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5 Travel Hacks Learned at FinCon12

by Shawanda Greene

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If you follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or FourSquare, then you might’ve noticed I left my beloved District of Columbia for a few days.

Where’d I go, you ask? To FinCon12 in Denver, Colorado, of course.

As far as I know, there’s no other conference like it. Hundreds of personal finance nerds get together for an extended weekend to discuss blogging, social media, and online money making.

I had an amazing time interacting with folks I’ve only known as logos and avatars.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably not a financial blogger, so I understand your natural I-don’t-give-a-shit-about-your-crummy-conference reaction to this post.

But don’t think I spent three nights in Denver without obtaining information that you can use.

As it turns out, personal finance bloggers know how to save on travel.

Here’s what I learned from them.

FinCon12

Check In to Hotel Room Extra Early

Many hotels will gladly grant your request to check into your room two hours early. Any earlier than that, and hotel management will claim the housekeeping staff won’t have enough time to get your room ready.

Ginger from Girls Just Wanna Have Funds let me in on a trick that could help you check in super early.

BEFORE requesting early check-in, ask if your room is available for booking the day prior to your arrival. If it is, then the ol’ “the room won’t be clean in time” excuse won’t work.

Denying your request would involve management reverting to the lame “it’s against hotel policy” rebuttal, which is a harder hand to play for a loyal customer.

Get Two Airline Tickets for the Price of One (Almost)

Do you receive airline companion ticket offers from your credit card issuer?

I don’t get them anymore, but when I did, I’d promptly toss them in the trash. I thought they were some useless gimmick that’d steer me into buying an over priced plane ticket. After all, a buy one get one free offer on airfare seems too good to be true, don’t you think? Well it is, according to Kevin McGee from RewardBoost.

However, even though you won’t cut your airfare costs in half, you may still reap substantial savings by booking flights with a companion ticket.

Score Cheap Airfare at Anytime (During the Wee Hours of Tuesday Morning)

My brother has been on my case about traveling home to watch my nephew play Pop Warner football.

The problem is that flying into Jacksonville, FL is inexplicably expensive. I’m not above taking a 30-hour, round trip Amtrak trek to visit my family, but I’d rather spend those two days of my life doing something else.

Marissa from ThirtySixMonths explained how to uncover the cheapest flights–book your travel in the early morning hours on Tuesday morning. I’m talkin’ 12:01 AM. The best deals go fast. I tried Marissa recommendation, and stumbled upon an $80 round-trip flight from DC to Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

Maximize Your Frequent Flyer Miles

From what I’ve heard, redeeming airline miles is tough, which is why I’d rather own points on other types of purchases. But if you’re sitting on a fat stack of frequent flyer miles, you should consider hiring Mike, a frequent flyer mile consultant, from I Fly With Miles(Yes, mileage points are so hard to redeem, the airlines inadvertently created a new profession.)

Rack Up Frequent Flyer Miles

Now that you know who to call when you need to redeem what were seemingly useless airline miles, here’s a trick I learned from freelance writer Jason Steele to earn even more: Sign up for credit cards that offer a big chunk of bonus miles. Of course, if you’re financially irresponsible, deeply in debt, or disorganized, you probably should skip this travel hack as it’ll likely make you poorer instead of richer.

I met many other bloggers who were some of the coolest people I’ve ever encountered. They’re not included in this blog post because, despite their awesomeness, they didn’t provide any travel tips. *shrugs* I’ll try to find ways to introduce my new friends over the coming weeks in a way that highlights their knowledge.

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Kevin @ RewardBoost.com September 12, 2012 at 10:04 AM

Thanks for linking to my new site! The companion ticket isn’t truly buy one get one free, but you can save anywhere form 60-90% on the second ticket. It’s a pretty good deal!
Kevin @ RewardBoost.com recently posted..Submit Reward Stories Today!My Profile

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Shawanda Greene September 13, 2012 at 8:14 AM

Not a problem. Thanks for the info. You mentioned something about getting 15% off your airfare as well. I’ll have to comb your website to find out how that deal works.
Shawanda Greene recently posted..Finally, There’s a Better Way to Organize Your BillsMy Profile

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Kelly September 12, 2012 at 10:17 AM

Great advice! I also recommend keeping flexible with your travel plans. We nearly got $900 in flight vouchers for taking a later flight on the way home, but sadly the couple in front of us got it.
Kelly recently posted..Kids’ Choice NightMy Profile

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Shawanda Greene September 12, 2012 at 10:28 AM

