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 4 to 6 trip alerts a day – all from your home airport. Every one of them are 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.
Already getting my trip alerts, but want to save time and hassle? 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!

Travelocity did to Travel Agents what Wal-Mart did to Mom & Pop Stores

Copyright: 123rf.com - https://www.123rf.com/profile_highwaystarz

Copyright: 123rf.com – https://www.123rf.com/profile_highwaystarz

Let’s talk about travel agent commissions.

  • Travel agents get 0% to help you book a domestic flight. (But they usually help in hopes that they can book your hotel & car too.)
  • They get between 4% and 8% to book an international flight.
  • They get 5% or so to book a rental car for you
  • They get 10% to 20% to book a hotel or cruise (That’s where the money usually is.)

NOW let’s talk about mistake fares…

  • Whether an actual mistake, or intentional fare dump to get 4 or 6 butts in seats to keep from cancelling an under-sold flight – travel agents get paid ZERO commissions on mistake fares.
  • On top of that, sites like Travelocity and Expedia HEAVILY discount hotel commissions when you bundle air and hotel together (including when you pay next-to-nothing) for the flight. (Sometimes, so much so – that you can get air PLUS hotel for less than the cost of the flight alone.)

The result?

Although travel agents can offer great assistance with “normal” trips – they cant compete when it comes to mistake fares unless they charge an additional fee to you.

Don’t get me wrong – Travel agents still provide plenty of value in the right circumstances (Just like Mom & Pop store owners offer way more value than the minimum-wage Wal-Mart employee when you need to pick out the right baseball glove.)

But when it comes to prices… Even if a travel agent rebated their entire commission back to you – they still couldn’t come close to the price you can find by booking a mistake fare on a major travel site.

So you’ve got three choices:

  1. Pay a pretty penny for the convenience of finding a flight that goes to the exact place, at the exact time you’re looking for.
  2. Have a little flexibility and use a free system to find the mistake fares that happen every day from your home airport…
  3. Have a little flexibility and use a paid service that focuses exclusively on mistake fares. (Just don’t plan on them doing it for free – because they’re not going to get a dime when you eventually book a trip.)

With enough patience & flexibility – both choices 2 and 3 will have you traveling for 50% to 90% less than option 1. (And not some bullshit department store “Mark it up so we can say it’s marked down 50% to 90%…” crap…

Put a little energy into finding mistake fares, schedule trips around them when you find them and you will ACTUALLY pay 50% to 90% less than what most people on the exact same trip as you are paying.

Here is an article on how to find mistake fares on a daily basis – for free.

Traveling affordably (with no math involved)

In case you didn’t know it. I’m a numbers guy. My co-author and I wrote a book about cracking Google’s algorithm with paid advertising (Google AdWords for Dummies), and after that, Google hired us to write two books for them to give to their advertisers.  Now, I use algorithms to find mistake fares the same way.

But rather than writing a book about how to calculate the value of a flight – I do that math behind the scenes with every trip I share on JGOOT.

I analyze over 20,000 flight options per day, and rule out the 99.9% that are too expensive.  In a nutshell, if you can’t find it on JGOOT.com, that’s because I already analyzed the dates you’re thinking of – and ruled them out as “too expensive to pay cash for”.

My advice?

  • Use this site to watch for ridiculously affordable trips that you can work your schedule around whenever possible. (Which should be about 1/2 the time.)
  • Don’t waste time searching for a good fare for “need to go to a specific place at a specific time” trips. They will almost always be too expensive and you’d be FAR better off just paying with points.
  • Don’t have points? You should. Download this free quick-start guide & I’ll show you how.

* Wondering why I bother with mistake fares if I can travel on points for practically nothing?  Here is the math on why just about every fare I publish on JGOOT is a better deal than paying with points.  

 

 

 

That feeling when you’re driving and you see a radar gun pointing at you

Have you ever been driving down the highway and have your heart skip a beat when you see a police car on the side of the road with a radar gun pointing at you? Fortunately, I just got a new car that has a pretty cool sign recognition technology that keeps track of that for me at all times.

Don’t get me wrong… I’m a safe driver, but it sure is nice to know my car is “watching” for the speed limit, even when I’m not.  Now, whenever I see a cop with a radar gun pointing right at me, I’m a lot more relaxed because I know the exact speed limit wherever I’m driving (not just 10 miles before I started zoning out on a long-stretch of highway and stopped paying attention to the speed limit.)

