What you will learn
Because we know you are busy, here are all the points mentioned in this podcast in convenient bullet points:
- Always buy a SIM card with 3/4G data as soon as you land, airports are the best places to buy SIM cards and you can use as backup internet.
- Use http://prepaid-data-sim-card.wikia.com/ to find the best rates in the country where you are going to.
- Most Mc Donalds have free fast wifi and decent coffee if you can deal with the grease smell.
- To find free Wifi’s anywhere even offline, use Instabridge on your phone, a lot of passwords are crowdsourced
- Download Google Maps Offline when you have internet to navigate just with the GPS in your phone
- Use Kayak.com with the nearby airport and flexible dates option to find much cheaper flights.
- Use Seat Guru to find the best sit within the plane when picking your sit.
- Create a miles account for every alliance to eventually fly for free.
- Most airline lounges have free unprotected wifi if you want fast internet in an airport, just sit next to a lounge.
- If you want a taxi without waiting, go to the departure area and grab a taxi where people arrive, no need to queue.
- Always have some essentials in your carry on luggage, airlines lose checked in bags frequently.
- Use Uber where possible, it’s cheaper than taxis and more reliable.
- Never negotiate prices with Taxis, always use the meter. Go to the next one if they refuse to use the meter
- Always confirm the wifi speed when you book and make sure the connection is a landline connection, not a 3G modem.
- Don’t book long term places before you saw them, a lot of rentals have super nice images and terrible apartments.
- Airbnb tends to be more expensive than cheaper hotels but feels more comfortable.
Resources Mentioned In This Episode
Welcome to the Authority Hacker podcast, the place to learn field tested, no BS tactics to grow hack your online business, and finally- live life on your own terms. Now, your hosts, Gael and Mark.
Gael: Hey guys, welcome to the Authority Hacker podcast. Today, I have Mark with me- how is it going Mark?
Mark: Great, thanks.
Gael: I think it took me around 9 episodes for me to not forget to introduce you at the beginning. Which, I am pretty proud at myself, that would take more actually.
Mark: I fell like a very valued and important part of the team now, thanks.
Gael: [laugh] And today guys, we are going to talk about travel hacks. So, you know, as an online entrepreneur first of all you have to travel because you can be running a lot of your business from your laptop or even from your phone, I run a lot of things from my phone personally. I very much enjoy it. And you might be traveling for many reasons- you might be going to a conference, you might be meeting a partner, you might be going to a mastermind- there are many reasons for which you are going be traveling, and there are a lot of things to think about when you are traveling and working at the same time. And today we are going to talk about all the little travel hacks tips and tricks that we have for you. And Mark is actually a specialist at that so he is going to talk a little bit more but I have some as well, and we’ll try to make your business traveling a little bit nicer, so go ahead Mark.
Mark: Yes, this is basically just an episode where we are just going to go through a big list of little cool things, tips and tricks that we have kind of discovered in our many years of traveling. And this is not just like-
Gael: Buy your tickets early.
Mark: Yeah, well not stuff like the obvious, but specifically for online entrepreneurs, people who have maybe going somewhere for a couple of months to live and work online, and there is certain things you need to be aware of and certain things you need to do, which are different if you go from- if you are just going on vacation for 2 weeks. So, I am just going to start going through them.
The first thing and I guess the most important are to think about is internet access. Now, it kind of goes without saying but you would be surprised how many online entrepreneurs that we know made big mistakes with this one. I knew this guy who rented an apartment for a month in Budapest on Airbnb and it didn’t have internet.
Gael: Who was it?
Mark: I’m not going to mention his name. But yeah, [laugh]. So, basically, I’m just going to go through all my tips then. Buy a local SIM card wherever you go, whether you are going for a short weekend break or a few months, buy a local SIM card, put it in your phone, make sure you have an unlocked phone and you can use 3G or 4G or whatever G it is depending on when you are listening to this. And get internet access on your phone. And this is important for checking emails and just basically getting around making things easier. If you use your SIM card from home, international roaming is notoriously expensive, unless you have the T-Mobile unlimited data roaming SIM card from the US, I think if that is still even valid. But even then, I think it’s only like fairly slow speed that you get free data roaming so it’s always good getting a SIM card and you can always buy them at the airports when you arrive.
Gael: I was going to ask where do you buy the SIM card.
Mark: Yeah, so, you buy them at the airport when you arrive, Vodaphone and all these phone companies usually have stores there, you can also check prepaid-data-sim-card.wikia.com, I’ll link to that in the show notes-
Gael: That sounds so scamy.
