Blog Talk: How to Travel for Free

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For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to travel. I watched all my friends go off and study abroad while my broke ass stayed in the US hoping that one day I’d be able to see the world. Finally, thanks to this blog, I have been able to visit 5 countries in the past year alone. Incorporating travel into my blog is the best move I’ve made in years. And since I’m in Europe right now, I figured this would be the perfect time to talk about how I got here.

I first got the idea when I went to LA a few years ago. My friend Lauren and I were heading out west for a blogger conference and figured we could probably get a free hotel room in exchange for a blog post or two. After all, with our traffic and social media numbers combined, it would totally be a good deal for any hotel. Turns out the W agreed and we got a room for a few nights. Which is my first tip:

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Work with a hotel or Airbnb host in exchange for blog/social posts

Airbnb hosts also love professional photos as part of the deal if they don’t already have them. It’s important to start reaching out about 8 weeks ahead of your trip to secure a good place to stay. Start with emailing your top picks and work your way down your list. Most hotels have a press contact. Worst case, you’ll get a media rate at a hotel, which is roughly 50% of the usual rate – still a great deal! Protip: create a special creative direction guide similar to a media kit, but specific to your destination. Include inspiration photos and coverage plans. This will give a hotel a glimpse of your work and show them that you’re serious about working together.

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The biggest expense for your travel blogging trip will be your flight. I’ve personally never heard of someone working with an airline for comped travel, but it’s not unheard of for the hotel to pay for your airfare if they’re running a specific campaign and reach out to you directly. Regardless, what’s worked best for me is to

Join an airline rewards program

I prefer Delta. Every time I have to fly for work, whether I purchase the ticket with my own money or not, I fly Delta. I get the miles when I fly and then I get double miles when I use my Delta American Express card. After just a few trips and a few months of spending, I had enough miles to qualify as a silver elite SkyMiles member (free upgrades, priority boarding, etc.). This year I’m going for the gold! Oh and be sure to check out The Flight Deal to keep up on any good deals. This is how I always plan my trips.

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Write off expenses

Since it’s tax season, this is on my mind now more than ever (even though I’m like constantly thinking about taxes, ugh). When you go on a trip for your blog and you earn money from said blog, then all related expenses can be included when tax time comes around. Obvi consult a pro to be sure with your specific financial situation, but it’s similar to a trip you would go on if you worked for another company. Meals can be counted–especially if it’s part of the deal with the hotel or you’re meeting with a photographer–transportation (including airfare), gas, etc.

This is the process that has worked for me in the past and it’s turned into some amazing trips. After I get home from Barcelona and Nice, I think it will be time to start planning my next trip. Any suggestions?

Do you have any travel blogging tips?

Italy photos by Johnny Cheng.