Key Takeaways:

2:00 – Price never needs to be impediment to great travel.
6:50 – Budget Travel has a roundup of some of the top places to go to this year.
10:10 – First time solo travels tend to hit English speaking locations first.
13:20 – Tuesday is the best day to purchase an airfare ticket.
17:30 – Elaine explains what hidden city ticketing is.
20:10 – Budget Travel publishes an app called Road Trips, which lists 100 of the best US road trips.

Tweetables:
“One of our picks is Turkey. Istanbul was recently named the world’s number one travel destination.”

“People are interested in solo trips. Many solo travelers will go with a group.”

“It’s often cheaper to get off at your connecting flight then it is to actually book a flight to that destination.”

Mentioned In this Episode:
TouristEye
Viator
Trafalgar
Contiki
Skiplagged
BudgetTravel.com
Road Trip

Transcript

Jason Hartman:
It’s my pleasure to welcome Elaine Alimonti to the show. She is president and publisher of Budget Travel magazine. Budget Travel is an 18 year old multi-platform travel media and services company that empowers consumer to travel the globe on any budget. You’ve probably seen their magazine. I know I was a subscriber a few years back and I just really enjoyed it. I think they’ve got some great resources and some great trips and very glad to have Elaine on today. Elaine, welcome, how are you?

Elaine Alimonti:
Hi Jason, thanks for having me on.

Jason:
It’s good to have you on. Give our listeners a sense of geography, where are you located?

Elaine:
I am in New York City. We have an office here and we have editorial resources around the country and people that we work with that are around the globe.

Jason:
Fantastic. Good stuff. So, what is Budget Travel working on now? What are some of your sort of lead topics and big things that listeners should know about?

Elaine:
Well, our goal at Budget Travel is always to inspire travel and we write for a US audience and as you probably know that’s an audience that sometimes needs a nudge to take advantage of all their vacation days and go explore the world. We want people to know that price never needs to be impediment to great travel. We like to think we help them choose the right destination for them, plan their trip, and provide ways online for them to share trip ideas, photos, and video logs with one another, but always make it affordable. With so many options and so many new services trying the sharing economy, we really think that there is a great trip available and a great price for any would be traveler.

Jason:
You know, I’m glad you mentioned that. You said the sharing economy and it is just a phenomenal change in the world where we can use Lyft and Uber and ride sharing things. We can just pick up a bike all around major cities all around the world. When I was in Vienna about a year and a half ago I rented the bike and left it at another place and that was so handy and I did it in San Diego the week before last and these tools are really convenient. These, you know, I signed up for a Cars2Go account. I don’t have to rent a car anymore, I can just pick one up on the app on my phone when I need one and the sharing economy really does offer a lot of resources. What other ones are there that are unique to travelers maybe other than those?

Elaine:
Well, I think the biggest one that’s come on the scene in recent years is Airbnb and it’s gone from, you know, before Airbnb, you could find an ad in the village voice, there were always promotions here and there for someone who is willing to lent out their apartment, but to have at your finger tips hundreds and hundreds of option, homes, villas, rooms, you can see them..

Jason:
Mansions, house boats, yachts. Everything.

Elaine:
It’s incredible. You can see them, you can see the reviews, you can learn everything you can and I also think people who like to travel, like to sort of explore new land like a local and you have that benefit when you’re staying there, you also have a host who in many cases is great about telling you all the things that you wouldn’t learn from a guide book, because it’s their city or it’s their town or it’s their country. I took advantage of them on a recent trip to Barcelona. I stay sometimes in hotels, we traveled around Spain a bit, and I also did some Airbnb and some of those places were these gorgeous architecturally significant properties. I’m the kind of person who would rather get my coffee from the local cafe on the corner and look around than from service. So, it was an ideal experience. You’re going to get a few duds. There’s always going to be a few duds, you know, you have to buyer beware, but I think it’s an amazing new service for travelers.

Jason:
It really is and you know what interests me too is I haven’t used it yet, but I have an app on my phone for local tours and attractions, so you can go to any city and instead of using a tour company, it’ll just be a guy or a gal who will be your guide and show you around. I mean, that’s part of the sharing economy too, right?

Elaine:
That is. What is the name of that app?

