10 Unconventional Travel Tips From A Veteran Travel Writer

Travel writer Chuck Thompson buried 12 unconventional travel tips in his memoir Smile When You’re Lying. Included on the list: lie, steal, and over-spend.


Great news! You’re eligible for all sorts of discounts because you work for a Fortune 500 company. What, you don’t work for a Fortune 500 company? How would rental agents know? Mention it before they ask, or if they offer a rate, respond with: “Geez, that’s a little higher than I paid last time I’m a regional director for Microsoft out here in [wherever] and I’m pretty sure we have a rate with you guys.”

Once the discount is in the computer, it’s there to stay.

Or if you want a bulkhead seat on your next flight, tell the gate agent that you’re prone to, err, deep-vein thrombosis and you have a doctor’s note or a note on doctor-like stationary to prove it. Or you can try to earn your sympathy because you’re *ahem* on your way to your best friend’s wedding and you’re worried about speaking at the rehearsal dinner.

Hang Up On Morons

Trust your instincts. The person on the other end of the line is a moron. Hang-up and try again.

At least that’s what travel-man Thompson recommends. We know that front-line employees rarely solve problem, so instead of playing whack-a-mole with unhelpful CSRs, politely escalate until you find someone who isn’t a moron.

Steal An Extra Inch Of Legroom

All that junk airlines cram into seatback pockets? Throw it out. You don’t need magazines and promotional garbage. Chuck everything—except the barf bag—into the overhead bin and enjoy a free extra inch of legroom.

Eat A Meal Before You Board

It’s not like they’ll serve you free food onboard, so swing by a restaurant on your way to the airport and fill up. Or at least grab some fruit before you board.

Resurrect Dead Batteries

Rub dead batteries briskly against your pant leg for a minute. The static generates a recharge that should last for an hour. May not work with iPods.

Don’t Be A Jackass

Look, they don’t know that you lied about the wedding and the deep-vein thrombosis, but they will notice if you’re That Guy, and employees will make it their mission to pay you back in full. Smile, say “thank you,” and have a pleasant attitude.


Oh, this box of chocolates you got as a gift that you happen to be allergic to? Would you like them, Ms. Gate Agent who can get you out of the middle seat?

Apparently this form of bribery works if you’re smooth enough.

And gate agents do have extra seats, if you’re nice. On Boeing 767s, seats 17A B H and J are comfy coach spots reserved for the crew on international flights. On domestic flights, they stay open until right before boarding, along with business class and first class seats, and are given to traveling employees and gate agent favorites.

Tip Early

$10 on the first night of your stay goes a long way to saying you might give more later if they don’t spit on your toothbrush.

Pay Up

You’re on vacation, pay up. Don’t travel to the Caribbean and settle for anything less than an ocean view. Pay for the room, pay for the food, pay for the experience.

Ignore Jet Lag

It’s all in your head, whiner. Force yourself to adapt to the local time and walk off the sleepiness.

Smile When You’re Lying: Confessions of a Rogue Travel Writer [Amazon, The New York Public Library]


Edit Your Comment

  1. missdona says:

    To go along with “Eat A Meal Before You Board,” even if they serve you a meal, I’ve experienced the joys of ground holds for 2+ hours, it may be a while before you see the cart.

  2. yikz says:

    I’ve used several of these items myself. My company is just small enough that we don’t get great rates with certain businesses, but if I use the name of the business I’m visiting, I often get a better rate. And I get those rates for non-business travel… even when I bring my family. My last trip to Hawaii, I stayed oceanfront in Waikiki for $189 a night when everyone else was staying for $299 to 399 a night. Rental cars, before going out to the lot, I usually stop at the counter and ask what they have reserved for me, and if it’s not something I want, then I ask if they have a Prius, or a Mustang convertible. I will mention my corporate rate, and they will usually accomodate me. If not, they will definitely get me something better. Anything is better than a Pontiac Aztec.

  3. shades_of_blue says:

    I never heard of the dead batteries trick before.

  4. hibbit says:

    “Rub dead batteries briskly against your pant leg for a minute. The static generates a recharge that should last for an hour.”

