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More Travel for Your Money: Take Advantage of Summer Travel Freebies

Domestic airfare is 15 percent higher than last summer. Hotel rates, too, are on the rise, not to mention soaring gas prices. A traveler on a budget may think the only affordable option for summer travel is the dreaded staycation.

Travel experts, however, know the secret to an affordable summer vacations lies in what the travel industry calls ‘value adds’ and what the average traveler recognizes as freebies. Ranging from free nights to free breakfast to tours to resort credits and almost anything else travel-related, the offers are on the rise. 

Most frequently found at hotels and resorts, these freebies can add up to big savings when booking a summer vacation.  Value-add offers are typically found in destinations entering the low season and used to attract travelers without slashing rates. In other words, while a free night promotion is a likely offer on Cape Cod hotels during the winter months, don’t expect to see it during the summer.

The Bahamas, Caribbean and Mexico are rife with added-value offers this summer as they try to drum up business during what’s traditionally a slow season. The Four Seasons Resort Nevis, for example, is offering a ‘book two nights and get the third night free’ promotion now through September 30th.  The resort is fresh off a 120 million renovation and exiting the spring high season at the end of April.

(Courtesy: Four Seasons Nevis)

In the Bahamas, the popular Atlantis Paradise Island is offering a fourth-night free promotion and free companion airfare (up to $300 per room) when travelers book a four-night-or-longer flight + hotel package and use the promo code BAH300F. The package must be booked by May 9 and travel must take place before mid-December.  Travelers must stay at the Beach, Coral or Royal Towers to take advantage of the offer.

(Courtesy: Atlantis Paradise Island)

While free nights and air credits offer hefty savings (a third-night free offer equates to a 33 percent room rate discount on a three-night stay), resort credits may result in even more money saved. Take, for example, the Palace Resorts in Mexico and the Dominican Republic. Book a five-to-eight night vacation and get $1500 in resort credit to be used on golf, the spa, dolphin swims, room upgrades and more. Shorter stays get $500 – $750 in credit while longer stays get up to $2500. 

Cruise lines  offer added value in the form of cabin upgrades, discounts on shore excursions and onboard ship credit. Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises both offer $100 in onboard ship credit, while Holland America and Norwegian Cruise Line both offer up to $150. Onboard ship credits can typically be applied to spa services, shore excursions and more.

(Courtesy: Norwegian Cruise Line)

With no distinct high or low season, Hawaii travelers will likely find offers of varying value year-round with the exception of holiday weekends, the December holidays and school vacation weeks. Those willing to take their Hawaiian vacations before school lets out can take advantage of a destination-wide promotion that gives $100 off flight+hotel vacation packages when booked by April 30 and travel is completed by June 30.

On Oahu, the four-star Waikiki Parc Hotel offers a fourth-night-free promotion from now through December 27. The offer also includes free daily breakfast for two and free parking. The brand-new Waikiki Edition hotel also offers a fourth free night and free breakfast for two through September 30.

(Courtesy: Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau)

Starwood Hotels offers a third free night plus daily breakfast for two at ten properties on four islands. On Oahu, the Sheraton Waikiki, Sheraton Princess Kaiulani Hotel, Royal Hawaiian, A Luxury Collection Resort and Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort Waikiki; on Maui, Sheraton Maui, Westin Maui and Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort; on Kauai, Sheraton Kauai and Westin Princeville; on the Big Island, Sheraton Keauhou Resort & Spa. Book and travel before December 23.

In Vegas, the value-add deals exist but their monetary value is considerably lower; so, however, are the room rates.  At the Wynn and Encore, book a three-night hotel or flight + hotel package and get $100 in resort credit for items charged to your room. The credit can’t be used towards the spa, golf, or casino play, however.  Book now for travel through December 27, some blackout dates apply.

(Courtesy: Wynn Las Vegas)

At Caesars Entertainment Hotels (Planet Hollywood, Paris, Caesars, Harrahs, Bally’s, Imperial Palace, Rio, and Flamingo), guests get a choice of a two-for-one Vegas Strip Tour, two-for-one Hoover Dam Tour or a two-for-one Grand Canyon Tour . Book by June 30 and travel through December 27, some blackout dates apply.


My name: Genevieve Shaw Brown. I also answer to Genny and Gen.

How I earn my keep: I work at Travelocity.

Greatest travel lesson learned: I travel for my job, but I've learned work is work, vacation is vacation, and it's best not to try and do both on one trip.

Fondest travel memory: There are so many... but a recent experience was being totally jet-lagged and waking up pre-dawn in Koh Samui, Thailand, and watching the sun rise with my husband on the beach. We talked about what all our friends and family were doing at that very same moment as the sun set back home in New York.

First thing I do in a new place: Peruse the local restaurants and map out my dining strategy for the duration of my trip. Dining strategy = eating at as many restaurants as humanly possible.

First thing I do when I get home: Put a push pin on the destination I just returned from on the map of the world that hangs on the wall above my couch.

Travel ambition: To cover that map completely in push pins.

My most beloved place in the whole world: Cockle Cove Beach in Chatham, Massachusetts.



We have been looking at “value adds” on accommodations in the Pacific Northwest… specifically in Seattle. I have found that many of them come in the form of packages for deep sea fishing or kayaking in the sound (and other adventure type activities). I do appreciate them trying to offer deals in during their main travel season!


Interesting article. I thought that with the economy being the way it is, it would make more sense to reduce prices since people can’t spend a lot on holidays.

I know I’ll be lucky to even afford a week in the sun this summer.

Hey Girl

These are some great deals. Awesome pics too btw Genevieve. How come all the people in the Vegas picture are so beautiful. :) Haha.. Thats not what I remember when I visited. :P

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