Faking it

My divorce was final.

I was committed to a hefty, non-modifiable, alimony payment for the next four years.

Then I lost a client that represented about 90% of my income.

I was not just screwed…

I was 1000% more screwed than I was just a month before.

I hustled twice as hard and slashed rates just to pick up new business and pay the bills.

Despite being a published author and expert in my field, clients came and went through a revolving door and it was a constant struggle just to stay afloat.

Finally, in the middle of the hustle of faking it for clients, pretending I didn’t DESPERATELY need to get their business…

I found an opportunity to get out of town for cheap.

So I went.

After all – If I’m already dipping into retirement funds just to make alimony & rent of my shitty little apartment where my bedroom doubled as my office so my kids could each have their own room, I may as well dip in a little more to take a little break from the hell I had been through for the previous two years.

It was great.

I cleared my head.

I met amazing people with so much pride for their country. Their broken English was far better than my broken Spanish, but we struggled through it and had a blast getting to get to know each other.

They taught me about their country and their culture. I had a standing invite to come stay with them any time I visited again.

When I got back, I’d get back to the grind and find some more clients to start paying the bills again.

A month went by.

Still no new clients.

But wait! A cheap opportunity to visit a friend in Hawaii when kids are with their Mom???

What the hell – I’m in.

Great for relaxation.

Great for profile pics on Match.com & Facebook.

NOT great for the bar tab, but oh well. You only live once.


A funny thing happened…

Prospective clients stopped asking about my skills at interviews.

They stopped asking for references.

They stopped grilling me to see if I knew what I was talking about.

They asked what I thought about my trip to Costa Rica.

They asked about the best spots to visit in Hawaii.

They didn’t give a shit about the advertising knowledge I was desperately peddling just months earlier.

We never even got around to the typical interview questions.

They just assumed I was an expert because of the places my Facebook pictures showed I had been.

Rather than negotiating my rate, they just hired me. Regardless of my rates.

They stuck around longer than any clients I had in the past.

Before I knew it, I was buried in business, and I had no choice but to raise rates to the highest I had ever charged.

I had no more expertise than just a few months earlier, but suddenly – I was an in-demand expert because I had a Facebook profile that indicated NOTHING about my business acumen.

All it demonstrated was that I traveled a lot in the recent past (but hey – anyone who travels a lot must be successful, right?)

The moral of the story:

Want to get a better job?

Travel more.

Want to have better stories at parties?

Travel more.

Want to have more interesting conversations on first dates?

Travel more.

Want to stop drooling over your friend’s Facebook pictures thinking “I wish I could travel like them”?

Stop fucking saying “I wish I could travel like them”, find a cheap trip, and travel there.

It doesn’t matter where.

Just get out of town.

When you come back and life doesn’t start to change in a positive direction…

Do it again.

Find a cheap flight and visit an old friend.

Go to a place you’ve never been before just because you found $150 flights

Take lots of pictures & post them online for your friends to drool over and ask you about when you get back.

Before you know it…

For reasons you can’t explain…

Life will just magically take a turn in a positive direction, and you’ll realize…

Travel isn’t the reward you give yourself after years of hard work.

It’s the fuel you continually need in order to give your all at work and in life.

The more you do it, the easier work becomes in the times between.

The more travel you do, the more fascinating stories you get to share with friends, with your kids, and eventually – their kids as they sit on your lap begging for one last bedtime story.

But you’ve got to do one thing first…

Stop thinking “after I do this one thing” and start looking for opportunities to Just Get Out Of Town today.






Can you solve a Rubik’s Cube?

So I’ll admit I can’t solve a Rubik’s Cube at all. My husband claims he’s been trying to solve the same one since high school and that was 30 years ago! If I concentrate really, really hard I can, on occasion, solve one side. But that’s it. My personal best. One side. 

My son, John Paul on the other hand, is a speedcuber. He’s 12. He learned to solve a Rubik’s Cube from my dad while we were on a family vacation in Zion National Park. John Paul was 7. Yep 7 years old. And he learned how to solve a Rubik’s Cube. Check out this YouTube video of John Paul solving a cube in less than 30 seconds when he was 8. 

