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…

Sigh.

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

Coronavirus, Travel, & Social Responsibility

I’ve gotten a lot of heavy criticism from subscribers stating that I’m irresponsibly encouraging travel during this critical time and I wanted clear a couple of things up for anyone who might feel the same.

One of many responses

To be clear:

I completely agree with the social distancing that is going on. Given what we know about the highly contagious aspect of COVID-19 – I agree that – even if we aren’t showing signs of being sick – we have a social responsibility to avoid crowds and unnecessary travel in March (possibly April). If you still feel that the shutdowns are an overreaction – two of the most compelling articles I read are this one about Philadelphia vs St Louis’s response to the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, and this more recent one from the New York Times about Italy.

HOWEVER…

“The JGOOT Way” of travel has never been about last-minute travel, and we’re certainly not encouraging last-minute travel now.

“The JGOOT Way” of travel is about two things: Planning ahead by looking for deals every day, and being flexible to take advantage of those deals.  Those are the two most important pillars of affordable travel, and they’re even more important given these current events.

In fact…

If you like to travel without breaking the bank – you’re missing out on the best deals of this decade if you’re not watching for future travel deals now.

That’s what everyone else is doing, and two things are going to happen as a result:

  1. The very second scientists get a hold of this virus, people will resume their travels again. But the damage to the airline and hotel industries will already be done.  There will be few good travel deals for those who react quickly enough, but the surge in demand will cause prices to skyrocket higher than they’ve been in a long time, and they’ll remain that way for a while to come.
  2. The people who are watching for deals right now will snatch up Summer, Fall, even 2021 Winter trips – and those trips will likely be the most affordable trips they’ve ever taken in their lives.

So am I encouraging unnecessary travel in the next month? Absolutely not.  (In fact, we canceled plans for two trips in March, and if necessary – we’re prepared to cancel a trip we booked for May.)

But am I going to discourage my subscribers from watching for future trips that could very well be the most affordable trips they ever take?

Hellllll no.

Sure – sit the rest of March out. And if you book a trip in April or May, make sure it can be canceled or changed.  But if you’d like to take a vacation this Summer, Fall, or even winter – the time to watch for those deals is right now.

My Two Cents:

At this point – Coronavirus has the potential of doing the same thing to the airline industry in 2020 that 2008 did to the auto industry. (But instead of encouraging Americans to buy cars to stimulate the economy, I predict that politicians will start encouraging us to get back on planes and start staying at hotels again.) However, by the time they start telling us to do that – prices will have already skyrocketed. Everyone dreaming of affordable travels will have to push those dreams off even farther.

Mark my words: There will be a small group of people who will be at the forefront of re-stimulating the economy by traveling after we side-step a Coronavirus disaster. It will be the people who booked their late April through January trips in the next 30 to 45 days.

In summary:

Should you travel in the month of March? Not unless you absolutely have to.

Should you be looking for future travel deals every single day during the month of March and April? Abso-freakin-lutely.

 

 

“I refuse to fly Spirit Airlines”

We got this email from a subscriber who wished to cancel her premium trip-alert subscription with us.

Although all subscribers can cancel any time with no questions asked, I thought I’d address her feedback in case you have similar concerns yourself.

  1. We certainly understand that not everyone likes certain discount airlines, but (in addition to being able to fly somewhere for $11 round-trip) here are a few things to consider about a great fare on a discount airline:
    1. Airlines are EXTREMELY competitive, and many times when a discount airline like Spirit, Frontier or Southwest drops fares to $11 or $39, other airlines often drop their fares as well. It doesn’t always happen, but we’ve had countless amounts of subscribers who were able to snag a direct flight on Delta, United or American for the same (or very similar) price as what we initially published from a competing discount airline.
    2. Sure, basic coach seating on Frontier or Spirit is… pretty basic, but sometimes – You can upgrade to business class seats (which include free bags) for less than what it would cost to check a couple bags.)
    3. Discount airlines are only about half of the fares we share. The other 50% are larger carriers like Delta, United, American & sometimes even Virgin.
  2. We also publish business-class fares with every trip we share, and a discount fare in coach can often mean a discount in business class too. Rather than dismiss a flight because it’s on a carrier you don’t like – check what business class fares are. That might completely change your mind about that carrier.
  3. If you ever decide that “The JGOOT Way” of travel isn’t a fit for you, – canceling is as easy as sending an email. All I ask is that you give it a fair chance.

