Want to travel on a budget or even better, with no money at all? There are ways and social media can help you. There are so many travel bloggers that can teach you how to do it, but I hope I can give you a few more ways, that could suit you better.
Firstly you need to understand how Social Media works. There are some networks where you can mostly rely on live updates or recent posts (such as Twitter and Instagram) and other that take a while to get on your screen, if you are not following a specific brand. Thus, you have to know where to spend your time and how. I would not recommend Pinterest, YouTube or Google+, at least at this point and for this purpose. You can try it, but you have a better shot with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even Linkedin. A big plus is having a big community or lots of followers. And it is even better to have a blog or an online platform to share your thoughts on. If this is too difficult, you can write some posts on Medium.com. Let’s see what we can do on each social network and how we can use them for our benefit.
1. Ask for tips on Social Media
Let’s start with the basics. No matter if you are a traveler or just an occasional tourist, when you ask for tips, locals are usually kind enough to help you. Forget the preconception that people are selfish and mean. When it comes to traveling, I never met a person who was unwilling to give me some tips about the city he or she lived in. You don’t even have to ask someone in particular – just post a question on Facebook (it makes more sense when you own a Facebook page for your blog) or on Twitter and people will answer. Moreover, some of them, especially if they have been your followers for a while, will offer to host you at no charge, just so they can meet you and get to know the life you are living. Some of them, just as it is my case, will even offer to take you on a trip with their own car to places known just by the locals.
2. Be active on relevant Facebook groups
I can show you dozens of replies to a single post. When you have joined a travel group, people are open to give you advice. You can say it’s karma – give something, receive something and act like you’d like others to react to you and your questions. It helps to be part of a Facebook group of travelers or the one with like-minded people. For example, my Digital Nomads in Romania group is a place to great tips to getting around the country on a budget. Again, some of them will offer to host you. Here’s your free accommodation.
3. Twitter hashtags
I don’t know about you, but I love Twitter. It gives you so much variety and so many hashtags that can help you find what you are looking for. You can follow brands and see which ones have discounts, deals and freebies. But when you don’t really care about the company and only want to get the free stuff, just search some travel related tags. Something like #traveldeals #giveaway or #freebies. But once you dig deeper you’ll find a lot more.
4. Check-in deals
Some restaurants, pubs and clubs offer discounts just by checking in or leaving them a review. Before you pick a place, check the surrounding restaurants, see if they have a discount and then sit at their table. Some might even have on a blackboard or in the window an announcement telling you to check in on a specific social network and you’ll get a free coffee or cookie. Open your eyes and pay attention next time.
5. Social Media Contests
Some brands are organizing contests on their social networks. They saw how much engagement and free PR they could get from creating buzz around their prize, that periodical they do it again. This is the perfect time to check them out because summer time means annual holiday season and the “not so busy season” is on its way. Follow the brands on their social networks and check what they are talking about. Sometimes the contests are based on getting as many likes as possible, so a big community of your own can make a difference. Try with the international brands, but also follow your local ones. This way you may have less competition and the prize can be the same: a free holiday with everything included (even money to spend there), airplane tickets or an extreme adventure.
6. Ask for it directly to the source
This applies only if you have a substantial number of followers on at least one of the social networks. Should you own a travel blog with a considerable number of subscribers, it’s even better. You can contact a hotel or an AirBnb host and offer to tweet, post on Facebook or Instagram, or even write about your experience at their place. Or you can provide even more services, based on your expertise. This is how I am doing it – travel promo for hoteliers. A free room (that can remain empty for a while if you are not there) can bring so much exposure to that company or host. Don’t be afraid to ask and talk directly with a PR or Marketing person. Be careful though, you don’t want to praise that place just for the sake of having a free room. Be faithful to your followers and tell them the truth – you’ll earn more from having a community that trusts you (and take advantage of that with future travel deals), rather than being misleading.
[tweetthis twitter_handles=”@AncaMuraru” hidden_hashtags=”#SocialMedia #travel #traveler”]10 true fans worth more than 10.000 inactive followers [/tweetthis]
7. Linkedin groups
There are several tourism and travel groups that you can join. Look for their offers, demands and wishes, be active and differentiate yourself from the other travelers. Some of them can include requests for persons to promote their place. You’ll probably find me there too. 😀 Keep your eyes wide open.
8. Be a true fan (and show it)
This may or may not apply to you, but you could give it a try. Follow the brands (or even better, just one brand), share their posts, interact with them and prove you are a true fan without getting anything in return. Once you are sure the Social Media or PR people noticed you, make your way in and tell them you’d like to promote their brand even more and you could use a free ticket or room. This way, they’ll think twice before refusing you. They’ll lose a fan and a promoter of their brand. But be careful though; choose a company that you really like. Don’t make it just for the prize, but for you believing in your love brand.
Though it’s not a social network, I feel I should give you one more tip. Have you heard of Trampolinn? It’s a platform that works similar to AirBnb but… you don’t have to pay a penny! It works on points you earn in different ways. You can also buy them if you want, but most of us just earn them. What’s awesome is that no matter if you have a studio to rent in NYC or a similar one in a small town in Asia, the “price” is the similar.
What other ways are ou using to travel free or on a budget using social media?