There are almost as many ways to see the world as there are people living in it. Those who travel on someone else’s dime have learned how to take advantage of at least one of the following six opportunities: sell, write and promote, exchange, work, points, and luck.
Selling may seem like the most unlikely way to travel free, but if you’re an organizer who is good at bringing people together and you convince 15 of your friends or family to vacation together somewhere, you just might be able to negotiate free airfare or lodging for yourself.
Another option is to get a job in the world of international sales, and spend a lot of your time on the road.
Travel writing/promoting is a growing business and a unique way to get a great vacation in exchange for a review on social media of your experience. Even if the cruise or tour doesn’t live up to expectations, it’s still really a win-win: you get to travel free and you get to share the pros and cons of your trip with your audience. TravelPro has a luggage reviewers program and is a travel partner with Two Monkeys Travel. We’re meeting all kinds of travelers and influencers who fund vacations through their own promotion and writing work.
Have you ever wanted to visit a country and live like the locals? Through Couchsurfing and HomeExchange.com, you can share authentic travel experiences while staying in someone’s home in one of 65,000 homes in 165 countries or invite a traveler to stay with you while visiting your town.
If you travel for work, one of the greatest perks is tacking on a few days or taking an extended vacation after you’ve completed your responsibilities. After all, the company has already footed the bill for your airfare, so you can delay your departure by a few days, and you just have to pay for that time yourself.
Perhaps the most common way to travel free is to use points with one of the many loyalty programs available through airlines or destinations like Disney. Do your research and glean from those who have learned the ins and outs of the system, and you’ll find amazing vacations can be earned by using a credit card or hoarding your points from work travel.
Photo credit: kokorowashinjin (Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)
What do coronary heart disease (CHD) and vacation have to do with one another? Nothing, you might think. But Dr. Brooks B. Gump and Dr. Karen A. Matthews studied 12,866 men between the ages of 35 and 59 with high risk for CHD for 10 years and proved otherwise.
It has now been scientifically established: going on vacation is good for your heart!
Gump and Matthews gave men questionnaires at their annual physicals that asked them to rate how they felt after going on vacation. Their research determined that vacations “reduce ongoing stressors,” “eliminate potential stressors and anticipated threats,” and “provide a unique opportunity for behaviors having restorative effects on anabolic physiological processes, such as social contact with family and friends (36–38) and physical activity (15), in the context of reduction of stress-initiated catabolic effects.”
The reason it took a scientific evidence to prove what we want to believe in our hearts to be true is that, in the American work culture, taking time off is seen as something “bad” employees do. If you think you haven’t succumbed to this mindset, ask yourself these questions:
Deciding what type of luggage you’re going to need for a trip can be almost as challenging as determining your destination. If it’s a business trip, the wardrobe specifications can make that selection easier, but if you’re heading out for a seven- to ten-day vacation, do you use a duffel, a carry-on, a medium Rollaboard® bag, or the biggest suitcase you can buy?
In order not to get overwhelmed by your options, ask yourself some questions first:
- Am I traveling by car or plane?
- Do I want to avoid checked bag fees or need extra space for souvenirs so that I don’t exceed the 50-lb. weight limit?
- How efficiently can I pack?
If you’re traveling by plane, my preference would be to use a carry-on. It provides you with complete control of your bag during travel and you avoid waiting at the baggage carousel upon arrival. You also avoid the checked baggage fee, and won’t risk running afoul of any overweight baggage fees.
We were very pleased to have Travelpro featured in this CNN Travel story on the future of smart luggage. You can also see our luggage testing facility in action, where we put all new models of luggage through rigorous testing to be worthy of our lifetime guarantee.
Travelpro®, the leader in luggage known internationally for being Pilot Designed, Flight Crew Tested®, is proud to introduce its bold new Crew™ 11 collection. Designed exclusively for those always rushing to their next destination, this 14-piece collection of Spinner and Rollaboard® luggage is packed with innovations that make travel hassle-free and even pleasurable.
Business executives and all frequent fliers will appreciate the Crew 11’s innovative features, such as MagnaTrac™ self-aligning wheels, Power Scope Extension Handle and the Contour Grip designed specifically for Spinner luggage.
It also offers an integrated USB Port on select Carry-ons to power-up phones or tablets. With 10 Carry-ons, this stylish collection is designed for today’s high-mileage travelers.
