I’m preparing for a month-long trip overseas (India? Greece? Jordan?), and am looking for vacation discounts. I’m not a “travel blogger” but I often write about my travel experiences. These are the best tips I’ve found so far; they’re perfect for writers and bloggers who don’t usually write about travel but who are going on a trek, all-inclusive vacation, or trip to the moon.
One of the best ways to get a vacation discount is to write about your trip. Send a couple dozen (yes! at least 24) query letters to different magazines, websites, online and print publications. Sell your article and ideas before you write them.
“One of the most important pluses of the freebie is the opportunity to get behind the scenes and see and experience facets of the travel experience that the ordinary traveler seldom knows about,” write Jacqueline Harmon Butler and Louise Purwin Zobel in The Travel Writer’s Handbook: How to Write – and Sell – Your Own Travel Experiences. “And, the query letter is the most important sales tool in the travel writer’s repertoire. Although it looks like an extra step in the writing process, it’s usually the quickest path to publication.”
Your query letter can land you a healthy commission to write a magazine article – or at least a commitment from the editor to at least consider publishing the article when it’s written. If you don’t know what type of travel article to write, read 11 Most Popular Types of Magazine Articles – Print & Online.
If you’re traveling to Hawaii or one of the Hawaiian islands, you might blog about the practice of aloha. “The five principles of aloha, when practiced together, awaken our awareness of our human potential and the sacredness of our life.” ~ Paul Pearsall. It’s a sacred word, aloha, with timeless roots.
I originally wrote this blog post nine years ago. “Can you guess where I’m on vacation right now?” I asked. “If you thought ‘Hawaii’, then you’re right! I’m on the island of Maui, in Lahaina. I learned that the word “aloha” is like “shalom” or “namaste.” It means love, peace, wholeness, and connection – and it’s a great way to greet both the world and yourself.”
We could use more of that, couldn’t we? Love, peace, wholeness and connection. And a few travel discounts for bloggers on vacation wouldn’t hurt, either 🙂
How to Get Travel Discounts for Bloggers on Vacation
Travel writers and bloggers can earn extra money by selling articles to magazines during, before, and after the trip. If you want to pitch a travel article idea to a magazine or online content editor, read How to Write an Author Bio When You’ve Never Been Published.
It’s easier to get travel or vacation discounts if you’re a seasoned travel journalist or blogger, but it’s still possible for little bloggers like us to score at least a free meal.
1. Ask the hotel if they have a “media rate” for bloggers or travel writers
I’m staying at the Aston Kaanapali Villas in Maui (my travel buddies had already booked their vacation packages here, so my destination was set). Before I booked my flight, I asked the hotel for a discounted room in exchange for exposure on my Quips and Tips blogs. It took a couple of days, but they eventually came through with the “media rate.”
2. Ask for an upgrade at your hotel, hostel, or AirBnB apartment
The Aston Kaanapali Villas gave me a complimentary upgrade with the media rate, from a hotel room to a 700 foot studio apartment with a full kitchen. Don’t be shy about asking for free upgrades, especially if you’re blogging about the hotel!
3. Research vacation packages versus separate hotels and flights
The cheapest vacation packages I found for Maui were only 12 days long, which was too short for me. I want to stay for at least two weeks if I’m going on vacation. So I started playing with the airfares and hotel prices, and found it was slightly more expensive to book a flight and hotel separately. But, the upgrade to a studio instead of a room was well worth it, and I don’t know if the hotel could have discounted a vacation package. Plus, I’m saving money by not eating out (the upgraded room has a full kitchen).
4. Email and call the booking office at the hotel directly
I emailed the media relations office first, then called the hotel. Don’t expect the operator at a central hotel-booking call center to get you a deal; they just book rooms for several different hotels. Instead, get the number to the hotel’s booking office, and then speak to either the manager or the media relations office.
5. Be clear about what you’re offering the hotel, restaurant, or source of the discount
Bloggers and travel writers can’t expect to stay for a discounted price without giving something in return – even if they’re with a magazine such as National Geographic! What are you offering the hotel in exchange for your travel discount? I offered to write 10 articles that feature the Aston Kaanapali Villas, and the media relations person immediately accepted.
6. Polish your blog and clips
Before I emailed the Aston booking office and the media relations person, I made a list of the travel and vacation articles I wrote for my Blossom Tips blogs.
Travel articles on She Blossoms:
- How to Stop Feeling Homesick When You’re Traveling Alone
- 5 Reasons to Take Your “Couples Vacation” After an Unexpected Breakup
- 10 Things You Need to Know About Traveling in Vietnam
- Volunteer Work in India – How to Make It Amazing
- 5 Travel Writing Tips for Writers
- What You Need to Pack for an All-Inclusive Resort Vacation
- 15 Thoughtful Gift Ideas for Missionaries Traveling Overseas
- 10 Things You Need to Know About Moving to Africa
- How to Get Pregnant on Vacation
- Credit Cards Vs ATM Bank Machines While Traveling – Which is Better?
I didn’t prepare clips, but did include the links in my request for a vacation discount. Even though I’m not a “travel blogger” or even a travel writer, I clearly write about travel a lot! This is helpful when I’m asking for vacation discounts for bloggers.
7. Get the hotel discount and your responsibility in writing
A phone call isn’t good enough. Make sure you correspond via email or fax with the hotel, and that your hotel rate and blogging responsibilities are clearly documented.
8. Make sure your hotel has wireless internet in the room, and take your laptop
If you’re blogging about your travel experience – and if you’re getting a travel discount because you’re calling yourself a “travel writer” – then you need to spend time writing and blogging!
9. Don’t just blog about your experience; share travel tips with your readers
Right after I booked this trip, I wrote 10 Tips for Booking Vacation Packages to Maui for Quips and Tips for Achieving Your Goals. And of course now I’m helping bloggers get their own travel deals. Instead of just reviewing a hotel or vacation destination, write practical articles that help other travelers. Stuck for things to blog about? Read Ideas for Writers Who Travel, But Who Don’t Know Write About Traveling.
10. Send your query letters and pitches to editors in advance
Can you secure an article assignment from a travel or lifestyle magazine before you book your flight and hotel? That’ll not only help you get a better rate for a room, it’ll probably get you a few free tickets to various shows, events, etc at your destination. Some magazines pay the expenses of travel writers — but you need to clear that with your editor first.
A word of warning…
“We’ve discovered that it never pays to adjust your plans in hopes of securing something for nothing,” write Butler and Zobel in The Travel Writer’s Handbook: How to Write – and Sell – Your Own Travel Experiences. “As one experienced travel writer says, ‘Nothing is ever really free.'”
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