How to Win Free Travel (Hint: You’ll Have to Get Creative)

Like free travel? Of course you do. There are a few contests you should enter, especially if you are a seasoned business traveler or a bubbly sociable traveler. Like most online contests, they will require social media savvy and some old-fashioned popularity contest-winning charm, but hey, you could win free travel!

-Jauntaroo’s Best Job Around the World: The vacation matchmaker site is looking for a “Chief World Explorer” to travel the world for one year (or at least a few exciting destinations like Berlin and the Maldives), with all expenses paid. You’ll be representing Jauntaroo and creating social content, and earning a $100k salary for your trouble. There’s also a “voluntourism” component, promoting the site’s partner charities and “travel with a cause” motto. To enter, upload a 60-second video detailing why you should win by September 15 and get your friends to like it, as only the final five will make it to the interview.

-”American Way” Road Warrior: Already been around the world, with an expertly-packed carry-on and the efficiency of George Clooney in “Up in the Air”? If you’re a true “road warrior” you know that “American Way” is the in-flight magazine of American Airlines, and they have an annual contest to award the ultimate business traveler. The grand prize includes a half million AAdvantage miles and a trip to Curacao, plus a slew of other prizes befitting a frequent flier, such as noise-canceling headphones. Fill out the application (sample question: what makes you a true road warrior?) by August 31, and the five finalists will be posted online for the public to vote on the top three winners.

Like a more honest day’s travel work? Check out a few unusual travel jobs.

Penn Station And The Meaning Of Life In 4 Tweets

Up in the Air” author Walter Kirn, “Absurdistan” author and travel writer Gary Shteyngart, and author of more books than some people will ever read, Joyce Carol Oates, had the following exchange on Twitter this morning. If you’ve ever traveled through New York’s Penn Station, the sentiments might feel familiar.

How can New York change Penn Station? Teams of architects are on the case.

Travel-Related Websites That Really Engage Their Customers

travel-related web sitesThey all talk about it. “Like us on Facebook,” “Follow us on Twitter” and “Read our blog,” say travel-related websites selling everything from guidebooks to airline flights, gear and gum. Many give us little reason to like them, follow them or do anything other than buy their products on the way to the next online destination. But some travel seller sites actually do put some time and effort into creating a reason to visit other than to buy something.

The task of buying a hotel room for a night is easy to define. The short list of variables includes location, price and availability. Easy. Any number of search sites can gather that information, whirl it around and present viable options. Hotel.info does more. On their blog we find The Ultimate Guide To Cooking In Your Hotel Room that brings us unique, interesting content that in and of itself is a good reason to visit their site.A Different Kind Of Hotel Search
travel-related web sitesProviding step by step directions and video, Hotel.info teamed up with chef Nicola Whistle (the Secret Restaurant) to hack hotel room food. Using things commonly found in a hotel room, like a shower cap and iron, Chef Whistle cooks up some delicious dishes. Poached egg on toast with steamed asparagus for breakfast? Cooked in your hotel room? Yes indeed, it can be done and visiting hotel.info shows travelers exactly how to do it. Visitors to this site actually have a reason to like, follow and maybe check in with their #ultimatehotelguide hashtag from @hotelinfo_EN on Twitter from time to time.

Still, visitors would probably leave the Hotel.info site if their search results were not productive. Running a test search, Hotel.info vs. Kayak, Travelocity, Hotels.com, Expedia and others, results were similar but engagement was not. They all ask for our like and follow but only Hotel.info had additional content worth a look.

15,000 Things To Do On Planet Earth
Another travel buy site that earns our vote is Viator. This travel tour buy site caught our attention last year with their “Win Your Dream Travel Job” contest that had four winners tasked with traveling through 20 countries in 60 days in both North America and Europe, and documenting their adventures on camera. Viator also earned likes from cruise travelers, saving them money with Viator Shore Excursions offering more than 500 shore excursions in over 80 of the most popular ports around the globe. But more moving past simply selling tours, Viator engages site visitors with features like inviting travelers to submit photos and a rich library of tour-specific videos.

Selling a no-wait Skip The Line Guinness Storehouse Entrance Ticket for visitors to Dublin might be reason enough to buy. But Viator builds on that value with recent photos and a short video that is an accurate representation of the tour. A new Viator Tours & Activities App makes finding and booking activities for almost any given destination we might visit while traveling easy too, with more than 15,000 curated trip activities in hundreds of destinations including photos, video and reviews.

Clicking a “like” or “follow” button takes just a split second. But consider that click as a vote and be sure your vote counts. The best travel-related websites not only offer good pricing but come equipped with unique content that makes for a better overall value.

Jetsetter Purchased By TripAdvisor, What Does This Mean For Flash Sales And Travel?

jetsetterFlash sale site Gilt Groupe has unloaded its lagging travel brand Jetsetter, which was quickly snapped up by TripAdvisor, news outlets reported this week.

Despite offering a well-respected reputation in the industry for decent flash sale deals for consumers interested in luxury travel experiences and recent advancements in its mobile application with tonight-only deals, Jetsetter has not been a strong revenue driver for the company, with some estimates putting the site as low as 10% of the Gilt Groupe’s overall revenue. In recent months, the site was losing as much as $2 million annually, Skift estimated.

This isn’t a shock – the founder and CEO of Jetsetter, Drew Patterson, was fired stepped down last year. He is now running another travel start up, Room 77.

This isn’t, of course, indicative that Gilt Groupe, which primarily deals with fashion, had a lack of experience in the travel space. The company CEO, Michelle Peluso, was the former CEO at Travelocity.

TripAdvisor announced on Tuesday that it was purchasing the site for an undisclosed amount, although rumor has it that the site was on the market for somewhere between $30 and $50 million.

