Perks and Freebies to Look for When You Travel Abroad

Multiply the enjoyment of your travel abroad by following these practical tips on how to get lots of giveaways and discounts

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Everybody loves a bargain! When you travel abroad, you can get bonuses of low fares, thanks to websites and apps that help you compare different airlines and travel dates to find the most suitable one for you. But you can go a step further by being smarter in maximizing deals, perks, and resources to effectively plan your trip. Here are a few things you can explore the next time you plan your trip.

Maximized train rides. Various countries offer travel passes that give you more for your money. For example, in Japan, the train pass comes with various free admission vouchers to tourist attractions. Meanwhile, in Kuala Lumpur, the roundtrip airport train pass comes with unlimited rides on rail public transport in the city.

Free accommodations. For those who want to have an alternative experience in accommodations when you travel abroad, this one is for you. Couchsurfing.com is a great way for singles, friends, even couples to meet hosts in other countries and get an insider’s look at a certain place—the best part is free accommodation! The tourist network requires members to sign up for accounts in order to have their hosting and couchsurfing history available for review by those they have hosted or have hosted them.

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Free admission to parks and museums. In the US, there are certain holidays when you can get into 400 national parks for free. There are some museums that give free access to the public throughout the year, but in most of the world, International Museum Day (around May 18) is a reason to open doors of various museums for free access to the public. In Manila, admission to the National Museum and National Library is free from Tuesdays to Sundays.

Shopping sans tax. Retail therapy when you travel abroad is made much more enjoyable by the possibility of getting a discount. Or, in some cases, getting taxes back at participating retail outlets. In countries like Japan, you can buy goods without being subjected to sales or government taxes by presenting your passport at the till—just remember to save your receipts in case they check at Immigration before you leave. In the UK and EU, you need to secure a Global Blue Tax-Free form that will be filled out whenever you shop at a participating store and you can collect your refund in cash at the airport. Some shops will, after asking for proof of your residence outside Europe, give you a form to fill up and then proceed to refund you. That’s another reason to always bring your passport with you at all times, so you can get your discounts sorted. Remember, tax-free shopping does not apply to all items in all stores, whether retail or major malls. You will know a store offers this perk if they display a “tax-free shop” or “VAT-free shop” sign.

Free insider tours. Are you wary of going with a tour group? All over Europe, free walking tours are scheduled on a regular basis, with energetic and engaging guides who will take you on memorable, often off-the-beaten track locations. At the end of your 2-to-3 hour walk, if you are happy with their service, please give them a generous tip! Check out freecitytour.com and, if you find yourself in Poland or Ukraine, freewalkingtour.com.

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Insta-friends. The Global Greeter Network links you with a volunteer at your destination whom you can ask for help on anything and everything—from how to plan your itinerary, to the best restaurants in town. And yes, it’s for free! You can find these instant friends in over 34 countries, including the Philippines.

Frequent booker programs. One of the most popular online accommodation booking sites, Booking.com, has a Genius program, wherein frequent bookers get points to work toward “Genius” status. When you are categorized as such, you can get 10 percent off the rates of participating establishments, among other perks.

Youth and student deals. Many establishments and museums or historical sites will honor valid student ID cards and grant discounts even when you travel abroad. However, if you are traveling overseas, some places will require internationally accredited IDs like the International Student ID Card before they give discounts; so file for one before you embark on your adventure.