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 and I can’t help them book trips.

If I were, I would spend all my time answering calls, and not proactively finding travel deals.

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.

Southwest ups signup bonus – making companion pass an easy possibility

[Please note: Southwest changed their terms, and signing up for two different credit cards is no longer allowed.  They also reduced their signup bonus to $40k.]

Chase Southwest 50,000 bonus link

A good friend shared this in our premium member area, and since the last time this happened, it only lasted a couple days, I wanted to share. After all – there isn’t a credit card bonus out there that gets you (the equivalent of) 220,000 FREE frequent flyer miles.

Whether you’re into point-hacking or not – these signup bonuses are worth dipping your toes into the water without concerns about becoming one of those geeky credit-card hackers juggling a dozen+ credit cards. (Hey – I resemble that comment!

The skinny on Southwest’s companion pass:
Fly 100 one-way flights, or 110,000 miles – and you’ll earn the ability to take a companion with you for free through the end of 2019.  100 flights is hard work – even for the savviest of travelers. But 110,000 miles – when you basically stumble across the first 104,000 is a cake-walk.  Here is a link to Southwest’s terms of service on earning a companion pass.

By the way: This isn’t a single use companion pass. It’s unlimited use until the end of 2019. I did this myself back when the signup bonus was 60k, and Michelle has already flown with me as a free companion 3 times. We’re going on our 4th trip this month on a trip to Turks and Caicos with the kids. (Yes – Southwest flies to Turks-and-Freakin-Caicos!) 

How to get it:

  1. Check your credit at Credit Sesame to make sure your score is at least 690. (Chase doesn’t typically accept applicants with scores less than 690, so any less than that is a roll of the dice, and a temporary 10-point ding against your credit score.)*
  2. Sign up for a Rapid Rewards account (free) and make note of your frequent flyer number.
  3. Chase allows two credit card applications per month, and if you apply for two in one day, it only counts as one credit-pull. So if you’re approved for the first card, turn around and apply for the 2nd one.
  4. 104,000 frequent flyer points on Southwest is a great reward in itself, but if you decide to keep the cards around until you spend another $6000 (or fly 6000 miles), you’ll automatically become eligible for a companion pass – effectively doubling the value of your 110,000 points.
  • Click to apply for the plus card
    • $69/year (Worth it considering 50,000 points on Southwest is as many as 5 round-trip flights)
    • 3000 bonus points each year
    • 50,000 points after you spend $2000 on your card**
  • Click to apply for the premier card
    • $99/year (Still worth it considering 50,000 points on Southwest is as many as 5 round-trip flights)
    • 6000 bonus points each year
    • 50,000 points after you spend $2000 on your card**

Questions? Feel free to comment below.

–Joel

* Disclosure: If you use my referral link above, I will be given 10,000 bonus points from Chase, and I may receive compensation from Credit Sesame if you ever pay anything for their services. (Don’t pay though. Just use their free service.)

** Please use credit responsibly. I am in no way endorsing spending money you don’t have the ability to pay off within 30 days.  Carrying a balance on a credit card for even just a few months would cost more than the value of the points themselves and is not a good idea.

 

 

 

Getting to champagne destinations on beer budgets

A lot of people express an interest in places like Budapest, Morocco, Maldives, Bali, and sure – I post great deals that fly directly there.

But Daniel – our most veteran JGOOT traveler – shared a tip in our private Facebook group that I had to repeat.  (If you haven’t read Daniel’s story, it’s quite inspiring & funny. Click here to read it.)

When it comes to expensive/popular destinations, one of the best ways to get an even better deal is to fly somewhere close, and then grab a commuter plane/train/ferry to that destination.  Not only can you save a few hundred dollars per passenger on airfare, but you’ll get to check multiple countries off your list.

For example;

  • Instead of Getting a $600 or $700 flight to Morocco, grab a $350 flight to Malaga Spain, and take the $25 scenic ferry ride across the straight of Gibraltar.
  • Instead of spending the $1000 to $2000 rack-rate it often costs to fly to Bali, grab a flight almost anywhere in Southeast Asia for $400ish, and take a $50 commuter flight to Bali. (I post SE Asia flights in the low $400’s all the time.)
  • A flight to Budapest or Croatia can easily set you back $1000. However, I regularly find flights under $500 (if not $400) to Italy, Switzerland, Germany, France, and London – and you’d be shocked at how inexpensive it is to get around – once you get yourself to Europe.

To check rates I’ve found to any of the above areas, simply visit the “Where” section of your JGOOT premium member site.