    This may or may not bring temporary life back to a battery, but it is *not* due to static charge. Static charge, by definition, is trapped in a non-conductive medium (like the battery sleeve). Is is not delivered to the terminals or the sheets in the batter that hold the charge. If this works, it is more likely due to the heat it generates, which would modestly speed up the natural “autorecharging” that occurs when a depleted battery is allowed to rest.

    • mewyn dyner says:


      Indeed. I was about to say the same thing. Plus sucking out that last bit of charge from a rechargeable battery will shorten its life. If it’s an alkaline non-rechargeable go for it, but I’d never do this on any of my lithium ion batteries. If you completely deplete Li-ion batteries, they will be useless, you cannot recharge them and the closer you get to the true zero the more “stress” you put on the battery. (A lithium ion battery’s point of lowest “stress”, and where it should be stored at is about 40%.)

  5. raleel says:

    I’m a believer in pay up, but I’m not a fan of lying.

    • @raleel: Yeah, I know it’s “part of the game” and “not really hurting anybody,” but I think the lying’s kind-of sleazy. I don’t think the wrath of God is going to smite you or anything, but I don’t think you should feel good about it or proud of yourself for it.

      Re: Jet lag, I find I do much better going east than west, which I guess is backwards of what it’s “supposed” to be, but west leaves me absolutely wrecked, and east I have no problem, although it helps to fly “overnight” going east and get the 5 hours doze on the plane. Few things are better for jet lag than flying lag-worthy distances a few times and figuring out what strategies work best for you. (For me: staying in the sun as much of the day as possible when I arrive to help reset faster. And not napping on the first day!)

  6. shorty63136 says:

    I’ve definitely used the first one before. It also helps that they let me keep the badge for that company after I left.

    “Sure, I’m still an employee. Would you like to see my employee ID?”

  7. I like the jet lag advice.

  8. 17-A says:

    “Or at least grab some fruit before you board.”

    I think most people know this, but I feel it needs to be said: bad, bad, BAD idea on international flights! The TSA agent doesn’t know why you can’t bring that banana into Canada, all they know is that if you’ve got one, you are suspicious! This leads to a minor delay at best, but will often result in having your bags re-checked just to make sure there are no goddamn kumquats in there.

    Unless you’re actively suffering from scurvy, wait until you’re out of the airport to get your fruit fix.

    • floraposte says:

      @17-A: I’ve never had a problem–the TSA agent who looks at my bags has no idea where I’m going (it’s just that first gatekeeper looking at my boarding pass, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t even check the destination) and has never seemed to have any desire to act as a customs official. Where has this been happening to you? I’m wondering if it’s likelier at big airports with dedicated international terminal.

  9. stanner says:

    The rules I learned from my father:
    1) Never stand when you can sit
    2) Never sit when you can lay down
    3) Never pass up the chance to go the bathroom
    4) Never pass up the chance to eat
    5) Half the luggage, twice the money

  10. Zyzzyva100 says:

    “Ignore Jet Lag-
    It’s all in your head, whiner. Force yourself to adapt to the local time and walk off the sleepiness.”

    Not really true. Jet leg is caused by altering the light input to the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the hypothalamus. This changes your natural circadian rhythm and hormones like cortisol aren’t produced at the correct time of day so you feel tired “inappropriately”. While forcing yourself to adjust to the correct time will get you through it, its not just “in your head”, the problem is physiological.

    The best way to fix this problem is to sleep on the plane, and if you have a hard time doing that, ask your doctor for a single dose of a relatively short acting benzo to help.

    • mgy says:

      Someone once taught me to lick both ends of a battery to squeeze some extra charge out of it. I don’t think it works, but I’ll try anything once.

    • Kali Mama says:

      @Zyzzyva100: What I usually do before boarding is setting my watch to destination local time, and sleeping on board accordingly. A decent flight will also accommodate this rhythm by pinpointing a good time of ascent and lights out at the right time.

  11. humphrmi says:

    Re Jet Lag: This rule has always worked for me: “Sleep going east, stay awake going west.” I’ve never figured out how to make it rhyme.

    • Kishi says:

      @humphrmi: “Going east, catch some Zs, heading west, awake is best”?

