While you’re unlikely to get an all-expenses-paid trip unless you win a game show, you can still get portions your trip for free if you book certain promotions or take advantage of some alternative modes of travel. Here are my picks for top limited-time and long-term “free” travel deals worth checking out.
1. Kids Fly Free to French Polynesia
Never considered French Polynesia for family vacation? Maybe Air Tahiti Nui’s kids-fly-free deal will persuade you. When you book two adult Air Tahiti Nui fares from Los Angeles to French Polynesia from January 12 to May 31, 2009, you’ll get two free fares for kids ages 11 or younger. The deal is valid for flights to Papeete, Moorea, Huahine, Raiatea, Bora Bora, Rangiroa, Manihi, Tikehau, and Fakarava. Adult fares start at $1,428, including all taxes. You’ll still be responsible for paying taxes on the free children’s fares.
2. Organize a Group Tour, Travel for Free
If you organize a group of people to book a package tour together, many tour companies will allow you, the group leader, to travel for free. You can choose to accept the freebie or spread some savings out to everyone in your group. Either way, it’s a good deal. Each tour operator’s group tour policy varies a bit, but most require you to put together a group with at least 10 paying individuals before you’ll get a free spot.
For example, Grand Circle Tours, a company that runs trips geared towards mature travelers on six continents, lets a group leader travel for free with 10 paid travelers on river cruises or 16 paid travelers on land tours. Go Ahead Tours, a similar operator, gives two free spots for every group of 12 or more paying guests. Be sure to ask your tour company if they offer similar deals.
3. Pay for Three Nights, Get Seven at Club Med
Club Med’s recurring “Seven-Day Weekend” package is back, promising seven nights for the price of three at eight of its all-inclusive resorts. The deal is valid at family-friendly Club Meds in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; Cancun and Ixtapa, Mexico; Sandpiper, Fla.; Caravelle, Guadeloupe; and Buccaneer’s Creek, Martinique; as well as adult-only Clubs Meds on Columbus Isle, Bahamas, and on Turks and Caicos. You must book by December 15 and travel by February 13 to take advantage of the promotion. Seven-Day Weekend prices range from $793 per person (normally $1,190) at the Sandpiper, Florida Club Med to $1,065 per person (normally $1,610) at the Buccaneer’s Creek, Martinque Club Med.
4. Free Weekend Rental Days From Hertz
Hertz knows the only the thing better than a weekend away is a three-day weekend away. The company makes it easier for renters to take longer weekend trips by offering the first day free when you rent a car for three or more weekend days, including a Saturday overnight. The deal applies to economy- through premium-class cars rented through March 31, 2009, in the U.S. and Canada, excluding Hawaii
5. Kids-Fly-and-Ski-Free Packages