Travel

Giveaway & Review: Travel Hacking For Canadians

Travel Hacking For CanadiansI've been travel hacking and churning credit cards for big rewards myself since about 2006. As a result, I've taken several very nice trips paid for primarily with miles and points including Paris, Toronto, Niagara Falls, Chicago, Los Angeles, the Philippines, Vancouver multiple times, and more.

In 2012, Steve Zussino, the founder of Grocery Alerts approached me about a joint venture related to travel hacking specifically for Canadians. I was intrigued by the idea and initially accepted, but it was soon apparent that I didn't have the necessary time to devote to the project so he had to continue the endeavour alone.

Now, 2 years later, Steve has successfully launched the website Canadian Travel Hacking and his new book Travel Hacking For Canadians has just been published.

5 Copies To Give Away

Just before the book was set to launch, Steve contacted me about doing a review and I readily agreed with the simple condition that he provide me with some free copies to give away to my readers. At the time, I thought he was publishing an eBook and it wouldn't cost him much to give away a few copies. However, when my own copy arrived in the mail shortly thereafter, I discovered that it is a beautiful 200 page soft cover book - thanks for being so generous to my readers Steve!

How To Win Your Copy

For a chance to win one of the five copies, all you have to do is leave a comment below sharing with Steve and I what your dream vacation is that you haven't yet been able to realize or afford. I guarantee you can use the information found in this book to help make it happen for a lot less money than you thought.

When you leave your comment, be sure to use your primary email address, because that is how I will be contacting the winners. I will randomly select 3 winners from the list of comments using Random.org and 2 additional winners that I think shared a really compelling dream vacation or travel story.

The giveaway will close in one week on Tuesday, August 26th, 2014 and I will contact the winners shortly thereafter.

Buy The Book

My Review Of The Book

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Insurance: Can You Get A Better Rate?

Car insurance bumper stickerInsurance, more than any other product or service I pay for, makes me nervous ... really nervous!

When I step back and think of it, it's probably an irrational fear, but when contemplating insurance I just picture some sinister adjuster or claims agent somewhere finding any possible means of denying my claim when I need it most to keep more profit for the faceless insurance company. Having that kind of power over me in some unknown person's hands just makes me quiver a little bit.

However, the alternative of not having any insurance at all is even worse!

Is Fear Holding You Back From Getting Better Rates?

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Car Parts And Repairs For Up To 90% Off!

Car parts and repairs for up to 90% offCar parts are extremely costly if you buy them through the regular channels like NAPA, CarQuest, or one of the many other car part suppliers out there that supply parts on demand to the massive car repair industry. If you go with genuine OEM parts from the dealer you are looking at an even higher cost.

What if I told you that you could get those same car parts for up to 90% off? In this article I’m not only going to show you how to find and buy your own parts online, but how to get them at amazing prices that can often being as little as 10-20% of the cost you would pay for similar parts at the dealer or the shop of comparable quality. You can easily save hundreds if not thousands of dollars on a regular basis by doing this.

How I Saved $1000 On A Single Repair

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You Should Mount Your Winter Tires On Steel Rims

You should mount your winter tires on steel rimsWinter is almost upon us again and it soon will be time to put on your winter tires if you don’t want to skid all over the road like a kid learning how to skate. If you’re a Canadian and you’re still trying to run all seasons tires in the winter you may need to have your head examined!

Ok, it’s not that bad ... I used to be a die-hard believer in all-season tires year round myself, until one day I tried winter tires and I was an instant convert. It was like night and day! After you’ve used them, you’ll instantly wonder how you ever got by without them all these years. I actually enjoy driving in the winter now because, unless you’re driving on sheer ice, it almost feels the same as driving in the summer. You have full control of the vehicle, you never get stuck, and starting and stopping is a breeze.

In short, driving on all-season tires in the winter will save you money until you get in that costly accident. Or, you could just get stuck on the side of the road and end up missing an important meeting or have to pay for an expensive tow. So, we’ll rule out that option for saving money and assume you’re going to use winter tires if you already don’t.

Why A Second Set Of Rims Will Save You Money

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Know How Much Car Repairs Should Cost

Know how much car repairs should costI don’t know about you, but whenever I head to the service center to get my car inspected, I’m always very apprehensive about what kind of problems they might find and how much it will end up costing me to get it fixed.