      As for the battery thing, I learned in my college days, when my CD player would inevitably die 15 minutes outside of town, that just holding the batteries in my hand for a few minutes so they’d warm up would give me another 45 minutes or so of music. That would at least let it last long enough to get down to the convenience store at the next stop, where I could buy another pack to make the rest of the trip home.

    • resonanteye says:


      going east have a rest
      but don’t nap going west

      doggerel for your jet lag.
      I’m 4’11” so space isn’t the problem- it’s the huge man next to me sticking his giant legs or elbows into my space in his sleep.

  12. GiselleBeardchen says:

    Priceline for hotels and rental cars-Baby! The greatest invention since sliced bread & night baseball! I haven’t paid over 33% of rack rate for a hotel or 40% of best rate avail for rent a car in the 6 + years I’ve been using Priceline. Hurry though because some mega corp will undoubtedly ultimately buy them and @#$& it up.

  13. consumer-warrior says:

    ID? Get a lamination kit and make your own on the computer. Great idea!!!!!

    • Real Cheese Flavor says:

      @consumer-warrior: In this day of paranoia regarding terrorism, I’d be afraid having a fake laminated ID would get you into more trouble than it’s worth.

      An idea that’s simpler, easier, and probably less likely to get you into trouble would be to make fake business cards. After all, not everyone actually has a laminated ID for work and those who do probably don’t bring them with them when traveling. At least I don’t

  14. J.Heck says:

    The lying trick? May work well for places that are insanely busy and therefore won’t check, but if you’re doing your traveling in the off-season (winter time, for the NE states, anyway), you can bet that most hotels will want proof that you work for so-and-so. Rates are NOT set in stone with hotels. We can mess with your rate in any way up to the date you check-out, and, at least with any hotels that run LISA or Nitevision for their hotel software, there are definitely note fields letting the CSRs know to “check ID for business rate” before changing the rack rates.

  15. tevetorbes says:

    “Tp rly

    $10 n th frst nght f yr sty gs lng wy t syng y mght gv mr ltr f thy dn’t spt n yr tthbrsh.”

    Wht. Th. Hll.

    S nw, n ddtn t tppng th Strbcks gy fr mkng my cff nd th Snc grl fr brngng m my fd, bth f whch r WTHN THS MPLYS’ JB DSCRPTNS, hv t tp th md s sh wn’t wnk p my blngngs?

    Ths tppng bllsht s gttng bt t f hnd. Myb ll th rd f*ckng mplys, clrks, stckbys, cshrs, nd thrws wsts f lf shld prmptvly tp *M* fr nt pnchng thr f*ckng tth n fr bng wrthlss shtbgs.

  16. JackHandey says:

    I have never heard of the battery thing, either. It sounds like an urban myth. I tried googling it, and pretty much the only thing that came up was this Consumerist article.

    I agree with the one commenter that improved life might be due to heating the battery. Batteries tend to work worse when cold, so if you warm up a cold battery that is borderline able to run your electronics, you might be able to get a little more life out of it.

  17. hardtoremember says:

    I really won’t lie to anyone to get what I want but I will pay and I will tip well. Some say that you shouldn’t have to tip to get good service. That is true but I tip to get excellent service.

  18. glitch44 says:

    As a 6’5″ person, you don’t know how much joy I feel when I see a 5’2″ person sitting in the bulkhead / exit aisle seats because a travel guru told them to lie about a medical condition.

    • jusooho says:

      @glitch44: As a 5’4″ tall man, I apologize taking your bulkhead seat. Though I am only offered the seat upon request as a Platinum Delta-codeshare member, and not due to a lie about my medical condition, I can understand how you might be upset. Someone as small and unworthy as myself should not take your seat. Next time, please kindly request that I change places with you, and I will comply immediately.

      • TheSpatulaOfLove says:


        You’re the exception, not the rule as far as offering to swap. Myself being nearly 7′ tall, I always seem to get screwed with the middle seat at the tail of the plane, regardless of status and nothing chaps my hide seeing sub 6-footers in the legroom rows, despite my heroic attempts to secure one myself. I go through GREAT lengths to do it, including bribery, flattery, arriving 3+ hours early and trying multiple agents, even down to begging, but the ambivalent airline insists on using outdated information on average sizes to determine legroom needs of the general populace.