That would’ve been sweet. Normally, I just want to get home ASAP, but while waiting in the Denver airport on Sunday, I was secretly hoping I’d have the chance to earn a free flight or something by giving up my seat, but the opportunity never presented itself. :(
Shawanda Greene recently posted..3 Quick and Easy Tips to Shrink Car Insurance CostsMy Profile

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femmefrugality September 12, 2012 at 4:21 PM

I know where I’ll be Tuesday early mornings from now on! That’s amazing! I hope you have a great time in FL!!!
femmefrugality recently posted..Frugal Cooking 207My Profile

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Shawanda Greene September 13, 2012 at 8:01 AM

Well, I didn’t book the ticket. :) I only found it. But I plan on making my way down to Florida sometime during the winter. It’ll probably be hard to find a plane ticket to South Florida for less than $100 for that time period.
Shawanda Greene recently posted..Finally, There’s a Better Way to Organize Your BillsMy Profile

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Kathleen @ Frugal Portland September 12, 2012 at 5:29 PM

me? me? I’m one of the coolest people you met? ;)
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Shawanda Greene September 13, 2012 at 8:02 AM

You are! I wish we had a chance to hang out more. But next year . . . !
Shawanda Greene recently posted..Finally, There’s a Better Way to Organize Your BillsMy Profile

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Lance @ Money Life and More September 12, 2012 at 7:09 PM

I’ve always wondered about those companion ticket offers… glad I now know a little bit more about them. I’ve considered getting certain cards for them but now I have to do even more research!
Lance @ Money Life and More recently posted..Tooth Fairy Inflation?! What’s that?My Profile

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Shawanda Greene September 13, 2012 at 8:09 AM

I called my credit card issuers to find out if I qualified for companion ticket offers, and found out that I don’t. But the conversation did make me realize that my Bank of America credit card (that I rarely use because I hate them), isn’t associated with a rewards program. So, at least I got that taken care of.
Shawanda Greene recently posted..Finally, There’s a Better Way to Organize Your BillsMy Profile

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Steve Zussino - Grocery Alerts September 13, 2012 at 9:42 AM

Well, I had a conflict this year, but regardless of where it is I plan on going to Fincon 2013.
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Mike September 14, 2012 at 8:40 AM

Thanks for the mention Shawnda. It was nice meeting you too,

Yes, Credit cards offer huge sign-up bonuses. Sometimes credits offer benefits that outweigh their annual fee, justifying them to keep until it proves otherwise.

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John from ImpulseSave September 14, 2012 at 11:42 AM

Great frugal tips on traveling, but don’t forget saving the items your bring with! Check out the essential items to bring while traveling https://blog.impulsesave.com/2012/9/5/how-to-save-on-travel-the-8-items-i-never-leave-home-without

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Dominique Brown September 16, 2012 at 8:42 AM

Aww man I’m mad I didn’t get to FINCON.. I had over 20 people tweet me asking where the hell I was… I’m thumbing to through pictures all salty that I didn’t attend :/
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Financial Samurai September 17, 2012 at 12:15 PM

Shawanda, nice to meet you in Denver! Love this tip below. Gotta try it out one day!


Marissa from ThirtySixMonths explained how to uncover the cheapest flights–book your travel in the early morning hours on Tuesday morning. I’m talkin’ 12:01 AM. The best deals go fast. I tried Marissa recommendation, and stumbled upon an $80 round-trip flight from DC to Ft. Lauderdale, FL.”
Financial Samurai recently posted..How Often Should I Rebalance My 401k?My Profile

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Carrie Smith September 17, 2012 at 1:40 PM

It was so nice meeting and chatting with you at the conference! I had an awesome time and learned so much too.

One of the things I didn’t do last year that I did this year, was to book my hotel stay one day earlier and one day later. It’s more expensive, but it’s totally worth it when you’re not rushing around trying to make it to the opening reception.

I also like Marissa’s tip about booking a flight in the super early morning hours of Tuesday. I travel a lot and I’m always trying to find better deals on airfare. I’ll be trying this out for sure. Thanks for sharing!
Carrie Smith recently posted..FinCon12: How One Conference Can Change Your LifeMy Profile

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Marcelino October 11, 2014 at 6:06 PM

You really make it seem really easy with your presentation but I to find this matter to be actually one thing which I think I would
never understand. It sort of feels too complicated and very huge for me.
I am looking ahead on your subsequent submit, I’ll attempt to get the cling of it!
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