I must have danced around the room for five minutes when I first checked into the charming Relais Christine during my assignment to review hotels in Europe this past November. That spiral staircase, that view of the Latin Quarter’s rooftops, that huge hotel bed and spacious room made my New York apartment look like a basement water closet. While living in the concrete jungle has cost me an exorbitant amount of money, that Parisian paradise was free. Welcome to the world of travel perks.

the world of travel perks

As I navigate the world of travel journalism and travel blogging; I have officially crossed over into that funny realm where my bank account can barely afford me a flight yet I’ll find myself staying at a gorgeous hotel and dining at a fine restaurant. I am often greeted by eyebrow raises from friends and family when I travel as they can (understandably so) see the disconnect between my diatribes about the cost of New York living clash with Instagram photos of me sipping cocktails at a beachfront hotel or enjoying four course meals in London. So, how do I do it? These perks are not compliments of a bursting savings account (I, wish), or a trust fund (I really wish) but rather are the result of one thing: my writing.

My last article on Travelettes addressed how one becomes a travel blogger, which was met with an overwhelming positive response from readers who had tons of questions ! To follow up on that story, I’d like to address that mystical world of travel perks and share insider tips on how to land travel perks of your own.

travel perks

A ‘travel perk’ can be anything from a complimentary walking tour, a reservation at a nice restaurant, a hotel stay or even a full trip all offered up in exchange for an unbias written review, editorial coverage or blog post. I have received hotel stays, flight upgrades, dining experiences and fully expensed trips in the past; and all of them cost me nothing more than an honest article about my experience. Travel perks are usually offered directly by brands or PR agencies representing brands in the hopes of securing press coverage on behalf of their client.

travel perks 3

I’m often asked one simple question when it comes to travel perks: Do I have to write a flattering review or can I write the truth? It’s a good question and to understand it, it is important to know the difference between public relations and advertising. As someone that worked in advertising for years at some of the top agencies in Manhattan and has worked in PR for global brands, the main difference between PR and advertising is earned vs. paid media. Public relations is about getting earned media while advertising will buy publicity or sponsored posts. Some writers and bloggers will opt against writing anything if they have a bad experience vs. writing a bad review; but when it comes to writing your review you are expected to write the truth–whatever that may be. As a writer it is important to your readers that you maintain your integrity by being honest about your hotel visit, tour or restaurant experience. That said, in the time that I’ve reviewed hotels, tours, products or trips I’ve never had to write an unflattering review as the hotels, restaurants and trips I’ve experienced went out of their way to ensure I had a wonderful time!


As a novice travel blogger or writer, you may find yourself approaching PR folks and brands (versus when you are more established and they approach you). The first thing to know when approaching brands and PR contacts is to be okay with rejection! For a past trip to London, I had sent e-mails to various hotels to see if they would be interested in having me write up a review on their behalf–some responded, others didn’t and that is simply the way it goes. At the end of the day, I arrived in London with three hotels to review around the city–it allowed me to create content for my site, share hotels with my readers and save on accommodation costs!

When approaching PR contacts and brands you should always be professional and put your best foot forward, which is to say that your initial e-mail should make the best impression of your credentials and the exposure you can offer that brand, hotel, etc. The things to note here are a to have a clear e-mail subject line, start with an immediate introduction of who you are that leads into why you are reaching out, call out any credentials and what you can offer the brand in terms of exposure and include a press kit if you have one.

Remember that traveling on your own is different from a press trip since your schedule is more fluid and you essentially plan your own itinerary rather than rely on a PR contact to do so. Once you land an opportunity to review a hotel or restaurant, you should absolutely follow through with the stories and exposure you published and be transparent about when the story will be published. Make sure to thank the PR or brand contact for hosting you and keep them posted on when the story will appear (whether it is on your own blog or another publication). Also, it goes without saying that social media is huge, so tweet, Instagram, Facebook and share your experience while tagging the brand and their hashtags. Establishing excellent relationships with PR and brand contacts leads to future press trip invitations or opportunities to review other hotels or restaurants in their portfolio; so definitely take care to maintain that connection and deliver on what was promised.


You may be an excellent writer with a great story to tell but in such a competitive field it is crucial to have your work published across various publications. The simple fact is that ‘travel perks’ are often given in exchange for a review, story or blog post and the PR agency or brand that is treating you is doing so in hopes of gaining exposure for their client. While your own blog may not yet have the following needed to make an impact, being a contributing writer can give your words more power and pique the interest of brands looking to work with you. It is important to note that when contributing writing your stories are ultimately at the approval of your editor and it is up to them to publish your work or not. Some publications have stricter policies on their writers receiving travel perks so before you promise a story to a brand make sure to check with your editor if they would even be interested in you reviewing a hotel, tour, etc. on behalf of their publication.


When it comes to travel perks, the best policy here is always honesty–be honest with your editors that you’ll be receiving a travel perk, be honest with the PR folks about the coverage you can provide and be honest with yourself if what you’re reviewing is a fit for your readers and site. Never promise what you can’t deliver! For example, if you are headed to Egypt and land a complimentary city tour of Cairo in exchange for a review be honest with the editorial coverage you can provide–perhaps it is live coverage on your social media, perhaps it is stories on your blog as well as other publications you contribute to, whatever it is–be honest about what you can feasibly offer a brand.

Travel perks are a wonderful benefit of travel writing that has allowed me to save on travel, experience countries, tours and hotels I otherwise might have had to save for months to see, and allows me to create exciting content for my readers and website. My passion for seeing the world, sharing my story and inspiring others to step outside their comfort zone and book a flight is why I write and travel perks are just that–an added benefit–they are not the purpose behind my travel writing and aren’t the driving force behind why I chose to become a full time travel blogger and travel journalist.