Worse, I have this innate distrust of car service centers and think that they are going to either try to sell me on a repair or service I don’t need or overcharge me for low quality parts with a high markup. Or both!

Unless you’re a mechanic yourself or spend a decent amount of time researching car-related stuff, you never really know exactly what is being done to your car, how often parts typically need to be replaced, and how much is a fair amount to pay for any given repair.

Fortunately, getting past all that and ensuring you never get ripped off again isn’t all that hard. Here’s how:

Learn To Estimate Repair Costs

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You Need A Quality Back Yard Mechanic

You need a quality back yard mechanicIn breaking news: Cars Are Expensive! I bet you’re shocked, right? I think anyone who has owned a car for a few years knows that most vehicles are just a huge money pit that never stop sucking your wallet dry yet they are a necessity for most of us Canadians in this monster of a country we live in. A 5 hour drive that seems like just a short trip for us could feel like an eternity and a journey spanning several countries to someone in Europe.

One of the best ways to reduce your car maintenance costs is to find a quality mechanic that doesn’t work for a car dealership or big name repair shop. You do get some peace of mind and arguably higher quality service by going with the big names but most times that’s all it is, just a false sense of security.

Mechanic Labour Costs

The cost you will be charged for an hour of service is highly dependent on two things: where you live and the type of garage or mechanic you bring your car to. My experience has been that most dealerships charge north of $90 an hour for labour in my small city and that figure can rise to as much as $150 in major metropolitan areas.

If you go with an independent mechanic or a smaller no frills shop that does quality work you should be able to get that down to $40 to $50 per hour ballpark probably cutting the cost in half.

Related: ACT NOW! The Best Deal On Winter Tires You Will Ever Find!

Quality Of Workmanship

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Money Saving Tips: Use Synthetic Oil In Your Car

Using synthetic oil in your carRecently I wrote about bringing your own oil when you take your vehicle in for an oil change and how to save money on synthetic oil in the process. Essentially by bringing your own synthetic oil that you can buy for $20 or less in the United States or for about $35 on sale in Canada you can save a bundle because most garages mark up a synthetic oil change by $50 to $70.

That said, there are many more merits to using synthetic oil that will save you even more money. The exact amount is hard to calculate but I can at least give you a rough idea why it is worth it.

Related: Car Parts And Repairs For Up To 90% Off!

Significantly Reduced Engine Wear

The whole point of synthetic oil is to lubricate the fast moving components of your engine so the metallic parts don’t chafe next to each other causing friction, high heat, expansion, and sheering off of little metal bits into the engine oil that can potentially cause even more damage later. I’m no expert on this, but I’ve read that oil breaks down in addition to getting dirty over time which is one of the main reasons it needs to be changed often. Synthetic oil breaks down much more slowly in addition to lubricating better and generally causing your engine to run smoother.

There are large internet communities dedicated just to car oil, one of the biggest being Bob Is The Oil Guy. The enthusiasts on those forums regularly compare oils and send their used oil in for a used oil analysis which tells them exactly what is in the oil so they can really see how well the oil is working. They will know if there is any sheered metal, dirt and gunk in the oil and if the oil started breaking down or if it was still in good shape and ready to go more significantly more kilometers. All of these enthusiasts recommend synthetic oil based on their findings and I’m now a believer as well. I think you should be too.

Of course, this will save you money on costly engine repairs in the long run.

Fewer Oil Changes

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Money Saving Tips: Bring Your Own Oil For An Oil Change

Bring your own oil for an oil changeMost people think the only reason to buy their own engine oil for their vehicle would be if they wanted to change the oil themselves to avoid paying someone else to do it. The truth is most garages and dealerships will allow you to bring your own oil if you simply ask. They will even charge you less for the oil change because they typically remove the cost of the bulk oil they would normally be putting in your car from the bill.

Changing your own oil can be a huge pain because you have to learn how to do it first of all, then buy the oil, filter, and other necessary stuff, then get dirty doing it, and finally find an environmentally responsible way of disposing of the oil. When a standard oil change can be as cheap as $30, it hardly sounds worth all that hassle to me!

