On Thursday, December 6, 2012, Gogobot held our first Gogobot Travel Salon LA at Nextspace in Culver City. The Gogobot community came together to discuss Travel on Any Budget.
At the Salon, four panelists discussed various ways to save money on travel including budgets, using travel apps, home swaps and hotel/frequent flyer points.
Sara Benson is always in search of a new adventure and getting off the beaten path. She is as comfortable camping on a remote beach as she is in a fancy hotel. The author of over 60 guide books for Lonely Planet and other publishers, you can keep up with her and her tips for traveling on a budget via her website The Indie Traveler.
Freelance travel writer Terry Gardner is an expert at bidding on travel sites Priceline and Hotwire. Staying in four-star hotels for a two-star price has become a mission, and the money she saves allows her to travel even more. She is happy to share all of her money-saving tips on her website Terry Travels.
A respected travel, food and business writer, Andy Bender’s articles have been published in Forbes, The LA Times and Travel and Leisure. He also helps travelers plan their trips to Japan and has written over two dozen guide books for Lonely Planet. You can follow his adventures on his personal blog Where’s Andy Now?
Everyone want’s to know how to maximize their frequent flyer points. As the Managing Editor of The Points Guy, Eric Rosen is the go-to person who can turn a simple vacation into a five-star reality. His popular articles have been published in Jetsetter, Jaunted and the Los Angeles Times. He is also the Los Angeles Editor of Justluxe, always in pursuit of the next culinary and wine adventure.
The panel moderator was Gogobot’s own Editorial Director Alex Leviton. Having authored many Lonely Planet guide books she has experienced all modes of travel. Planes, trains and automobiles? Try houseboats, hitchhiking and sailing around the Mediterranean, to name a few.
A little known fact from Sara Benson: Did you know that National Parks campsites can fill up a year in advance? The good thing is that they don’t charge cancellation fees. If you call for reservations 3-5 days in advance and there is availability, you can reserve space at the same rate.
Terry Gardner encourages flexibility for low rates. If you aren’t too picky about accommodations and location you can score a four-star hotel at a two-star price. You can also check out websites like BiddingforTravel.com, where you can see if you are really scoring the best deal. Travel apps are also very important in the way we travel. Unbiased reviews on Gogobot, low fares on Kayak or even scoring a perfect seat on Seat Alerts are all ways to make travel a little more pleasant.
Have you have ever thought about renting a room in someone’s home? Andy Bender had some great tips for the skittish amongst us. His suggestion: Get to know the people” beforehand so you can get a feel for their personality. It will increase your comfort level, with that comfort will be the ability to stay in places you have dreamed of but might not have been able to afford.
Eric and the panel suggested: Pick a preferred airline, be loyal and fly on their travel partners. Not only will you see your points multiply but you will have all kinds of future airline options that might not have been available otherwise.
Swapping out frequent flyer points for travel is nothing new, but if you know what credit cards are best for travel redemption, you can stay in a five-star property for a fraction of the cost. “Decide what you want from your hotel/air miles” was Eric Rosen’s mantra for credit cards. Airline and totel points often work together in getting you that business class seat you have always dreamed about. The important thing is to know is your own comfort level. If you are okay with flying coach but want a nicer hotel, a great hotel redemption plan is what you should seek out.
The travel junkies in the audience couldn’t wait to ask questions and figure out their own travel alliances. A Special “thank you” to our friends at TravelStrings for their support and promotion.
The bottom line? You CAN travel! It doesn’t have to be expensive. It is attainable. Use resources to make travel easier. Most important: know your comfort level.