What does this have to do with travel?  Even if you’re good at finding OK deals whenever you want to take a trip – If you don’t have a system in place to watch fares FOR YOU every day, day in and day out – you’re going to miss a lot of amazing deals.

Here are three options.

  1. Flexible on when you want to go? Airfare watchdog is great, and you’ll get alerts for the best prices possible for as many destinations as you want to watch.  (Don’t forget to watch domestic flights where you have friends & family too. $29 and $49 round-trip flights across the country happen all the time, and it’s pretty cool when you get to call a long-lost friend or family member and say – “Hey – I just found $39 round-trip flights from your city to mine. Want to come out for a visit?”)
  2. Have specific times you need to go? You’ll end up paying slightly more when you don’t have much flexibility on departure and return dates, but mistake fares still happen during peak travel times, so watching every day will pay off.  Either Google flights or Kayak.com are GREAT for setting up fare watches for specific dates.  The more destinations you watch – the more likely you’ll find not just a good deal – but an unbelievably good deal. You’ll be surprised at how often you’re looking at your calendar to see if you could make a $224 flight to Paris work, or whether or not you could fly your parents out for a visit for $29.
  3. If watching 2o to 100 fare alerts a day to find a deal sounds like too much work, I have a paid service that cherrypicks the best-of-the-best travel deals so you don’t have to.
    • I watch over 750 destinations per day from your home airport, and every day, we share the best deal we find in the following categories:
      • Domestic, Caribbean/Mexico, South America/Europe, Asia/Australia/Africa.
    • I also include business class fare discounts, and one-click lodging options on Travelocity, Expedia, VRBO, AirBnB & Hostels.com.

Just remember to watch every day.

No matter what method you choose – be patient and remember that this is a numbers game.  Actively watching every day will out-perform “looking when you’re ready” every time. I assure you – you’ll be traveling sooner than you thought, spending less than you thought, and going to cooler places than you ever planned on.

We watch over 750 destinations around the world every day and we only find 4 to 6 mistake fares we think are worth sharing. If you’re going to set up fare watches yourself – I recommend watching at least a few dozen locations.

Happy travels!

PS – Speaking of police cars, if you drive one for a living – don’t forget that you (along with other first responders, teachers and non-profit employees) are eligible for a FREE premium subscription worth $249. Click here for more info.

Free pair of shoes from Nordstrom’s! What would you choose???

Let’s say you got a coupon from Nordstrom’s good for any pair of shoes in their store.

You’ve been needing a new pair of running shoes… Maybe you should use it for that.

Ummmmm. NO! The coupon said ANY pair of shoes!

  • Pay cash for the $80 sneakers
  • Use your coupon for the $2200 Jimmy Choos

Use the same philosophy for traveling and you’ll NEVER pay for an expensive flight again.

  • Only pay cash for mistake fares that are 50% to 90% off.
  • Keep a stockpile of points for everything more expensive than that.

But unless you want a “George Costanza Wallet” full of credit cards, you have to be wise about how you spend your valuable frequent flyer points. Just because you have 50,000 frequent flyer points, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting a good deal by using them to fly to Hawaii.

  • When flights are $850 or $1000 a piece – by all means – pay the $22 in taxes and use those points!
  • But when you can regularly find mistake fares for $280, you’d actually be a lot better off paying cash for the flight and saving your points for a more expensive trip some other time.

Huh? How is $280 a better deal than $22?

No matter what frequent flyer program you’re with, your points can usually be converted to cash in one form or another for a minimum of a penny per point. That means that 50,000 points is worth at least $500 in cash (and if used wisely, those points can be worth as much as $3000). Using $500 worth of points on a fare you could pay $280 for would be a huge waste. (Just like using a “free pair of running shoes” certificate would be a waste on some $80 running shoes.)

In a nutshell:

  1. Always be on the lookout for mistake fares that might fit your schedule and never pay cash for a flight that is more than 50% below normal normal prices (preferably 90% off).
  2. Always keep an emergency stash of at least 50,000 frequent flyer points and use them for ALL flights that aren’t at least 50% off. (In other words, if it’s not on JGOOT.com – you should probably pay with points.)

You’ll travel more, you’ll spend less, and you’ll spend WAY less time trying to find good deals when good deals aren’t available via traditional methods.

