Year 2019 is the one when I managed to do some of my travels for free, or almost for free. Some of them due to my work of course, but in this blog post I would like to tell you how to travel for free even if you do not work in the travel industry.
Frequent traveler bonus
As you probably already know, many companies have a membership where you can collect points and then use them to book your next stay at hotel, flight ticket or simply upgrade already booked services.
Every company have their own name of it as well s rules about how you can earn points or how and when you can spend them. The base of all of the is that you are a frequent and loyal traveler/customer.
Today I would like to tell you about the one that I use and the one that I could already use to book my trips.
SJ Prio - Swedish railway club
Let’s start from our first trip this year being booked almost completely using points – weekend trip to Linköping – Sweden by train!
In May 2019, due to a board game convention, we decided to visit Linköping in Sweden. This small and nice town is within around 2.5-hours trip by train from Stockholm, so here starts our first travel by points. My life partner – Carlos, used to commute every day by SJ (Swedish railway company) using monthly ticket. Each month he needed to buy it, so it was smart to join a frequent traveler club runs by SJ.
Each month he was collecting around 3000 points so in the end he had many points that we could use to book the trip to Linköping. We managed to book two round trip tickets in first class, so our trip was comfortable. The seats at the first class wagon are wider, plus you can choose between coffee, water and some snacks included in the price. Cost of the trip: 0 SEK (payed by SJ points) and we have still around 16 000 points to use :).
More information click here
Another bonus club that we use is Hotels.com Rewards club. The rules here are simple, for each 10 nights that you book through this website you get one for free. If you book two rooms or more on the same stay, the nights count also double 😊. The type of accommodation that you can book for free depends on the type of the previous 10 accommodations that you have booked.
I like this reward club very much, but if you do not travel so often then it can happen that you lose your earned nights. However, the time in which you need to collect 10 nights extends every time you book and use a new stay (counts also as a bonus stay).
We could use our first free night this year on the same trip that we used SJ points, so we did not pay for our first night at Best Western Hotel Linköping (check review here). I think that is cool when you can stay two nights at the hotel and paying only for one 😊. What do you think?
Club One by Tallink Silja Line Cruises
The last bonus club that I would like to tell you about today is Club One by Tallink Silja Line. It is a ferry company running cruises between Stockholm, Tallinn, Helsinki and Riga. You can book 12, 23, 48 -hours cruises or even longer stay with hotel packages on one of the cities mentioned above.
As you probably noticed, I like a lot travelling by boat. I think it is one of the best ways of travelling from point A to point B, because as soon as you enter the ship you can feel that you are on holiday. It is also a way where you have a chance to relax and get bored in a positive way.
I like to book weekend cruises when I am exhausted with everyday responsibilities and simply when we would like to spend some time together. Due to my ¨addiction¨ to those cruises, of course I am also a member of the Club One.
How does it work?
The rules in this club are also simple and clear. You earn points for each euro that you spend on booking as well as on the ship. The amount of points depends on the level that you are in (silver, gold, etc.) and it’s between 30 and 40 points per 1 euro. So, I buy all my perfumes, make up and alcohol while we cruise 😊.
My first trip by points was on October 2019, when we decided to spend a nice day in Tallinn, which is our favourite destination with Tallink Silja Line. You cannot pay the whole trip using points, so it was not entirely for free, but with a big discount. For the whole weekend trip with two nights on board, day in Tallinn and breakfast included, we have paid 950 SEK (around 85€) for 2 persons. To compare, that is worth the regular price for 2 people for this cruise and it would be around 2000 SEK (around 180€).
This membership has also some cons. Unfortunately, there is a limited time during which you need to collect the points and use them. If you do not do it you will lose your points, and there is no way to make the time extended. Another thing is that you must book a specific cabin with your points, so if you do not have enough you cannot book the lower standard and pay for upgrade.
More information click here
Summarizing, I think that the frequent travelers’ clubs are a great idea how to keep customers happy with the company and I think it is a smart way of traveling by using them. Of course, when you choose the one that you would like to use, be sure that you are traveling a lot with that company, because most of them have rules about expiration days for your points.
First focus on the company that you travel most with, maybe some train company that you commute to work like my boyfriend or the hotels that you stay frequently. That could be through websites like hotels.com or simply directly hotel chain clubs, like I am at Best Western.
I hope that I have inspired you with this post and let me know in the comments what type of frequent traveler clubs you are using.
See you on the road,