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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Another new way to Travel For Free - I think this one will be BIG!

Have you ever heard of Groupon? If you haven't it is essentially a site that offers a deal a day provided a certain number of people sign up for it. The deals are usually pretty amazing and are almost always fully subscribed. For the businesses involved it is all about lead generation, creating return customers and part of their marketing plan and not their sales plan. The last point is important because the deals on offer are usually at BELOW COST for the seller. They make a loss on each sale.

Of course at the Travel for Free blog we are not that interested in great deals. We want our stuff FREE. And Groupon is not specifically travel related although it has been used by the likes of urbanadventures.com in some locations.

So what has this all got to do with free travel? A new kid on the tech start up block is a crew called Tripalertz. Their concept is the same as Groupon but they are totally focused on travel. Great deals at around or below cost but still not free. Except the whole business model for these "buy in bulk and save" web businesses is that the deals are crowd sourced and in order to work they require - well a crowd. Tripalertz have managed to pick up some high quality media exposure already and so the crowd is starting to form but to reach the tipping point they need to engage social media and recruit recruiters. This is where the FREE bit for you comes in.

For every person you convince to sign up to Tripalertz you receive $1 in credit to spend on their deals (which as mentioned are cheap!). The difference between this method of crowd sourcing for free travel and that in the original post of this blog is that here you need about 1000 friends to sign up so you can travel for free whereas by following the method in the original post you only need to convince 7, 8 or 9 friends. The possible advantage for the Tripalertz method is you don't have to do a group trip and if you like you can travel alone if you prefer.

To find out more go to Tripalertz by clicking here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Quick follow up to the Travel Free and Easy in NYC post......

Today I think I hit the mother load!

Go to goby.com and where it says what you want to do - type in "free" and for the place type in "NYC" - leave the when as "anytime". Wow.

If you can wade your way through the gluten-free restaurants that pop up - there is so much free stuff going on. Nightclubs every night FREE for simply using the Forbidden List password, free drinks, free night time bike rides through Central Park and on it goes. It all seemed current info as well.

It's a nice little search engine they've got going on down at team Goby.

Oh and when you are sick of free stuff in NYC you can get out of there for FREE to Hartford Conn. or Amherst, Mass with megabus.com - Use promo code NEWNYC for free tickets to or from New York City (thaks to Travelzoo)

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Holy Grail of Free Travel - Free flights

Since I started this series of blogs, the overwhelming question I've been asked is about flying for free. It is the subject that raises the most questions and unfortunately seems to have the fewest answers.

I am currently researching the courier angle on free flights because it is not something I've done personally and in fact I've never even met one person who has actually physically done it themselves. It seems like a bit of a mythical beast or perhaps and more likely a closed shop for those in the know - a bit like those wonderful surf breaks that take of bit of effort to get to and are never ever spoken about in public, let alone blogged about. I'm getting closer to the magic circle of courier flights and will post all I can find out once I've got the information first hand.

There are a few internet flight Gurus which if you are passionate about your free travel, you've probably already stumbled across. The Frequent Flyer Master is one and in general they all offer very similar advice - advice that you have to pay for as it is sold as book. I guess the bonus of the Frequent Flyer Master is that if you buy that guide, sign up to their affiliate program and then convince others to buy it as well, through your own blog or website you only need two other people to buy it, to get your own investment back. As we are committed to free as our guiding principle, this blog and the link above are not part of the affiliate program.

The Frequent flyer method almost never gets you free flights. Their are annual fees for most frequent flyer programs and the rapid accumulation of points strategies usually mean signing up to credit cards or other programs which also have annual fees, to accelerate your points gained. It can be cheap but not free. We have a credit card that is associated with an airline. We use the card for all our purchases every month and accumulate points but rarely if ever buy goods or services we wouldn't normally purchase just to get extra points. We end up with a free short return flight each every couple of years at the cost of $75 per year in membership fees. So $150 for 4 flights (2 return flights). Flying on a budget airline over the same route with a bit of planning would really only cost $50 - $100 more. All in all it is a bit of a scam.

There is one other strategy to fly for free that gets a lot less airplay. I've timed this post so that those who are flying back home for Thanksgiving can give this a try in the next week or so. This strategy works on the premise that almost all airlines overbook their (domestic) flights when they can because they know in general there will be a no show rate of around 2-3% for every flight. For a plane the has 200 seats, an airline will sell about 206 seats if it can. I mention Thanksgiving because it is the weekend where the most flights are likely to be full and because I've successfully done this myself on the Thanksgiving weekend.

By now you will most likely have already bought your flight home (or you will be paying a lot of money if you haven't.) What you need to do is to turn up at least two hours before your flight and check in as normal. It works best if you are only taking carry on luggage. Once checked in, head to your departure gate , go the counter and say that should the plane be overbooked you'd be happy to look at other options and give them your name. On Thanksgiving weekend you have probably got a 60-75% chance of being paged and asked if you can switch flights. This is where the negotiation begins. They will have a maximum number they can go to in terms of compensation and your job is to get as close as you can to that amount. In my case I was flying from NYC to St. Paul. To switch flights and wait 2 and a half more hours in the airport for the next flight I got $350 in credits for a future flight (the initial offer was $200), upgrade to business on that flight and coupons for a meal in the airport. My initial return flight cost $140. I therefore had $210 of totally free flights to use. I did this twice in the year and ended up with $400 in free flights which I used on a free flight to Guatemala and return flight from Costa Rica which I teamed with a free Way to San Jose trip that I sorted out using the method described in the original post of this blog.

Airlines are greedy. They pay agents next to no commission and they almost never give anything away for free. However you can use their greed against them by following the above and then you too can fly for free!

Happy Free Flying.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Topdeck have a Travel For Free section on their website

The latest company we have found giving away free trips as per the method outlined in the original post of this blog is Topdeck. You can see how to travel for free with Topdeck here.

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