MainStreet: The Best Travel Freebies of 2010

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Ken Seet / Corbis

By Seth Fiegerman

Complimentary breakfasts and bathing products are nice, but let’s be honest, with hotel prices going up and airlines adding an endless amount of new fees, travelers need some serious perks to make up for the costs. So we’ve rounded up some of the best travel freebies currently being offered, as well as a few perks to look out for when traveling.

During the recession, hotels began offering more promotions where travelers could sign up to stay for two or three nights, and get an additional night for free. Though the recession may be over, many hotels continue to pump out these deals to get travelers to stay longer and spend more.

Starwood Hotels currently has a deal where travelers can stay two nights and get the third free, or alternatively, stay four nights and get an additional two nights free of charge. Many smaller hotels in places like Bermuda, Colorado and San Diego are also promoting a third-night free deal.

We’re all familiar with credit cards that offer free airline miles with a certain amount of purchases, but Citibank has gone one step beyond that. The bank now offers credit cards through Visa, MasterCard and American Express that will give you 75,000 airline miles after you spend $1,500. That’s enough to fly around the world for free, twice.

“It’s the biggest mileage amount that I’ve seen for a credit card sign up,” said Brad Wilson, founder of Bradsdeals.com, which tracks travel and retail deals.

Airline fees may have been good for the industry, but they’re lousy for consumers. Fortunately, InterContinental Hotels Group, which runs 4,600 hotels around the world, is running a promotion through the end of this year in which it will reimburse customers up to $50 for their baggage fees.

If that’s not enough to cover your costs, you may be want to try one of these tactics for beating baggage fees.

During the previous few months, several hotels have begun to provide travelers with complimentary e-readers for their stay. No, you don’t get to keep them after you check out, but at least you get to play with them.

Several Fairmont Hotels in North America provide Kobo e-readers to guests and guests at the Epic Hotel in Miami are provided with a Sony reader that comes with books already loaded onto it.

The cost of using a cell phone abroad can quickly add up. That’s why we hope more hotels follow the example of Ma Maison in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and offer up complimentary cell phones with unlimited free local coverage.

Deals where kids get to stay for free are nothing new. But at several hotels in the Caribbean and Mexico, like the Royal Solaris in Cancun, kids not only stay for free but they also get to eat for free. Meanwhile, big hotel chains like Omni and Loews provide kids with free toys to play with, so maybe you can distract them from wanting to buy other shiny objects on the trip.

Vacations can be stressful, so why not pamper yourself? Many hotels currently provide customers with complimentary or heavily discounted spa treatment, including the Marquis Los Cabos in Mexico and the Eldorado in Sante Fe.

It can cost $8.99 or more to get Wi-Fi for your phone or laptop when traveling, but fortunately, many big name hotels and airports provide complimentary Wi-Fi to travelers. You can find a full directory of them on Wififreespot.com

It’s the dream of anyone who has ever sat through a long, crowded flight to be able to get into first class. Unfortunately, flying in the front can cost $5,000 or more. But if you really want it, there are some tricks you can use to get a free or discounted upgrade, such as checking into the airport 24 hours early or pretending to be on your honeymoon.

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