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

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 without charging a $25 to $100 per-person convenience fee. (since the trips I send are mistake fares that don’t pay a commission.)

However… There is no need to call me, or a travel agent. Every single trip I post to the site has convenient links you can click to go straight to the source – without any expensive commissions or extra fees.

Want to watch a 2-minute video about how to book any trip you find on my site? Click here.

Or…

To get 20 times as many trip-alerts as what you’re getting as a free subcriber, (and 44 convenient categories of trips to choose from, and to get those trip alerts 3 days before tens of thousands of free subscribers get them) 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.

 

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?”