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.

 

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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The most important ingredient when making Pho

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

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

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

Best. 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 actually pretty simple: 

  • 4 to 5 lbs beef bones
  • 2 tbsp ground cardamom
  • Handful of star anise
  • 12-15 sticks of cinnamon
  • 1/8 cup salt
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • 5-6 bay leaves
  • 1-2 onions – grilled
  • 1 piece of ginger – charred
  • Put all of the above in about 2-3 gallons of water and simmer on medium-low for a minimum of 4 hours. (Although low for 12-24 hours will get a better result)
  • After several hours, adjust ingredients to taste, and continue to simmer.
  • When done, strain broth. 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 your vacation the same way; Low & Slow.

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

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

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Of course if that sounds like too much work, you could always just let JGOOT take care of it all for you.
We’ll do the daily digging so you can look over the “Are you phocking kidding me?” deals in less time than it takes to sip your morning coffee.
JustGetOutOfTown.com/upgrade
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PS – My wife is a 2nd grade teacher and hates that I use the F word. But hell – when you’re REALLY trying to get a point across, “effing” just doesn’t cut it.  Besides, when it comes to travel… Do you want an “effing good deal” or an “un-phocking-believably good deal?”