By: The savings Experiment Staff
Free Stuff on the Road – Traveling is expensive enough. Don’t get nickel-and-dimed at every step of the way. Stay at hotels that offer free breakfast, free Wi-Fi, free fitness facilities, free parking, and other perks. Priceline.com maintains a searchable database of hotel freebies.
Traveling with kids? You deserve even more freebies. Children under age 2 can fly any airline or ride Amtrak free of charge when they sit on a paying adult’s lap. Also, watch for kids-fly-free, kids-cruise-free and kids-ski-free promotions, and ask the cruise or resort in advance about free supervised kid programs so you can have some much-needed grown-up time.
Free Price Watcher – Don’t you hate it when you pay for a flight, and then the price drops? Enlist the help of Yapta.com, which tracks your flight’s price after you buy your ticket. If the fare drops, it will notify you and help you collect a refund or travel vouchers from the airline. (Note: Yapta only kicks in if the price drop exceeds the ticket-change fee you’d be obligated to pay.) Yapta does the same for hotels too. Tingo automatically rebooks your room at the lower rate if the hotel drops its price. Then you’ll get a refund for the difference. For rental cars, try AutoSlash.com.
Free Tour Guides – To get a real feel for a city when you’re traveling, team up with a local. The Global Greeter Network organizes volunteers in several cities worldwide to show you around, give you the inside scoop and answer your questions. Tours can last a couple hours, and there’s a strict no-tipping policy.
Prefer to explore at your own pace? Browse the free audio walking tours available for download at iTunes.com, Audisseyguides.com and iAudioguide.com. You can also search the Web for walking tours of your destination. In our simple search, we found free audio tour downloads from Boston and Chicago to Dublin and Jerusalem.
Free Card Perks – By simply carrying a credit card, you may be entitled to some cool travel freebies. For example, most credit cards come with free rental-car insurance, and some cards will cover the cost of your vacation if you have to cancel your trip. Call your card issuer to find out what perks you qualify for.
International travelers can get slammed with a 3% currency conversion fee every time they charge their credit cards, or withdraw money from an ATM overseas. Bypass the fee with a Capital One or Discover credit card.
SEE ALSO: 9 Overlooked Credit Card Perks
Free Software – For many basic computing needs, you can get free software rather than shelling out for the Microsoft Office Home & Student suite ($139.99), Quicken Deluxe for budgeting ($64.99), Adobe Photoshop Elements for photo editing ($99.99) and other popular programs.
For word processing, spreadsheets and multimedia presentations, try Google Docs. To manage finances, we like the free budgeting program at Mint.com. And for photo and video editing, try Picasa or Pixlr.
(Freebham Editor’s Note: For more ideas slick on the Money tab on our home page for over 50 apps and programs you can get for free.)
Free Workouts – Don’t sweat enrollment fees and gym memberships. It doesn’t cost a penny to put on your sneakers and go for a walk or jog in your neighborhood, or to join a pick-up game of basketball at your local park. To encourage public health, more communities are installing free outdoor gyms for adults at public parks. Residents of Los Angeles, New York, Miami, San Antonio and others can use free equipment for strength training, flexibility and cardio workouts.
Prefer to work out at home? Check out a fitness DVD from your local library.
Or with companions and instructors? You may be able to find free fitness classes taught by experts in your area. For instance, Lululemon Athletica stores offer free yoga classes weekly. Many communities host free workouts in public parks or libraries, too. For instance, we found free yoga classes in Miami, New York and Los Angeles; free tai chi sessions in San Francisco, Omaha and Washington, D.C.; free Zumba classes in Chicago; and more.
Free Diet and Fitness Help – Need help sticking to a diet and exercise plan? At Fatsecret.com, MyFitnessPal.com and SparkPeople.com, you can craft meal plans and count calories, put together a fitness plan and track your progress, and get support and advice from other users.
Some employers offer free diet and fitness help to their employees. These programs may include free gym access, weight-loss support groups and smoking cessation programs. Some will even pay you for your progress. Ask if your workplace has a wellness plan.
Free Flight Perks – Domestic airlines are stingy with giveaways. But some airlines still offer a few freebies for fliers. One of our favorites: Southwest lets you check two bags for free — which can save you up to $120 on a round-trip flight. JetBlue lets you check one bag free, plus gives you access to free TV, satellite radio and all-you-can-eat snacks.
Free Rx Drugs – Bring in your prescriptions and you can get some antibiotics free at several pharmacies, including those at Giant Eagle, Meijer, Price Chopper, Publix and Schnucks. You can also get free prenatal vitamins at Meijer, Shoprite and Schnucks. Meijer, Publix, Price Chopper and ShopRite stores give out free diabetes medications and supplies. See How to Get Free Prescription Drugs for more information.
Free Unlimited Texting – Save money on your cell phone plan by using a free texting service such as Textfree. It assigns you a free phone number through which you can send and receive texts as much as you want on your Android devices, iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.
SEE ALSO: Smart Ways to Save on Smart-Phone Plans