Today I was reminded of my most powerful travel tip, ever. One which is ridiculously simple, yet I constantly seem to forget. This tip has given me far more than I could ever have expected, and it is simply this:

Ask for what you want.

I know, its crazy simple. It’s so simple that most people will completely disregard it.

This tip has so many applications.

Want a free upgrade? Ask.

Want a service like a seat, which the airline usually charges for? Ask (nicely) at the counter.

If you got a bad seat on the flight, ask if you can change.

Need a gluten-free, dairy-free meal, but the airline doesn’t offer them? Ask anyway. This was something I did recently. The airline offered pre-booked gluten-free OR dairy-free meals. I checked-in early for a flight I’d been bumped off the day before, and made my request at the counter. I expected they would say no. The service desk called catering, who put together a meal that met all of my requirements, and way exceeded my expectations.

Arrived at your accomodation, and you’ve been allocated a room, but you can see another room that looks totally awesome? Ask if they’ll shift you. If they say ‘no’, it might be because someone has booked that room. However, it’s also completely possible that the person has only booked it for part of the time you’re there. If you ask how could you get the room, often they’re happy to move you after the other person checks out.

Want a discount? Ask.

I’ve used this tip to save a lot of money on accommodation.

For instance, occasionally I’ve looked at villas that I really loved, however, I couldn’t really afford. By honestly expressing my needs, I’ve had people offer me the accommodation at deeply discounted prices. Sometimes this is because it meets their (unexpressed) need to sell the accommodation for a longer period period of time, rather than to wait around and try leasing it for several shorter time periods.

Wandering Earl uses this tip to get a discount on many of the places he stays. Initially, I thought his strategy of asking for a price that is 60% of what he was being offered upfront was a WIN-LOSE strategy, which isn’t how I want to play. However, I note that he tells the apartment owner that he won’t use the air-conditioning, which does represent a really big proportion of the rental costs of many apartments.

Overall, when asking for what I want, what I find is that I get a ‘yes’ response to many things I would have expected I’d be told ‘no’. So, next time you’re traveling, give it a go. Ask for exactly what you want, rather than settling for second best.