By Jared Leatzow
This year for Thanksgiving I decided to do something a little bit different, instead of going home to see family and eat turkey. I decided to take a vacation.
If you are reading this on Sunday, Dec. 1, then I’m possibly sitting on a beach somewhere in Southeast Asia, or touring a Buddhist temple in Thailand. This will be my first time traveling to Asia, and my third time overseas.
It has been a long time since I’ve written a column for the newspaper, but I thought it would be fun to share some of the travel tips and tricks I’ve picked up over the last several years.
1. Don’t be picky about the location, and always look for mistake fares
I closed out my twenties in a big way, I traveled all over the country running obstacle course races, and outside the country with a trip to Europe. I took my trip to Europe by myself, and I wasn’t too picky about where it was that I was going.
I picked a date for the trip, and then looked for the best deals I could find. I knew that I wanted to spend less than $1,000 for my ticket, which is why I didn’t care where it was I was going.
To find a round trip ticket overseas for less than a grand I utilized what are known as mistake fares. You won’t find these fares being advertised by the airline you decide to travel with.
Mistake fares are what happen when the cost of the flight is improperly inputted into the computer system. They usually aren’t in the system for more than a day, so when you find one book it as soon as possible.
There are a number of travel websites, and Facebook groups that dedicate themselves to finding these fares. I managed to book a flight to Amsterdam at a relatively low cost.
To be sure I was getting the best price I got a quote from a travel agent, and managed to beat their price by hundreds of dollars utilizing a mistake fare.
2. Reverse booking
Reverse booking is another thing that I utilized when I was traveling in Europe. The idea is that you book flights either in a different currency or from a airline in a foreign country.
Travel website Skyscanner works similar to popular sites like Priceline and Expedia where it gives you results from multiple airlines. One thing that is nice is you can also change the country, region, and currency you use to book a flight.
You can double check the price of a flight by changing these parameters, and sometimes you may find that the cost changes depending on the currency and location.
The beauty of using a credit card nowadays is it allows you to pay for things in virtually any currency. Pair this method with a VPN service to change your IP address, and you might get another set of results as well.
The other type of reverse booking is going directly to a foreign airlines website. This is what I did when I booked my domestic flights in Europe.
I don’t speak German or Czech, but with a browser like Chrome I can translate foreign language websites into English. So instead of booking a flight using an English language website I booked directly with the foreign language one.
Utilizing these methods was just another way I saved money on my trip.
3. Don’t be picky about your dates
This is a newer trick that I’ve picked up. It is one that my girlfriend taught me.
This is my girlfriend’s second trip to Thailand. Her first trip was last year, and she left on Thanksgiving day. Her flight was less than $1,000.
Most countries and states have a tourist season and an off season. You can look up when these times of the year are by using Google.
For Bangkok, which is where we flew to, November is considered to be one of the cheaper months to travel.
By booking in November we managed to get round trip tickets for a little over $600.
4. Travel light, and practice packing
For the last five years I’ve traveled all over the country and now the world with only a blue daypack used for camping. The backpack was maybe $60 on Amazon, and is by far one of the best investments I’ve made.
Initially, I bought the backpack for a trip to Atlanta. My brother and I were flying Spirit Airlines, which has tight guidelines on what is and isn’t allowed as carry on luggage.
We carefully chose our packs because we knew they met the measurements for the airline, and we wouldn’t be required to check them. Using only this small back pack I can bring several changes of clothing, a book and some other much needed items on my trip.
How I do this is simple. I practice.
When I take a trip I narrow down what it is I actually need for my trip, and then I practice packing my bag, At this point I have it down to a science, but in the beginning I had to experiment with how I folded my clothes, and where I packed certain items.
Traveling with only a small bag feels very liberating. You never have to pay extra for your luggage, and its much easier to keep track of your stuff.
5. Avoid bringing liquids
Security checkpoints are probably my least favorite part of traveling. Every airport you travel to will have these, and they are mostly unavoidable.
I suggest, if you can, to avoid traveling with any sort of liquids. Since I travel with only a carry on I’m limited to only about three fluid ounces.
Obviously, this number can get fudged a little bit, but either way when you travel with liquid you will be required to take them out of your bag before they go through an X-ray scanner.
Going without lets you just slide your bag through, and won’t require you to do any sort of repacking once you get through the checkpoint.
I’ve found there are two solutions to traveling without liquids.
The first is that you buy dry options to pack in your bag. This could include toothpaste powder or tablets, bar soap, and shampoo bars.
The other option is buying the items once you arrive or getting them from the front desk at your hotel.
Most airports have stores inside them that allow you to purchase last minute things you might have forgotten. You might be able to find several liquid items in travel sizes at the airport, and if they are more specialized items you can always stop at a drug store once you get to your final destination.
As for some of the more mundane things like a shaving cream, toothpaste, soap and shampoo; you usually can get them for free at the hotel your staying at.