50 free things you can get when traveling


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Traveling is expensive. While some people took advantage of pandemic deals on flights and hotels, those deals are starting to dwindle as pandemic protocols are loosened across the world. 

If you’re looking to travel this summer after about a year of stay-at-home orders and other regulations, keep reading to find some easy ways to score some sweet freebies on your next trip. 

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1. Don’t skip the airline snacks

They may not be the best, but it’s better than overspending on airport snacks you may have forgotten to pack before your flight! Some flights will even provide free meals if the flight is long enough.

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2. … or drinks

Most airplanes will offer you an assortment of free drinks, such as water, juice, tea or coffee.

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3. And don’t be afraid to ask for seconds!

If you ask politely, you may be able to score seconds. Some flight attendants will even ask if you want more if they have extras.

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4. Try asking for full-sized drinks

Some flights will only give you a small cup with water, juice or pop. It never hurts to ask for the full bottle or can!

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5. Don’t throw out extra airline snacks

It’s free, and you’ll probably be hungry or thirsty later.

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6. Ask about unclaimed first-class and business-class seats

If you’re looking for a more luxurious experience without the price tag, ask about any empty seats you may be able to snag. The worst they can do is say no!

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7. Check for complimentary breakfasts

Continental breakfasts are hardly ever the best. However, they are free, and that means you can splurge on a better lunch or dinner!

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8. Look for check-in sweets

Hotels like DoubeTree often give free cookies upon check-in. If they don’t, look for a candy bowl, gum or mints. 

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9. Ask about promo items

Hotels, airlines, visitor centers and a plethora of other tourist-heavy places offer free merch. If you don’t see any ready to snag, it never hurts to ask for some!

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10. Settle for the free coffee

It won’t taste as good as your double-shot macchiato with oat milk foam, but it will be 100% freer. 

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11. Find restaurants with free kids’ meals

Many chain restaurants offer free kids’ meals. You may be able to find some local restaurants that do, too. 

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12. Pack a reusable water bottle

Bottled water tends to have a higher price tag in tourist traps. Be sure to bring your own so you can fill up at water fountains.

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13. Or ask for a water cup

Already forgot the bottle? No worries! Many places will often give you water for free or a few quarters.

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14. Check for wine tastings

Kimpton Hotels and other nicer shingdings will often offer wine tasting nights for free. 

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15. Fill up on free samples

Farmers markets and local small businesses will often give out free samples of their goods. 

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16. Take advantage of concierge

If your hotel has a concierge, ask them for tips on more free stuff. Who knows? They may even be a gatekeeper to your hotel’s free stuff!

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17. Keep an eye out for free stationery

A lot of hotels, tourist centers and even airlines have free notepads and postcards.

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18. And don’t forget the pens!

Free pens are a-plenty when you’re traveling. Take them. You’ll never regret taking a free pen. 

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19. Visit your dentist before you go

You’re probably due for a cleaning, anyways. If you threw out your trial-sized toothbrush, toothpaste and other oral hygiene goodies, set up an appointment to restock. 

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20. Don’t pack your own shampoo and conditioner

Trial-size items are usually more expensive per ounce. They also aren’t necessary if you’re willing to use hotel-branded ones. You can always ask for more if needed.

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21. Or lotions

Even most of the cheapest motels have lotion. 

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22. And skip the soaps, too

You’ll be pressed to find a hotel that doesn’t give at least a bar of soap to wash your hands. 

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23. Don’t bother with the blow dryer

The majority of hotels have a blow dryer available. Save the space. 

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24. Look for free magazines

You can usually snag some magazines from a hotel lobby or airplane seat.

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25. Or newspapers

Some hotels may even have one delivered to your room!

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26. Save your data

Instead of relying on your phone data, connect to public wifi whenever possible. 

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27. Make calls on wifi

If you’re roaming or far from home without an unlimited plan, switch to wifi calls if your phone allows it. Check your manual or do a quick internet search if you’re unsure about whether your phone supports wifi calls. 

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28. Inquire about headphones before your flight

They won’t be great, but they will be free.

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29. Look for rentable technology

Many hotels offer chargers, iPads and other tech to hotel guests. You may even be able to find a scooter to get around easier with!

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30. Use the hotel’s fancy movie channels

Skip the night at the movie theater. Stay in bed, eat your leftover airport snacks and surf through the myriad of premium service your hotel offers. You may find some gems, especially since many blockbuster movies are premiering both on these channels and in theaters during the pandemic.

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31. And check out your flight’s movie lists, too

This could save you from renting a movie on your own or using up your data to stream on the plane.

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32. Take advantage of tax-shops

Traveling internationally? Look for duty-free shops at airports and international spots, like some cruise ships. 

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33. Settle for free souvenirs

Save the free t-shirts, totes and other trinkets from your cruise ship, hotel, tour or whatever other events you’re going to. Your cousin probably doesn’t want another keychain with her name on it, anyways. 

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34. Visit the guest center

Guest and visitor centers are often a magical place if you’re looking for free stuff — or leads on where to find more free stuff. Look for free maps, guides, postcards, locally branded merch like totebags and more.

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35. Prioritize free attractions

Some public beaches and parks aren’t free. Find free alternatives nearby that will probably have very similar views.

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36. Check out free or discounted public transportation

If you’re going to a larger city, public transportation may be cheaper than trying to take cabs, Ubers or even pay for parking. Many hotels, travel agencies or even city governments offer discounted or even free transportation for tourists. 

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37. Research free days

Most museums, parks, zoos, aquariums and other popular attractions have free admission days. Be sure to check out when these are to save some serious dough. 

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38. Look for local free classes

Many hotels or even local organizations offer free classes, such as yoga, arts and crafts, cooking demonstrations and more. 

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39. Use the hotel gym

You keep saying a gym membership will change your life. Why not try out this one for free before committing?

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40. And the pool

It may not have the prettiest view, but your wallet will thank you.

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41. And the hot tub, too

Most hotels even have age restrictions on hot tubs, so you won’t have to worry about kids ruining your hot tub dip after a long day of traveling. 

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42. Find free tours ahead of time

New York City, Chicago and other big cities are full of outrageously priced tours. But if you do some research ahead of time, you’ll most likely be able to find much cheaper ones or even free ones. 

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43. Look for free seasonal events

Most cities celebrate the start of a new season with a fair, concert or other events. 

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44. Use discounts

If you have memberships to national organizations, such as AAA or AARP, the chances are high that they offer some sort of travel discount. 

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45. Look into what discounts you can get using your cards

Most credit cards also have built-in discounts. You may have to call or check your online account to see what they offer and activate discounts. 

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46. And don’t forget the frequent flyer miles

If you have them, use them!

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47. Know who offers free checked luggage

Not all airlines or trains offer free checked luggage. If you’re bringing more than carry-on bags, it may be worth a quick online search to save some bucks. 

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48. Get a feel for parking ahead of time

Parking isn’t always free, even at hotels. That’s especially true in crowded cities like Chicago and New York City. Check with your hotel ahead of time to avoid surprise parking fees. 

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49. Ask about hotel shuttle services

Some hotels have partnerships with local attractions to offer shuttle services to and from the hotel. 

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50. And airport rides

Taking an Uber to and from an airport can be costly. Ask if your hotel offers its own airport shuttle services for free or a discounted rate. 


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Kaitlyn Farley

Kaitlyn is MediaFeed’s senior editor. She is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, specializing in social justice and investigative reporting. She has worked at various radio stations and newsrooms, covering higher-education, local politics, natural disasters and investigative and watchdog stories related to Title IX and transparency issues.