Since then my son has developed a passion for cubing. (That’s the official term.) He’s now fast enough and competent enough to compete in National competitions for speedcubers. While some of those are in Colorado where we live, many are in really cool and unique places across the United States (and the world). 

A few months ago I came into my son’s room at night to see what he was doing. He had two windows open on his computer. One was a list of all of the cubing competitions in the United States and the other was a list of all the most recent Just Get Out Of Town (abbreviated JGOOT) fares. My son knew that if he could find a competition that aligned with a JGOOT airfare or airfare + hotel deal he would better be able to sell us on it. 

He could have just picked a competition in a city and typed the city and dates into a search engine and paid rack rates for whatever airfare and hotels might be available. That would be expensive and probably out of our budget. That’s the way we used to plan our travel. 

Instead my son was going to find a great deal and plan his vacation and his competition around it. And guess what? It worked! Here’s my son John Paul and my husband on their way to a speedcubing competition: 

So whether or not you can solve a Rubik’s Cube (and there’s no hope for me) if you can learn to travel the JGOOT way you can travel more for less than you ever thought possible. 

Writer, traveler, family CEO,  and speedcubing failure extraordinaire, Brooke Merkle currently wears the hat of Director of Customer support for Just Get Out Of Town. You can follow her blog at justgetoutoftown.com/blog or e-mail her about how you too can travel more for less. Plus, if you’re lucky, her son will show you how to solve a Rubik’s Cube. 


Canceled flight: Should I take a $500 airline credit or 100,000 miles?

A subscriber was going to cancel his flight and was offered a credit of $500 with that airline – or 100,000 miles, so he emailed to ask me what I would do.

Since this is a common dilemma due to the current circumstances of many canceled flights, I thought I’d share my response as a blog post.

Hi Greg,
Thanks for reaching out.  Every airline varies, but in the case of Frontier – my short answer is “If it were me, and if it were an airline I fly often – I’d take 100,000 points over a $500 voucher every time”

But that’s me. You have to decide what’s right for you, so here’s the long answer:

  • A $500 credit is worth $500 next time you fly with that airline. No more, & no less.
  • If you get points… That’s a different story.
    • 100,000 Frontier points are worth about $500 as a worst-case scenario.
    • 100,000 Frontier points can be worth as much as $1500.
    • Side note – it’s rare, and it takes some digging, but 100,000 points with some airlines can be worth exponentially more than $500 or $1000. (I once redeemed 106,000 points for two $12,000 flights in a suite on Singapore Air.)

So if you like the idea of gaming the system to get more than a dollar for dollar refund out of a canceled flight, you can stretch points much farther than a cash credit.

If you’re not comfortable with learning how to maximize the value of frequent flyer points, I’d recommend seeing if you can get a cash refund first. Only after you’ve verified you can’t get a refund would I recommend taking a travel credit.

I hope that helps.
Happy Travels


What Are You Doing To Survive The Quarantine?

We were going to stay at the lovely Hilton resort on the beach, which we had also earned through a loyalty program. It was going to be perfect. Our trip was canceled. Our vacation postponed. Our plans put on hold.

We got most of our money back. Some is just gone…


But here we are. No beach. No ocean. No sand. Stuck at home. Homeschooling the kids. Working from home. Trying to stay sane. Going on lots of walks. 

I bought several fabulous, tropical themed dresses for our trip to the Bahamas. I was looking at them longingly last week, hanging in my closet, when it occurred to me. Why don’t I just start wearing them? So granted the weather has been beautiful here in Denver so it’s appropriate…. well somewhat. My husband remarked the other day that I used to wear yoga pants because I was pretending to go to the gym later in the day. Now that the gym is closed…. yeah anyone else’s marriage going to a whole new level of closeness 🙂 ? 

I have given up my black yoga pants in favor of my bright yellow linen trousers while I walk with the kids to the park. I am wearing my orange flip flops while I watch yet another show on Netflix at night. I am cooking dinner in my beach cover up and shorts. And I am dreaming of the next time I can go to the beach…

I’m continuing to open my JGOOT daily trip alert emails every single day.

