How to Score Tremendous Travel Freebies
Travelers are saddled with all sorts of extra costs these days. Dodge them with these freebies for people on the go.
Travel is expensive enough before you factor in the budget-busting, nickel-and-dime fees you encounter along the way. From paying to check your luggage to finding out your hotel charges for parking, you can easily spend hundreds on miscellaneous products and services throughout your trip. But there are plenty of ways to score free products and services during your travels if you know where to look:
Save $25 or more per checked bag (each way!) by booking with an airline that offers free checked bags such as Southwest or JetBlue. JetBlue also saves you on entertainment and snacks by offering free TV, satellite radio and a variety of all-you-can-eat munchies. Families with young children can also score free domestic flights for toddlers on many major airlines by holding children age two and younger, rather than buying them a seat.
No matter which airline you choose, make sure to sign up for its frequent flier program to accumulate points toward free flights.
Take advantage of free meals at many hotels.
If you’re a breakfast person, look for hotels that offer free breakfast – and we don’t just mean coffee and Danishes – to start your day with savings. Country Inns & Suites, Homewood Suites, SpringHill Suites and Holiday Inn Express are just a few of the hotels offering hot breakfast buffets. Some hotel chains, like Marriott’s Residence Inn, host manager’s receptions on select evenings, with free meals ranging from cheese and crudités on one night to spaghetti and meatballs on another. Likewise, Embassy Suites by Hilton holds a nightly reception for guests featuring free beverages and appetizers. Oh, and don’t forget to grab the famous free chocolate chip cookies when you check in at a Doubletree. Visit Priceline.com for a searchable list of hotel freebies, including free parking and Wi-Fi.
Parents can save even more on hotel costs by booking where kids sleep and eat free. Choice Hotels allow children 18 and younger to stay free when sharing a room with their parents or grandparents. At Holiday Inn hotels, kids 19 and younger stay free in their parents’ room, while up to four children aged 12 and younger eat free off the hotel restaurant’s kids’ menu.
Avoid hotel fees altogether by house swapping or house sitting, couchsurfing, or farming. Yes, farming. World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) allows travelers to stay and eat free on an organic farm in exchange for a few hours’ help each day. (The only cost is a small fee to join WWOOF.) Similarly, engaging in a house sit or exchange allows you to stay in homes all over the world for free – well, just the cost of a membership, and sometimes a security deposit. See our piece See The World With a House Sit or Exchange for more details.
For the more adventurous types, you can arrange to sleep on a local’s couch (or guest bed) free in 100,000+ cities worldwide through Couchsurfing.com. Simply create a profile at the site, and look for available crash pads in your destination. (Fellow travelers review their hosts on the site, so you can scout for a clean, safe experience.) As a bonus, your Couchsurfing host can be a great source of free local insider knowledge.
Free Price Monitoring
If you don’t have the nerves to wait and book a last-minute deal or flash sale, go ahead and book now and let Yapta.com monitor the price. If the fare drops from what you paid, Yapta will notify you and help you collect a refund or travel vouchers. The site will also do this for hotel rooms, while AutoSlash.com tracks your rental-car costs.
There are plenty of other travel freebies out there, from free passport photos, to free language lessons, to free tour guides. For more, check out our Fabulous Travel Freebies list.