In today’s travel environment of surcharges and extra fees, it may seem hard to believe that there are actually still freebies out there for the taking. And even harder to believe that it’s so easy to find and take advantage of them. The key is in knowing what to look for and where. So, here’s a review of some of the most plentiful—and often right under your nose—freebies that can save you hundreds of dollars on your next trip.
Free wireless. While some hotels now offer this complimentary in their common spaces, like the lobby or dining areas, many are still charging upwards of $15 a night to access it in-room. However, as a booking incentive via websites like Orbitz.com, hotels often offer it for free as a “value-add,” and some will include it as a perk for signing up for their loyalty program. Even in a city like New York, where nothing seems to be free, the Strand Hotel extends complimentary Wi-Fi to its guests with just a one-night stay.
Free/Discounted parking. In some destinations where there is an abundance of space, hotel guests likely won’t have to pay for parking. But in major cities like Chicago, Boston and New York, guests could easily get stuck paying $40 to $60 per night just to park their car. So, depending on the destination, free or discounted parking could mean a savings of hundreds of dollars for a multi-night stay. Chicago Premier Suites, for example, situated in the River North area, offers free parking for guests amid neighboring hotels charging a premium for this not-so-luxurious luxury.
Free breakfast. Hotel restaurants typically aren’t cheap and meal costs can really add up quickly, particularly for families. Luckily, there are plenty of hotels offering a full hot meal for free daily with a stay. And finding it is as simple as looking for the “FREE BREAKFAST” call out in the hotel search results. The Ciqala Suites in San Juan, Puerto Rico goes beyond just breakfast, offering a full daily breakfast, plus a Native Puerto Rican dinner on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and a complimentary cocktail hour Monday to Thursday.
Kids stay (and eat) for free. Most of them don’t take up too much space and don’t eat too much anyway, so why pay for it? More and more hotels, particularly many all-inclusive properties in Mexico and the Caribbean, see this as a win-win opportunity—they get a new customer and the guest gets an amazing deal. A great example is the Paradisus Cancun Resort & Spa All-Inclusive, offering a free stay for two kids up to 12 years old (plus free Wi-Fi), now through 12/22/13.
Resort credits for dining, golf and spa. Some see the phrase “free resort credit” and think it’s a gimmick. But really, it’s free money to spend at the resort, and in many cases, on amenities and services guests plan on taking advantage of—and paying for—anyway. At the Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort in the Bahamas, now through 12/23/13, travelers who book a 4-night minimum stay receive a $100 food and beverage credit.
Free extra nights. Travelers who know they will be booking a hotel for three or more nights should always look to get a free night. It’s become common for hotels to offer free night deals for guest who are staying multiple days. And in many cases, you can combine this with other promotional offers such as resort credits and free wireless. The Marriott Casa Magna Resort Cancun is offering a 5th night free, plus a daily $50 resort credit and free breakfast for two adults and two kids under 12.
Free shuttle service. This was the most the searched for amenity on Orbitz.com in 2012 and continues to be at the top of travelers’ lists. For many hotels, whether it’s to and from the airport or as a complimentary ride to area attractions, free shuttle service is just part of their value proposition. Walt Disney World, for example, offers its free Disney Magical Express for guests at any of their hotel properties to/from the Orlando airport, as well as free shuttle service to all of their parks and attractions. With service like this, there’s no need to rent a car and travel with kid’s car seats—a welcome idea for traveling parents!