I am continuing to adjust the dates to November or December.

I am continuing to look.

I am continuing to plan.

I am continuing to dream.

I am living vicariously through the customers who are sharing when they book trips for themselves, and I am continuing to get good use out of those dresses hanging in my closet. 

So if you see me in the curbside pick up line for the grocery store wearing my brightest pink lipstick and my most tropical sundress and hat, feel free to give me a wave. We’re all just doing the best we can to survive and we’re all in this together.

Drop me a comment and tell me what you’re doing to survive during this time. 

About the author: After her 11th Just Get Out Of Town trip Brooke Merkle came to work for JGOOT as the Director of Customer Support. She’s passionate about travel, craft cocktails, and finally finding a stay proof lipstick. Her spirit animal is a platypus. You can follow her blog at justgetoutoftown.com/blog

5 ways to get $1000 to $12,000 out of 5 minutes of work

Yesterday, a free subscriber emailed stating she likes the idea of our service but can’t afford to upgrade. She said she can only afford to travel out of necessity for things like weddings/funerals, etc.

I was covering for Brooke (our AMAZING customer-support person), and I basically said – “If you only travel out of necessity, there is no need to upgrade to our premium service.” I told her “Although our premium service is great for finding cheap prices for places you want to go, it’s not really helpful for places you need to go.”

Instead of convincing her how a premium subscription could help her, I gave her this free report.

She replied with this:

By her response, I can only assume she dismissed my advice because doing that is “only” worth $750 in travel benefits, and not worth the hassle of getting a new card.

Although $750 is the minimum value she’d get if she redeemed those points directly through Chase, there is a LOT more she could do with those points.

Here are 5 examples of what 60,000 frequent flyer points from taking 5 minutes to get one new credit card can do:

  1. Transfer them to Singapore Airlines & book two round-trip flights to Hawaii from just about anywhere in the US. (Value: $2000 to $3000)
  2. Transfer them to United and book 2 round-trip domestic flights when you NEED to go somewhere and can’t find flights under 500. (Value: $1000 to $2000)
  3. Transfer them to Southwest when you don’t like the prices you’re finding, and book as many as 6 round-trip flights. (12 if you have a companion pass.) And yes – you can find direct, non-redeye, round-trip flights on Southwest for 10,000 +/- points quite often. (Value: $1200 to $1800. ($2400 to $3600 if you have a companion pass.)
  4. Transfer them to United, and book a business-class flight to Europe. ($8500 value)
  5. Transfer them to Singapore Air to book a private suite, and still have points leftover. (Our suite was 53,000 points and was worth $12,000.)

Note that every suggestion above requires no more than 60,000 points and exceeds the $750 minimum value by 150% to 2000%

Don’t have frequent-flyer points?

Here’s how to get 60,000 points in the next 30 to 90 days:

1. Take about 5 minutes to apply & wait for your card in the mail.

2. When you get it, keep paying bills on auto-pay with your regular card, but pay things like gas, groceries, hardware store purchases, etc. on your new card. (Basically – anything that doesn’t involve the hassle of changing auto-pay information.)

3. If you like the card, keep it. If not, throw it in a drawer without ever changing a single thing about the bills you pay with your regular card. You can decide whether to cancel it or keep it after you’ve spent your frequent flyer points.

4. When you’ve spent the minimum amount required, save your points for whenever you need to take a trip but don’t like the prices you’re finding.

Once you have your points – it’s like having a stash of Monopoly money

You can use those points as legal tender whenever you NEED to go somewhere and don’t like the prices you’re finding. (And that’s highly likely for “necessary” travel like weddings, funerals, etc. (It’s also quite nice for business & first-class flights at prices you’d never normally pay with cash.)

Here is a link to the Chase card that would allow you to do any of the above examples by doing nothing other than taking 5 minutes to apply & spending a few thousand dollars on gas, groceries, movies, etc. (And for your convenience, here is that quick-start guide again.)

Disclosure: If you get a card through the above link, I may receive frequent flyer points from Chase as a result.

Worried that 60,000 points isn’t enough for your travel needs?

