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Simon Calder is undoubtedly one of the best known travel experts in the UK, having written on the topic at The Independent for more than 20 years, as well as presenting a range of great travel programmes on TV. I was therefore genuinely surprised (and, oddly, a little saddened) to read this week that he believes ‘travel hacking’ is a “myth”.
I’m not very keen on the phrase ‘travel hacking’, but it seems to be the one that has stuck to describe the sorts of things we spend most of our time writing about here at InsideFlyer. Regardless of what you call it, if such an experienced, passionate and knowledgeable traveller as Simon doesn’t see the value in it, then what chance does the average person have?
I think people being put off ‘travel hacking’ is a tremendous shame, because doing a few simple things really can make your travel both more comfortable and more affordable. It’s not necessarily all about the glitz and fun of flying First Class or staying at ultra-luxurious hotels either (although that can be a great treat!), it can simply be about travelling more than you would otherwise be able to, or even being able to travel at all.
It’s very important to acknowledge though that ‘travel hacking’ can sometimes, at first glance, appear complex and maybe even a little frightening or illicit somehow. When something seems too good to be true, it almost always is – but in this case it isn’t, and that’s a strange thing to get used to.
One of the central aims of InsideFlyer is to demystify ‘travel hacking’, and Simon (as an avowed sceptic) seems like the perfect guinea pig to test out how well we manage to do that.
At InsideFlyer, we believe that Simon is wrong to dismiss ‘travel hacking’. If he’ll let us, we would love the opportunity to show him how it really works and hopefully convince him of the tremendous value that can be gained for relatively little effort.
We think the best way of doing this is for us to finally get round to producing a properly organised UK-focused ‘Beginner’s Guide’, that will provide quick, simple, practical things to do, that will make your travel cheaper and/or more comfortable.
Hopefully we will be able to persuade Simon to follow the Beginner’s Guide posts and to discuss how his views towards ‘travel hacking’ change (or don’t) as time goes on. We’ve sent him an email outlining the idea, but if any of you would like to see this happen, please encourage him to get involved through Twitter and other social media!
If, for any reason, Simon doesn’t fancy taking up the challenge himself though, at the very least he will still have inspired us to produce a Guide that will hopefully help many thousands of people travel more comfortably for less – and we owe him our genuine thanks for that and for the great work he continues to do for fellow travellers every day.
The first step is to look at the myths (sorry Simon!) that some people believe about ‘travel hacking’, and to explain what the reality is instead – where better to start than with Simon’s own article…