Mystery traveller: Money expert’s travel hack for free hotel stays, flights

travel

How to get the most out of a holiday budget is no Mystery to Jen of Smarty Pants Finance. Photo / Freestocks, Unspalash

International travel is a luxury that can be extremely expensive, particularly for those who have a taste for traveling in style.

However one personal finance guru has shared a tip that has saved her a fortune while traveling, and even scored her some 5-star stays for free.

Money blogger Jen, who writes under the name Smartypants Finance, shared her secret with her 57 thousand followers on TikTok: it involves signing up for work as a “Mystery Shopper”.

Hotels, restaurants and even airlines rely on the services of mystery reviewers, who enjoy services for free, or even get paid in exchange for reviews.

Signing up for mystery shopping agencies has allowed her to pick and choose assignments while on holiday, saving her thousands of dollars.

Jen says she has scored five-star stays and even flights for free.  Photo / Chelsea Gates, Unsplash
Jen says she has scored five-star stays and even flights for free. Photo / Chelsea Gates, Unsplash

“You can mystery shop on airlines so instead of just paying for your airfare out of pocket, get a mystery shopping assignment that covers all or part of your airfare in exchange for submitting a report about some aspect of the flight,” she said.

Jen says she has signed up for multiple mystery shopping boards online in order to cover all aspects of travel, from rail tickets to meals.

There are plenty of options for discerning diners.

“I have eaten in five star restaurants in Maui, Istanbul, Turkey, London and Paris all on mystery shopping assignments,” she said.

However you’re not ‘technically’ eating out for free. You are offering your services as a reviewer or ‘market researcher’, and you will have to file a report or review on some aspect of the service.

“As a mystery shopper you evaluate a hotel and you submit a report in exchange for the entire cost of the hotel stay including the room, the taxes, the food and the spa visit,” she said.

Luxury travel can be extremely expensive for anyone who doesn't know this travel hack.  Photo / Anthony Delanoix
Luxury travel can be extremely expensive for anyone who doesn’t know this travel hack. Photo / Anthony Delanoix

It’s not limited to travel either. Jen says she has even conducted mystery shopping assignments in duty free, while waiting to catch a plane.

“Instead of buying a meal before you get on your long flight, find a mystery shopping assignment to cover the cost of the meal or do a little shopping at the convenience store for snacks for your flight, all courtesy of mystery shopping,” she says .

One of the benefits of being a mystery shopper is that you are required to behave as a genuine holidaymaker or customer so that the businesses get the benefit of an unprejudiced, undercover review.

What better disguise for a mystery shopper than actually being on holiday?

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