05/05

Travel Tricks for the Penny-Challenged

By Geisha Bar

Let’s be honest, budget travel is bad for the badass image, but mother and father stridently insist I visit them wherever they are, self-paid twice a year. As I refuse to sacrifice comfort, I’ve perfected a few tricks to ensure I travel like a “somebody” on the budget of a “nobody”.

Invest in decent luggage. Keep it dark. Nothing says “Unpracticed Traveler Alert: you can treat me like dirt” like the bright, bulging, bag lady look. If you can’t manage to attain entry to an airline lounge, and have a gruelling layover at the airport, you’ll want to keep that couch at the cafe way past social etiquette dictates moving on. Impressive luggage says “It would be rude to ask me to move”.

Dress the part. Do your research, look a little local while retaining the essence of home (interpreted as exotic). Pop stars have made highly lucrative careers from doing this very thing for decades. When in transit, always remember 4 essentials — cool jacket, dark sunglasses, killer shoes and a hat that says style-for-miles-globetrotter. Professional travelers rule the airways – get the look, get the privilege.

When it comes to talking, less is more. Reality is 95% perception – use this to your advantage. Accompany answers to questions with either a big benevolent smile or a I’m-a-little-bit-lost-&-so-far-from-home expression as the occasion calls for it. These are your golden keys to pass through strict customs, to enter premier airline lounges and to be given chauffeured limo rides to your destination hotel.

As an addendum — people love to talk about two things – themselves and their country. Get a stranger talking about themselves and you will have an instant walking talking enthusiastic TripAdvisor entry. Useful for locating that delicious late night supper, the most perfect morning coffee and the secret shopping strip locals guard against tourists.

Of course, the best way to travel in luxury is to pay big on Amex. For everything else, master these tricks.