Travel Hacking / Tips

Raymond Lin

Standard Member
I thought it would be a good idea to have a thread on people post when people find a good deal in travel or share their experiences.

I'll start it off, and will just write things down as it pops into my head.

1 - Amex points

American Express UK | Log in | Credit Cards, Travel & Rewards

(you can actually get more points if you go through a referral and I get the same bonus but i won't link that here as I am not sure if it's allowed)

If you use your cards a lot and am already using a general bank credit card, consider signing up to Amex, depending on the card you sign up (not all have a fee), you can earn air miles as you spend. Some cards have a large bonus points on initial sign up, enough to get you to Greece and back for free (you pay tax) with One World Alliance - BA, Cathay Pacific, American Airline etc.

There is an entire culture in getting the most out of our credit cards, it is however much bigger in the US as their fees for the merchants are higher and so the credit card companies earn more and in turn, the rewards in points, which translates into bonuses is more for the customer.

For example, and I will keep this to the UK specific. Amex Platinum. If you travel a lot, consider getting this card, this is not a credit card but a charge card, you settle the balance at month end. It will give you lots of perks, the biggest one being access to over a thousand lounges across the world in addition to their Centurion lounges (mostly in the US for these). Lounges are great especially if you have a long layover, more relaxing place, free food, drinks, showers, some have sleeping areas and some have entertainment like a movie theatre or game rooms. However it is £450 a year so consider how much money you typically spend in airport foods before departure, divide it by the number of trips and then see if it's worth it.

I believe the Platinium card also comes with Travel insurance (if you buy the travel through Amex travel site), car hire insurance and more little things.

A lower card such as BA Amex has no annual fee and just give you plain air miles. The last time I went to Japan I used some of the points earned from general daily spending to pay for the upgrade from economy to premium economy on BA.

Amex is actually a lot more widely accepted than people think. All the major supermarket accepts them, Shell garage accepts them and Amazon accepts them.

2 - Jack's Flight Club

Jack's Flight Club

If you haven't signed up to his newsletter, consider it as he sends out weekly deals, there was a £450 return to Japan not long ago and last week (it might still be available), a £300 direct to Seattle, or around £500 to Honolulu. It has a paid sub level membership which you get 3 emails a week but if you even take advantage of some of the deals it finds once a year, it pays for itself.

3 - Priority Pass

They are the largest network of airport lounges.

Airport Lounge Program | Priority Pass

There are often codes to take the membership down a year and if you travel to say, more than half a dozen times a year, I would sign up. Sure it is not cheap but it's nice to sit and relax and have a few drinks while waiting for your flight, 2 to 3 drinks plus a small meal can easily get your money's worth. Some of them are really nice, the Taipei one has cooked to order food for example. The one in Vienna and Lisbon has alcohol that you just help yourself with...in theory, you can pour a pint of whisky if you so desired.


4 - BA Sale

Book Flights, Holidays, City Breaks & Check In Online | British Airways

This is twice a year, once in January (1 week left) and once around September. I almost always book their Flight + Hotel deal and in the past, I have used this to go to:-

4 nights Florence in a 5* boutique hotel for £400 - just me in November
3 nights in Amsterdam in a 5* boutique hotel for £230pp in March
3 nights in Oslo in a 4* hotel for £260pp next month
4 nights in Vienna in Hilton for £300pp during Christmas period
4 nights in Berlin in Hilton for £280pp in May
4 nights in Munich in Hilton for £250pp in March
4 nights in Copenhagen in a boutique 5* hotel for £350 just me in March

I think you get the idea...similar price I also been to Prague, Stockholm, Lisbon. It cost a little bit more if you are traveling solo (around £300-400) but you can take about £100 off if going with a partner or a friend. Oslo 3 nights incl flight for £260 and it comes with breakfast is a bargain as a meal there can set you back £25 easily.

All are with BA, includes flight, taxes and hotels, some with breakfast. Of course you get 23kg hand luggage limit meaning I often don't need to check in any bags. It makes the whole holiday even more smoother.