Happy travels!

Joel

PS – We realize “The JGOOT Way” of travel isn’t for everyone, but if you’re a subscriber having doubts – the single best thing you can do to see if it is a fit for you is to check your trip-alerts every day – whether planning a trip or not.

It really is that simple. Open your trip-alert emails every day for 2 weeks. You’ll be surprised at how often a $30 or $50 flight inspires a trip to visit a friend, or how often a $200 or $300 flight that normally costs over $1500 per person inspires a vacation most people wouldn’t even contemplate until retirement.

 

Sample Trip-Alert with Coach and Business-Class Fares:

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.

 

 

How does JGOOT work? Are these fares real?!?

Hi there,

 

If you’re reading this – you might be wondering how I’ve been able to take over 20 trips for what I used to pay for just 4 or 5 trips. 

I’ve got a few tips below that should help! I also noted those tips in my video which you can click on below.

 

 

First of all… are these fares real?

 

  • Yes!
  • I am not a paid actor, though it would be amazing if I were!
  • I have taken 21 JGOOT trips and counting. Each one is different and unique in its own way.
  • Trip number 20 was to Hawaii for less than $600, which included my hotel

 

How do I find these deals?

  • Our #1 rule is to check those e-mails every day! 
  • After being a free subscriber for about a month, I became a premium subscriber – which increases my likelihood of finding a deal by over 20 times. My e-mails come into Denver at 7:33 a.m. every day. Yours will come from your home airport. 
  • Open those e-mails and click on any fares that interest you.
  • After you click on them wait for up to 2 minutes for the website to fully load. 
  • If you’re on a mobile device be sure and click the sort by “cheapest” or “best” in order to see the fares we’ve found.
  • The fares we find are fully clickable and bookable by you! You can book them directly with the airlines if you prefer. 
  • Be flexible! Good fares can be found around many dates but if you want to save 60% to 90% – consider being flexible. Maybe you can fly home the day after President’s Day? Maybe go to Costa Rica instead of Aruba? A little bit of flexibility goes a long way.
  • Be open to new places! You might find that you have discovered a hidden gem that becomes your favorite new vacation spot. 

 

If you have any questions at all please reply to any of your trip alert e-mails. Those e-mails come straight into my inbox and I am happy to help you in any way that I can. 

 

Cheers Just Get Out Of Town!

 

Writer, traveler, family CEO, and cupcake baker 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 reply to any email you receive from JGOOT. Plus, if you’re lucky, she’ll share one of her cupcakes with you 😉

 

why do we travel?

I was sitting in a dive bar in Kentucky… because as my fellow JGOOter Lee once said – no good story ever started with “so we were having a salad”.…  and I was drinking a Bourbon. I don’t often drink Bourbon, but this was Kentucky after all; had to be done. Birthplace of Bourbon. Best Bourbon around they’ll tell you.

I’m 37 years old. Never been to Kentucky. Here I was. Sitting at a dive bar. In Kentucky. Drinking Bourbon. I was chatting with the locals. I was enjoying the shabby, albeit wonderfully worn in chair. I was listening to the really awful country music that somehow seemed appropriate to its surroundings.  I was sipping on the best Bourbon I’ve ever had. And I got to thinking…

This is why we travel.

It’s not so we can rush from place to place.

It’s not so we can take photos to display impressively on our wall.

It’s not so we can brag about it to our friends at home.

It’s for perfect moments like this. Where for just a moment in time, a snapshot even, I can sit somewhere worn, listen to bad music, drink great booze, eavesdrop on the locals, and experience something I have never experienced before. 

Whether you’re on a beach, catching rides at an amusement park with your kids, trying out the latest restaurant in a big city, or taking a scenic drive in a part of the country you’ve never been to before, look for those perfect moments… Those snapshots – where you can experience something you’ve never experienced before.

 

Brooke Merkle is a blogger and director of customer support for Just Get Out of Town. She believes everyone should deliberately eat at least one bug in their lifetimes.

Want to travel like Brooke? Click here to give “The JGOOT Way” of travel risk-free for 30 days.

Nothing like stealing $2 million with a worthless hand in poker

In a poker TV show called Shark Cage, they pit various celebrities against actual poker pros. (It’s like Dancing with the Stars, but with poker players).

