How to get free trips as a travel blogger

Drinking cocktails in Nassau, The Bahamas

One of the perks of being a travel blogger is that we occasionally get to travel for free.

Many people start a blog for this very reason. Who wouldn’t want to get free travel in exchange for writing reviews? It sounds like an absolute dream.

But getting free trips from blogging isn’t as simple as buying a domain, posting a few of your travel snaps, and then watching the offers for free stays roll in. If it were that easy, everyone would be doing it.

It actually takes a lot of work, much more than most people expect when they first begin blogging. Here’s how it happened for me:

I received my first offer of free stuff once I had been blogging for exactly one year. I put in a lot of work in that first year including 3 blog posts a week. By the end, I had managed to build up a decent blog that was getting around 10,000 pageviews per month and had about the same number of social media followers.

I was travelling to Portland in July 2015, and I contacted the local tourism board about my visit. They supplied me with a welcome pack including a local attractions pass, which I then redeemed for $29 USD worth of sightseeing.

It doesn’t sound like much, but I was excited that my year of blogging had resulted in some free activities! In the next 12 months, I received another 4 nights of hostel accommodation in Boston and Montreal, and a 3-day press trip to Providence. The ball had definitely started rolling.

My third year of blogging proved even more fruitful. I managed to secure a place on a 5-day press trip in Finland, 2 nights hostel accommodation in Chicago, an 8-day press trip to London and Hull, and a 4-day press trip to The Bahamas.

I’m only 6 months into my fourth year of blogging, but I’ve already received 4 nights of combined accommodation in Los Angeles and Canberra, and a sightseeing cruise on the Tasman Peninsula. Pretty good start, I think!

Getting free trips and travel perks through blogging is one of the reasons that I can travel so often. Here’s my comprehensive guide on how to get free trips as a travel blogger, including a pitch template for you to use when approaching brands!

Providence mural

On my first ever press trip to Providence, Rhode Island, in 2016

Work on your content

Having a website with high quality content (ie. blog posts, photos, and other text) is essential to scoring free trips through travel blogging. Every time you pitch a brand, someone from that company is going to visit your website and make a judgement on whether you will do a good job of promoting them.

Your blog needs to shine with long-form content, with lots of photos (good ones!) and enticing titles. There should be minimal spelling mistakes, and your writing style should be the best it can be. Impress everyone with your amazing content and sponsorships will follow!

Presentation of your content is also important. If your site has too many pop ups, is slow to load, or has messy links and images all over your front page, it will turn brands off working with you. I purchased a clean, minimalistic, theme for my blog which cost $79 USD, and I think it was absolutely worth the investment as my design stands out above other bloggers using the same old free themes.

Build up a social media following

Social media is super important for travel bloggers. Brands will want to know that their product will reach a wide audience, and a social media following is the number one way for them to gauge just how many eyes will see their product.

I spent a long time trying to grow my following on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Bloglovin’, and YouTube, but in the end I realised that my efforts were being spread too thinly over the numerous platforms.

Since I began focusing on growing only my Instagram account, it’s become much easier to make a difference to my influence on that particular platform. I now have an impressive number of followers and a high level of engagement on Instagram, and brands are starting to take notice.

Hull, UK

Exploring Hull on my press trip to the UK in 2017

Create a kickass media kit

A media kit is a document that you send to brands which shows them just how many people might hear about their product by giving you free stuff. It makes you appear professional at the same time as quoting your stats. A media kit might sound intimidating to put together, but it’s really not so hard!

There are many different versions of a media kit, but generally it should include the following:

  • A quick intro about you/your blog and a profile photo
  • Your audience demographics such as location and age group
  • Blog stats such as monthly pageviews and unique visitors
  • Social media stats, including number of combined followers and which platform is your strongest
  • Brands you have worked with before and positive testimonials
  • Web address and your contact details

Pensar Syd, Finnish archipelago

Exploring Finland on a press trip in 2016

craft your perfect pitch

There have been a few occasions where free trips have been offered to me out of the blue, but generally, I’m the one pitching companies for free travel.