Don’t have frequent flyer points? Click here & discover how to get 50,000 to 100,000 points in the next couple months (and learn how to calculate what a “good” price for a fare is no matter where in the world you’re flying.)

“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

 

My $480 chicken bus tour through Belize

A few years ago, my wife, kids and I went on a cruise, and after hours of debate and discussion, we all agreed on doing the “Jungle river tour along with a 90 minute guided tour of the countryside” when we dropped anchor in Belize.  It was pricey at $120 each, but it had something for both adults and kids – so we bit the bullet.

In a nutshell, the cruise line bought a couple dozen “tour company” t-shirts, gave them to a bunch of villagers who had never been out of their tiny town of 100 people, and bought a couple chicken busses. They then instructed the villagers to “Make some crap up to tell the tourists we’re going to send your way to pass the time on the 90 minute ride on the chicken bus we’re going to cram them into.
Seriously – I think the tour guides had bets on how much crap they could get away with making up.  Although I’d have been fascinated to hear about life in the village they lived in, they felt the need to embellish the most mundane, worthless information possible – just to fill the time on the 90 minute squeaky-as-hell bus ride.
  • And this is the gas station used not only by people who live in the community, but ALSO by people traveling through the town.” 
  • And do you see those tall trees with big green balls on them? Those are our country’s national tree – the coconut tree!” (Umm… No. Their national tree is the Mahogany (which is also one of the country’s main exports.)
  • “Our national language is Creole. So for example – instead of saying “Yes”, we say “Ya’mon”. Dude… That’s just wrong and I’m pretty sure you’re insulting the heritage of people from at least 4 different countries.
  • It reminded me of my first speech class when I had to speak for exactly five minutes and I ran out of material after one and a half.
  • Most painful “guided tour” ever.
Anticipation was building as we got close to the “Jungle river”, and as we pulled up – we saw a big stack of inner-tubes. Not even real inner-tubes. I’m talking about flimsy wal-mart inner tubes that could only be stable to float in by tying at least 8 together. Seriously? The “River” was a nasty-ass muddy creek about 4 feet deep, my kids are strapped between us and zinc-nosed tourists who insisted on telling bad jokes the whole time, and the guide we were required to be tied to managed to find every sharp eye-endangering branch possible for us to float through.  On top of that, the cruise line’s insurance required that they have employees along side the river every couple hundred yards. But they ran out of company shirts, and they refused to talk or smile. So instead of feeling safe and protected, it was just creepy. It felt more like the grubby t-shirt, cheap sunglass wearing thugs were there just to make sure we floated into the trap they had set for us around the bend – where we would be kidnapped and held for ransom.
Well, at least we had the “authentic Belizean lunch” to look forward to.  At the end of the ride, we were given juice boxes, and bean & cheese burritos in saran wrap. “Umm. My wife is gluten-free. Have you got anything she can eat without permanently damaging her intestines?” They gave us an extra bag of Cheetos, and shuffled us back onto the chicken bus for our ride home.
 
The best part of the day was when we discovered there would be no stories on the 90 minute ride back and we got to take a nap. (That, and finding out that what they were being paid was triple what most of them were earning before they started working as contractors for the cruise line, but come-on [cruise-line-omitted-to-keep-from-getting-sued]… Spend a few hundred bucks on a copywriter to give them SOMETHING to talk about.)
The moral of the story – Excursions can be fun, but whenever possible – do your homework in advance and talk to people who have actually been there.  If taking a cruise, make sure they’ve been docking at that port for quite a while, so you know they’ve had a chance to work out all of the kinks and adequately train the people running the excursions.
Got any funny travel stories? Feel free to tell me about it in the comments below.

50% to 90% off “Butt in seat fares”. Why they happen & how to find them.

Every airline in existence uses sophisticated computer algorithms that determine how to get the highest price possible for every seat on their planes. 99% of the time, they do a really effective job of extracting every dollar possible out of every seat on their plane.

However… About once every 300 or 400 flights – they get it wrong and under-sell seats – and that can cost them tens of thousands of dollars in cancelled/rescheduled flights. To avoid that problem, they need to get a handful of butts in a handful of seats… and they need to do it in a hurry.

This isn’t just for last-minute flights either.  To avoid cancelling as many flights as possible, they start error-correction as early as 9 months in advance.