Mark: It’s a community driven wiki of like how to get cheap 3G in all countries int he world. It’s fantastic resource despite the terrible URL.
The other thing is when you are somewhere and you are looking for WiFi, most McDonalds actually have free WiFi and there is McDonalds basically everywhere you want to go.
And apparently also they have decent coffee as well which is quite cheap, I don’t drink coffee so I wouldn’t know, but that’s something someone told me once. The other thing is, and Gael actually, you put me onto this, is the Instabridge app.
Gael: yeah, it’s really good actually, basically it is a Google map for free WiFi around wherever you want and you can actually now download offline map so you can actually choose a city and it’s going to if you want WiFi, if you want internet you just open the app, and it is going to show you all the hot spots around and it’s going to show you the internet speed on most of them as well and for a lot of hotspots, you know, restaurants and cafes and stuff you need the password, right, and sometimes it’s just annoying to go and ask and stuff, well actually these crowd sources all the passwords as well so when you walk into a cafe or a restaurant to something, it says, “Hey, there is WiFi available here, do you want to connect ?” And you click yes, and boom- it connects, it puts the password in and you have internet right away. This is like my- it’s really good when you are traveling, and it’s free actually, it’s a free app.
Mark: Because it’s crowdsource as well, when you put a password in, you can choose whether you want to give access to everyone who uses the app or just your friends or just yourself, but it basically opens up millions of hotspots so you wouldn’t otherwise have access to. So it’s not just free unsecured WiFi but it’s like password protected WiFi as well that you can get access to-
Gael: It’s mostly password protected WiFi actually.
Mark: I find so that it does slow down my WiFi like logging on process a bit, like the app is not that fast, I don’t know if you have experienced the same thing?
Gael: yeah, it’s just not super optimized, it’s pretty hacky.
Mark: Yeah, so actually somewhat similar point is when for navigating around, you can actually use Google maps offline now, so it uses like the GPS in your phone, plus like the Google maps technology to help you navigate, so, if you are going somewhere, you can sort of zoom in on that city or the area within the city you want to go to and then in the search bar, you type ok maps, and it will download that whole area which you have selected as an offline map and you can use that on your phone wherever you want to go. So it’s a pretty handy tip if you are trying to navigate find your hotel or something like that.
Gael: Actually, you don’t even need to type ok maps, that was kind of the hacky way of doing it, but now when you actually open a certain area on the map and you click on the search bar, there is a button now that says “download a new offline area” and you click that button and it just downloads stuff. And you can actually manage your offline maps as well in the menu now, they just added it right, so you don’t even need to type ok maps anymore, there is just an option, when you click on the search bar, when you are in an area, and it’s super useful especially if you use the GPS to like drive around, or stuff, I used it to drive around Croatia, this summer, and that saved us a lot of time because it took us to the right direction we didn’t have to have a GPS or anything and it is turn by turn so it’s really good. Use the offline maps.
Gael: Is that it for the internet?
Mark: Yeah, pretty much. The next sort of section is around flying. Now, I am going to start off by saying this that may be super obvious to you, but you would be surprised that there are people that still don’t know about this- when you are searching for flights, use a site like Kayak.com which is like a flight comparison tool. Now still, most people will use that type in where they are going where they want to go to and just use it as it is but actually in Kayak, there is an option if you go to the home page, there is an option where you select plus/minus 3 days, so you select the date you want to go and it will give you sort of a range of 7 days around that date, 3 in the past 3 in the future. And, that actually is searching many more possibilities. So you might want to go somewhere but it might be half the price if you go the day before, and you might not realize that, so I always would recommend using that to search for flights.
Gael: Also, you can include nearby airports from areas so for example if you want to fly to fly from Thailand back to Budapest, for us really Vienna is only 2 or 3 hours away by train, if there is flight that is like half the price to Vienna it might be worth it.
Mark: And if you are using big cities like London or New York, instead of selecting JFK airport or London Heathrow airport, type in the city name so NYC, LON and it will select the whole city, like all 5 airports or whatever, there is in London these days. It’s quite useful.
Gael: How much money do you say like someone can save on like a round trip from Europe to Asia by doing proper research?
Mark: I mean like if you really want to get into it then you need to investigate like buying two separate tickets and taking a low cost carrier to somewhere a hub that is just close to your destination and then there are actual companies which you can pay money to which will investigate it for you.
Gael: I was actually going to bring that up. It’s like I actually use one called flightfox.com, when I was going to Asia and basically they can crowdsource this crazy research for you, so you can just say, “I am going from here to here,” and people do all the research and itc an be like $30, $40, $50 I think for people to do that job, and usually you save like hundreds of dollars, so it can be worth it if you are really trying to save money on your traveling, for the big trips I think it’s worth it actually.