The majority of hands are pretty boring and get edited out because most players fold most of the hands they get.

But in one very exciting hand – Sara Chafak (Miss Finland 2012) was playing head-to-head against poker pro – Ronnie Bardah.

So to set the stage – we’ve got a table of eight, six have folded their hands, and Sara (who doesn’t play much poker at all) takes down a full-time poker professional.

The best part? He had the better hand, but she beat him with an absolutely worthless hand.

In the world of poker, it doesn’t get much better than STEALING what should have been someone else’s chips with nothing but a bluff. (So when an amateur poker player (who happens to be a woman in a male-dominated game) sits at the same table as a professional poker player and bluffs him out of $2 million in chips – stories about it get told for years.)

Want to get the same feeling by sitting on the same plane, going to the same exotic destination as other more seasoned travelers – but paying a tiny fraction of what they paid?

Click here, and check out the free tips in the “Guides” section.

 

Webinar Recording: JGOOT Lunch and Learn

Watch this member-only video where we discuss various ways to travel for 50% to 95% less with a few simple changes (I call it the “Triangle of Travel”, and I reference it quite a bit in the webinar. Here is a link to that blog post.)

Don’t want to watch the whole video?  Feel free to click a link to skip around to topics that interest you most:

  • 1:15 Watching close-by airports that JGOOT to increase odds of finding the best deal.
  • 3:46: How to get to deal for all-inclusive Mexico or Beach vacation (Here is a blog post about the Triangle of Travel I mention)
  • 8:05: Question from San Diego Subscriber: How to watch Mexico flights originating from across the border. Here is the blog post I reference about how to do this.
  • 11:56: How do I decide what travel credit card is best?
  • 24:53: Simple advice on getting started with point-hacking without getting overwhelmed
  • 27:40: How do I plan a trip to Barcelona/Portugal/Italy?
  • 30:22: How important is it to book flight & hotel at the same time?
  • 33:40: You gave me a $100 discount card as an incentive for signing up for your service, but it doesn’t seem to save me any money.
  • 34:50: Do you ever publish direct flights, or do they require multiple layovers to get that rate?
  • 42:00: How do you collect so many frequent flyer points?
  • 43:47: We mostly fly on AA and have 600,000 points on AMEX. Should we transfer our points to AA so we can use them there?
  • 45:24: I don’t have much time so I like quick weekend trips. How do I find those on your site?
  • 50:05: Why do some of the trips I look up say “error” or “not found”?
  • 52:55: Advice from a listener: Chase sapphire reserve gives perks
  • 54:38: Advice from listener: Just use one card for everything (and my response – including how we used two cards to fly in a first-class private suite)
  • 56:21: My response to “I’ll kiss your feet if you can find anything to Vienna or Bonn”
  • 57:13: Thinking out of the box: How one of our subscribers flew to Portugal for $290 round-trip, and took a $12 ferry to get to Morocco.
  • 58:30 We have a cruise in Hawaii May 7. What are average prices?
  • 61:00: We had a nightmare while traveling and had our cards frozen.
  • 62:05: Where do I find your point-hacking resources?
  • 62:54: Why can I never find the same fares you find – even when clicking the link you provide? (And here is a link to a blog post/video with more info)
  • 66:09: Shout-out to the amazing Brooke Merkle – who is the one answering all of your email questions!
  • 67:40: What is the best way to get to Maui this Summer?
  • 69:40: I’ve heard about travel sites falsely raising prices to get you to buy. Is this true, and do you do this?
  • 72:25: I’m going to Manila, PH. How do I find those fares?
  • 73:45: In Summary: If there is nothing else you take from this webinar, I hope it’s this. (And here is a quick-start guide to help you get started on preparing your backup plan.)
  • 75:30: One last question: “Why can’t I find anything for Christmas of 2020 on your site? [11 months from the time of this webinar]

 

Can’t find the prices we’re finding? Watch this video.

I get multiple emails a day from people stating that they can’t find the same prices we’re finding – sometimes within hours of us sending the alert.

Although sometimes the prices do go back up that fast, most times – they’re still available for at least a few days.

Here is a quick video covering how to find them.

Happy travels!

–Joel

PS – No time to watch a video? Here is a blog post with more detail.