Your pitch should be short and to the point, but still convey all the information that the company might want to know. I’m going to share my travel blogger pitch template with you – use it as a general guide to craft your own perfect pitch.

“Hi [person’s name], I’m Ashlea – a Travel Blogger based in Sydney, Australia.

I’m planning on visiting [place] on [date], and am interested in publishing a local guide on my blog. [Company/brand] looks like a great option for a feature, so would you be interested in an exchange of services? For all comped activities that I participate in, I actively promote the business to travellers through my blog and to my 35,000+ social media followers.

My blog, A Globe Well Travelled, is aimed at young people looking to live an adventurous life of work and travel. Each month, the site receives around [number of pageviews] from [number of unique visitors]. I’ve previously worked with travel brands such as [list brands]. I’d love to add [Company/brand] to my list!

You can find further stats and testimonials in my attached media kit. I hope to hear back from you soon.”

I find it much easier to pitch for free trips as a travel blogger now than in my earlier years of blogging. Companies tend to see me as more trustworthy now that I’ve had experience working with a bunch of other travel brands.

If you haven’t worked with brands before, you should fake it ’til you make it. Have you visited a hotel or taken a day tour that you then posted a review about on your blog and/or social media? Try listing those brands in your pitch (and in your media kit) to make it look as though you’ve worked with companies before.

Pennicott Journeys, Tasman Island Cruise

On a sponsored wilderness cruise in Tasmania in 2017

Pitch hotels/travel brands

If you’ll be visiting a certain destination, you can pitch hotels or travel brands directly. When I recently visited the Tasman Peninsula in Tasmania, I emailed a company about the possibility of getting 2 seats on their wilderness cruise in exchange for promotion on my blog and social media. They happily agreed!

Be prepared to receive some rejection emails when you’re pitching hotels and travel brands. Some companies just aren’t comfortable with influencer marketing yet, or they might be selective about who they choose to work with. Don’t take it personally if they say no – just keep pitching more brands until you have some success!

One little secret for this step is to pay attention to the brands that other travel bloggers are working with. If the brand has worked with travel bloggers before, then it’s likely that they would be willing to do it again.

This is how I knew to email Hollywood Hotel about my recent trip to Los Angeles. I’d seen another blogger write about them, so I knew they might be open to working with me. They agreed to host me for 2 nights in exchange for a review on my blog!

A guide to visiting Canberra

My visit to Canberra in 2017 was partially sponsored by the local tourism board

Stake out tourism board websites

If you head to any tourism board website (you can find these by searching terms like “Visit Melbourne” or “Tourism Australia” in Google) there will often be a menu either at the very top of the page or in the footer with a section for Press or Media. These areas of the tourism websites can be extremely useful for travel bloggers who are looking to get free stuff.

Sometimes there will be information about press trips or influencer programs (take a look at the Queensland tourism website as an example) and if not, then there will probably be a media contact or online form where you can email them. Ask about any upcoming influencer opportunities that they might have, or if they provide any support to visiting influencers.

This is the method I used to get my free attractions pass in Portland, my accommodation in Canberra, and my UK press trip!

Follow Facebook groups

Even though I’m not particularly fond of using Facebook as a business tool, I have always been a fan of using Facebook groups. It can be hard to find ones that are actually useful, but once you do, you may just be notified of some great opportunities through them.

In the past month, I have seen 3 different press trip opportunities, some for international destinations, just by following Facebook groups. Try searching for blogger groups in your area (like the Australian Travel Bloggers group for my fellow Aussies) and join ones that seem like they would be relevant to you.

Atlantis Resort, Nassau, Bahamas

On a press trip to The Bahamas in 2017

Attend networking events

Networking in person can be scary, but it can also be a useful way of getting yourself in front of the right people for future sponsorships.

One time that this has worked for me is when I attended the New York Travel Show in 2017. I spent some time talking with reps from tourism boards and travel brands to see if they were interested in working with influencers. When I stopped by the stand for Visit The Bahamas, I was given a business card for their media contact. This later resulted in my press trip to Nassau!