Some people call these “mistake fares” but it’s never a mistake when this happens. In fact, it’s very deliberate. (I prefer to call them “Butt in seat” fares because the airlines will reward you handsomely for putting your butt in their otherwise un-sold seat.)

It works something like this:

  • 9 months before a flight, if the flight is not at least 20% booked, the airline will slash prices drastically in order to sell at least 20% of their seats.  As soon as they fill those seats, prices go back to normal.  If they don’t fill those seats, they cancel the flight, go through the expensive process of rescheduling existing passengers and crew, and again – prices go back to normal.
  • 6 months (+/-) before the flight, they go through the same process if they’re not at least 40% booked.
  • 3 months out? Same thing if they’re not 60% sold.
  • Then again  2 months out, 1 month out, 2 weeks out…
  • You get the idea.

They can’t advertise these sales because they usually only have a handful of seats at that price.  Instead, they just quietly slash prices, knowing some lucky traveler will stumble across that fare and snatch it up.

  • These opportunities present themselves every day from every airport in the country, and can be anywhere from a week in advance to 9 months in advance.
  • Sometimes it means getting a $300 flight for $30 or $40 and visiting friends and family even when you weren’t planning on it.
  • Other times, it means getting a $1200 flight for $200 to $500, and taking that vacation you’ve been putting off for years.
  • With the tiniest bit of flexibility, it can mean traveling two or three times as often on the same budget as one trip “the normal way”.

Unfortunately, airlines refuse to pay commissions on those types of flights – so there is no incentive for traditional travel sites or travel agents to find those opportunities for you other than you stumbling across them when searching for your trip.

If you want to find trips like this, you’ve got 3 options:

  1. Rely on luck of the draw and hope to stumble across something whenever you plan a trip. (Every once in a while, you’ll get lucky (and the more locations you’re willing to search for, the luckier you’ll get.)
  2. Set up free fare watches through a site like Google Flights or Airfare Watchdog from your home airport, watch every day, and when one of those locations has a drop in fare – snatch it up. (Again – the more locations you watch, the better your odds.)

Sound like a lot of work?  It’s not hard at all.  Tedious… But not hard. Either of the above options will take 10 to 15 hours of research a month (depending mostly on how many destinations you keep an eye on.)

Option 3: Subscribe to a trip alert service that is not on commission (because most of these fares don’t pay a commission), and focuses solely on finding those types of fares.

When something jumps out at you, it’s usually far enough in advance that you can plan around it, and you’ll find yourself traveling more often – for less money.

To see if I offer a trip alert service in your home airport, click here.

Happy travels!

–Joel

 

 

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

The most important ingredient when making Pho

One of my best friends of over 40 years is an amazing cook. He taught me to make authentic Vietnamese Pho and this weekend, we fixed a big old pot for a bunch of friends.

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

Best. Pho. 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 pretty simple: 

  • 4 to 5 lbs beef bones (if you’ve got an awesome hunting friend like me – Elk/Venison bones are even better.)
  • 2 tbsp ground cardamom
  • Handful of star anise
  • 12-15 sticks of cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 5-6 bay leaves
  • 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. Add rice noodles and protein of your choice.
  • Garnishes include Vietnamese basil, bean sprouts, limes, siracha sauce, or plum sauce to taste.

Want to pay the best price ever for your next vacation? Hunt for it the same way; Low & Slow.

  • Rather than deciding to squeeze a vacation into a pre-determined amount of time, decide to look start looking for a trip some time 6 to 9 months from now. By planning long ahead, you can figure vacation time out AFTER you find the right deal.
  • Pick 10 destinations you’d want to go to and set up a fare-watch 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 places that are tempting, but trust me – When you look with discipline, you’ll realize amazing deals are out there all the time.

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’d be shocked at how much less you’ll have to pay for a vacation to a place you never even thought you could afford.

Of course if that sounds like too much work, you could always just let JGOOT take care of it all for you.
JustGetOutOfTown.com/upgrade

Let the vacation find you…

It takes a village

“Are you a travel agent?”

I get requests on a daily basis to look into trips for people.

Unfortunately, I am not a travel agent – nor can a travel agent help you with the majority of the trips I send you. (since they are mistake fares that don’t pay a commission.)

However… Every single trip I post to the site has convenient links you can click through to book directly online with the travel search engine of your choice. There is no need to call me, or a travel agent.

For more help on how to book any trip you find, click here.