A lesson that had NOTHING to do with travel, but EVERYTHING to do with travel

I’m sitting here on a plane returning from my last trip of 2019 thinking what an awesome year it has been (and was so impacted – I had to share so I typed most of this post out on my phone.)

As 2019 comes to a close, I’m reflecting on how my family’s traveling life has changed because of a simple little lesson I learned over 7 years ago.  Although it had NOTHING to do with travel, it had EVERYTHING to do with how my family travels (and how many of our subscribers now travel) for about $.10 to $.20 on the dollar.

When I was going through difficult financial times in 2012, one of the best things I did for my mental-health was to take up new affordable hobbies.

One of those hobbies was photography. I had a decent eye for composition, but I really struggled with things like my kids’ basketball games, band performances, or just about anything in low-light situations (and relying on a flash almost always seemed to make it worse.)

It wasn’t until I took a few classes that I learned how much I DIDN’T know about how to take a good shot in less-than-optimal lighting conditions.

One of the most revolutionary things I learned was a concept called the “Triangle of light.” (And man – did learning about it ever make a difference with my photos.
 
Once I learned those 3 basic rules – I had all the knowledge I needed to get the best shot possible – no matter what lighting conditions I was working with.
 

For example:

Blurry action-shots at your kid’s indoor basketball game? Crank up your ISO, open up your aperture, & your action shots will be crisp & clear.
 
Want a clear picture of a still object at night? Slow down your shutter speed & take the shot on a tripod.
 
Don’t have time for a tripod because it’s nighttime and you’re hoping to catch a shot of a celebrity walking into a donut shop to sell to The Enquirer? No problem. Crank your ISO as high as it will go, and you’ll get the shot without even needing a flash.
 
In fact – I’d be willing to bet that if you ask ANY photographer when they learned about the concepts of “the triangle of light” – they could tell you the exact time and place they learned about it.
 
IT’S THAT POWERFUL

Want to know something funny?

I applied a similar philosophy to my travels, and despite being broke – I traveled more than ever before.
 
I call it “The Triangle of Travel” and when you implement all 3 rules – there isn’t a single travel problem you can’t solve. (And you’ll be able to do so for pennies on the dollar – every. single. time.)
 
A word of warning though: It’s best to forget EVERYTHING you know about travel if you want these seemingly simple concepts to work.
 
Seriously – try to apply the 3 tips below to the way you’ve always traveled and you may as well quit reading now.
But ignore your old travel habits and give the triangle of travel a try???
 
There isn’t anything you can’t do.
 
  • So broke you can “never” travel? The triangle of travel will help you more than people who travel 6 or 8 times a year.
  • Last minute flights? No problem.
  • All-inclusive resorts for less than what you’d expect to pay for a Motel 6? Done.
  • Take a whole family on a trip for less than what the solo traveler cramped up in the middle seat behind you paid? Piece. Of. Cake.

 

Ready for the 3 magic elements of “The Triangle of Travel?”

 

Ok – but don’t forget… You MUST forget everything about how you’ve always traveled. 
 
Here they are:
1) Consistency
2) Flexibility
3) Backup plan

Let’s break them down:

1) Consistency

This probably sounds simple, but it is the biggest thing most people miss (and is the biggest reason your old habits are getting in the way of bigger/better/more travel.)
 
You see – most people decide to take a trip, and then spend hours on end (for days at a time) looking for a good deal. What they don’t realize is that half a dozen AMAZING deals came-and-went in the weeks/months before they started looking.
 
Look every day whether planning a trip or not and you’ll be AMAZED at the number of options you’ll find (many that fit quite nicely with the plans you have for a vacation that is months down the road).
 

2) Flexibility

Note that I mentioned that many of the trips you find ”fit quite nicely” with your vacation plans and not ”fit perfectly.”
 
Want an ok deal that allows you to take a nice vacation every year or two? Great. There are plenty of mediocre deals out there that fit PERFECTLY with your Friday to Sunday nine-day vacation.
 
Want a deal so good – you can take two to five vacations for what everyone else is paying for just one trip? Plan on being a little bit flexible.
 
Don’t worry though – it’s not as hard as you think, and the amount you save will almost always be exponentially more than the changes you might have to make to your schedule.
 
*Sometimes that might mean a Thursday to Thursday vacation.
*Other times it might mean going to Costa Rica instead of Cabo.
 