Jason:
I don’t know. While you’re talking I’m going to search my phone and see if I can find it, okay. So, I’m going to ask you another question, I’ll do a little multitasking here and see if I can find it for ya and we’ll tell the listeners.

Elaine:
There is something I find called TouristEye that is an interesting app that helps you plan your travel. You get to, you know, download all the places, get all my maps, but it gives input from people in the local market.

Jason:
It’s not, but I just found it. It’s called Viator. So, I guess it’s like Via-tour or something is kind of the spelling. You know, here I am in Phoenix, there’s trips to the Grand Canon, Sedona. It’s just interesting. It’s sort of the inside travel guide. So, the sharing economy really does bring a lot of resources. I’m glad you mentioned that one. That’s great, that’s great. What are some of the hot destinations this year?

Elaine:
Well, for us, one of our great favorites is the Great Barrier Reef. Flight prices in the last year have dropped nearly 30% to flight into (#6:19?) and package deals are down more than 40% and you have this wonderful experience with the planet’s biggest coral reef system. Thousands of varieties of tropical fish, dolphins, sharks, sea turtles. There is something like 1,400 miles of snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities and there’s wonderful, you know, we have a place on our website right now called where to go 2015 and it’s basically a roundup of some of the places that we think are great not just for this year, but going forward for budget travelers and it’s unexpected destinations in many cases. Sometimes places you would think would be very expensive, but we share ways where you can, you know, pinch your pennies and still have an amazing experience and a great destination.

Jason:
Are these lower costs really just due to the strength of the dollar and the declining price of oil or are there other reasons?

Elaine:
Well, for example, one of our picks also is Turkey. Istanbul was recently named the world’s number one travel destination and in their case it’s more geopolitical issue. Prices have fallen because there’s been unrest in other parts of the Middle East even though that’s not the case in Turkey itself. So, you have this amazing country that straddles Europe and Asia and is a coming together of different cultures. You have a very tourist friendly country that is making every effort to make up for some of the instability in the rest of Asia by really lowering prices and welcoming travelers and trying to encourage travel there.

Jason:
Good stuff, yeah. I’ve been to Turkey a couple of times, to Istanbul.

Elaine:
I actually went there on my honeymoon a number of years ago and it’s an amazing country. We did Istanbul and sort of the South East of Turkey and you’ve got, again, thousands of miles of beautiful waterfront and beach area and it’s actually become, parts of it, a very, very cosmopolitan destination.

Jason:
I really loved when I was in Croatia recently, I’m going back to Croatia this year, was that on your hot list? Was Croatia there? Dubrovnik or one of the other cities?

Elaine:
We didn’t put Croatia on the list, but we have written about it. Croatia is definitely one of mine. It’s in own, it’s like Italy, but less touristed and much, much less expensive.

Jason:
I think I may have actually read that in your magazine years ago. At the time you were comparing it I believe to Greece and how much less expensive it was than Greece and how much more beautiful it really was in so many ways and the Dalmatian Coast an so forth. So, that’s great, what about, you know, I get questions all the time about solo travel, you know, single population is just huge, it’s actually the largest it has ever been in history right now in the United States and I assume that trend is true around the world too. What tips can you offer solo travelers?

Elaine:
It’s interesting. It’s one of the areas on our site that gets the most traffic. People are very interested in solo trips, but they don’t want to feel isolated on their trip. Many solo travelers will opt for going with a group and there’s a lot of different, there’s a lot of organizations that represent, you know, almost any interest you can think of from bird watching to gardening to snorkeling to different demographics of the population so you can travel with like minded travels whether by interest or age or sex or interests, but people feel often times if they’re really going to travel independently and not with a group. If it’s a first time solo travel, they often seek out English speaking destination.

We’ll find people looking for countries that are sort of well-known for their friendliness and hospitality. Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, all come to mind of very popular solo destinations. You don’t have to do that, obviously. We conversely, we find South East Asia and Thailand and Vietnam are particularly welcoming. They’re affordable and there is a huge prevalence of English in those countries spoken as well and those countries tend to top the choices amongst solo travels, at least from the letters and comments that we see on our site.

