Don’t fall off your chair just yet, or click off this post in skepticism. Over the last 10 years I have experienced quite a few FREE or ALMOST-FREE vacations, and I’m going to share how you can too!
I call some of them semi free because the majority include free hotel stays and activities, but not necessarily free flights. My most recent trip to the Bahamas though was an all expense paid free vacation because I won a contest 😉 Yes those things really do exist! So sign up, let them scan your badge, or drop your raffle ticket in to their box!
Now is there a catch? Of course. A lot of companies who offer these free or semi free vacay stays are looking for something in return, your time, your attention, your positive review or your social media shares! Imagine how valuable a company must consider you to consider it worth it to give you a free stay? Are you willing to trade them for a free trip? I AM!
You may also be wondering where you can go with these free or semi free trips? The answer is so many places! I’ve done Las Vegas, Palm Springs, San Diego, Atlantic City, the Poconos, Lake Tahoe, Virginia Beach, Cancun, Florida and the Bahamas. Now it may take a little flexibility on your part and a little research, but hey you should be doing that anyway before you book travel!
Free flights are nearly impossible to catch, unless you have a immediate family member who works for an airline, like I do. Hi Hubby ; )
But there are still some great tricks to score flights for super cheap if you look. Now let me be honest about something. I am somewhat of a travel snob, so there are certain airlines I will not fly with no matter how cheap their seats are, because of bad experiences or bad customer service. I don’t do janky! I will also rarely ever buy a connecting flight, only nonstop. So with my standards if I am telling you flight deals exist trust me they do!
Did you know that airlines update their flight prices on Tuesday/Wednesday nights in the wee hours of the morning. You won’t always catch an amazing deal but the likelihood you will get something on discount is pretty good. So on those insomniac nights, check flights! Go to Expedia, Orbitz, Priceline or the Airline site directly.
Additionally websites like TheFlightDeal are a great resource to find dirt cheap flights on reputable airlines IF your destination is flexible. I don’t know how they do it, but they do! That is how I nabbed round trip tickets to Abu Dhabi for $177 on Christmas morning! Thank you Santa ;0) It’s also how I nabbed $400 round trip flights to Italy for an girls adventure coming up in May!
Lastly, most airlines do not give any special preference to student fliers, except Air Tran, but since they have merged with SouthWest I don’t think they offer the program any longer! However I used to fly to Atlanta religiously for $63 each way, and that fare also applied to any other flight path Airtran offered, so if you are the parent of a college student between the ages of 18-22 call the airline and ask about student fares, you never know, it just may not be posted on their website.
Resorts & Condos
Now it’s time for the fun stuff! Want to stay in a 4 or 5 star place for next to nothing? Keep reading.
Here’s a few examples of places I’ve stayed for the total price of? ZERO Dollars.
How? Well in most travel destinations you will find a few lodging types. Resorts, Hotels, Motels and Condos. Now Hotels and Motels really have no reason to want to give you a free stay, most amenities and prices are already on the lower end, but resorts or condos? They want you to come and experience all they have to offer.
Resorts give away free stays because they want to build loyal customers. If I am the Blah Blah Blah resort and have every amenity imaginable, I’ll give away lots of free stays so that customer can be wowed and convinced that when they step onto my property there is no place else they need to go for the rest of their trip. I want them to come back and stay with me every single time they visit and I want them to tell all their friends about me as well! It’s worthwhile for me to do this.. Repeatedly!
Condos give away free stays because they want you to buy a unit. If I am blah blah blah condo, I will give away free stays to families and couples so they can see just how right my property is for them, because it’s spacious and comes with a kitchen and laundry facilities, so they will save money each time they come on outside expenses. I want them to commit and make my property a recurring destination for them, and I want them to tell all their friends!
Most resorts or condos who participate in these free stays are affiliated with a time share program, they are trying to sell you a unit or shares in their development and you’ll need to give them 90 minutes of your trip to listen to their spiel about why you should buy in, or you can forgo the presentation and stay at their resort for regular price. (No thank you!)
I’m willing to trade 90 minutes for a free stay are you? I always take their seminar the same day I arrive, or the very next morning so it’s done, out the way and I can enjoy the rest of my trip. Some companies are getting smarter now and make you wait until the last day. Booo!
Who are these companies and how do you find them?
Ok… I’ve giving away my biggest travel secret to you guys right now omg.
Go to RCI, BOOKVIP, Pinnacle Vacations, SheratonVacationOwnership, Wyndham Resorts, Hilton Grand Vacations (see some familiar names up there) I mean the list goes on and on of companies who offer this, find the one you want and search their available destinations.
Ok Carrie I am on the site, but why do I see prices listed on them?
To reserve your trip they typically hold a nominal amount on your credit or debit card, to hold your spot and guarantee you show up, typically even if you don’t show up you can use what you paid to book something else or request a refund. Then upon arrival they either release the funds back to your card or provide you a reimbursement in cash.
For example, in Las Vegas I paid $175 up front to stay at the Bally’s for 3 nights. Our room was humongous and there was a Jacuzzi in the middle of the living room. #EpicShit.
We went to their presentation and at the end we received $175 cash back in an envelope, dinner, tickets to a show, and an offer to try another resort in Lake Tahoe within one year with free ski lift tickets and ski rental included. We took it. 😉 Then we stayed in Vegas for an extra 2 days at the Bellagio. We paid for that one though out of pocket *cries real thug tears*
But that’s the best thing, most of these companies if you don’t buy in one location they will offer you another trip somewhere else and up the ante. For 2 years we rode the timeshare circuit where every trip we took was free hotel plus some extras. We went to one resort in the Poconos 3 times in one winter before they put the kabash on us lol.
Also some of these resorts simply offer you to stay at their hotel for deep deep discounted rates instead of free plus perks. I partake in those as well. 5 days in cancun all inclusive for only $299?? Absolutely sign me up! I have one of those waiting for me right now and there’s a music fest going on so I might just roll.
So as you noticed above during our Vegas stay we received a lot of extras, dinner wasn’t just anywhere it was a gift certificate for TAO. In Lake Tahoe, ski lift tickets and ski rental were included. They all have extras they can offer you. Inquire on it and ask for them! There is no shame in my travel game ;0)
Family friendly resorts will even offer free babysitting if they have a nursery on site, like we received in the Poconos! They don’t want you to miss a thing because you have kids in tow!
Hope this post has inspired you to get on your grind and take advantage of some super cheap, deeply discounted, or even free travel! Drop me a line below and let me know where you’d like to go for your first free vacation!