Mark: And especially if you are going like business class as well, it’s going to be much cheaper. Ok, so once you have your flight sorted, use seatguru.com to figure out what kind of plane you are on and what the seat map of the airline looks like, figure out where the good seats are, where the bad seats are, there is a lot of information in there.
Gael: What’s a good seat and what’s a bad seat?
Mark: Extra row seat is a good one. We can’t always get those by checking in online, you sometimes need to go you need to actually physically be there because only certain people can sit there. Seat Guru also shows you things like where are the power sockets, in some American Airlines specifically they have more power sockets further forward, so you know just little things like that you need to pay attention to. And it’s also very good avoiding sitting near the toilets or the galley, which the seat map when you are checking in might not show. So yeah, a couple of cool seat tricks is if there is two of you, what to do is pick when you are checking in pick one person to go in the aisle and one person to go to the window. So basically you have three seats right, and then, if someone else ends up sitting between you, you just switch. Because that person will always be happy to switch for an aisle or a window seat because the middle is the worst seat by far. So it also- by positioning yourself there, it means that someone else is much less likely to pick the middle seat in between you.
Gael: It’s the last one people want to pick, right?
Mark: Exactly, so you have more chances of having 3 seats between the two of you.
Gael: I’d love that.
Mark: And this works the same if you are flying by yourself, pick a seat, pick like an aisle seat, in a row of 3 when someone else has picked the window seat, it makes it more likely that the middle seat will be free, and we will just have a little bit more room.
Gael: Ok, I usually actually pick the middle one thinking that there is very few like single travelers, and so I am just hoping I can move one side or the other, but if it doesn’t happen, if there is actually two other people then you are screwed in the middle.
Mark: That’s a much higher risk, yeah. I would avoid that. The best trick though is just before you go- and this works best if you are traveling on your own, but just before you go in on the plane, so just before boarding starts, go up to the desk and ask if there is any empty rows of seats, because 20 minutes or 30 minutes before takeoff, just as boarding has started, no one else is going to be checking in, right, I think most planes close check-in about 40 minutes before departure for international at least. So, around about that time you can safely go up to the desk and say, “Is there any empty rows” and get a whole row to yourself. And no one else is going to be, or very few people after that are you going to meet changing their tickets around or changing their seats around, so there is a very high chance that you will get it. There is many times that I have gotten 3 seats or even sometimes 4 seats all to myself on the intercontinental flights and it is an absolute God sent if you are tall like me, so…
Mark: The next one is collect frequent flyer miles, so there are 3 major frequent flyer major airline alliances, one world, sky team and star lines, so you need to have one account per alliance, so pick 3 airlines one in each alliance and then put all your miles on that, do not spend those miles on anything except long haul intercontinental business class travels.
Mark: Because there is the most efficient use per mile of spending it. If they offer you to get an extra row seat for 20 000 miles it’s not worth it trust me. Another one is when you are at the airport, airline lounges often have free WiFi, so you can actually go and sit outside the lounge and I mean unsecured WiFi, and you can steal it.
Gael: I do that all the time, actually.
Mark: And also you can usually- most airports have a lounge you can actually pay for access, sometimes it’s expensive but sometimes it’s really worth while, I remember this one time we were coming back from North America, via I think it was Dusseldorf in Germany, and we had like a six hour layover, and paid 20 euros to get into the lounge, and basically got a shower for that, internet power and 2 full meals, breakfast and lunch in the lounge, and we would easily spend 20 euros on food, the cafe in that time. And, you know, it was quiet so two of my friend actually slept for a few hours there as well, so there are times when it can be really worthwhile. When you fly somewhere you land and you get off the plane, and you want to take a taxi, do not go to the- if there is a long line of the taxi rank, you can actually go upstairs or wherever the drop off point is, and you can just get int he taxi who is dropping someone else off. This is particularly useful somewhere like South East Asia which often has- Bangkok, yeah, often you wait an hour for a taxi there. Just honestly, just take the elevator go upstairs, find the drop off area and there the taxis drop off people literally there will be ten as you go outside. Just pick one of them, even if the first guy says no just because he is trying to be nice, one of them will very quickly say yes because they don’t want to wait in that line to pick up another passenger. And finally, this is an obvious one, but airlines will lose your bag sometimes, so usually they will find it again so but definitely do not leave your laptop in there take that and carry on-
Gael: Any electronics you want with you basically.
Mark: Anything valuable. I always take like an extra pair of socks and underwear and extra t shirt and stuff in long flights, just in case they lose it and it’s going to be another day before I get it back, I don’t have to wear like the sweaty stuff I have been wearing for the last 24 hours.