Use your JGOOT trip-alert service to find super-cheap trips to places you WANT to go, and save your valuable points for expensive trips when you NEED to go. That’s “The JGOOT Way”.

If you’re not already a premium subscriber, click here to become one. You can try it out FREE for 30 days.

PS – As of the date of this blog post – All 5 examples above can be done through transfer partners in the Chase network, but those terms can change at any time.

PPS – I’ve done all 5 examples, and with a little patience and creative thinking – I know you can too.



The “magic” question that has a 100% success rate

Let’s say you’re running to the grocery store. You forgot your credit card and you’ve only got $25 in cash, but you need to fix a nice dinner for 4.

It’s crowded and you’re in a hurry, so you’ve only got time to ask the manager one question.

Which question do you think would stretch your dollar as far as possible?

  • “Can you tell me how much Chicken Breasts, Ham, & Swiss Cheese are?”
  • “What is on sale today?”

The first question has about a 10% or 20% chance of anything on that list being on sale, and with a limited budget, dinner will almost certainly be a little light.

The second has a 100% chance of success.  Plan your meal around what is on sale and you’ll not only have plenty of food to go around – you’ll probably fix a fancier dinner too.

Want a 100% chance of success when looking for affordable travel?

Stop making such specific plans for vacations and being surprised when it’s expensive.

Instead, look for flights that are “on sale” every day. Plan your vacations (and weekend trips) around those flights, and establish a backup plan for when you can’t find flights that are on sale.


Two people. Same plane. TOTALLY different prices.

Meet Kari & Kelly,

Kari got a $1500 Mexico lodging voucher through JGOOT, and she and her friend Kelly booked a girls’ trip over a holiday weekend.

They booked their flights on the same day…

They’re flying on the same plane, to the same place…

They’re sitting in the same type of seats (coach)…

On top of that, they’re both JGOOT premium members!


One of them paid $80 round-trip, and the other paid $500.

There is still time to donate to the MS Society and get a similar voucher
(And if you become a JGOOT premium member, I’ll show you how you can fly there for prices similar to what Kari paid ($80), vs what Kelly paid ($500+))


Since they’re both JGOOT premium members, why didn’t they both get the same great rate?

There are 3 simple rules to saving 50% to 90% every time you travel:

  1. Look for travel bargains every day whether you’re planning a trip or not. (Our premium trip-alert service allows you to do that over your morning coffee.)
  2. You MUST be flexible on when/where you want to go
  3. Have a backup plan in case rules #1 or 2 are not possible.

In Kari & Kelly’s case, rules number one and two didn’t help much because they wanted to go to a specific place (to redeem $1500 worth of lodging at a luxury resort), at a specific time (due to strict work schedules).

Kari had established her backup plan long ahead of time, so as soon as she saw that they were going to have to pay $500 for their flights, she used her stash of points instead.

Kelly hadn’t established a backup plan, so she had to pay $500.

Although JGOOT trip-alerts are great for vacations and weekend trips where you can be flexible on when/where you want to go…

…The odds of one of our trip alerts coming through for you when you NEED to go to a specific place at a specific time are slim to none.

That’s why the first thing I teach my subscribers to do after becoming premium members is how to start working on their backup plan RIGHT AWAY. That way, they’ll quickly build a “stash” of 50,000 to 150,000 frequent flyer points to use whenever they don’t like the prices they find “the traditional way.”

Seriously – it’s not hard at all. It takes like an hour to set up, and trust me – just like car insurance – there WILL come a time when you’ll be glad you have those points. If you don’t have them, you’re not going to be happy about the prices you’ll have to pay.

Want me to show you how you can collect 100,000 frequent flyer points in the next 60 days with less work than it usually takes to find affordable flights “the traditional way”?
Click here & join thousands of premium members traveling “The JGOOT Way”.

Players, Spotters, Whales & winnings they make movies about

In the blackjack world, there are 3 types of people at the tables: Players, Spotters & Whales.


