The Penny Pincher’s Passport to Luxury Travel

The Penny Pincher’s Passport to Luxury Travel

$14.95The Art of Cultivating Preferred Customer Status—3rd Edition

Buy this book on Amazon

By Joel L. Widzer
May 2008
ISBN 1-932361-57-X 402 pages

The Penny Pincher's Passport to Luxury TravelTravel Like the Rich and Famous without Being Either!

“Anyone with champagne tastes and beer budget is sure to appreciate this very wise guidebook.”
Chicago Tribune

In this remarkable book, world travel expert Joel L. Widzer reveals his method for traveling in the lap of luxury without breaking the bank. Joel’s techniques are simple, proven, and available to even the infrequent traveler. Fulfill your travel dreams now!

Let Joel Show You How

  • Fly First Class on a regular basis
  • Stay at the world’s finest hotels at a fraction of the cost
  • Drive a luxury car at economy prices
  • Build partnerships with the best travel companies
  • Create your profile as the right customer through a win-win attitude
  • Use off-seasons to your best advantage
  • Avoid long waits at check-in and security
  • Make tipping pay huge dividends
  • Become a better and happier traveler through courtesy and goodwill
  • Turn travel mishaps into golden opportunities
  • Be the customer luxury companies want back again and again

“The definitive guide to living large on the road—without the large price tag. Widzer is the foremost authority on traveling in style.”
—Christopher Elliot, Contributing Editor, National Geographic Traveler

A Journey into the Great Unknown

Traveling Like the Rich and Famous

by Joel L. Widzer

Ten years ago I embarked on the rewarding journey of writing a book on strategies for travelers with the sole purpose of enriching their travel experiences. I knew it was a good idea, but I had no idea what the road ahead would bring. Throughout the process I found the mystery of writing a book equivalent to the thrill of discovering the great unknown through travel. While I did not initially know how my book would unfold, I had a plan, which is the same approach I take with all of my travels. To reach my goal of writing a book that would serve to optimize a person’s overall travel experience with methods of traveling in luxury at a fraction of the price, I strategized, researched, and immersed myself in books on the topic. My research ultimately led me to securing an agent, a publisher, and, finally, promoting my finished book, the first edition of The Penny Pincher’s Passport to Luxury Travel.

The first two editions of this book have helped readers enhance their traveling with first-class air upgrades, hotel suites, and luxury car rentals, while still saving copious amounts of their hard-earned money. I was able to provide less experienced travelers with essential keys to better planning and research that ultimately allowed them to fulfill their quest for top-notch travel without breaking their budgets.

Like its predecessors, this edition of The Penny Pincher’s Passport to Luxury Travel is all about creating and owning a strategy. Simply put, that strategy is maintaining astute loyalty to a select few travel providers, traveling where and while others are not, and treating all with whom you come into contact with respect and dignity. Over the years, my travel writing has transformed me from one person with an idea to a journalist who has participated in hundreds of television interviews, countless radio interviews, contributed to a regular column with MSNBC, and been asked to speak at many a conference, often to top-level travel executives. In the end, this cumulative experience, along with my trips exceeding 200,000 air miles annually (to date collectively 3 million miles), has given me the ability to go straight to the heart of the essential strategies that work for everyday travelers, strategies that lead to luxury travel at a fraction of the cost.

THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX
Packing my bags for over twenty years, I have become nothing if not passionate about travel. I feel I am at my best when on a plane, in a foreign city, or dashing down the autobahn in a sporty car clocking 200+ kilometers per hour. Like with any passion, I have engrossed myself in the ways and means of travel. I have made it a habit to understand what makes travel providers tick. This understanding has become a specialty. Rather than writing about where to go and what to see, I write about how to go. The sheer excitement of planning a trip wherein you receive far more value than the price of admission thrills me, as it does many of those with whom I’ve been privileged to work over the years.

Throughout my travel experiences I have learned that getting to know a destination is the easy part of your trip, especially with increased access to myriad guidebooks and online reviews and postings. Not so easy to understand are the nuances of working with a travel provider, how to leverage your travels into something great, and, ultimately, how to read the travel tea leaves to understand the best places to go at the right times. These essential travel skills indeed take time to develop, but once firmly in place they allow you to explore the world while simultaneously staying in the best hotels throughout the world.

