When I first thought about how I wanted my travel life to pan out I started out by researching all the ways I could travel and how I could do it as cheaply as possible. I realized, very quickly, that there were a lot of myths out there that simply aren’t true. Here are 4 Myths About Free Travel DEBUNKED.
4 Myths About Free Travel DEBUNKED
I spent hours reading blog post after blog post about travel hacks, traveling using points, couch surfing, splitting costs with a travel partner, and sponsored travel. I liked the idea of getting as much free travel as I could and decided that I would figure out how to do just that. I have a “dog with a bone” attitude and sponsored travel was the “bone”. I quickly decided that I wanted to travel around the world on sponsorship. Loving the idea of a freedom lifestyle, one where I was the boss, made it impossible to seek a job working for someone else. So I set out to learn how I was going to get those coveted sponsorships on my own. I first needed to discover, out of all the advice that I had researched, what was true and what was false!
MYTH # 1 – There is no such thing as free travel
Now, let’s face it, nothing is ever completely free, but sponsorships are as close to free as you’ll ever get. The idea behind sponsored accommodations, tours, and meals is that, in exchange for a valuable review a hotel, resort, tour company, or restaurant will give you, yes for free (sponsored), a couple of nights at their hotel/resort, a free tour or two, or a meal in exchange for a review based on your experiences and advertising that review on your website and social media channels. This is called ROI or return on investment. They invest in your marketing ability and you invest your time, writing talent, and marketing abilities to help promote their property or service. It’s definitely NOT as hard as it sounds. We all use social media – take a look at how many people have their heads buried in their smart phones the next time you’re in a terminal of any kind; it takes skills to navigate all those social media channels! In terms of traveling to the hotel, tour, or restaurant well, that’s where you’ll incur expenses. If the sponsorship is in your own state, which is how I recommend a newbie to start, then there are no problems, drive there yourself and your only expense is gas. But if like me, you travel internationally or cross-country, then you’ll have to fit the bill. There are literally dozens of ways to get cheap transportation…that’s a whole other post!
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MYTH # 2 – You have to have a huge following on your website and social media channels
NOPE! When I first started out I had, in total, about 3000 followers across all of my social media channels. A big audience does get the attention of public relations representatives or managers but it’s your follower engagement that they’re really looking for. Here’s their point of view – You’re blog and social media can have a million followers, it “looks” like you’re slamming it in your niche, right? WRONG – everyone has a smartphone these days. I was on a media trip to Cambodia and took a tour to a fishing village. There were hundreds of people living on these boats and, I swear, almost all of them had a smartphone! Seriously! Think – where do all those old versions of an iPhone go…in the garbage? No – to countries and people who can’t afford the latest versions but are happy to have a phone. So having 10,000 people who follow you from Guatemala and Tibet who, in reality, will never take a trip to the hotel that you want to sponsor you will mean nothing to the person responsible for giving you a $400.00 a night villa to review. However, if you have 350 people who are actively engaged with your social media channels, who comment, like, and are genuinely interested in your reviews, THAT’S what tips the scales in the decision-making.
Myth # 3 – Only hostels and cheap hotels will give you free accommodations
Again, WRONG! My niche is luxury travel. I’m a bit of a travel diva. I’m too old now to sleep in hostels. Don’t get me wrong, I find nothing at all wrong with them, actually in my younger days, I loved them. The atmosphere is great, you meet cool, like-minded people, and best of all they don’t break the bank. But, now that I’m older, I prefer to have my own bathroom (preferably with a nice deep tub to take a soak in) a huge comfortable bed in a room that I don’t have to share, and room service. (Okay I’m a huge diva!)
So for me, I only approach luxury hotels and resorts and I GET THEM! Yes, I’ve perfected my pitch letter over time, so much so that I rarely get a no, and I am known as the “sponsored media trip lady”, but that’s what gets me so excited about sharing my tips with fellow travel bloggers or people who want to break into the travel game. I want EVERYONE to travel on sponsorship! Why not?! For the past 3 years, I’ve traveled solely on sponsorship so I know it can be done. Look under the Hotel Review tab on my website and check out all the amazing resorts that have sponsored me.
Myth # 4 – You MUST give a good review to get freebies
For the most part, and for me, this is never the case. Yes…The sponsor wants a good review and very often will go out of their way to make sure that your experience is the best it can be so you’re almost always going to get the 5-star treatment. But let me tell you, there WILL be times when your stay will not be what you expected. In my agreement between the sponsor and myself (I give this template to my students as a bonus in my online course) I have a clause that states that my review is determined by my experience. I will never compromise my integrity by lying to my followers. However, if something goes wrong during my stay, I do give the sponsor a chance to fix the issue. If it can’t be rectified then I determine the severity of the issue and either leave that part out of the review or I write about it. Let’s face it, no one is perfect, going into a sponsored stay, tour, or restaurant with an attitude that you’ve already scored the freebie is the best thing to do… anything after that is golden! But, having a bad experience will happen and holding true to yourself requires you to write a true depiction of your experience. My one rule – be gentle with a negative experience. It serves no one to rip the sponsor apart. There is always something great about the experience. With that said, in all the years that I’ve been traveling on sponsorship, the hotel, tour company, or restaurant has ALWAYS rectified any issues. So…There you have it, 4 Myths About Free Travel Debunked. There are so many other myths about free travel that I’ve discovered and I love talking about them. Better than that, I love proving them all wrong! Sponsored travel has been my passion for years and I absolutely love teaching other travel enthusiasts how they can travel like I do! I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed writing it. And please DON’T FORGET to get your FREE cheat sheet!!
[button_4 size=”large” color=”teal” align=”center” href=”https://masteringsmt.lpages.co/download-freebie-for-online-course-4-tips/” new_window=”Y”]Download my FREE eBook “5 Tips To Build An Engaged Audience That Will Attract Travel Sponsors”![/button_4]