How I won a free trip to Peru

Views over Machu Picchu, Peru

It was one of those emails that ignites an immediate sense of excitement.

Subject: Some news from G Adventures

“Hi Ashlea, Thanks for stopping by our stand at the weekend at the Adventure Travel Expo! We have some good news for you – are you able to let me know your telephone number so I can give you a call?”

My stomach seemingly filled with fireworks as I thought about what this phone call could possibly be about. I tried not to get too excited as I replied with my mobile number and stared at my phone in anticipation.

The next morning, it finally came though.

“Ashlea, G Adventures here. You’re the winner of a 7-day Inca Trail tour in Peru!”

Holy shamole, I jumped up from my desk and started dancing around my Sydney apartment. I could hardly believe I’d won something. I’d actually won something!

I immediately called my husband and we started excitedly planning how to fit Peru into our half-planned honeymoon to Central America. And now, 8 months later, I’ve redeemed my prize and gained one incredible life experience.

Was it just pure luck, you ask?

Whenever we enter a competition, there’s usually a less-than-minuscule chance of winning, but in this circumstance I’d actually used a few tricks to twist the odds in my favour. Here’s how I did it, and how you can increase your chances of winning travel too!

Inca Trail tour, Peru
Inca Trail elevation map at our first campsite

Choose your competitions wisely.

First up, we need to realise that there are some competitions that you’re more likely to win than others.

For example, a competition that comes up in your Facebook feed for a $20k travel voucher that only requires you to type in your name and email is super easy to enter, meaning everyone who sees it is going to type in their details. Your chances are slim at best.

But a competition that requires a little effort or skill such as entering a killer photo of you next to some mountain scenery, or writing a few lines on why you are obviously the best choice for a winner? These kinds of competitions will eliminate a bunch of lazy people entering.

Even with slightly less entries, these competitions that circulate the internet are still entered by thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands of people, so in order to increase my chances I cleverly took it one step further.

Dead Woman's Pass, Inca Trail, Peru
Day 2 of the Inca Trail, Dead Woman’s Pass

Attend travel expos.

There are competitions offered by travel companies that aren’t circulated on the internet. As an ex travel agent, I was aware that at travel expos some companies will offer a prize as an incentive to sign up to their mailing list.

As travel expos only last a few days (usually a weekend), only a few thousand people attend, and not all of them enter their details for the competitions, my chances were more like one in a few hundred.

With this in mind, I discovered when the travel expos would be via social media. In Australia the major travel agencies often hold expos, so by following STA Travel and Flight Centre I found out when and where the travel expos would be held.

I attended the STA travel expo in Sydney, which was held over two days. At the expo, I expertly made the rounds and signed up to every competition offered by the attending travel companies. From memory, there were about 4 in total. I also got Robert to enter all the competitions to double our chances.

It was only a few days later that I found out the awesome news and hence started planning our trip to Peru!

Travel expos are held all over the world. Some of the bigger ones are:

There are tons of smaller shows that might be closer to where you live – to find them, do a Google search for ‘Travel Show in (your nearest city)’ and see what comes up.

A few things to be aware of:

The Inca Trail, Peru
Day 3 of the Inca Trail, hiking through the clouds

Many of the prizes offered are only for one passenger

This means if you’re travelling with someone, they might have to pay their own way. We paid full price for Robert’s spot on the tour, so it was actually like getting both of our tours half price.

Sometimes the prizes have set dates

Mine was restricted to depart before 30th June 2015, and we only just made it in with our departure on 27th June. It was lucky that we hadn’t booked anything for the second half of our trip, otherwise we might not have been able to take the prize.

You might be able to exchange the prize

If you can’t take the prize, you may be able to exchange it for another product of equal value, but not always. If you’re not interested in the destination or can’t make the dates, it’s probably not worth entering the competition. If you win it and don’t take the prize, the company probably won’t offer it to someone else. You’d just be stopping someone being able to accept the prize!

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10 Responses to “How I won a free trip to Peru”

  1. Jen

    Ted’s Dad is obsessed with entering contests. He stalks the rules (like how many times you can enter) and knows all the in’s and outs. He’s won a huge flat screen TV, tickets to big sports games and such, pretty cool! Good tip on applying at travel expos where there’s way less people! 🙂

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      It really is an art form! I’m not really one for obsessing over contests, but I’ve heard of people going all for it and knowing all the intricate details of competitions and the best ways to win them!

  2. Katie @ Second-Hand Hedgehog

    Congratulations! Must have been such an exciting phone call to receive! I’m forever entering travel competitions / contests etc, but so far no luck. But surely the odds are I’ll have to win something one day, right…?

    Massively looking forward to hearing more about your Peru trip, though. It’s up there on my list, so looking for some expert advice on visiting. And photos are always lovely to dream away in front of, too 🙂

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks Katie! It was very exciting, and a great prize. Keep on trying, I’m sure something will come about for you one day. Gotta be in it to win it!

      I’ve got a few more posts on Peru coming up. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see as much of the country as I would like, but it’s a great excuse to come back someday!

  3. Julia

    Ah congrats! One time when I was 7 I won tickets to an amusement park on the lid of a yoghurt. I remember that definitely being one of the best days of my life! But your prize tops it all, and I’m so happy for you that you got an amazing adventure out of it 😀


    • Ashlea Wheeler

      That’s a super cool prize for a 7-year-old! The competitions on food packaging seem to be fairly good chances for winning – one of the people on my Inca Trail trek said she once won a trip for 4 to Mexico by entering a competition on an M&Ms packet!

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks Eden! It was a fantastic adventure, I’d definitely recommend the trek to anyone thinking of heading to Machu Picchu!

  4. Petra @ The Global Couple

    Awesome! That is a very cool prize to win. Looking forward to see more photos and video of your trek!

    I won a trip to Fiji a few years ago through a photography competition with a radio station here in NZ. The trip was a bit of a fail, it was for a beach party trip and they kept changing the dates – it eventually ended up being on dates we couldn’t go. They still honoured the flights and accommodation (a crappy backpackers in Nadi) so we paid out of our own pockets to get different accommodation, but it was a rather average experience. Still, it was a cheap trip to Fiji so we can’t complain too much!

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Wow, great prize (except for the muck around with dates, of course) but sounds like you guys had a similar experience in Fiji to ours – expensive, crappy food, not a lot of culture, and average beaches. I wouldn’t go back 😛


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