Stalk•er – noun – a person who stealthily hunts or pursues an animal or another person.
I plead guilty, I’m a stalker. I do not stalk animals (unless I’m following my nose to a nice, juicy steak) and I definitely don’t stalk people (except for the occasional Facebook creep). No, I’m not a stalker in the traditional sense but more a stalker of deals, bargains, sales, clearances, closeouts, bargoooons, reduced transactions; however you want to say it! In my case I’m talking mostly plane tickets and trip tours. Like a ninja in the night, like a lion awaiting its prey in the savannah, like a teen Justin Bieber fan, I watch and I wait for the exact right moment to pounce!
Getting a bargain sounds easy but there is a lot more patience and discipline involved than one would expect. So, I will provide to you a few quick tips for getting Hobo-like deals so you too, can have High Class adventures on a Hobo budget.
1) Look for Patterns – I booked a G Adventure 20 day tour starting in Nairobi, Kenya and ending in Livingstone, Zambia. I had been watching that tour a 3-4 times a week for 4 months! I noticed some of the June and August departures went on sale and the tour I wanted still had over 7 spaces available. Patiently I waited, and waited, and waited. Finally, within the one month mark the tour was knocked down saving me over half a grand. Hobo score!
2) Seek out Companies that Cater to Solo Travelers – You might be excited to find a smokin’ deal on a great trip, but read the fine print. Most deals are based on double occupancy. So unless you can talk a friend into traveling with you, choose companies that cater to solo travelers. G Adventures and Intrepid Travel are two popular and dependable companies in Canada but there are lots out there.
3) The Stalker is Being Stalked – If you’re going to travel, most of the time you need to buy a plane ticket but those suckers get expensive! I am forever typing in different combinations of places, dates, and times on various sites such as Expedia, Orbitz, and Kayak. Like gasoline or Rob Ford’s tax proposals these prices flucuate from one day to the next. If the price is continuously changing it is tempting to stalk this price everyday. But what you’re not aware of is that the airline companies are actually stalking you! They can sense your desperation for the price to go down and they’ll slowly start raising it. In a panic the consumer buys because they don’t want the price to keep going up! If you think this might be happening to you log on to another computer where you rarely look up flights and the price may change. Also, the key to booking cheap flights is the rule of 3. Either more than 3 months before your departure or approximately 3 weeks before.
For more tips on getting cheap airfare go to: http://www.businessinsider.com/23-secrets-to-booking-cheap-flights-2012-7?op=1
4) Subscribe – Although it’s a pain to have your inbox flooded with emails it is worth subscribing to sites such as Travelzoo, Groupon, and Wagjag. Most of these sites also offer an app which you can check at your own leisure instead of deleting 16 emails a day. MamaHobo and Daddy-Obo just booked a trip to Turkey on the Travelzoo!
5) Refuse to Pay Full Price – If you know you’re going on vacation make a list of all the things you need (see Packing Hobo Style). In the months leading up to your vacation consistently check the sale rack of spots like MEC, Sail, and Bass Pro. At the end of the summer things always
come on sale. Pick the few items you need and you can probably find the rest in your house or borrow from a friend. For Birthdays and Christmas let people know what you actually need for your trip so you end up with items that you will use instead of that cat sweater that hangs in your closet or the gag gift that takes up space on your shelf.
So is stalking creepy? Of course! Real stalking is creepy as hell. But the stalking of deals to save a few bucks? …. well, that tour or plane ticket won’t know that you watch them 4 times a day for 6 weeks straight. So as long as you refrain from growing a thin moustache and purchasing a pair of night vision binoculars, I say Stalk Away my Friends, Stalk Away!