and sleep in when on vacation. Because of that, she likes to stay in as nice a place as we can afford. 
  • If I’m out and about, I like to grab something quick at the closest local food joint, and squeeze one more activity in before we head back to our room and crash.
  • Michelle likes to enjoy the local cuisine and atmosphere – which means room service after sleeping in and then heading back late in the afternoon. That way, we have plenty of time to get dressed & ready in time for a nice sunset dinner at a place she researched and made reservations for long before we visited the area. (And I must admit – she always does an amazing job at finding amazing cool/memorable places.)

We manage to find a good balance between our wants/needs, but…

Our opinions on how to spend vacation funds are like oil and water.

Early in our marriage, that was a bit of a struggle. (I was grumpy about how much we had to spend on each trip, and she was not getting that “relaxed and recovered” feeling with the quality of places we stayed. Don’t get me wrong – we stayed at nice places, but they weren’t the same quality as what she was accustomed to when going on her girls’ trips and fitting 3 or 4 friends into a large room/suite in the nicest resort that they  could afford.

🤷‍♂️ [Side note: Does it make me a bad person if I can’t help but picture slo-motion pillow fights in nighties every time they go on these girls’ trips? I digress…] 🤷‍♂️

Fortunately, we’ve figured out a way to get the best of both worlds (With travel. Not pillow fights):

  1. We still go to where the deals take us by watching for mistake fares. Now, we’re just a little more picky about which deals we pounce on to make sure we’re checking cool bucket list destinations off of our list. (Right now, we’re keeping an eye out for a few European cities, as well as a few cities in South America for this coming summer.)
  2. Then there’s the lodging.  Before I discovered point hacking (which is like paying for flights & hotels with Monopoly money), this was a big struggle for us because I had a really hard time spending what I hoped to spend on activities – on one or two nights at a posh resort.

We still have to negotiate lodging most of the trips we take because we could stay much longer at places I’d be happy with, but considering paying with points is more like using monopoly money than real cash, staying at the nicer places is a MUCH easier pill to swallow.

I get to do my activities and check lots of destinations off of my list, we get to sleep in ocean-front rooms with 1800 thread-count sheets and turndown service, and there is still plenty of room in the vacation budget for excursions and “dress-up evenings out.”

I know credit card hacking has a stigma to it because of all of the folks out there who juggle binders full of credit cards in order to support their habit of circling the globe 3 times a year, but it really doesn’t have to be that complicated.  You could spend as little as 30 to 60 minutes per year getting one or two new credit cards that will give you $1000 to $8000 in “play money” to use however you like. (Which, by the way, is WAY less time than what most people spend trying to find reasonably priced flights or lodging “the traditional way” when reasonable flights or lodging don’t exist.)

If you are disciplined about finding flights that are cheaper than the cost of driving there, you won’t even need the points that often.

You can save (extremely) valuable frequent flyer points to open doors that would never otherwise have been opened:

  • A backup plan for when you can’t find flight prices you’re happy with.
  • Business/First class flights
  • Hotels/resorts that would otherwise break the budget. (Sometimes including $1500/night over-water bungalows for under $100.)
  • Free bags
  • Free lounge access before/between flights (saving $50 to $200 in free food/drink per trip)
  • Free Global Entry passes or TSA Pre-Checks

Here is a free report. Try it with no strings attached. I think you’ll like it.

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Want us to help you find trips that are so affordable – you wouldn’t even waste frequent flyer points on them?
Click here. If you live near an airport we watch fares from, we’d be glad to help.

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Why are your trips never available?

Although mistake fares do disappear within days after I share them, when I get told the fare I sent that day doesn’t exist, it’s actually still available 9 out of 10 times I go to check.

There are several reasons a fare might not appear to be available when they still are. Here are several tips:

  1. The most common reason fares don’t get found is not that they’re gone, but that they haven’t loaded yet.  It can sometimes take 20 or 30 seconds for all prices to load (even on a big search engine like Kayak or Travelocity). I get told all the time that a fare isn’t there any more and when I go to check – it still is.  If you don’t wait for the little status-bar thingy to fully load, the lowest prices won’t show. Here is a video example.
  2. Your best search experience is on a computer. Searches on mobile phones can take even longer to load – which can be frustrating (but still worth it when you’re talking about getting the best 1% of deals on the internet). I highly recommend doing these searches from your computer. It’s infinitely easier than from a phone.
  3. If I say a fare can be found between January and March, that doesn’t mean you can fly any time during those months.
    • If you’re a premium subscriber, For your convenience, I’ll send you a link to the lowest date I found. There are almost always alternative dates you can find when that specific date has sold out (and it will). Here is a video showing how to find alternate dates.
    • If you’re a free subscriber I’ll point you in the right direction by telling you what months you can find those prices, but you will still have to do a little digging to find them.  If you’re not prepared to do a little digging to find a fare that can literally be 90% less than what the person sitting next to you will pay, then searching for mistake fares may not be for you.
  4. These are airline “fire sales” solely intended to get a few butts in seats in a hurry. There are rarely more than 8 or 10 seats (sometimes as few as 2) at that price and once they get those seats filled, the airlines raise prices back up (often within hours). Here is a video showing several fares that disappeared between when I identified them – and when my assistant could get them verified/published. Although you can usually find a similar fare by playing around with the dates, have no fear if you don’t. I’ll find more.
  5. If you’re a premium subscriber, keep the above 4 tips in mind. 9 times out of 10, the fare is still available as long as you’re checking for them soon after I send them.
  6. Photo credit: https://www.123rf.com/profile_mathes

    If the majority of trips you are seeing are sold out AND you’ve tried all of the above tips, it’s usually because 3 days have passed, premium subscribers have picked through the good trips, and by the time tens of thousands of free subscribers pick through what is left, they have in fact sold out.

I typically take my whole family on a trip for the same cost as what other people pay for just one person (and many of my subscribers have better track records than me). Sure, some trips will disappear between when you find them – and when you can text your travel partner to plan for them, but that’s the cost of booking trips that are among the most affordable .1% of trips on the internet.

Trust me though. It’s well worth it.

Feel free to read my FAQ page and my blog to make the most of traveling “The JGOOT Way”.