Most people are always looking for a good deal when it comes to travelling. Whether it's the cheapest plane ticket, or a hotel that gives you free breakfast, everyone is looking for a real bargain these days. So, how does FREE sound?
Here are Jennifer Jolly's top insider tips how to take a summer vacation for free (or really, really, really cheap):
1. Score an Easy Plane Ticket:
- If you are "credit worthy," this one is an absolute no brainer. Sign up for a travel rewards credit card. Charge one thing (like groceries for this week), pay it off, get enough points to fly round trip just about anywhere in the U.S.
- Want a free trip to Europe? Double your points by signing up for a personal card and a business card. Get a round trip ticket to Europe or Asia.
- Want two round trip tickets? Have your spouse do the same thing.
- DO NOT DO THIS IF: you have poor credit. (You can quickly check it for free at www.billshrink.com)
- Remember, you get a ding on your credit score every time you sign up for a new cards, so be sure you can afford to have this kind of impact on your rating.
- Also, be sure you can pay off your card. What good are the points if you're carrying a lot of debt?!
- Sign-up bonus of 20,000 miles after first purchase
- For purchases at Delta, earn 2 miles per $1 spent
- Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
- No limit on earnings
- Speaking of points, you have more than you know! Round 'em up, top 'em off, and even get some donated to you! Most people have no idea they can track, trade, swap. Points.com.
- Track, trade, earn, swap, buy, share, redeem all your travel and rewards points in one place.
- Last year I pooled, traded and swapped my way to a free four day trip to New York that included airfare, hotel, car service and meals - all for points I already had and would have let go to waste.
- Anyone between the ages of 18 and 88 who has a driver's license can take a vacation and earn money by driving recreational vehicles across North America.
- Livin The Dream RV Courier pays your expenses, provides insurance coverage and you sleep right in the RV-most are very comfortable.
- You don't need any special training-RVs handle just like the family car. And contrary to the myth that senior citizens are poor drivers, some companies actually seek out retirees because of maturity and experience.
- Sleep and cook in right in the RV.
- If they don't provide you airfare or an RV to get back home, sign up to do a "driveaway" on the return. Many people who move don't want to have to move their cars themselves hire people just like you to do it for them.
- For a $100 "down-payment," you can travel around the world for free, IF you win an amazing race type competition.
- A new company called "Competitours" gives 17 teams of two an adventure around the world similar to "The Amazing Race."
- If you win, you get $5,500 on cash. If you come in second, you get $2,500 and third place gets $1000.
- If you don't win, the trip costs $2,675 per person.
- The owner WILL take frequent flyer miles as payment for the trip if you don't win.
Couch-surfing, home-swapping, even bartering for free travel has become so popular there are entire online communities dedicated to it:
CouchSurfing is your ticket to explore the world -- from the road or from your own home. Over a million people are signed up - and it's FREE.
Eat borscht in Odessa. Watch kangaroos in Adelaide. Find the best noodles in Tokyo. Show travelers the best live music near your home, or your favorite hiking trail. Meet locals in your own city who share your interest in travel and the world.
>> website: www.couchsurfing.org
Swap your house with another a family for a free vacation stay in cool locals from Guatemala and Florence to the Virgin Islands and Spain! There are 33,000 listings of homes around the world.
>> website: www.homeexchange.com
Globalfreeloaders is a network of people willing to accommodate travellers completely at their own convenience, in any way that they can. Completely free of charge.
Whether its just a spare mattress or a spare bedroom or even a granny flat. Most budget travellers aren't too picky. :) Think about it -- on average approximately one third of a budget traveller's costs are spent on accommodation.
Not only do you get free accommodation but you also get the inside knowledge, experience and culture that comes with staying with a local that you'd never be exposed to staying in a hotel or hostel.
By joining this service (annual membership is about $30), you get access to a classified system of people looking for caretakers in exchange for rent-free living. The opportunities vary widely in scope from ranch hands, to organic farm workers, campground hosting, motel management, nursing for the elderly, to just plain house sitting.
Some are paying opportunities, while others are simply work-trade arrangements for accommodation.
>> website: www.caretaker.org
This budget travel trend, known as "wwoofing" provides "World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms." It is an international organization (located in over 70 countries) of organic farms, gardens, businesses, ranches, (you name it) where you can exchange your services for accommodations, food, and training.
Required services include basic garden and farm maintenance, as well as cooking, teaching, caring for children, and handy work. There is usually some work suitable for anybody willing to adopt this lifestyle.
>> website: www.wwoof.org
If you can't find a family to swap with, just rent a house or apartment. Cramming a family of 5 into a hotel room for $200 can fray nerves while eating away at a budget. If you can rent a 3 bedroom house for $200 a night, the price is the same, but the experience will be much better for everyone. Again the added benefit of a kitchen goes a long way to helping maintain a budget.
>>website: www.vrbo.com (www.craigslist.org is also a great way to find these)
If you have a group of friends and/or family - even online buddies, organize a tour yourself and not only travel for free - but get paid! Go Ahead Tours offers two free spots for every group of 12 or more paying guests.
By now, I'm sure you've heard of "voluntourism." You volunteer your time and a little elbow grease and you get a free trip out of it:
- At over 2,000 miles long the Appalachian Trail is the classic long trail in the Eastern US an home to almost 2,000 endangered or threatened species.
- Volunteers help with trail building and maintenance in return for food and (usually very basic) accommodation
Trip Leader for HF Holidays, Europe
- One of Europe's most popular walking holiday operators is searching for volunteers to lead their walking holidays.
- Leaders are provided with accommodation, meals and the chance to explore Europe in return for sharing their passion and knowledge with groups they accompany.
Help Exchange, Worldwide
- www.helpx.net is a website that lists worldwide hosts that are looking for an extra pair of hands; whether it be in their farm or garden, working in schools or on religious projects, building houses or community centto simply helping a family take the kids to school.
- A small memberships fee is required to access the details of hosts but board and lodging is provided in exchange for your work.
Appalachian Trail Conference, USA
Nowadays "smart " cell phones can be used in place of a music player, laptop, digital camera and video camera, not to mention hot a slew of apps to help you catch your plane on time, plan for the weather and connect with friends and family.
What, you don't have a smart phone? Try one out on your next vacation FREE! Sprint 's brand new "Free Guarantee" gives anyone opening a new line of service the chance to try Sprint for 30 days.
If you're not completely satisfied, you can get reimbursed for the device purchase and activation fee, get the early termination fee waived, get a full refund for any monthly recurring charges incurred and get all associated taxes and fees waived. In addition, Sprint will waive the restocking fee for new customer exchanges as part of this policy.
About Jennifer Jolly:
Jennifer has been deeply embedded in consumer and lifestyle media for the past 15 years as a broadcast journalist, TV Host, guest columnist and PR advisor.
Her popular TV segments, print and blog articles cover the very things most moms (and just about everyone else) are talking about today: Fabulous Freebies, How to Live Large on Less, No Sweat Workouts, Simple Tech to Save Time and Money, Valentines: Free Love, Spring Break Specials, More for Mother's Day, The Skinny on Workout Wear, Summer Savings, Hi Tech Fitness Gadgets, Living Limber, and much, much more!
For more tips, read Jennifer's blog at goodideagal.com.