        That combined with all of the other BS a traveler has to go through and yet, they sit there and scratch their heads wondering why people hate the industry as a whole and are on the brink of bankruptcy every fear years.

        As far as the article? Those are mild suggestions – I’ve resorted to guerrilla tactics to travel with some resemblance of comfort and convenience that make this guy seem like a pussy cat. With travel budgets being cut severely, productivity demands growing, and the travel & hospitality industries’ nickle-diming and gross ambivalence towards customers, you bet your ass I’m going to lie cheat and steal in order to get more from the situation.

        • reighvin says:


          I just try to fly on JetBlue myself, if at all possible. They charge a little extra for their rows with more leg-room ($10-20), but it is more than worth it. And on my last flight, somebody decided to sit in the row after take-off for the extra leg-room, and JetBlue gave him the option of either paying the extra or moving back to their seat. He moved back. So maybe this is what the airlines should do. Just charge an extra $10-20 for a seat with more legroom. Those of us who need it have no problem paying for it.

        • mythago says:

          @TheSpatulaOfLove: How nice that you’re willing to screw fellow customers to get yours, and how entertaining that you then turn around and whine that others do the same.

        • tooki says:

          You really, really need to befriend Seat Guru.

          You wonder how people pick good seats? Savvy travel agents, experience, and Seat Guru. Whenever I book flights, I always use it to pick the best seats, by having it open in another browser window.

          And don’t be afraid to use your airline’s online seat selector to check seat availability as they board the plane. Some airlines (like Continental) let you see which seats are free, plus how many standby passengers there are, and which seats those standbys are assigned as they board. Wait till they close the cabin door, and voilà, you know exactly which seats are available to steal!

      • glitch44 says:

        @jusooho: Please don’t put words in my mouth: I never said you were small and unworthy. Due to the configuration of the seats my knees are already touching the seat in front of me even before the person reclines. Several years back it became trendy to ask for the bulkhead seats even when they weren’t necessarily needed. Now there’s someone suggesting people lie about medical conditions. I’m sure you can see how that would be a little frustrating.

        I’d gladly pay more for extra-legroom seats if they were offered, but the era of cut-backs I don’t see a lot of airlines jumping on that. Unfortunately, the first class option is out of my price range. I wish I was a Platinum Delta-codeshare member like you.

        • DrGirlfriend says:

          @glitch44: It’s not about being small or unworthy. I see it more as being aware of other people’s needs as well as your own. I am also 5’4″, and the only time I take an emergency row seat is when I travel with my 6’5″ husband. When I travel on my own, I try *not* to take seats that have extra legroom because I know that there are others who need it more. And I have seen my husband lose out on a seat with extra legroom to people who don’t appear to need it as much as he does – and while he doesn’t complain or moan about it, I know it’s disappointing to him as he cramps his way into a regular seat.

  19. Some of these tips remind me of Ira Winkler’s tips for gaining access to nuclear reactor plans.


  20. HawkWolf says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised that the dead battery thing is a lie, considering that the guy’s first suggestion is to lie.

  21. agreer1986 says:

    I flew BOS to LHR and I found that I was wiped coming back but going there was easy I took a morning flight out and arrived at night, travel in general makes me a bit sleepy anyways so I went straight to bed upon arrival.

    Coming back I left London at 6.30 pm and arrived in Boston at 9.30 at night but in reality ended up being awake for a total of 24 hrs straight my b est advice would be to wake up much later on your departure date if flying westward.

  22. Chrome says:

    I’ve found the easiest way to combat jet lag is to eat when its time to eat in the area your visiting. Hungry or not, sit down and eat a meal. Always seems to help me get adjusted quicker.


  23. Yeah, about that first ‘lying’ part… unfortunately, when most people try it on me, they do it by trying to convince me that “they know for sure” we have discounts we don’t have.

    And since I work for the government and our discounts (or mostly lack thereof) are CLEARLY documented, I can usually show them pretty explicitly that they’re quite wrong.

    Which is often pretty funny to watch. Is it good customer service? Not particularly, but I wouldn’t have done that if they hadn’t lied to me.

  24. Apeweek says:

    The battery trick is absolute nonsense.

