Bryce Evans // Unsplash
Let’s admit it, as much as we want to encourage everyone to travel with all these budget guides, traveling still comes at a cost. Airport taxes, flight tickets, transportation, lodging, meals, and other fees, all of these combined can still slash your wallet no matter how cheap they can be. At the end of the day, expenses will be expenses. However, who says you cannot travel for free? Do you know that there are ways you can score free flight tickets Yes, it’s true and I am speaking based on my personal experience. There are lot of ways to get free accommodation and even a complete staycation package. I repeat: FREE! Now, who doesn’t want that? Don’t get me wrong though because you do still have to spend some cash like terminal fees from time to time but hey, freebies are way better than nothing right? To get you going, here are my top tips on how you can maximize your trip and get to travel for free!
Disclaimer: This is NOT a sponsored post. All brands and companies mentioned in this post are based on my personal thoughts and opinion and I use their products and services personally.
This is probably the most common way of traveling for free. Most, if not all, airline companies have rewards and loyalty program. For example, Cebu Pacific Air has GetGo, Air Asia has BIG, and Philippine Airlines has Mabuhay Miles.
Rewards programs are not limited to airlines. In fact, a lot of companies offer them. Hotel booking sites like Agoda and TravelBook have options where you can connect your rewards card from airlines to earn more points. To give you a concrete example, take a look at this:
In TravelBook, you can connect your GetGo card by Cebu Pacific Air so you can earn points while booking hotel rooms. Currently, their base conversion is 10 pesos spent = 1 GetGo point and that can go higher depending on their promo. That means if I book a Php 1,564.03 room in Secret Garden, I automatically get 459 points. So what should I do with that points now? REDEEM FREE FLIGHTS!
This is based on their newsletter this May 12, 2017 (another tip: always subscribe to their e-mail newsletters to get first dibs on their latest promos. I am currently subscribed to all major airlines for their seat sale alert.) So imagine, a simple hotel booking can give you a free flight to Hong Kong or Taipei already!
CONTESTS & GIVEAWAYS
This is another popular way of traveling for free though it really boils down to luck. There’s no harm in trying though. I recently won FREE FLIGHTS TO BANGKOK FOR 2 courtesy of Skyscanner. I am a huge fan of joining contests since I have nothing to lose and who knows, you just might win too?
There are lot of contests out there. Some requires you to answer questions, some just require you to do a quick like and share and there are others like Selfie for Biodiversity that requires you to take a selfie.
This is one thing I have always wanted to try. It’s part of my bucket list. Simply put, couchsurfing is basically staying at a host or local for free or depending on your agreement. I have an account here and I have talked to several people on various parts of the world. Though I haven’t tried it personally, my friends have done it and it’s really helpful if you want to live like a local.
One thing that’s kinda scary about couchsurfing is the idea of staying at a stranger’s place. It’s a problem with countries that has security issues (based on stories by friends, it’s easier to couchsurf in other Southeast Asian countries like Thailand and Vietnam compared here in the Philippines).
Hitchhiking follows the same concept as that of couchsurfing but this time, it’s about transportation. With hitchhiking, you get to travel for free. It’s like carpooling minus the payment.
Atlas Green // Unsplash
The idea of hitchhiking is not that popular here in the Philippines but we’ve done it on several occasions. However, it’s mostly due to emergency reasons like being left behind and running out of options for transportation (a.k.a. no more jeeps and trikes left). We have no other option but to ask strangers if we could hitch a ride. Luckily, they agreed so we instantly saved money (though that’s not really our main goal).
I’ll admit it: travel blogging has so many perks. There are times where I get invited for an all-expense-paid trips and sponsored staycations. Imagine getting paid to travel for free! However, keep in mind that it’s not an easy task. You need to make sure that you have all the numbers to back up why these companies should work with you. Remember that at the end of the day, this is all business. You need to make sure that your reach is good and you can convert readers into customers and translate that into sales.
For inspirations, I suggest you read Trisha Velarmino‘s “How to get a complimentary hotel stay as a travel blogger – 2017 Edition“ post to give you a guide. Also, Travel With Maria‘s “TRAVEL BLOGGER STAYS, CONTESTS AND SPONSORSHIPS” post is my to-go reference for new opportunities. She always updates it every time brands are looking for bloggers for possible collaborations.
Travel blogging is getting popular nowadays. Even I got engaged with it so much since it’s fun but you have to understand that it’s not all glamour. In fact, I have spent a lot (financially, effort and time) making sure my blog is great and that includes spending a lot on traveling for content. It’s all hard work and most of the time, it’s a messy job. You must be really dedicated to it to stand out.
FIND THE RIGHT JOB
It sounds so impossible but there really are jobs out there that pays you to travel. In my case, I work as an on-call graphics designer and events staff so I always get to travel for free especially if the event is out of town. I already got deployed in Tacloban, Leyte, in Cebu and recently, Baguio.
Looking for the right job can be quite tough but it is possible. I have a good friend who works for an NGO and he gets to travel a lot as a field researcher.
I’ve read about this a lot but never really thought that it’s possible not until I tried it myself. Most of the time, organizations are looking for volunteers that could help them fulfill their cause. Recently, I got involved in Project AlaGalaan spearheaded by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Save Seas Philippines. It’s a 2-day workshop in Quezon City with a field lecture in a marine sanctuary in Batangas. The aim of the project is to partner with social media warriors such as bloggers like me who can help promote sustainable tourism and responsible traveling. I got to travel for free but more than that, it’s a great opportunity to do something that’s really close to my heart: promoting sustainable ecotourism.
As part of our final activity, we did snorkeling and diving at a Marine Sanctuary in Batangas. This image of a school of jacks was shot around less than 100 feet away from the shoreline. Can you believe that? Seeing the underwater world up this close, a world that's so alive and healthy, it will leave you speechless. Just look at its beauty. And take note, this is just in Batangas! Now, imagine if everything looks like this. Wouldn't it be awesome? I have learned a lot from the #ProjectAlaGalaan workshop but what really hit me hard is that their future lies on our hands. It's been said a million times already but it's really not yet too late to do our part. We have so many marine sanctuaries out there and they need our help. Conservation is not only about the marine environment but nature in general. Small acts like avoiding plastics can have a huge impact on our environment. We will never get tired of promoting the beauty of our world but it's time we do our share. Protect and conserve. Be an earth warrior.
Voluntourism is a combination of volunteering and tourism. It’s a great way to help the community while traveling. To start, you can check out World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WOOF) and HelpX. These are popular sites to check out for voluntourism opportunities.
That’s it! Traveling comes at a cost but that doesn’t mean that you always have to spend. There are a lot of ways to travel for free and I’m sure this list goes a long way. I hope you get inspired by this and realize that there is really no excuse not to travel.
Enjoy exploring the world!
– Justin –