Related: Car Parts And Repairs For Up To 90% Off!

However, simply buying your own oil and bringing it with you to the oil change is so dead easy that anyone could do it. But, the real question is: will it save you money?

If you are using standard engine oil and buying it at the regular price at Canadian Tire, then the answer is almost certainly no. If you are using synthetic oil on the other hand and getting it at a good price, then the savings can be huge. Keep reading » about Money Saving Tips: Bring Your Own Oil For An Oil Change

The Best Hotel Deals I’ve Ever Had

The best hotel deals I’ve ever hadIfs you were to visit the websites of many upscale hotels you would see that their rooms are almost always listed for well over $200 per night and you have to ask yourself: how do they do it? How can they sell hundreds of these rooms every night of the year for such an insanely high price? The answer is, THEY CAN’T! That’s right, other than during the busiest times of the year or when major events are taking place near the hotel in question, a large number of their rooms would sit vacant if they were to try and sell every single one of them at those high prices.

Thankfully years ago I learned this little secret about the hotel industry: they are desperate to sell their rooms! Why? Because it makes very little business sense as a hotel manager to let a large portion of your rooms sit vacant every night. Some money is better than no money, right? On the other hand, hotels don’t want to damage their brand and the upscale image of their hotel by dropping their rates to bargain basement prices just so they can sell their remaining rooms either. The hotels especially don’t want their high paying customers to know that the room they just purchased for $300, they would actually be willing to sell for $50 if it meant that it wouldn’t remain vacant for the night!

So how do these hotels ensure that their rooms are occupied while at the same time protecting their reputation so that everyone doesn’t know that they are selling their rooms so cheaply? The answer is they sell off their surplus inventory of rooms through 3rd party discount travel providers like Priceline and Hotwire at massive discounts.

Try Priceline Now!

How Does Booking On Priceline And Hotwire Work?

Booking hotels through Priceline and Hotwire works slightly differently, but the basic concept is that they only provide a very rough description of the hotel and the general area where it is located without actually naming the hotel. The true identity of the hotel is only revealed after the person booking the hotel has already paid for their stay in full. They will also not be given the option to change or cancel their reservation meaning that the revenue from that sale becomes guaranteed for the hotel the instant that the room is booked. By doing things this way, the hotel’s brand is protected because their hotel is never publicly listed alongside the rock bottom price on their own website nor on any third party travel provider’s website either.

Related: Complete Guide To Aeroplan

I know, those are some pretty serious restrictions, but what if I told you that you could save up to 70% off the regular nightly rates for 3 and 4 star hotels in most major cities? Would it be worth it then? To me it definitely is and you’ll soon see why!

Here Are Some Actual Hotel Deals I’ve Scored

Based on my own personal experience, I have to tell you that staying in a hotel right in the heart of the city you are visiting with direct access to everything the city has to offer is much more enjoyable than paying more money to stay at a run down motel that is miles away. Here are a few of the cheap hotel deals I’ve managed to score by using Priceline and Hotwire over the past several years. Keep reading » about The Best Hotel Deals I’ve Ever Had

The Aeroplan Star Challenge: Earn 16,500 Aeroplan Miles Basically Free

The focus of this site is mostly on learning repeatable strategies that can save you tons of money in the long term. It isn’t about the latest deal that crops up and goes away just as quickly, as there are lot of other sites that cover those deals. However, when a deal comes along that essentially gives you hundreds of dollars in free money, it’s hard to ignore and I just have to write a post about it. This is one of those deals.

Aeroplan has launched a new promotion for the month of May (May 1st to May 28th 2012) called “The Aeroplan Star Challenge” where they are giving you a chance to earn up to 16,500 miles for shopping at their partners. Normally there are big catches with these types of promotions in that you need to shop at 5-10 different partners, only get 1 credit for shopping at the same partner multiple times, have to spend a minimum of $20 at each partner to qualify, and the list of terms and conditions goes on and on.

Not the case for this promotion! I have read through the entire terms and conditions myself and it has been confirmed by an Aeroplan employee as well that you can shop at the same partner as many times as you want and still get credit and there is no minimum purchase other than you have to buy enough to earn 1 aeroplan mile in a transaction to qualify.

How The Promotion Works

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