#1: Save Hundreds on Airfare by Pairing Unconnected Tickets
The Wall St Journal recently highlighted a trick that veteran travelers have known for years: you can save big on airfare by pairing unconnected tickets. It simply means that you book the connections of a multi-leg trip on your own. Using their example:
“The tactic can work best in summer when discount airfares are harder to find. For a June 11 to 18, the lowest round-trip airfare from Atlanta to Berlin was priced on Friday at $1,541. The New York to Berlin fare was $680. With discount competition between New York and Atlanta, the lowest round-trip fare to JFK was $258. That is a saving of 39%, or $2,400 for a family of four.”
Keep in mind that this won’t work for every trip or every destination and it will of course require more legwork on your part. But, if you’re a hardcore, “savings above all else” traveler, sometimes the discounts can be huge.
#2: Trick Your Body Into Eating (Almost) Anything
If you’re a picky eater, it’s possible that you just have “texture issues”. These might induce a physical reaction when your brain wrongly believes that you just can’t stomach a certain texture. For some, that might be “mushy” (think: mashed peas), for others “seedy” (think: tomatoes or kiwi) and the list goes on.
Some travelers would like to be more adventurous eaters, but their bodies simply won’t allow it. One trick is to suppress your gag reflex to overcome that psychosomatic response. And the trick to doing that is simple: form a fist with your left hand, squeezing your thumb. It’s a trick dentists have shared with their patients for years.
To be clear, this won’t work for everyone. But if you’re seriously interested in stepping outside your culinary comfort zone while traveling, give it a try.
#3: Beat Jet Lag by Fasting
You already know that the symptoms of jet lag stem from your body’s falling out of its natural circadian rhythm. The Harvard Business Review reveals that fasting can snap it back into place. In short:
Try fasting both before and during your long flight, then eating in a pattern that puts you in sync with local time. For instance, if you’re taking a 14-hour flight from New York to Beijing, it would work like this:
• Avoid all food from the time you get to the airport (i.e., about two hours before departure)
• Don’t eat during the flight — but still drink plenty of water
• Eat soon after you land, as close to a local meal time as possible
#4: Cancel Your Hotel Reservation at the Last Minute Without Penalties
Almost every hotel charges a penalty when guests cancel their reservations on short notice (typically less than 48 hours).
But there’s a surprisingly simple way around this – so simple, you might wonder why you never thought of it before.
If you need to cancel your reservation, simply reschedule your stay for a future date (say, one month out). Then call back the next day and cancel it completely. Done.
#5: Survive a Mugging Abroad with a “Decoy Wallet”
The key to surviving a mugging is to appease your assailant, and the key to that is to make sure he doesn’t leave empty-handed. Simply carry a “decoy wallet”.
Think of it as a crappier (read: less valuable) version of your actual wallet. It needs to hold enough cash and cards for the thief to believe it’s the real deal, but not so much that you’re seriously suffering from its loss.
Toss in $100 in cash, a couple of expired credit cards, a receipt or two, and a few customer loyalty cards from places like CVS and your local grocery store and you should be good to go.
#6: Save Big By Calling the Hotel Directly
In an effort to combat dwindling profit margins from online booking sites, many hotels now offer deep discounts to travelers who call the hotel directly. Meta-travel booking sites such as Kayak.com typically offer great rates.
But take their best offer to the hotel directly and see if they’re willing to wheel and deal with you.
I’ve saved as much as 40% off advertised online rates using this method. Bonus: while you’re bending the manager’s ear, kindly drop a request about the type of room you’d prefer (corner room, suite away from the ice machines, etc.).
They’re much more likely to comply when talking to an actual person versus an automated reservation e-mail.
#7: Just Ask!
This isn’t a “hack” per se, but it’s the best possible advice I can offer: if you’re not asking for upgrades, compensation, and plain ol’ free sh*t while you’re traveling, you’re a sucker.
Hotel insider, Jacob Tomsky, lists the phrase “Sorry, there’s just nothing I can do …” among his list of “standard front desk lies””
“There are a lot of these “There’s nothing I can do” situations, when it’s quite untrue. Making a friend and having someone take care of you, it might change your stay. It’s hard to trust what the front desk is telling you because they want to make everyone happy—there are bad rooms and someone has to get them. So being nice, possibly a gratuity, calling ahead—it can go a long way.”
There’s almost always something they can do in every situation: a better hotel room, a premium airline seat, a better class of rental car. And 90% of the time you simply have to be polite and ask.
Just keep in mind that there’s a big difference between demanding and asking. Remember that travel can tempt otherwise kind, ordinary folks to act like a$$holes.
Hospitality workers often face a daily barrage of verbal assaults and moody, impatient travelers. Be the exception to their day: whether that’s through kindness, flattery, or plain ol’ bribery.
by Mike Richard
Mike Richard is a Rhode Island native and travel junkie with an unhealthy addiction to backpacking, hiking and seeing the world. Since 2006, he has edited, written for, and kept the gears running behind the scenes as founding editor of his blog, Vagabondish. He absconded from corporate life in 2010 to travel full time and hasn’t had a permanent residence since.
He has spoken professionally as a featured panelist at the annual TBEX (Travel Blogger’s Exchange) conference. Other noteworthy credits include “Woman’s World magazine contributor” and having once been interviewed by Tyra Banks (seriously).