Jason:
Are there some certain companies or groups that offer these solo tours that are really good. I mean, I notice they don’t seem to hit the age thing right. You’ve got these groups like Trafalgar, I think is one of them, and Contiki is one of them and they say they bill themselves at I believe 18 to 35 year olds and then you’ve got these other trips that aim more toward the mature audience, but there’s this whole segment in between of generation Y and X that doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of coverage for that.

Elaine:
I find at least in the comments that we get that people are more often these days segregating themselves by interests than maybe just by age and sometimes the interest attract a certain audience. For example, if you’re going on a gardening tour, it might be a different age group than a bicycling tour Bicycling tours have gotten very popular. You have a wide mix of age ranges. So, I think people tend to zone in on things like that that are important to them and hope they’ll find similar minded people to travel with along the way, but you’re right, I think there’s a lot more solo travelers for women and for an older audience than possibly for a younger audience. The assumption on many of the tour planners seems to be that, you know, if you’re middle age, perhaps you’re traveling with a family and if you’re young, you’re traveling with other single..

Jason:
Yeah and that’s a reasonable assumption I guess too. Interesting. Well, any advice you wanna share with our listeners about airfare. You know, it seems like that’s the one thing that you really can’t game, if you will, you know? That system is the impenetrable thing I would love to figure out and I don’t know if Budget Travel even covers this, I would love to figure out how to great reasonable business class and first class airfares. Granted, it’s come down because of oil prices and strength of dollar and so forth, like you were saying to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and so forth, but wow, the air travel game, that’s a toughy.

Elaine:
It is a challenge. It’s very hard to avoid a flight if you need to travel somewhere outside of driving range. Frankly it’s the number one question we get asked. It’s often the biggest expense on someone’s trip. You know, people often ask the best day to purchase a flight. I will say in years of research, we find, generally, Tuesday, is the day you’ll see the very best prices when you’re purchasing a flight, but maybe people that are travel savvy and I do this myself and I started doing it years ago and I keep adding to it as I go is frankly just to stay connected.

We advise people to opt in for emails and alerts from their favorite providers, sign up for the rewards program, follow the major traveler forums, and really most importantly these days is to follow the airlines on social media, especially twitter. I actually use a product to tame the inflow of information so that I’m not drowning in it and one of our favorite products is Hootsuite, because this way you can select to view just your tweet related travel and also schedule alerts when certain hashtags are mentioned.

It could be #airfare, #travel, #sale or say #Paris, because what happens is there are always sales and there’s always some glitches in the system. You know, an air carrier based out of Madrid accidentally puts the fairs up in the US, they might have a sale that they plan to go for two days, but because of inventory goes so quickly or because it’s priced so well it doesn’t stay live for very long.

You’ll see in moments all of sudden those will be going out in hashtags, different people that see and notice those things will start mentioning it on Twitter and if you can stream that information and if you care and I am certainty one who does, you’ll see it pop in your feed and if you hop on it, you’ll get it. Sometimes they make mistakes, but generally they do honor those travels that manage to take advantage of the promotion before they discover their mistake and they bring it down.

Jason:
Right, interesting. There are ways to game the system, but you know, it takes so much work. I mean, I just look at my own life, I’ve got so many programs I’m involved in that I don’t keep track of. I do know that I have nearly a million American Express miles. You know, you can’t use them, it’s such a scam. Yes, you can use them if you trade them for cash, but I want to buy them at the airline’s rates, you know. I want a business class ticket from Phoenix to Europe somewhere for 110,000 points or miles as they call it. They’re all blackout dates and you can’t, I don’t know. Does it make sense to use these things like the PointSky? Do you cover any of that stuff at Budget Travel?

Elaine:
We do cover some of it and I agree it does take a certain amount of time and management, but I will say, I think I mentioned to you that I just been to Spain, part of Barcelona and Majorca, but what I didn’t tell you is I flew business class for free. So, it is do-able, but I found for our audience travel is their passion point. They’re not just taking a trip to Europe once every three or four years. It’s something that they know they want to do every year they want to take a couple of big trips and some weekend escapes, so if you manage your points well it can be done and by the way, I actually booked that flight because of business complications I wasn’t quite sure when I was going to be able to go away and I booked that free round trip business class ticket two weeks before I left.