* * *
Prior to the release of the first edition of The Penny Pincher’s Passport to Luxury Travel in 1999, much of the travel talk focused on low-budget travel. Thankfully, many of today’s travelers have evolved beyond the mindset of staying in a hostel for $10 a night with such amenities as a community bathroom down the hall. Many of today’s travelers, young and old, are interested in a memorable experience, something that brings added value to their journey. However, those same travelers, myself included, can’t afford to pay movie-star prices to secure such an experience. This premise was the genesis of the time-proven tools outlined and discussed in detail within The Penny Pincher’s Passport to Luxury Travel. Since its release, many have joyfully jumped on the “get more for your money” bandwagon. While it’s flattering that numerous writers, bloggers, and pundits have caught on to a theory I first espoused, I believe that many copycat guides lack the solid foundation of a few simple key principles that have proven successful for almost two decades. These simple principles remain the difference between luxury at coach prices and the noisy, crowded back of the plane.

In the upcoming pages you will read entertaining anecdotes with important messages, and learn timeless travel strategies including how to maintain flexibility in changing flight and departure times, and how to plan, research, and position yourself as a prized and courteous traveler to whom travel companies will always want to provide their best service. When all is said and done, I believe the one skill that has allowed me to consistently upgrade on every flight I take, stay at wonderful five-star hotels, and drive exciting cars every trip I take, remains my ability to understand change.

The travel industry is in a constant state of flux. In 1999, the travel industry was doing quite well, and technology’s effect on the traveler was still in its infancy. When the second edition of my book hit bookshelves in 2004 the industry was still suffering the aftereffects of September 11th, but technology continued gaining ground. Today, travelers are hitting the road in record numbers, filling planes, hotels, and many a rental car. In addition, companies have increased their respective investments in technology that eases the process of booking travel, while simultaneously tracking consumers and their needs better than ever, thus hampering what customers’ agents can and cannot do. One example of recent changes is the computerization of airline upgrades. This means it is much harder to receive an airline upgrade with a sincere smile. Not impossible, of course, but more difficult. These new industry changes require fresh strategies that work in today’s ever-malleable environment. Make no mistake: getting the best value in travel requires work, deliberate planning, and patience, but it will lead to travel success.

* * *
As previously noted, the success of The Penny Pincher’s Passport to Luxury Travel has prompted a new track in travel-guide writing. Others have added their voices to the ongoing discussion about how they have procured their flashy, advertised “luxury” with far-flung schemes, elaborate point-earning methods and, sometimes, even a bit of trickery. Over the years I have remained steadfast in my conviction that acquiring superb service must center upon building relationships with travel providers. As such, I have been careful to avoid penny-saving methods which take advantage of travel providers; even if you get away with it once or twice, rest assured that eventually your travel provider will catch on, and the doors leading to a good and amicable business relationship will be shut for good.

I remain loyal to the fundamental principles I first espoused in 1999, however, I realize that changes in the travel industry affect how you utilize your travel services. While much of the game remains the same, mid-course adjustments are necessary, much as a pilot reroutes through a storm or a football coach adjusts the offense after halftime. In today’s playbook, travelers are faced with more upgrades being doled out by an automated computer system, so I now have a strategy for beating the computer in Chapter 6. Likewise, your choice of hotels is more than ever the key to a memorable trip and I explain why in Chapter 7. These, among many other new theories and strategies, are what you’ll find in this newly revised book.

I hope you enjoy your journey into this third edition of The Penny Pincher’s Passport to Luxury Travel. It’s the work I am most proud of, another crucial and memorable step on a journey that has been long in the making, and more rewarding than I could ever have anticipated.

CHAPTER ONE
A Journey into the Great Unknown
Traveling Like the Rich and Famous

CHAPTER TWO
A Lifetime of Loyalty
Reaping the Rewards of Leverage

CHAPTER THREE
Your Travel Partners: Creating a Match Made in Heaven
The Secret of My Success (and Yours)

CHAPTER FOUR
A Contrarian Strategy
Traveling Against the Grain

CHAPTER FIVE
Flying Right
First Class at Coach Prices

CHAPTER SIX
Getting Those Upgrades
Additional Techniques for Flying First Class at Coach Prices

CHAPTER SEVEN
Fit For a King
Sleeping at Five-Star Hotels at a Fraction of the Cost

