It’s summertime, and vacations are in full swing. Unfortunately, the cost of travel isn’t getting any cheaper. And lodging is one of the more expensive items on the list.
AAA offered the following insight into lodging expenses for Fourth of July travel this year:
[H]otel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are expected to increase 9 percent from one year ago with travelers spending an average of $178 per night compared to $164 last year. The average hotel rate for AAA Two Diamond hotels has risen 15 percent with an average cost of $137 per night.
But wouldn’t it be nice to eradicate that hefty travel expense?
This may sound like a stretch, but it’s totally possible. In the video below, Money Talks News finance expert Stacy Johnson offers six ways to find free lodging. Take a look, then keep reading for additional suggestions.
1. Use credit card rewards
If you have accumulated a substantial amount of credit card points, put them to use. I’m not suggesting that you sign up for a credit card you don’t need, but those with the most generous introductory offers will enable you to access free benefits much sooner.
2. Trade in frequent-flier miles
These perks, which are offered through airlines and select rewards credit cards, can also be redeemed for lodging in lieu of a free flight. However, The Points Guy says that using frequent-flier miles for hotel stays is rarely a good idea.
3. Accumulate loyalty rewards
Always on the road? Sign up for a customer loyalty program with your favorite hotel chain and watch the points pile up. I personally love Marriott’s programs because not only do the points accumulate rapidly after each stay, but they occasionally run a promotion that automatically grants you a free night when you stay two in a row.
4. Attend time-share presentations
There’s a small price to pay: You must endure a two-hour sales pitch from a company representative who desperately desires that you make an impulse real estate purchase. But you may be able to stay at a luxurious resort for an amount that is substantially lower than what you would pay on any other occasion.
My family and I recently took advantage of an offer of $99 for a four-day, three-night resort stay that would typically cost at least $250 per night. Not free, but pretty darn close to it.
5. Become a reviewer
Are you a travel blogger? This may open the door to opportunities to review hotels in exchange for a free night’s stay. Just be sure to openly disclose the relationship as required by Federal Trade Commission rules.
6. Crash with relatives
If they have extra room available, they may gladly welcome you into their home. What’s even better is the ability to get firsthand insight into the location you’re visiting.
Just make sure you’re a good guest, and that you treat them to a meal and leave a gift.
7. Swap homes
With this arrangement, you agree to give up your residence to another family in exchange for a chance to crash at theirs for a specified period of time.
You may be able to land a free stay in return for your work at a community event hosted by a nonprofit organization, even if it’s only for a few hours of your time — if the organization is short on local volunteers. I did this once with the Red Cross.
Owners who will be away for an extended period of time may have an interest in keeping the home occupied so burglars won’t get any ideas. Just be aware that the owner may require that you be bonded. In addition, extra jobs like pet care and yardwork may also be your responsibility for the duration of your stay.
To sign up for consideration, visit:
10. Join an exchange program
When you become a member of a hospitality exchange, you agree to let strangers crash on your couch (or in a guest bedroom) for a few nights. This arrangement is ideal for those who are open to new experiences and don’t mind being generous. If you’re interested, visit one of the following to learn more and get registered:
Have you landed free lodging using any of these tactics? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page.