Players make up 99% of the people at the tables. Some win a few hundred bucks, some lose and console in the fact that at least they got free drinks.  Some win a few thousand dollars, some lose a few thousand.  The casino herds these people through like cattle knowing “the house” has a 51% advantage, the more everyone plays, the more the casinos win.


In the game of card-counting – Spotters are usually the smartest people in the room.  Spotters really only have one job (and it’s not to win at Blackjack).  In the world of counting cards, the SOLE job of the spotter is to count cards. The spotter sits at a blackjack table for hours on end counting every card played.

About one out of every 4 or 5 hours played, spotters run into a rare scenario where “the deck is rich”, and on that rare occasion, the odds shift from the house – to the player.  By drastically raising bids when the deck is rich – you can win some BIG money, but if the spotters did this, the casinos would instantly catch on and either re-shuffle the deck, or ask the card-counter to leave.

The spotters do all of the work, but the whales get all of the glory.


This is where the stories that have brought down casinos come into play. The job of the Whale is to sit around and wait for the spotters to signal them and tell them to step in. And when the whale steps into a Blackjack game where the deck is rich… They bet big.  They don’t win every time, but since the odds have shifted from “slightly in the casino’s favor” – to “heavily in the player’s favor” – when they win, THEY WIN BIG.

The key to the Whales’ success is that they don’t play like everyone else.

They don’t bet just because “they have a good feeling”

They don’t try to beat the house when the odds are stacked against them.

They wait around for hours on end until their spotters tell them the time is right.

When their spotters tell them they have an opportunity – Whales step up to the table and since they trust their Spotters – they don’t even bat an eye at betting the max bet the casino will allow.

There is probably only one whale for every 10,000 players in the casino, but because of their discipline – they win so BIG they have movies made about them.

Want to be a whale in travel and win big vacations for your family every time you travel (and be able to do it legally)?

Stop traveling like everyone else.

Unlike a whale, you don’t need a big bankroll, but…

You need to be a “spotter” and watch fares every day.

Not when you get around to it…

Not 90 days before your trip…

Not at 3am on Tuesdays…




The BEST deals are found 2, 4, even 10 months in advance, and if you’re not watching for them every single day – you will miss out.

Just like a “Whale” in Vegas – have a system in place that allows you to seize opportunities when they present themselves.

You’ll visit more friends & family because of flights you find that are cheaper than driving.

You’ll find trips to far more exotic destinations than you thought were in the budget.

You’ll start calling old friends for guys’ trips and girls’ trips – just because you can.

Friends and family will start jealously commenting about your latest Facebook posts telling you “I wish I could travel like you.”

Don’t want to take the time to look every day?

As a JGOOT Lounge client – we’ll do all of the work as your Spotter.

We’ll also teach you the equivalent of counting cards by learning to use points, and “win” 5 to 25 times more valuable flights & resorts than everyone else.

Learn more by

  1. Joining our free facebook group
  2. After you join, you’ll have access to our free guides and case-studies. Click here to check it out.

Oops! Sorry about all of the extra posts today.


Today, you will get a bunch of extra/irrelevant emails from old trips out of DEN with a bunch of dead links.

Sorry in advance for filling your inbox up with them.

All should be back to normal tomorrow.

–Joel “Working too late and got sloppy” McDonald

Wondering what this charge is for?

If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you don’t recognize the charge on your credit card statement.

JustGetOutOfTown.com (JGOOT) is a subscription-based trip-alert service that renews monthly, quarterly, or annually, depending on the subscription you signed up for.

Want to make the most of your subscription?

Here are 3 tips:

  1. Be sure to open your trip-alerts every day. (They’re among the most affordable flights on the internet, and they won’t wait around for when you are ready to plan a trip.)
  2. Be sure to take advantage of our private 2300+ member point-hacking group. (They’re a part of your subscription and you’ll find an invite at the bottom of your daily trip-alerts.)
  3. Follow these 3 simple rules of “The JGOOT Way” of travel, and you’re sure to save 50% to 98% – every time you travel.

Don’t forget that you can always email us at support@justgetoutoftown.com with any questions whatsoever.

Want to cancel your subscription?