“The fact that flight crews for over 90 airlines use Travelpro luggage speaks volumes,” said Ron Wood, Executive Vice President of Sales for the Travelpro family of brands. “We are pleased to present the new Crew 11 collection, which exceeds the high standards that have come to define our company — amazingly durable construction, travel-tested features, premium fabrics, innovative design and quality materials built to go the distance.”
While the popularity of soft-sided luggage has boomed in recent years, many travelers prefer a hard-sided bag for its perceived durability and compression resistance. Travelpro provides several hard-sided options, but I want to talk about the three types generally available in the marketplace. We can think of them as good, better, and best.
GOOD: Polypropylene. This material is popular because of its price. It’s durable and flexible to some degree and is offered in a wide variety of colors. It is usually manufactured in solid colors with a matte finish and smooth texture.
BETTER: This next one is a mouthful: ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) is a hard-sided material that is thermalformed to add strength to the structure of the luggage. It is very durable and is the most popular and most affordable option offered by many companies. ABS bags can have a variety of looks, including textured patterns, embedded prints, and images, due to manufacturing processes that incorporate ABS and polycarbonate.
If you travel a great deal, you’ve probably been unable to avoid the hassle of being bumped. Overbooking has been the most common reason given for the inconvenience, and it’s usually the correct reason. Airlines book more seats than they have available, because they’re counting on no-shows. Except sometimes people do what they’re supposed to.
Then the dance begins.
The gate agent addresses the passengers waiting to board and explains the flight is full due to the airline overselling the plane’s capacity. They’ll ask for volunteers to give up their seat in exchange for a travel voucher. If no one steps forward, the bumping begins.
But that’s not the only reason to get bumped. Maybe your connector flight doesn’t arrive in time, and you’re automatically bumped to another flight scheduled to arrive three hours later. That’ll put a crimp in your business trip in a hurry.
You’ve read the reviews, you’ve asked friends, and you’ve researched online, but you’re still unsure how to go about determining which kind of luggage to purchase. What should you do?
Let’s assume you’ve identified what you’ll be using the bag for: regular business travel or infrequent leisure travel. That has helped you qualify how much you’ll be willing to spend in order to have something that will serve your needs for the length of time you anticipate needing it. You’ve analyzed different bags to determine the features you’ll need. You’ve factored in past experiences with other pieces you’ve had as you’ve thought through this purchase.
Having done all that, nothing can substitute for going to a store and giving your chosen bag a test run. Take advantage of the sales associates where you shop. They should be knowledgeable and helpful. If they’re not, seek out a store that specializes in luggage sales.
You’re traveling to a new city, either on business or leisure, and you want to experience it the way the locals do. Before 2008, the idea of staying in someone’s home was only a viable option if you already knew someone there. Airbnb (and before that, HomeExchange) changed all that. Now you can safely stay in someone’s home or apartment and perhaps even share a meal with your hosts, providing a uniquely personal way to get acquainted with your destination.
While you may already be familiar with the shared economy of accommodations, did you know there’s also an alternative to the traditional rental car industry? Through companies like RelayRides, Zipcar, Hubber, Getaround, and JustShareIt, individuals can share their vehicles with travelers who need them on demand, or for as brief a time as one hour.
In some cases, the owners of the cars pick their renters up at the airport, saving time spent in rental car lines. If you’re looking for a different mode of transportation, Spinlister offers travelers the ability to rent a bicycle, snowboard, or skis. You can even rent a boat using GetMyBoat.
It’s not hard to imagine, and it’s every weary traveler’s worst case scenario. Perhaps this has happened to you. You arrive home from your trip only to find your luggage didn’t make the trip with you. You rummage around and find those little baggage claim stickers from the depths of your carry-on to show an airline customer service representative, but other than that you have no way of knowing where your bags are. It’s an awful beginning or end to any trip.
Currently, there are many bag tracking devices and accompanying apps on the market, but those put the onus on the traveler to make the airline aware that, for example, they’re on a flight to Omaha while their luggage is on its way to London.
Delta is turning this model around, as they have recently announced a $50 million update to their baggage tracking technology system. New RFID scanners, RFID bag tag printer, and RFID pier and claim readers have been installed in 344 stations worldwide. Delta’s investment is the largest outlay by a single airline to date, and has resulted in baggage tracking that is 99.9 percent accurate.