Gael: Fair enough. Ok, transportation?
Mark: Yeah, So, I guess it is somewhat similar to back home, it depends where you live but use Uber or whatever local version of Uber there is available, it’s just much better and you will hardly ever get ripped off using this services, certainly never with Uber, and Uber is usually cheaper than the actual taxi.
Gael: And that is why you buy a sim card at the airport by the way.
Mark: Yeah, it’s another reason. Airports, train stations, even like shopping centers major hotels are notorious for having like taxis which will rip you off. In Budapest, whenever you arrive there is always people saying if you want a taxi and they will charge you 5 times what an official taxi will charge you, but a lot of foreigners who come in here do not know, they don’t know the currency, they haven’t really prepared themselves for that so always check like what the situation is where you are going before you get there, wiki travel is a very good place to figure that out, they usually have information about getting to and from the airport there and it’s a wiki so it’s usually updated with the latest info. But if you stick to Uber you can’t really go wrong.
Gael: I would say it’s pretty safe to say that any guy with a taxi sign outside of the- just when you get out of the door at the airport is going to try to rip you off.
Mark: Yeah, if someone is unofficial taxi or even smells like an unofficial taxi avoid them.
Gael: And, they also you know, it’s not just about the price, it’s like these people are going to take you to like shops that paid them to bring tourists and everything, and-
Mark: You can get robbed.
Gael: Yeah, it’s actually a little dangerous.
Mark: I had a really good one in Vietnam, actually. The guy took us to a hostel which had the same name as our hostel but it was like a scam, so I figured it out because I asked them- it was like a well publicized scam that they do in Hanoi in Vietnam, nowhere else in the world I think do they do this but this is just why you should check the sites like wiki travel for this kind of local tips.
Gael: Yeah, you should check routes on the map where you are going and kind of like check the itinerary as well, because they could either take you somewhere else but they could also go around the whole city and sometimes just calling them out and quickly they will fix everything and that’s it.
Mark: That actually happened to me in New York City actually.
Gael: Yeah, they make a lot of money that way and you are going to end up with a $50 cab ride, where it should be $20 or something, so you are going to save quite a bit of money that way, I always do that and that is why I have offline maps actually. So I can check it.
Mark: And whenever you are trying to get a taxi somewhere, if you ask how much it is, ask how much it is but do not settle them what the taxi driver says, get an idea of what it should cost, and then insist on the meter, if a taxi is ever not using a meter, then he is ripping you off. The only time when you ever really should do that is it seems to be in Asia when it’s raining. Because, no taxi will use their meter ever in South East Asia when it rains for some reason.
Gael: There is a lot of like fake meters in Vietnam as well, so I actually, it happened to me, the meter would go like 5 times faster than normal meter, and they just like chip them and stuff, so you need to still look out and probably look at the official rates.
Mark: The meter, that has happened to me in Malaysia and in Vietnam, and in Budapest actually. But the solution to that is call them out on it, and insist that you will not pay that. Any taxi driver who is ripping you off what always happens is very quickly, I mean they will say it’s fine, this is how it is, you have to pay, but like b every insistent that you are not going to pay that because you know that is not the real price, the real price is a lot less, and what always happens is very quickly the taxi driver will say, well how much do you want to pay? And as soon as they say that, you’ve got them, because you know that they are actually ripping you off at this point. And then, didn’t you actually in Budapest just walked away once?
Gael: I knew you were going to come, I was thinking about it, yes, taxis in Budapest would practice whatever rate they want when you grab them in the street. And it would be pretty frequent that they try to charge you like $30 or $40 for like a five minutes thing, and I would just walk away and say well, you can run after me or you can lose your car to a next thief passing by, that used to be my answer, I don’t recommend this to people but that is my French nerves I guess.
Mark: Yeah, well it happened to me in Vietnam, it was like you have to pay, and we paid him like what we thought it should have been anyway. But really, I mean, it’s very rare that taxi drivers will get violent or something if they are trying to rip you off, you know. And don’t get mad or don’t get angry, but just be very like forceful and state your point and don’t back down, you know.
Gael: Yeah, in certain countries it’s just part of the local culture I would say.
Mark: Yeah. Ok, so that’s transportation. In terms of accommodation some good tips are always ask for a confirmed WiFi speeds before. And make sure that it’s not a 3G connection, you know, where they have like a sim card and like just a router plugged directly into that sim card or whatever. So, make sure it’s like a land line.