    I thought these were smart tips until I got to this one.

    He got some of his text mixed up. If you think this trick charges your batteries, it’s all in your head.

    To combat jet lag, rub your head against somebody’s pants leg. Someone of the opposite sex works best.

  25. TPK says:

    Ok, I’ve thought about it for a couple hours, and I’m going to say it. I hope many more of you out there are thinking it too.

    I am disappointed that Consumerist would publish a story that advocates lying.

    First of all, what is the difference between a consumer lying to obtain a discount, and a business lying to deny a refund/exchange/access to a certain price plan/etc/etc/etc?

    Consumerist exists to help eradicate unfair and deceptive activities by business. Why would they suggest that customers should stoop to the same low level? Is it to be “I’m gettin’ mine before they get theirs?” Are we all 5 years old now?

    And furthermore, “Theft by deception” is a real crime! Sure, they aren’t going to throw you in jail for 10 years for stealing twenty bucks off a hotel room, but a crime is a crime.

    When all customers resort to dishonesty, it drives business to be all that much more strict in creating and applying policies to customers who legitimately deserve these benefits.

    Finally, check the Terms of Service of your web site host. You may very well be in violation, for publishing content that promotes criminal activity. Most web hosting companies prohibit this.

    Call me ridiculous if you want. That is exactly what this article does.

    You’ve no doubt made a lot of enemies over the years, you need to keep your noses clean. You don’t need to give anyone ammunition to discredit your reputation, or shut down your site.

    I am disappointed. Sometimes Consumerist needs to do a little growing up.

    • @TPK:

      I am disappointed that Consumerist would publish a story that advocates lying.

      You will find that there are a significant number of Consumerist readers that insist on absolute sainthood, honesty, and integrity from corporations, while themselves taking part in some of the most despicable tactics any consumer could devise.

      By no means is it a majority, but it’s not an insignificant number.

  26. harleymcc says:

    Wanna know why my Tier One sometimes don’t seem the most sympathetic when spin your true story of hardship?

    Because the last 10 people callers lied and told them the same thing to get a little ahead.

    If the callers to my centres are a random sample, here’s what I’ve learned:

    1) 20-30% have lawyers on retainer
    2) 10% are lawyers
    3) 50% have worked in whatever industry they are complaining about
    4) Many callers have years in which every member of their immediate family die several times

    My advice is to tell the true, and don’t spoil for those really in need.

    • Grive says:

      @harleymcc: Yeah, I find it very odd when people need you to cut them a break after their eight dear grandma sadly passed away.

      Lying sounds like a very bad idea. You’ll only get cynical CSRs… and we definitely don’t need any more of those. It’s the kind of stuff that you’ll be able to benefit from a couple of times, but eventually everyone (including the liar) will have to pay up tenfold in the way of more draconian measures.

    • harvey_birdman_attorney_at_law says:

      That’s because your call center is full of incompetents, obnoxious scum, and liars of your own. We have no choice but to respond in kind.

      • mythago says:

        @harvey_birdman_attorney_at_law: Of course you have a choice. People who sigh about how they ‘have no choice’ but to be assjacks really mean “oh goody, I have an excuse to act like a jerk, which is what I wanted to do all along.” It’s about as dumb as a CSR saying that he’s an asshole because he’s dealt with so many obnoxious customers.

        Plus, speaking as an attorney here, having made a record of being courteous and appropriate will help you in the long run, particularly if you have to take more serious action (like a lawsuit) later. Nobody is going to help you if your dispute with a company boils down to which of you started acting like a festering sore first. In a fight between a whiny, immature jerk and a reasonable person, who would YOU pick? Yeah. So do most judges.

  27. Fly Girl says:

    I can’t endorse most of those suggestions, and the ones that I can are pretty common sense (like eating before you fly).

    There’s a difference between getting travel advice from someone who travels a lot and getting travel advice from someone in the industry. (I usually don’t agree with Peter Greenberg’s advice for just that reason– he only understands one aspect of a multi-part issue.)

    Me, I’m a frequent traveler (weekend trips at least once a month, big international trips at least twice a year) PLUS I’ve worked for a major airline, at a major hotel, and I’ve been a travel agent for the last five years. I understand the industry from ALL aspects.