Some options for networking with people in the travel industry are conferences like TBEX, travel expos, or events like Travel Massive. Just be careful not to go to these events with the agenda of pushing yourself on people to get free trips – the best business relationships are made by being friendly and personable!

last tips – Be a professional

It’s important to understand how it works when you get free stuff as a travel blogger. Companies aren’t just giving you their product or service for free and expecting nothing in return. In reality, they will want you to actively promote their brand on your blog and social media channels.

It’s extremely important that you act like a professional when asking for or receiving free stuff as a travel blogger. Be clear about what benefits the company will get from working with you and what they can expect to receive after your trip.

It’s also important to put a disclaimer in any posts where you have received a sponsorship. Not only is it legally required, it also helps your readers trust you as a professional blogger.

One last thing – be careful not to ask for too much. If you’re just starting out as a blogger, then by all means, ask for something simple like some free attraction passes or a spot on a walking tour, but don’t bother asking for a 5 night stay in a luxury hotel – this will only be a waste of your time. Keep it real, friends!

Have any questions about getting free trips as a travel blogger? Post them in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer!

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35 Responses to “How to get free trips as a travel blogger”

  1. Alice | Girl with a saddle bag

    Thanks so much for sharing, Ashlea. I’ve been blogging for a year now and I’m hoping to start making some steps in this direction. Your post is fantastically helpful, and encourages me get cracking!

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      That is great news, Alice! I’m sure your first year of blogging will be a great base for you to start getting free trips. Good luck, and let me know if you have some success! 🙂

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      You’re welcome, Charmaine! It’s definitely a goal to work towards over a long period of time, but with enough persistence and determination, you’ll eventually get there 🙂

  2. Cara Crawford

    Thank you so much for the tips Ashlea!!! After about a year of blogging seriously, I’m also starting to think about pitching some companies this year, but up until now I wasn’t sure where to start. Your email template was just the example I needed to get an idea of how I should go about introducing myself. Thanks for sharing!!! I’m excited to get started!

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      That’s great, Cara! One year of serious blogging shows that you’re dedicated and professional, which brands are going to love. Your content is also really eye-catching and blog design looks clean and nice – I think you’ve done a great job! Good luck with pitching brands 🙂

  3. Dianna

    Hi Ashley!

    Reading this is extremely helpful. I recently reached out to the tourism board of Malaysia, since I’m currently here for a month, and now reading your advice, I feel ready to send out another e-mail. This time more properly. I just need to get a media kit together!

    I’m curious, what do you consider a large enough following for companies to consider you? In terms of your following on social media combined or your monthly page views.

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      I’m glad you found the post useful, Dianna! A media kit is definitely important when you’re dealing with tourism boards. There is no magic number of how many followers you need to work with brands – and yes a bigger following is more likely to result in a positive outcome but you should just shoot with whatever you’ve got!

  4. Claudia

    Wow! This post is incredible. Thanks for sharing this, you got a new follower here. 🙂

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks Claudia! It’s great that you found some useful information in there 😀

  5. Dana

    I found your blog via Bloglovin and this article catches my eye because I am new in travel blogging area. I want to thank you for your amazing details and especially how to write an offer to a hotel or any other tourism company.
    I can’t wait to fill my blog with more articles and start to do what you do.

    Thanks again and have a blessed day!

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      That’s wonderful, Dana! It’s great that you’ve started a new travel blogging adventure. Let me know whether you have some success getting free trips 🙂

  6. Bonnie Saxton

    Thank you so much for your helpful tips. I just started out with my blog about life and traveling with my 4 adult disabled daughters. We have been so many places and so many cruises I now I want to start blogging about our adventures and life in general with us. I don’t even know how to get a picture on my comments yet so I have a lot to figure out. Thank you again for all the information.

  7. J Eliot

    I love this! I have traveled a lot this last decade and, lately, I’ve been thinking if it would be worth it to start writing about my past travels. Maybe if I get organized I could get the ball rolling and post a couple of stories. Who knows?

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Absolutely – the reason I started a blog is because I had so much travel knowledge that I wanted to share! You could definitely do it, too 🙂

  8. Kathy

    I started a cruise travel blog in August 2017 and I think it’s going pretty well. I have managed to get free internet from one cruise line in exchange for daily blogs, and also managed to get to interview the cruise director. On our next cruise I’m also getting free internet, but now I want to start thinking of the future. I’m just figuring out how to make a media kit, and I’m going to try and get my numbers up. Any advice?