Gael: that reminded me of a trip to Kuala Lumpur-
Mark: Yeah we messed up on that but I’ve had, I mean, at least we had internet, you know, I had people who-I am not going to mention names but they just didn’t have any wifi which is just ridiculous in this day and age.
Gael: And your 3G goes out really fast, like you can’t just rely on the 3G all the time, it kind of like a safety but you can’t count on the SIM card you bought at the airport for the whole time, it’s just you are going to spend so much money-
Mark: What I always do on Airbnb is I message them before I book, I say, look, I work online, I am an entrepreneur and it’s imperative that I have stable and reliable and fast internet during this. How fast is your internet and Is end them the link to speedtest.net for them to check and I ask them to send me a screenshot of it back and they don’t always send the screenshot, sometimes they just tell me, but that’s me stating that I need internet. And if there is even any problem, I am like straight on them like, look, you promised it that it would have internet, it doesn’t or it’s not fast enough, like fix it otherwise I am calling Airbnb and the last thing Airbnb host wants is negative reviews. Because they really hurt your Airbnb rankings and it’s not a good thing to have.
Gael: Another thing I wanted to say about the internet in accommodation is a lot of hotels, you know when you have to log in with the login and the password, they have these systems in hotels, they will cap your connection, and actually I was in the hotel in Bangkok something like two years ago and they had a 30 Mbps connection which would be fine for me but it’s username would be limited to 1.5 Mbps and that was extremely slow. But they tend to have one or two logins for admins uncapped, and you can actually ask for these at the reception or even call them for them to plan for it before and they will give you this special login and password and it’s uncapped actually, that’s how to get decent internet in hotels where it’s notoriously terrible.
Mark: That’s pretty good tip actually. So I think that the general thing here is just get in touch before you book and sort of say that this is a big deal for you and usually they will be able to accommodate you in most situations. Also, do not book like a place long term until you have sort of seen it, so if you are going to stay somewhere for two months and you haven’t been there to try the internet or had them run the speed test, then be careful. Ask to see the room if you are staying somewhere like in a local hotel, which does not have photos advertized, or it just has the stock, stock images of the hotel, like go and see the physical room they are going to give you, and if what happens when you say that you want to see the room first is they will always give you the best room that they have available. Because, they know that that’s going to make your decision based on that, whereas if you pay before you go, check it out, they might give you the worst one and although the both rooms might be in the same tier, one might be the corner room with the nice view and one might be the one with no window or something.
Gael: That is as simple as asking when you are checking in, like you can book online and then when you check in you say, can I see the room and I will come later to pay, and that actually makes- I actually saw people change the keys when I say that actually.
Mark: Yeah, a friend of mine actually also suggests that you can actually bribe or tip or I don’t know what the right word is in this case but basically give the person you are checking into hotel with like $20 or $50 or something and be like can you arrange for a nice room for me? That was Thanh for Asian Efficiency said this on his podcast. I have never tried doing that, but I am certainly going to give it a go.
Gael: Actually we have him in two podcasts, in podcast 13, so people would be able to listen to Thanh.
Mark: Cool. So I am definitely, I am going away tomorrow, so I am going to try that when I check in and see what happens. And the last thing about accommodation is- Airbnb is not always cheaper than a hotel. It can be more expensive in some places, but I think for an online entrepreneur it’s a better option because it feels more like home, you usually have somewhere proper to work there like a dining table or an actual desk, if you don’t have a desk, you can always ask for a desk and you would be surprised how many landlords would be able to source one quite quickly and a nice office chair for you to work in. I don’t know, I always feel much more relaxed staying with an Airbnb for more than a few days than in like a hotel, because you can like cook there, and it just feels more like a home.
Gael: Yeah, there is just like desks in hotels tend to be the worst anyway. I don’t mind paying a little bit more for Airbnb. It obviously depends on your finances, but yeah, Airbnb is just nicer.
Mark: Ok, so I think actually what we are going to do at this point is finish here and we will need to do a part 2 of Travel Hacks because I have so many more to get through and we are not even half way yet, so I think this is a good point at the end of the accommodation; we talked about flights, accommodation, internet, transportation, so we’ll go through the sort of gadgets and all the other stuff next time.
Gael: No worries, guys thank you for listening, we are sorry we are cutting in half but that podcast would become an hour plus long podcast and we are not doing this anymore. So, if you want to see all the show notes for this episode, you can go on authorityhacker.com/11 and you will be able to find all the tools we talked about all the prepaid sim card websites, seat guru and all the stuff we talked about for you to travel in the best conditions possible as an entrepreneur so you can stay productive while you are traveling. Mark, thank you for joining us and guys-we’ll see you guys in the next episode. Have a good day.
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