5 - Apps

Hopper - I use Hopper to check whether the flight I am looking at now is good, bad or ugly. It tells you whether you should wait or book now.

Lounge Buddy - an app to see what lounges are avaliable in the airport where you are. You can of course pay inside to app to access some lounges

Kayak - it consolidates your travels into 1 app, showing your itinerary and also can check in and pick your seats.

BA/Cathay and all airline apps - I no longer print out boarding passes anymore, I just check in through the app and get the pass on the app.

Google Maps - best companion when solo traveling, never let me down.

Google Translate - it can be a lifesaver to get the gist of what the local language is saying

Uber - if they have it locally, use it. Then you don't get ripped off with a local taxi, don't need to deal with language problems especially when you are jetlagged and tired.

Also, find out some local apps for things like Metro apps, Oslo, for example, has an app where you can get tickets on the app and no need to use their machines in the station.

6 - Do your research before your trip

Find out whether cash or card is more popular, some countries might surprise you.

China, for example, has turned into a country that takes payment by WeChat or Alipay. It's all done using QR codes. Cash or card is not really a thing there anymore. Every man and his dog will pay using their WeChat app. So as a foreigner it can be difficult since, in order to get the account linked to it, you need a Chinese sim card and Chinese bank account...So be aware of this if you are going to China.

Japan is a cash society still, so ensure to have cash on you at all times. Did you know the side you stand on on the Escalator differs between Tokyo and Osaka? if you stand on the wrong side you end up blocking people behind you and the Japanese people don't like confrontation so they won't say anything but you end up annoying a lot of locals.

In HK and a Singapore, Jay-walking is illegal and WILL land you a fine.

7 - Airline Alliance

if you are collecting air miles, make sure you at least try to use the airlines in the same network so you can transfer your points between them. For example I can book Cathay Pacific flights with my BA Executive points, so if you can, stick with 1 group.


Raymond.
 
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Raymond Lin

Standard Member
Specific hotel recommendations -

The Cordis in HK.

If you ever go to HK and you have the budget for staying at the Cordis, seriously consider upgrading to their Club room. Not only you get rooms higher up in the building, you get personal check-in services, breakfast, access to their lounge, roof-top swimming pool, fully equipped gym and i mean fully equipped. The lounge alone is worth it as within it you get 18 hours of free food (including breakfast, away from the main crowd in the hotel), alcohol all day, snacks all day and between 6-8pm in the evening it is their happy hour where Champagne will be served unlimited.

The cost for this upgrade, £20 per person.

5 Star Hotel Club Lounge in Mongkok | Cordis, Hong Kong

In general, the hotel is also in a very convenient place in Mong Kok where it is attached to Langham Place shopping mall. Basement access to MTR, so you can get to the MTR without stepping outside.

The views are great being having rooms at like 35th Floor, an android phone with unlimited data for you to use either for web/apps like google or I used it for a wifi-hotspot for my personal phone out and about.

They also clean the room twice a day...
 

domtheone

Distinguished Member
Just to echo Jacks flight Club.

Been a paid up member for several monrhs (circa £9 a qtr).

Got myself a London-Denver flight (direct) last year for £280 so i consider the fees paid were worth it.

Average about 4-5 emails a week. Sometimes a couple less, sometimes more.

Patiently waiting for notification of another monster United sale so i can book the same flight again.

Course i could scan the web myself every other day but sometimes thats just not possible and thats where the notifications come in handy.
 

mitre

Well-known Member
Great idea for a thread!
Love the Cordis in HKG and would echo the value of the club/exec rooms.
Info on Amex Platinum is a mixture of poorly presented and plain wrong, headforpoints is probably the site for info on credit card travel benefits.
 
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Delvey

Distinguished Member
When using Ryanair for short city breaks, do not book hold luggage. Instead, take a small (but not hand luggage size) suitcase, and just offer for it to be put in the hold. Free hold luggage (not tried it since they recently changed the rules however).
 

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