“Jetsetter is an outstanding brand and I am absolutely delighted to welcome the Jetsetter team to the TripAdvisor family,” said Steve Kaufer, co-founder and CEO TripAdvisor, Inc. in a release. “We are excited by the opportunities this provides to continually help drive amazing value for our travelers staying at some of the world’s most highly-rated hotels.”

What will this mean for travelers? We’re not sure. TripAdvisor also owns SniqueAway, another high-end flash sale site that some would consider a competitor. The merging of the two sites could mean a stronger product, or less market competition overall. We’ll be eager to see which of the two brands remains after a few months, and if this signals the beginning of the end for the flash sale boom for travel, particularly as companies like Living Social and Groupon have reported struggles over recent months.

We’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave a note in the comments below.

[Image Credit: Jetsetter]

13 Travel Tweeters That Drive Us Crazy


With more than 50 million active users logging in every day, it comes as no surprise that Twitter has its fair share of obnoxious tweeters. The travel industry is far from exempt from annoying irritating users, so (just for laughs!) the Gadling team put our heads together and profiled 14 of the most eye roll-inducing tweeting types in our feeds. That’s not to say our bloggers haven’t been guilty of these moves in the past, but if you find yourself being frequently unfollowed on Twitter, it might be because you fall into one of these categories.

1. The Complainer

The security line was SO long, I almost missed my flight to #Amsterdam!
Why It’s Bad: Shut your face. You’re going to Amsterdam. It’s an airport, so expect lines. No one wants to follow your dramatic saga.
2. The No-Context Vacationer
Coffee in this town is just so damn amazing. #loveithere
Why It’s Bad: WHERE. Where are you? Unless you expect all your followers to keep track of exactly where you are at all times, this is just plain unhelpful.

3. The Junket Junkee

Middle-earth is surprisingly nice this time of year. #visitgondor
Oh my goodness, I think I just saw a great eagle! #visitgondor
Have to poop. #visitgondor
Why It’s Bad: Overaggressive press-trip promotion is not only damaging to your own reputation, but being too eager to heap glowing praise doesn’t exactly shine positively on your host, either. Be transparent about your connections or risk looking like a stooge.

4. The Humblebrager

Time to do some shopping… I haven’t got a thing to wear for my skiing trip to Vail!
Why It’s Bad: Did you see what this Twitter user did there? By complaining about not having any clothes, they also got to sneak in a mention about their upcoming trip. Oh, poor them!

5. The Hashtagger

#OMG. Check out my #awesome blog on #traditional #food in #Antigua, #Guatemala. #lp #matador #travel
Why It’s Bad: Spewing a string of hashtags makes your message hard to comprehend, and adding a tail of even more to every post causes most people to tune out. Instead of getting more attention, you’re just causing people to skip over your tweets. #Stop #it #already.

6. The Compulsive Retweeter

No example needed.
Why It’s Bad: An unnamed speaker at TBEX last year once described retweets as “the world’s biggest circle jerk.” Although that’s a pretty crass way to put it, it’s absolutely correct. Support things you really like, but don’t waste a disproportionate amount of time trying to get your handle in other traveler’s activity feeds. If your entire stream is an @reply or a retweet, it’s time to start making the conversation.

7. Chatty Kathy

Red Flags: #CruiseChat, #FNI, #FriFotos, #NUTS, #TL_Chat, #TourismChat, #RTW, #wwkds, etc.
Why It’s Bad: Networking is great, but attending every travel chat known to man is just clogging everyone’s feed. Especially when you share both questions and answers (plus a barrage of replies to other chatters). Let the moderators moderate, and join in when you have something valuable to share.

8. The Disguised Publicist

@Traveler Be sure to stop by the amazing swim-up bar at @HotelAwesome on your trip to the #Cancun! The margaritas are fabulous!
Why It’s Bad: Increasingly, publicists have been disguising themselves as travel writers and giving out “help” to those on the road. Writers and bloggers should be wary of this kind of advice, and publicists should be transparent with their connections to clients.

9. The Crowdsourcer

Just got home 2 days ago & I already have a serious case of #wanderlust. Where should I go next?
Why It’s Bad: Listen, maybe it’s time you bought a guidebook. At the very least, get a little more specific with your asks, cause your tweets are completely unhelpful.

10. The Helicopter Mom

Johnny has been loving our trip to Disney World! Here he is with Mickey: http://instagram.com/p/AbCdeFgHiJk/
Why It’s Bad: Unless you’re a family travel writer, posting tons of pictures of your children on Twitter is kind of creepy. We want to follow you, not your toddler.

11. The Forever Instagrammer

No example needed.
Why It’s Bad: Not everything needs to be documented in a photo, and putting a filter on your photos doesn’t necessarily make them good. Especially when you post obviously staged photos of your feet in the sand.

12. The Twitterizer

Good morning Twitterverse! Any tweeple want to tweet up and chat about my twip to Twitzerland?
Why It’s Bad: Please, don’t make me explain how absolutely annoying this is.

13. The #FF

#FF #travel love goes to @UserA @UserB @UserC @UserD @UserE @UserF @UserG @UserH @UserI @UserJ @UserK & @UserL!!
Why It’s Bad: Supporting people you enjoy following is great, but belching a list of users in hopes they’ll all share the tweet is disingenuous. And then when that gets turned into a chain letter of praise, let the unfollows begin. If you don’t believe us, read this Oatmeal comic.

If you don’t already, follow @Gadling on Twitter, where we make our share of own mistakes as well. Keep track of all the Gadling bloggers, too.

[Photo credit: Flickr user joelaz]