If you’d like to cancel your subscription, simply send an email to cancel@justgetoutoftown.com. We’ll process your request by the next business day, and you won’t be billed again. If you ever are mistakenly charged again, feel free to contact at the above email address and we’ll handle ASAP. (See our “oops” policy below.)

Oops – I forgot to cancel!” refund period.

All subscriptions (except one-time lifetime subscriptions) automatically renew at the intervals described on your initial receipt. If you get a recurring charge that you intended on canceling, simply email “cancel@justgetoutoftown.com” and let us know you didn’t want to renew your subscription. We’ll gladly refund your most recent charge any time within 7 days of monthly subscription renewals. (You have 30 days to request a refund for annual or quarterly subscription renewals.)

Not happy with your subscription?

30-day no-questions-asked refund period

You can cancel and ask for your money back for any reason whatsoever – any time within the first 30 days of your subscription. All you have to do is send an email to “cancel@justgetoutoftown.com” and ask for a refund. We’ll process your request by the next business day.

Oops – WE forgot to cancel” refund period

We are human and we are not perfect. If you ever get a charge after you canceled, forward a copy of your initial request, and we’ll promptly refund any/all charges since that initial request. (We’ll also send a $300 “thank you for not getting us in trouble with your credit card company” gift.)




Verifying The Fares I Publish

Why do I have to pay you to see details of these trips?

As much as I wish I could get paid “on the back end” like a travel agent, these trips are so deeply discounted – they don’t pay commissions. Adding a commission on the back end of trips you book through me would make them exponentially more expensive.   Besides, if I spent all of my time booking custom trips as a traditional travel agent, I wouldn’t have the time to actually find these amazingly affordable deals.

As a free JGOOT subscriber, I’ll gladly point you in the right direction after my paid subscribers get a first crack at them. With a little digging and internet savvy, you can find them yourself without ever paying me a dime. (You can also read dozens of free tips on my blog on how to find mind-bogglingly cheap fares yourself.)

If you’d rather not do all of that work, you can pay me as little as 26 cents per day, and I’ll make finding the best travel deals on the internet infinitely easier for you. Details here.

Members Cancel

Trying to cancel your paid membership?

To make it as easy as possible for you…

All you have to do is send us an email to: cancel@justgetoutoftown.com
(Although feedback is not required, it would be greatly appreciated.)

Members Login

Are you stuck trying to login to your paid membership?

There’s no need to login, simply check your email and click on any trip-alert you’ve received.

Once you get to the website you’re automatically logged in and you can get all the trip details you need.

If you’re still stuck please feel free to email us at support@justgetoutoftown.com

Saving 30% to 60% on last-minute travel

If you ever have to travel last minute, try the one of the following methods to cut costs:

  1. The Priceline Hack. Everyone knows Priceline can help you get lower fares than what you can typically find on the common aggregator sites like Kayak, Expedia, etc. However, most people don’t know that as the departure date approaches, airlines will do ANYTHING to fill empty seats. (However, they won’t ever do it by discounting prices at the counter.)  The way around that is to do your research online.
    • 1 to 3 days before your trip, find the best price possible (and make sure you’re OK with the flight times of those best prices because odds are – you’ll end up on those flights.)
    • Once you’ve found the best price – make note of the dates, drop that price by about 60%, and try bidding for those dates on priceline.
    • If that doesn’t work, try again, but only drop the price by 50%.
    • Wash, rinse & repeat until you’ve reached the most you want to pay.  Unless the planes you’re trying to get on are 99% booked, you’ll save at least 30% off of the lowest published fare you could otherwise find.
  2. The Spirit Airlines hack. If you don’t have any luck with the Priceline Method, here is a backup plan. Not many people know this, but Spirit has way lower fares at the desk than if your book online (even if through their website.)  If you just want to get out of town last minute, and are flexible on where you want to go, drop by the Spirit airlines desk and see what fares they have. (Pack light. Spirit charges an arm and a leg to check a bag (and they charge even more for carry ons that don’t fit under your seat.))

Happy travels!

If you’ve got any tips of your own that you’d like to share, feel free to let us know. If we publish your tip to the site, we’ll do a free custom trip search for you (valued at $39).