Simon (Calder) Says ‘travel hacking’ is a myth – we respectfully disagree, and propose a challenge!

Simon Calder

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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”.

Etihad First Class
“Mythical” excitement of loved ones when you treat them to Etihad First Class

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.

“Mythical” Caviar and Krug Champagne in Cathay Pacific First Class

The Challenge!

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.

It’s not all about First Class – using the same ‘travel hacking’ skills, we recently showed how to book Travelodges from £13.50!

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…


  1. Naomi Charlton says

    Hi all – I could go on for hours about the benefits & joys of ‘travel hacking’, but I’d better just give you a quick personal example that’s definitely not about First Class air travel & really high-end luxury hotels (great though those things are!!)

    My son is very sporty & competes all over the country, our ‘travel hacking’ allows us to all come & support him more often than not. We generally stay at Holiday Inns &/or Marriotts & make sure we do fun family activities together as well as the competition, we also use Nectar points for the trains if he’s competing in Central London.

    There is no way we could afford to do this for a family of 4 on a regular basis otherwise & I’m immensely grateful to Inside Flyer for constantly highlighting good deals to help with this.

    They are so helpful whatever questions you may have – so long live Inside Flyer & ‘travel hacking’ is what I say!! xxxxx

    • Joe Deeney says

      Thanks Naomi! – that’s a great example of what we’re trying to get across in the Guide. Travelling in First Class etc can be great fun from time to time, but it isn’t ‘important’ at all. Having the option to see/support friends and family, without really having to worry about the cost, is one of the most meaningful benefits of travel hacking for me (the other is being able to surprise and treat loved ones to experiences they probably wouldn’t otherwise ever get to try).

      • Naomi Charlton says

        I couldn’t have put it better myself Joe!! The ‘treating’ part is really great too, for example I took my daughter to the Hilton Kensington for few nights back in May (while big brother on sports trip abroad) & seeing the joy on her face at having a few canapés in the Exec Lounge etc is something I will never forget!! xxxxx

  2. keith says

    I met him after a flight recently and he came across as a nice man but a bit of an arse. He was flying to Orlando and was situated in the middle seat in economy. At the carousel (he had Global Entry like us and therefore there were about 5 of us whilst the lines at immigration were awful) he was interested in where we were going. We’d come from Dublin on one of the rat runs that are frankly bonkers but work miracles for lower business prices. He was sort of interested but said he loved economy. He was doing a documentary on out of the tourist trap places in Florida and because of Brexit and the devaluation of the £ was sharing a hotel room with the camera man and sound engineer to save money.

    I asked him if he used his name to get discounts (it certainly hadn’t worked on BS-and he was in a suit) or upgrades and he said he didn’t. Nice man……..but

    • Tom Sumner says

      Hi Keith. I’m genuinely intrigued as to i) how someone can concurrently come across as “a nice man but a bit of an arse” and ii) where in your encounter above he acts like an arse. Can you enlighten?

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