CHAPTER EIGHT
The Mercedes Mentality
Driving a Premium Car at Discount Prices

CHAPTER NINE
Credit Cards
Spending for Rewards

CHAPTER TEN
Tips on Tips
Knowing Whom to Tip, How to Tip, and When to Tip

CHAPTER ELEVEN
Caveat Emptor
Know Before You Go

CHAPTER TWELVE
Travel Mishaps
Turning Misfortune into Fortune

CHAPTER THIRTEEN
Using the Internet for Traveling First Class at Coach Prices
New Resources for Getting What You Want

EPILOGUE
And Now You Are on Your Way

RESOURCES AND REFERENCES
Traveling First Class at Coach Prices
Insiders’ Tips
What Do I Read?
How to Compare and Research Fares and Rates
General Information Travel Web sites
My Select List of Hotel Chains
Car Rental Companies
Credit Card Frequently Asked Questions

APPENDIX
Frequent Flyer, Elite Status, and Upgrade Information

GLOSSARY
Insider Jargon to Make You Sound Like a Pro

A Journey into the Great Unknown

Traveling Like the Rich and Famous

by Joel L. Widzer

Ten years ago I embarked on the rewarding journey of writing a book on strategies for travelers with the sole purpose of enriching their travel experiences. I knew it was a good idea, but I had no idea what the road ahead would bring. Throughout the process I found the mystery of writing a book equivalent to the thrill of discovering the great unknown through travel. While I did not initially know how my book would unfold, I had a plan, which is the same approach I take with all of my travels. To reach my goal of writing a book that would serve to optimize a person’s overall travel experience with methods of traveling in luxury at a fraction of the price, I strategized, researched, and immersed myself in books on the topic. My research ultimately led me to securing an agent, a publisher, and, finally, promoting my finished book, the first edition of The Penny Pincher’s Passport to Luxury Travel.

The first two editions of this book have helped readers enhance their traveling with first-class air upgrades, hotel suites, and luxury car rentals, while still saving copious amounts of their hard-earned money. I was able to provide less experienced travelers with essential keys to better planning and research that ultimately allowed them to fulfill their quest for top-notch travel without breaking their budgets.

Like its predecessors, this edition of The Penny Pincher’s Passport to Luxury Travel is all about creating and owning a strategy. Simply put, that strategy is maintaining astute loyalty to a select few travel providers, traveling where and while others are not, and treating all with whom you come into contact with respect and dignity. Over the years, my travel writing has transformed me from one person with an idea to a journalist who has participated in hundreds of television interviews, countless radio interviews, contributed to a regular column with MSNBC, and been asked to speak at many a conference, often to top-level travel executives. In the end, this cumulative experience, along with my trips exceeding 200,000 air miles annually (to date collectively 3 million miles), has given me the ability to go straight to the heart of the essential strategies that work for everyday travelers, strategies that lead to luxury travel at a fraction of the cost.

THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX
Packing my bags for over twenty years, I have become nothing if not passionate about travel. I feel I am at my best when on a plane, in a foreign city, or dashing down the autobahn in a sporty car clocking 200+ kilometers per hour. Like with any passion, I have engrossed myself in the ways and means of travel. I have made it a habit to understand what makes travel providers tick. This understanding has become a specialty. Rather than writing about where to go and what to see, I write about how to go. The sheer excitement of planning a trip wherein you receive far more value than the price of admission thrills me, as it does many of those with whom I’ve been privileged to work over the years.

Throughout my travel experiences I have learned that getting to know a destination is the easy part of your trip, especially with increased access to myriad guidebooks and online reviews and postings. Not so easy to understand are the nuances of working with a travel provider, how to leverage your travels into something great, and, ultimately, how to read the travel tea leaves to understand the best places to go at the right times. These essential travel skills indeed take time to develop, but once firmly in place they allow you to explore the world while simultaneously staying in the best hotels throughout the world.