    I can tell you that not only is it unethical to lie about your employment status to get discounts, but it’s ILLEGAL. And more often than not, it’s not going to work and it IS going to bite you in the ass. Do you really think it’s as easy as going, “Gee! I work for Microsoft!” And then you get a fat discount? Um, no. Generally those companies put you on their corporate account FIRST and if you’re not already there, you’re going to need some hard documentation to back your claim up. If you can’t produce that, the agent is going to know you’re a liar. And a cheat. Sure, maybe it works one time out of fifty, but is it worth it? I don’t think so.

    I also agree with the Consumerist– hanging up on people isn’t going to get you anything. Especially if you’re being a dick about it. You know what happens if you’re talking to an airline rep and you’re a dick? They’re going to notate it in your booking and the next agent you talk to is going to see it and be *real* excited to go the extra mile for you… Or not. If the conversation isn’t going your way, POLITELY ask to speak to a supervisor. POLITELY being the key.

    The “steal an inch of legroom” is total crap. Really? By “throwing away” the in-flight magazine, you’re going to get an extra inch? I don’t think so. That’s not really advice at all. Providing in-flight reading material isn’t some evil plot by the airlines to make you *even more* uncomfortable. They make the airline some extra money (through advertising) and they provide people who forgot to bring a book with some generic reading material to kill the time. Throwing it away isn’t going to do anything but waste paper and possibly disappoint the next passenger who sits in your seat when they discover they forgot their book and there’s nothing for them to read.

    There is one tip, and one tip only, that is valid: KINDNESS. Sure, “bribing” might work (I’ve accepted a latte in exchange for a first class upgrade before), but only if you’re nice from the start. Be nice. Patient. Understanding. Accept that the person you’re talking to doesn’t make the rules, is overworked, underpaid, and gets screamed at all day long by disgruntled customers.

    Customer Service Agents for major airlines make between $10.50 and $13.50 an hour. That’s it. The unions are a joke because they’re not allowed to strike (Federal law prohibits it) and mandatory overtime (as in you work it or you’re fired) is part of the deal.

    If you’re the one customer that treats the agent with kindness and respect, you’re going to get that upgrade or nicer seat or earlier flight… If it’s available. And if it’s not available? Well, you’re going to get good karma.

    It’s not unheard of for people to have fees waived or be upgraded or given free drinks or swapped to a non-stop flight or whatever just for being nice– the agents at the airport can basically do whatever they want. And the ONLY surefire way to get those benefits? Kindness.

    That’s applies across the board– at hotels, rental car agencies, hell, EVERYWHERE. Want perks? BE NICE TO THE EMPLOYEE. Don’t try to lie and cheat and scam to save a buck– that just makes you a dick. Be nice and it will, eventually, pay off.

    • balthisar says:

      @Fly Girl: “Throwing away” isn’t really throwing away. Go back and read again. It’s tossing it into the overhead bin. Besides, there are no trash depositories you can get to easily on the airplane. As is, it takes too long for the crew to come pick up our garbage.

      In any case, emptying it doesn’t work. I’m 6’2″, and the only thing that works for me is a Knee Defender. That, or getting an emergency exit row.

    • floraposte says:

      @Fly Girl: I agree with much of what you’ve said, but I don’t have any problem with terminating a conversation a bad CSR, regardless of the industry. I’m not rude, and I don’t just hang up in the middle of nowhere–I say something like “I think I’d better call back,” and then I do. It’s never caused any problem, and I don’t feel I’m obliged to stay with either a company or a representative thereof who can’t provide me with what I need. If I can’t hear ’em, if they claim there’s no service in my area, or various other things that mean I’m not going to be able to rely on the results of this conversation, I quit and start again. I’ve only had to do it about four times, and every time it’s been absolutely worth it, and I suspect it’s considerably more effective than asking to talk to a supervisor.

    • APFPilot says:

      @Fly Girl: Of course they are allowed to strike, what are you talking about?

  28. NikonGal says:

    I agree with you 100% on what you said. I too am also disappointed that Consumerist would post the tips that condone lying. Is there nobody else who feels the same way?