So, it is all do-able, but it does take a little bit of juggling and we do cover and we have articles on our site on which are the best credit cards to use, how to manage your points, and it’s often worth it to open up a new credit card, because you can often get a 100,000 just for opening a new card and carrying say, $1,000 balance for two months on that card. So, yes. It’s a project, but it’s toward a very good result usually. Do you take advantage of hidden city ticketing when you fly?

Jason:
No, what is that?

Elaine:
Oh, my goodness. Well, often times, the largest of the destination are priced most expensively, so if you’re flying from let’s say, you wanna go from New York to Dallas, it might be more expensive or probably is more expensive just fly direct from New York to Dallas then if you were flying from New York to Las Angeles with a layover in Dallas. There are actually, so there are, and this is again a project, so there’s a recent website that makes it a little bit easier. It’s stopovers. It’s often cheaper to get off at your connecting flight then it is to actually book a flight to that destination.

Jason:
I have heard of this. I didn’t hear it referred to by that name, hidden city ticketing. There’s an article I just found about that, but what is the website you suggest you use?

Elaine:
There’ an app called SkipLagged. SkipLagged.com is the website.

Jason:
Okay, SkipLagged. Got it. Good.

Elaine:
It gives you, you just pop in where you want to go and your destination and it pops up for you so you don’t have to do this research, there is possibilities for you.

Jason:
Very interesting. Yeah. I’m looking at that in the app store right now. That’s fantastic. Great idea. See, there are ways to beat the system aren’t there? There are really good hacks out there. What about the cruise lines? You know, the cruise industry has been troubled as of late, what’s going on there? Any advice for travelers?

Elaine:
For cruises we generally tell people either to book very early or book very late, because there is variable pricing just like on the plane. The person in the cabin next to you is probably not going to be paying the same amount that you pay, but if you can plan and you book six months to a year in advance, you usually get the very best price, because at that point the supply is high and they are anxious to sell cabins. As three months out, even two months out, that’s going to be your highest pricing, but if you have the flexibility and can actually a week or two before a cruise, there’s probably a few empty rooms that they’re looking to fill and you can swoop in and find a great deal.

Jason:
Good stuff, good stuff. Well, the website is just BudgetTravel.com, right?

Elaine:
The website is BudgetTravel.com. We also publish, the magazine is published but digitally only. So, if you have an Apple, a Kindle, a Nook or a Google device, you can find budget travel magazine in your iPad or other digital newsstand. We publish an app called Road Trip, which is about the 100 of the US’s best road trips along with great budget places to see and stand and do along the way.

Jason:
Oh, that’s a great app. I love it.

Elaine:
And we have a platform on our site called Real Deals, which basically if you’re reading a fabulous article about Colombia, one of our budget destinations, Bogota and Cartagena, which is full of travel resources, but similar is priced more modestly because many travels haven’t quite gotten there. We’ve partnered both with a number of editorially exclusive offers as well as third party offers. So, if you’re reading a story it’ll surface a bunch of hotels, airfares, and other packages to that destination that you can then take advantage of with a click.

Jason:
That’s fantastic. You’ve got some great resources. Is this really kind of the version 2.0 of budget travel, you know, the magazine is just digital, right? Is that what you said?

Elaine:
It is just digital. It is still long form articles and beautiful photographs and, you know, everyone uses different travel media in different ways. The magazine is for dreaming and for inspiration. At the time people go to a website, they’re generally trying to narrow down where they want to go and plan a trip and figure out the very best possible price where they can book that trip.

Jason:
Well, great thoughts. Elaine, thank you so much for sharing these great tips. I think our listeners learned a lot. I know I did and we appreciate having you on the show. Thank you.

Elaine:
It was a pleasure being there. Thank for having me.

Announcer:
This show is produced by the Hartman Media Company, all rights reserved. For distribution or publication rights and media interviews, please visit www.hartmanmedia.com or email [email protected]. Nothing on this show should be considered specific personal or professional advice. Please consult an appropriate tax, legal, real estate or business professional for individualized advice. Opinions of guests are their own and the host is acting on behalf of Platinum Properties Investor Network Inc. exclusively.

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