* * *
Prior to the release of the first edition of The Penny Pincher’s Passport to Luxury Travel in 1999, much of the travel talk focused on low-budget travel. Thankfully, many of today’s travelers have evolved beyond the mindset of staying in a hostel for $10 a night with such amenities as a community bathroom down the hall. Many of today’s travelers, young and old, are interested in a memorable experience, something that brings added value to their journey. However, those same travelers, myself included, can’t afford to pay movie-star prices to secure such an experience. This premise was the genesis of the time-proven tools outlined and discussed in detail within The Penny Pincher’s Passport to Luxury Travel. Since its release, many have joyfully jumped on the “get more for your money” bandwagon. While it’s flattering that numerous writers, bloggers, and pundits have caught on to a theory I first espoused, I believe that many copycat guides lack the solid foundation of a few simple key principles that have proven successful for almost two decades. These simple principles remain the difference between luxury at coach prices and the noisy, crowded back of the plane.

In the upcoming pages you will read entertaining anecdotes with important messages, and learn timeless travel strategies including how to maintain flexibility in changing flight and departure times, and how to plan, research, and position yourself as a prized and courteous traveler to whom travel companies will always want to provide their best service. When all is said and done, I believe the one skill that has allowed me to consistently upgrade on every flight I take, stay at wonderful five-star hotels, and drive exciting cars every trip I take, remains my ability to understand change.

The travel industry is in a constant state of flux. In 1999, the travel industry was doing quite well, and technology’s effect on the traveler was still in its infancy. When the second edition of my book hit bookshelves in 2004 the industry was still suffering the aftereffects of September 11th, but technology continued gaining ground. Today, travelers are hitting the road in record numbers, filling planes, hotels, and many a rental car. In addition, companies have increased their respective investments in technology that eases the process of booking travel, while simultaneously tracking consumers and their needs better than ever, thus hampering what customers’ agents can and cannot do. One example of recent changes is the computerization of airline upgrades. This means it is much harder to receive an airline upgrade with a sincere smile. Not impossible, of course, but more difficult. These new industry changes require fresh strategies that work in today’s ever-malleable environment. Make no mistake: getting the best value in travel requires work, deliberate planning, and patience, but it will lead to travel success.

* * *
As previously noted, the success of The Penny Pincher’s Passport to Luxury Travel has prompted a new track in travel-guide writing. Others have added their voices to the ongoing discussion about how they have procured their flashy, advertised “luxury” with far-flung schemes, elaborate point-earning methods and, sometimes, even a bit of trickery. Over the years I have remained steadfast in my conviction that acquiring superb service must center upon building relationships with travel providers. As such, I have been careful to avoid penny-saving methods which take advantage of travel providers; even if you get away with it once or twice, rest assured that eventually your travel provider will catch on, and the doors leading to a good and amicable business relationship will be shut for good.

I remain loyal to the fundamental principles I first espoused in 1999, however, I realize that changes in the travel industry affect how you utilize your travel services. While much of the game remains the same, mid-course adjustments are necessary, much as a pilot reroutes through a storm or a football coach adjusts the offense after halftime. In today’s playbook, travelers are faced with more upgrades being doled out by an automated computer system, so I now have a strategy for beating the computer in Chapter 6. Likewise, your choice of hotels is more than ever the key to a memorable trip and I explain why in Chapter 7. These, among many other new theories and strategies, are what you’ll find in this newly revised book.

I hope you enjoy your journey into this third edition of The Penny Pincher’s Passport to Luxury Travel. It’s the work I am most proud of, another crucial and memorable step on a journey that has been long in the making, and more rewarding than I could ever have anticipated.

Joel L. Widzer’s travels have taken him to more than a hundred countries, logging over 250,000 air miles a year, and accumulating more than 3 million frequent-flyer miles. Joel has developed the unique ability to approach travel from the point of view of a consumer as well as from a business perspective. He regularly speaks to travelers and business people, sharing the secrets of crisscrossing the world in luxury while paying coach prices.

A sought-after speaker and media presence, Joel’s innovative approach to travel has received extensive media coverage. He has appeared on CBS, NBC, and ABC networks, MSNBC News Network, The FOX News Channel, The Travel Channel, The Today Show, CNN, Inside Edition, and in print media including USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, andThe Washington Post. He writes regular travel columns for MSNBC and Forbes. Joel holds a doctoral degree in the field of industrial organizational psychology.

When Joel is not off on one of his many global journeys, he takes to the skies as an instrument-rated pilot. More information on Joel and The Penny Pincher’s Passport to Luxury Travel can be found at www.JetReady.com and travelerstales.com.

Joel is based in Southern California.

2017-04-24T02:32:33+00:00