Although we all know there’s no such thing as a free lunch, it is possible to bag a free holiday if you play your cards right.
While there are enough pot-luck holiday competitions out there to keep you busy enough to need a holiday at the end of entering them all, there are also some other outstanding options.
From harnessing your iPhone photography skills to conserving wildlife in the Bolivian rainforest, you can secure a range of free holiday essentials. Some schemes will cover either flights or accomodation and others will land you a fully-expensed trip of a lifetime. The latter may be harder to come by, but there are still plenty of realistic ways to slash your holiday budgets and see the world on a shoestring.
Instagram and airline bmi baby have teamed up to provide budding photographers with the chance to have their work showcased and also to win flights to various destinations around Europe. Winning entries from Instagram groups around Europe will be awarded free flights to a different European destination, but many of the photos’s uploaded with bmi baby’s hashtags will be used to create a crowd-sourced guide to each city involved.
Free Flights to Japan
The Japanese government have offered to give away 10,000 free flights to foreigners wishing to visit the country. Applicants to the scheme, which should begin in April 2012, will have to explain why they wish to visit the country and where in Japan they would like to visit. Upon their return, winner will also have to provide a full write-up of their experiences, which wil be used by Japan’s tourist board for promotions.
Many people going away on holiday choose to find a ‘housesitter’ to look after their property while they are away, and some of those people have very nice houses indeed! In return for basic tasks like feeding the dog and watering the plants, housesitters can bag free accomodation in some excellent locations. There are various online resources for finding such homes, such as trustedhousesitters.com and homesitters.co.uk.
WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, and is an organisation allowing travellers to link up with farmers and onwers of smallholdings around the world. Board and lodging is provided in exchange for guests getting their hands dirty and mucking in with farm and house work while they stay. All those on the list provided by WWOOF run their properties in an “ecologically sound” way, even if not fully-certified as organic.
Workaway is an organisation linking travellers with property owners needing a few hours help a day in exchange for food and board. This scheme is a great way for travellers to explore a country at extremely low cost, and also to generate more interractions with the local people by working and living alongside them. From conservation work in the Bolivian rainforests to teaching work in a school for the blind in China, Workaway is a free route to a big adventure.
A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity created by the Queensland Tourism organisation to promote resorts around the Great Barrier Reef. A worldwide competition was set up to find a ‘caretaker’ for Hamilton Island for six months, a position which would involve simply exploring the island and the area while blogging about experiences on the Queensland Tourism site. Positions like this don’t come up too often and 35,000 people applied for this one but hey – you never know!
For more free holiday options couchsurfing.org is a huge online community of people willing to give up their living rooms to those looking for a budget holiday. The site has plenty of safety checks in place and it’s easy to meet friends-of-friends, giving travellers the opportunity to make friendships while exploring the world.
Similar to housesitting, the house swap involves more of a sharing and caring attitude, where you open your house up to guests just as they offer you their home elsewhere. The idea has been around since the 1950s according to Wikipedia and there are plenty of websites helping to make this happen, so pick a location and see if anyone wants to swap houses!
Airlines often over-book flights to ensure they are filled to capacity, and passengers volunteering to give up their seats often receive a range of perks to compensate them. Some savvy travellers actually research overbooked flights online, book, then turn up ready to give up their seat. Although the outcome is far from guaranteed, travellers with flexible travel dates can often bag free flights, hotel stays, free meals and more.
The ultimate free accomodation offer, as long as you have the gear! Although wild camping is technically illegal in the UK and many national parks across the US, it is possible to either seek the appropriate permissions or simply take the risk and strike out! The law is rarely enforced in the UK, and landowners around the world are often happy to allow responsible campers the use of their land.