I was invited to a Gogobot (a social community for travelers) sponsored event by Kat @travellingreek – who I met at a TBEX event in downtown at the Biltmore a few years back. This event was held at NextSpace in downtown Culver City – this is a creative work environment/community that is open to members at any time.
This “travel salon” featured four well regarded travelers – Andrew Bender, who writes the Seat 1A blog for Forbes Magazine, Sara Benson, who has written over 60 travel and non fiction books, Terry Gardner, a freelance travel journalist – and Eric Rosen – an authority on using airline miles and points to one’s advantage and Managing Editor of “The Points Guy“.
This was an informative panel in the sense that they covered travel ranging from budget to luxury. They all shared a number of invaluable tips and tricks when traveling. Here are some of their comments in no particular order.
Sara prefers saving money on hotels and putting these “savings” into experiences. She mentioned a good tip when staying at National Parks for those who tend to plan trips at the last minute – there are often last minute cancellations and because of how the National Parks are regulated – the last minute prices are no different than one would pay who reserved months in advance.
It was mentioned that Economy Plus is often worth the extra cost – and it was noted that fewer children tend to fly in this section of the plane.
The cheapest time to travel to Hawaii is in September and October.
Sara has had luck with Craigslist ride share – not only for the cheap transportation benefits but also the drivers often are experts in their destination city.
Eric’s “point’s” analysis was a popular topic on this panel. He said you need to consider 3 items when deciding how to use points.
1. What do you want from points – domestic or International flights, Economy class, Business or First. Do you want to use points for non flight related items such as hotels or transportation. You need to set your goals first.
2. Your options are somewhat determined by where you live – are you close to a major airport or a regional one. How are your finances. Are you putting as much of your expenses on credit cards. Can you pay off these credit cards?
3. Formulate a plan of attack
One of his main points was the value of getting “transferable points” rather than being locked into using points on one airline or even one alliance of airlines.
Points are not only a game to play for luxury travelers – more moderate spenders can also accumulate points – just by spending day to day on credit cards. Sara mentioned the Wyndham travel rewards program is great for budget travelers.
Eric also addressed the concern that if you signup for a bunch of credit cards at once your credit score will be negatively impacted. He said that the worst he’s seen this is about a 10% maximum reduction in a credit score.