But either way – a little bit of flexibility goes a LOOOONNNG way when it comes to stretching your travel budget to unfathomable lengths.
 
Combine rules 1 & 2 by looking for good deals and planning vacations around the good deals you find? You’ll be amazed at how much less your vacations will start costing. (Or how much more you can spend on stuff that matters – like seat upgrades, room upgrades, or activities/excursions.)

3) Have a backup plan

The best part about rule number 3 is that the more you implement rules number 1 and 2 – the less you need rule number 3.
 
But when you need it? Trust me – you’ll be REEEAAALLLLY glad you have it in place.
 
The idea is to have at least 50,000 frequent flyer points readily available for when rules 1 & 2 don’t work for you.
After all – Murphy’s Law says that when you
1) don’t have time to plan ahead and
2) don’t have the ability to be flexible…
Other than occasionally getting lucky – paying cash is going to be EXPENSIVE.

Why rely on luck when you can put a backup plan in place that will be there to rescue you whenever you need it?

When you have a backup stash of points available – that family emergency that you need to fly 4 of you out for and can’t find flights for less than $750 each – goes from “unexpected $3000 travel nightmare” to “This was so cheap – let’s fly aunt Sallie out too!”
 
Want to travel more in 2020? Put the concepts of “the triangle of travel” a try. You can implement all 3 tips yourself for free and I guarantee if you do them:
 
You’ll travel more…
 
You’ll spend less time hunting down deals…
 
You’ll travel more comfortably…
 
All for a budget so low – you’ll wonder what took you so long to start traveling more.
 
Here’s to an adventurous travel-filled 2020!
 
–Joel
 

PS – If you’re a premium subscriber – you can find help with rules #1 & #3 in the trip-alerts you receive every day. (Rule #2 is up to you. 😉

Not a premium subscriber? Give JustGetOutOfTown.com/upgrade a try risk-free for 30 days.

We eat, sleep, and breath “The Triangle of Travel” and are certain once you give it a try – you’ll never go back.

Tips for Traveling with kids who have Food Allergies

“Wow, your kid has such severe food allergies, that must be SO hard.”

“How can you possibly travel with a kid with those allergies?”

“Wait you’re taking him out of the country to a country where you don’t speak the language and he has food allergies?”

Yep. We are!

As a matter of fact, we take him everywhere.

Nope it’s not hard.

Yes, we travel to lots of countries where we don’t speak the language.

We have never let John Paul’s food allergies limit us. While it’s not hard, it does require a little bit of extra planning. Below are some tips for how we travel with our kiddo who has severe food allergies:

  • Take an epi-pen everywhere. Put one in your purse, one in his backpack, one in your carry on, one in your checked luggage. 
  • Take Benadryl (in a travel-sized bottle). 
  • Tell the flight attendants. They’re more than happy to help! If your kiddo cannot be on a plane that serves nuts tell the airline ahead of time, then tell the gate agent, then tell the flight attendant. 
  • Bring snacks! As a fellow JGOOTer David once told me at a local JGOOT gathering; “when traveling with kids never travel with less than 5,000 calories.” According to him we could be stranded in the Amazon and survive a week based on our snacks alone. Bring snacks that your kids love. I don’t do a lot of sugar in my house, but I always pack some kind of special treat for the plane. I pack things that my kids might not get at home. I always pack a sandwich and a protein bar. I also pack something chewy to help with their ears as the elevation changes in the plane. 
  • Order groceries in advance and deliver them to your hotel room using Amazon Prime Shopping.
    • Not only does this allow you to control the food you’re bringing in, it also helps save a ton of money. We always request a mini-fridge in our room. We have small staples delivered for breakfast and picnic stuff for lunch. 
  • Know the menus of every fast food restaurant. They’re posted online. Look them up before you go. Know what things your kiddo can and cannot have at McDonald’s Chick Fil A, Taco Bell etc. Knowing these things means I can always have a fall back if we’re delayed in an airport or running short on time.
  • Use an app. There are lots! If your kiddo (or you) have Celiacs there’s an app that can tell you all the local restaurants that have Celiac friendly menus. It gives it a rating from 1-10, so if you’re kiddo has severe celiacs you would want to pick a level 10 that has zero gluten crossover. There are similar apps for nut allergies.
  • Know your go-tos. I know that Chiptole will always have options for John Paul. I know that Applebees does not. 
  • Ask, then ask, then ask again. Can I see the ingredient list (U.S. law requires all restaurants to have an ingredient list available to the public)? Just to be clear are you sure there are no nuts in this? That it has never come into contact with nuts? Can you double-check on that for me?
  • Print a card ahead of time. When traveling to a foreign country print out a card ahead of time. We made one that was business card sized and made several dozen. John Paul always has one in his pocket. In Germany we could hand the card to the server that says (printed in German): “My son is allergic to milk and eggs. Does this item contain any milk or eggs? Can you suggest something that does not have milk or eggs?” In the Dominican Republic we could use the same card printed in Spanish. This was our standby when our phones weren’t with us or we didn’t have wifi. John Paul always had one in his pocket. 
  • Use Google Translate! Use it both ways. Have the baker, or the server, or the restaurant owner speak directly into the google translate app (Using speak to text) and press translate. Use it yourself to ask questions in the local language. If the server seems unsure double-check. If the baker can’t remember ask again. If there’s nothing on the menu dive into that bag of snacks that you always have with you. 