    • ShariC says:

      @NikonGal: I agree that not only condoning lying, but encouraging it as a “tip” is probably not the best thing. Even if you set aside the ethical issues, problems are created for everyone when more people start to use the same lies to get what they want.

      On another site, there are often discussions about restaurants and people’s claims about food allergies and health issues that relate to food preparation. People say they are allergic to things because it’s the only way restaurants take their requests to omit things seriously. So many people now lie about it that no one believes them. That means that people who really have such problems no longer can get the special considerations they need because others have lied about having the problem to get what they want.

      Of course, I only think lying about deep vein thrombosis or health problems is an issue. I don’t care about lying about your job as the consequences aren’t such a big deal. People who work for a Fortune 500 company are likely decently compensated anyway and probably don’t need a discount.

      • Parting says:

        @ShariC: Had a pal lying to cut in line for a taxi, that his son broke his leg.

        While driving in the said taxi, he got a call, that he some did break his leg. After he departed from airport…

        One word : karma.

  29. nsv says:

    Every time I check into a hotel, I ask for the AAA discount. Hey, it’s an easy 10% off the bill, right?

    Every time (so far,) they ask for my AAA card.

    So I show it to them. That’s the nice thing about not lying. Nobody can call me on it.

    Maybe I’m strange for not lying. And maybe that’s why when I do ask for something I’m surprised when I have to show proof I should get it.

    • missdona says:

      @nsv: The AAA rate beats my corp (Fortune 500, fwiw) “discount” most of the time. Sometimes they ask for the card/sometimes they don’t, but it’s good to be able to back it up.

    • bvita says:

      @nsv: The trick that I’ve learned is to walk into a hotel and ask for the rate. Then I ask for the corporate rate. Then I ask for the AAA rate.

      If you go in and first ask for the AAA rate, you’ll often be quoted a higher rate. If you do it sequentially, they’ve got no place to go except down.

      The other trick I’ve adopted over the last two years is those tacky little green/red magazines that are ubiquitous at rest areas. For 25 years I turned my nose up at them as tourist crap. Over the last two I’ve saved about $5K using the coupons. I walked into a Courtyard by Marriott in WI using the technique above. The rate started at $199/night then dropped to $179. Out came my little green coupon book and the rate became $99 for the SAME ROOM. The only difference between the $199 & $99 rate was that the more expensive one included their breakfast buffet ($10)

    • theblackdog says:

      @nsv: Replace AAA card with Government ID and I could say the same thing.

      The only place that does not work is on airlines, they do want a government credit card from you if you try to make the purchase yourself instead of going through one of the official travel agencies.

  30. I agree that there shouldn’t be material on the site encouraging people to lie, both for moral and long-term strategic reasons. And THEN the guy writes “Don’t be a jackass”?! Too late, liars are jackasses…

    Anything which suggests that you have to trick people into thinking you’re special or well-connected in order to get a decent price or decent service is both immoral and stupid.

    In my experience self-proclaimed “travel writers” are pretty low in the grand human pecking order. The brighter writers are working on science or business books or something.

    You enjoy good food and nice service..? That’s your “talent” as a travel writer..? Please… most of these people I’ve met can’t think their way out of a wet paper bag.

  31. Norislolz says:

    Thanks for positing a blog that convinces people to lie and therefore further increases the rift between companies and consumers.

  32. arcticJKL says:

    TPK and Norislolz,

    The important thing is that no one hated anyone while lying, that could get commenters banned.

  33. bagumpity says:

    Yeah, I’m gonna go with the crowd that’s pointing a “shame on you” finger at the Consumerist. Lying should not be part of a business relations strategy on either side of the table. Tsk. Tsk.

    That stated, another (and legitimate, I might add) trick to getting better rates on your car rental is to check with every corporation you have an actual relationship with and see if one one of the perqs is a discount code with the rental company. I use my USAA rate code for a hefty discount and better terms on insurances. I rent monthly, and my rate is actually less than what my employer negotiates.

  34. sassbrown74 says:

    I’d generally suggest people NOT pick up food on the way to the airport, unless they are very familiar with what can and cannot get through security. Once you have gone through security, anything you buy on the other side is clean and clear to go onboard the aircraft.

