The Joneses Travel Tips
Look. We aren’t here to tell you how to win free flights, always get those ‘honeymoon’ upgrades OR smuggle your pets on holiday with you. We have however picked up a few things along the way which we continue to use and share with friends. Already doing these things? Great! Haven’t left your side of the pond for greener pastures? Then read on friend.
EARN AIRLINE POINTS
If you’re in Australia, you should have a Qantas Frequent Flyer Membership. It doesn’t matter if the closest you’ve been to a plane is the paper-plane types. Go onto Qantas’ website and signup for one right now. This may help you for those real plane types in the future.
Then once you have this, look at booking future Airbnb’s or hotels [globally] via Qantas Hotels and earning points for booking accommodation via their portal.
You can also earn points by shopping online through the Qantas Shopping Mall. They have some really good points deals on here [sometimes 5 points for every dollar], so if you are already online shopping at a number of these places, why not earn points for doing so.
If you live elsewhere in the world and have a regular airline you travel with, sign up to their membership options as well and look into ways to earn points through regular shopping means. Also consider looking into banks that align with airlines and give you airline points by using that card.
BOOKINGS AND RESEARCH
Our research usually starts on the usual booking sites as well as a browse through Google and Lonely Planet to find out a little more on the places we’re planning to explore, and the best areas to stay based on what we want to get out of that place. For example, in Portugal, they have many neighbourhoods where you can stay. While all close to one another, some are the more ‘romantic’ parts and quieter, while others are central to the shopping district and hustle and bustle.
Once you’ve found an area or even a shortlist of places you want to stay, go to Qantas [or similar if you’re not in Australia]. Whether your flying with them or not, make sure you visit the Qantas Hotels and Airbnb websites, you might even find other accommodation options here. They offer discounted rates but you also earn points for booking through them. A chance to build up your points and also have that added level of security of booking through a trusted website.
Also don’t forget about the other larger online booking sites that amalgamate all offers into one. While it might seem like added work considering you have found your hotel, it could save you a few hundred dollars.
Don’t forget to read the reviews, and more than the top three. This is the place you’ll find out if the accommodation is located a while away from a main transport hub, or isn’t as close to cafes and bars, as they make themselves out to be.
Don’t, and we truly beg of you, do not become those people who write reviews or read and believe reviews of people giving a place a poor rating for their pillow support. Dear god. BYO pillow if that’s your biggest issue in life and also, be grateful that that’s your only issue in life.
Don’t rush book. Gather a shortlist and do some more research of those, before booking. Do more research on their distance to places you want to visit or where you want to be close to.
Sometimes we like to book a few minutes walk out of the main areas so they can see more and explore more of that city, other times we will stay central and closer to restaurants and bars. Choose what suits you and your way of travel.
If you’re planning a trip over a month or more, then we find online sites like Skyscanner can be great in finding internal flights and offering options for airlines and departure times. If you want to physically talk to someone however, then we can recommend Mindful Travel Solutions based out of Victoria, Australia but can be booked through communicating with them online, they are the opposite of the stigmas associated with using a travel agent.
No matter where we travel to, we always budget at least AU$100 per person, per day.
This excludes any plane trip costs or accommodation costs. This is for food, drinks and activities [provided they are low-medium costs]. For larger activities, we usually book and pay for these before we leave for the trip, just like our accommodation.
Some days you might not spend that full amount. while other days you will go over. So it balances out over the entire trip period.
This daily budget also doesn’t take into account shopping sprees on the Champs-Élysées. So if that’s on your holiday hit-list, then keep that budget separate.
We find it easier to be kinder to the earth when we’re travelling vs when we’re at home. You’re not in a rush to get anywhere so will happily sit down and enjoy a coffee and you practically eat out for every meal rather than take out.
We do though bring our own water bottles to help reduce the waste of those pesky plastic bottles, travelling with a streamlined bottle from Memo Bottle, but whatever you’re comfortable travelling with is fine. It rarely comes out with us because we’re stopping at every cute cafe or bar to ‘wet the whistle’ but on those days where we go for a hike or adventure, it comes with us.
When you’re booking flights and there is an option to pay an extra couple of dollars to offset your carbon emissions; do it. We get it, you’re spending a lot on this holiday already but an extra couple of dollars to try and help any way you can won’t mean missing out on your childhood dream of riding on the Peter Pan ride at Disneyland.
LEARN FROM THE EXPERTS
Do read the in-flight magazines. There is so much goodness in there, which a lot of people ignore. Whether it’s finding out things about your own hometown you didn’t already know, or tips on where you’re headed to next.
Also do ask the concierge, locals and anyone working at your accommodation or hire spots [like car hire etc.] for their local tips. These are the people who will give you the gems of the city and where they like to personally go, not where the tourists go.
TRAVEL CREDIT CARDS
We’re sure there are hundreds of options around travel credit cards and Visa / debit cards, so we are just sharing what we use. Feel free to do your own research based on what you need.
We choose to use the Citibank Plus Visa/debit card option. You may need to check if they still offer this or if it has changed names, but is an account and card we have been using over the past ten years of travel.
Citibank was one of the first banks to offer no overseas transaction fees and you have the option [in most cases] to choose to pay in either your own or the countries you’re in, currency. You are also given the Visa exchange rate at the time of purchase. This means you have access to your own money overseas, for no additional costs, and you can withdraw your own money in the local currency.
We especially like this card because it has no ongoing or yearly maintenance fees, so we don’t need to pay anything to keep it open while we are not travelling.
As a backup though, we also travel with one or two credit cards. This is for larger purchases and as a failsafe, should we miss a flight and need to catch a fishing boat back to the mainland in Thailand [but that’s a story for another day].
We’re sure every airline host hears the question ‘Are there any free upgrades’ at the check-in desk. And we have certainly been a part of that group [you don’t know if you don’t ask right?].
We have learnt a couple of tips however, during the times we have chosen to upgrade to Business.
The first is that if you have two seperate legs to take, in order to get to your final destination [e.g. return from Europe to Perth] and you want to upgrade to Business, pay for the upgrade from the airport of your first leg.
If you travel from Europe to Perth, you will pay for the upgrade in pounds. If you choose to upgrade on the second leg however and that stop over deals in American currency, you may find that the conversion rates are much higher.
Another tip we have found is that if you are sent discounted upgrade emails leading up to your flight, and especially the day before, there is a high likelihood that they have a lot of seats available. Most of the time these offers will end two days prior to your flight before they manage to fill them.
Now. You can either take them up on their offer, or risk it and see what they have on offer at check-in [if you’re not fussed either way]. The times we have taken the gamble, we have found the final seats further discounted at check-in. And of course we took it, because, who doesn’t love champagne on tap in the sky?!
We don’t bother with the dressing up [have you seen how billionaires dress on planes, more socks and sandals than gold and diamonds], nor do we arrive at the gate extra early like many travel upgrade tips have mentioned before [because, we’re usually too busy enjoying our first cocktails of the trip].
Join the Club
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