This article was contributed by Brooke Merkle.

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Brooke is a mother, wife, teacher, JGOOT subscriber, and after her 10th JGOOT trip – our director of customer support. She used to travel to visit family, and, if it fit-in, take a vacation every two or three years. Now, she and her family travel 8 to 12 times a year, and she is a regular contributor to the JGOOT blog.

Comment below & let her know what other travel advice you’d like to hear from her.
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Time flies when you’re having fun. But what if…

They say “time flies when you’re having fun”.

But, what if it didn’t have to? What if there was a way to slow time down so you could really drink in every moment? Really get the most out of your time and money spent?

On all of my trips this summer, I began using mindfulness practices from my everyday life while on vacation to really capture the essence of the place I’m visiting.

I use my camera as a reminder to really look at what I’m seeing…pay attention to the details…and capture them for later.
I’ll set an audio reminder on my phone to stop for just a moment and pay attention to the sounds and the smells around me…to pay attention to any sensations I’m feeling.

Just these little things make you get out of your head, slow down, and enjoy the whole experience more.
You’ll come home more enriched by your experience, more aware of how your travels impacted you, and with better photos for your memory books. The experience will stay with you longer and impact your life more. And best yet, the time will seem to stretch as you slow down, even for just a couple of moments, and really take it all in.

This post was contributed by JGOOT Subscriber & veteran traveler Teri Aranda Hales. If interested in having a successful & flexible career (or a “side income” that will allow you to travel more) – give her a follow on Facebook or Instagram!

Want to travel more & spend less? Give JGOOT a risk-free 30-day trial at justgetoutoftown.com

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.

 

My favorite scene from Good Will Hunting

Do you remember the bar scene from Good Will Hunting?

I LOVE that movie…

Every time I watch it, it makes me want to go out and read a ton of books, and get me some of them “smarts” for myself.

But then I don’t.

I settle back into my normal life, and whenever I go and hang out with my REALLY smart friends or family members, I say to myself “I wish I read more.” 

And the funny thing is – It really would be that simple. If I just started a daily ritual of reading even half as much as that – I really would be a lot smarter.

The key is consistency. It’s as simple as that.

(I could say the same about exercise and that I wish I was a lot more fit, but that’s a whole different story.)

Do you wish you traveled more?

Just like a daily gym regiment that will make you more fit, or a daily reading ritual that will make you smarter…

If there was only one thing you could do to ACTUALLY travel more – it would be the same, simple, thing:

Look. Every. Day.

Whether you’re planning a trip or not, by looking every day, you’ll regularly find travel opportunities that are too good to pass up. They’ll be 80% 90% less than you were expecting to pay, and the more destinations you keep an eye out for – the more often you’ll find those deals.

Many of them will be months in advance and will fit nearly perfectly with your schedule.

But there is one thing that is for sure… Those travel deals won’t wait around for when you finally get around looking for them.

So if you want to stop saying “I wish I traveled more”, and start actually traveling more, just start looking every day.

Don’t want to do all of that work yourself?

Click here. For as little as 26¢ per day, we’ll do the looking for you and we’ll send a daily summary email of travel deals that you can review over your morning coffee.

Just for fun – Here is another great scene from the movie.

Your move, chief.