    The approach on jet lag is one I take as well. Immediately after take-off I set my watch to the time of my next location (ie if I have a stopover somewhere, I am changing my watch twice) and then only think about the time zone at home if I need to contact somebody there. My body will still feel an effect but it is less severe than if I am constantly thinking about the difference.

  35. picardia says:

    I wouldn’t lie about anything major/important. I might fib about something like the wedding speech, but not about my employment status. That said, I think the rest of the tips are good advice — though, as another commentator pointed out, the “walk it off” method works better going west than east, and a lot depends on how far you’re going. You can shake off the time difference between, Denver and New York, but not between Denver and Istanbul. If I’m going more than four time zones east, I’m going to try to sleep on the plane; that really does work better.

    Other tips: bring earplugs, a sleep mask and, if you can swing the space, your own blanket. The more you can assert control over your tiny, overpriced wedge of space, the better.

  36. moore850 says:

    Best travel advice of all: dress nice and be nice. There are a lot of slobs out there both in demeanor and attire, and I know I’ve been upgraded to 1st class several times just from being the only guy in coach with a tie.

  37. tevetorbes says:

    My post got disemvowelled, which is unfortunate- I didn’t think we were into censoring people’s posts based on a few naughty words.

    The jist:

    I shouldn’t have to tip a person to ensure that my toothbrush isn’t spat upon. Any other “savvy” advice that this “veteran travel writer” offers up should be taken with a giant grain of salt.

    Sorry I offended an editor with a stick up their bum, considering I disemvowelled the naughty parts of the post myself. I still stand by my original statement: maybe jerky clerks/stockboys/bellhops/maids/baristas/etc. should tip *ME* for not punching them in the face for being assclowns.

    For shame Consumerist, for shame.

  38. Tedicles says:

    I’ve used the “government discount” many a times…if they ask for ID or something, I usually tell them that I am sub-contracted, and have not gov’t credentials “But…they told me that I could get the discounted rates anyway…” and it works like 95% of the time. :)

  39. handyr says:

    What kind of pants does he wear?

  40. El_Fez says:

    Ok, three trips to Europe (the place, not the rock band) from Seattle means that I have 12 hours of jet lag to adapt to. The best way I’ve found to deal with it? Try and adjust your schedual ahead of time! Starting about a week before you’re set to depart, as *SOON* as you get home from work in the evening, go right to bed. Catch 8 hours of tossing and turning sleep, go to work the next morning. Oh, and pick up some melatonin to work your internal clock into the correct shape

    Wash, rinse, repeat for the next 5 or so days. By the time your trip rolls around, you should be much closer to the local time than you would have been if you went in cold. The time zones dont quite sync up, but one or two hours difference is much easier to overcome than 12.

  41. tikkachicken says:

    @Fly Girl. I respectfully disagree with one of your comments. Moving the magazines out of the seat pocket really DOES improve the comfort for people whose knees touch the seat in front of them. The inch really does help folks as tall as me.

  42. Powerlurker says:

    My typical solution to suboptimal legroom situations is simply to not put luggage under the seat in front of me so I can stretch my legs more.

  43. jrockway says:

    FWIW, I’m not all that tall (5’10”), and I always take the exit row. It’s the benefit I get for flying 50,000 miles a year on the same airline, and I’m not going to give it up because a tall person can’t afford First Class.

  44. LetaDrury says:

    @jrockway: I think the real question is what do you get out of sitting in that seat? I mean, what does all that extra leg room do for YOU at 5’10? Does it really make THAT much of a difference? Is it really so luxurious that you just CAN’T give it up for someone who’s clearly breaking themselves to fit into a seat that was not designed for them? I’m 5’9 and I don’t need or ask for extra leg room when I fly…perhaps that inch that separates us makes all the difference. With the exception of a few carriers, I have plenty of leg space and I just don’t understand what extra leg room does for people under 6 foot.
    Kudos on your 50K + benefit but I’d take the drink tickets instead-it will help you sleep better during the flight as the 6’7″ guy behind you clutches his knees to his chest and prays you’ll be able to lift the 60lb door out of the way in case of an emergency.
    And, not to be Captain Obvious, but business and first class sometimes sell out…more often on long flights where that extra leg room becomes all the more popular.