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      That’s great that you’ve started getting freebies from blogging, Kathy! I’m sure you’ll be able to get more from companies as your blog gets momentum. My advice is to build up your pageviews and social media followings first, as the free trips will follow 🙂

  9. Theresa Ann Jones

    Thank you Ashlea for all of the detailed information about blogging.
    I would love a dream job of getting paid to travel, but one step at a time.
    I would like to travel to the Caribbean and if you have any other suggestions that would help me get free trips, I would greatly appreciate your time.

  10. Bonnie

    Great article and thanks for this. It is such a pleasure to get great information for free😀. Do you have any tips for getting Instagram followers. I have tried everything I can find on tips but Instagram takes away most of my followers. Example… yesterday 16 people followed me and Instagram took away 11 of my established followers. I have been stuck at around 500 for months.
    Also thanks for the good ideas on blogging. I need to change from blogger to Word Press and have been putting it off. I am not a writer so blogging takes work for me. Thank you again. Glad I am on your email list

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks for reading my post, Bonnie! It’s great that you’re trying to grow your influence on Instagram. Many bloggers use automated growth tools which help with growing followers and increasing engagement on Instagram, though it’s not free – if you’re interested in this option, let me know and I can pass on some details to you 🙂

  11. Jess Pacheco

    Hi Ashlea, thanks for the thorough tips and tricks of the trade. I appreciate how realistic you are about expectations and what you get in return and how much of it is pitching, pitching and pitching until you hit one. I am also realizing that I’m spreading myself thin on social media and need to optimize. I have recently removed my Pinterest and FB to optimize via IG and Twitter. Much of this game is trial and error… more of the latter than the former, but anyway, appreciate your lessons to learn! ✌️ from sunny LA – Jess ||

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Trial and error is how I learnt it all too, so you’re going about it the same way that everyone else did! Good luck with all the pitching, Jess – I hope you have some success 🙂

  12. Big John


    Great article! I’ve had a travel-adventure blog for years but I’m nowhere near getting any free trips out of my work. I mostly do it for fun and to preserve family memories. Right now I’m still trying to get traffic and an occasional comment or two. I will definitely revisit this page for more of your tips. You do good work and your results show for them.


    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks Big John! There’s definitely a big difference between blogging for fun and blogging for business, and I believe that bloggers who do it for fun are much less likely to get free trips. If you’re serious about making it as a blogger, I’d suggest updating your site to look as professional as possible, and joining some Facebook groups with other bloggers who are also building up their online presence 🙂

  13. natasha bloomfield

    Hi Ashlea

    Thank you for your advice on travel writing.
    I’m currently at a cross roads in my life and have always loved writing.
    I would love to become a travel writer, and the advice you offer is great.
    So once again thank you.


    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Hi Natasha, it’s great that you are considering a career in travel writing! All the best with your journey!

  14. Kaitlin

    I have had my first interest in someone sponsoring me. The question they replied in an email was asking me to elaborate on the opportunities or support I would be giving. Since I am a newbie to this – I was wondering how you would word the email or any tips to asking for “free” things. Even though this time I’m not really concerned for free items I would be happy just to work with them and be able to freely use their website and brand in my blog post!

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      It’s great that you have someone interested in working with you, Kaitlin! Any sponsorship opportunity is a trade – free product for you, free marketing for them – so you have every right to be getting something out of it. I would write that you can offer them a review in a blog post that gets posted on your site, and maybe some social media coverage, too. Hopefully they’ll be interested and you can get started on your first blog sponsorship 🙂

  15. Samir

    This guide is great, more so when you have little cash to provide for you while traveling.

  16. Daniel Tischer

    Thanks a lot for the interesting post – helps me a lot to get in touch with companies! Greetings from germany! Daniel

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      No problem! Good luck with your pitches, Daniel!

    • Ashlea Wheeler

      That’s great! Best of luck with achieving those goals!


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