Whether you're drinking beer, Champagne, or the "Champagne of beers," one thing we can all agree on is that booze tastes even sweeter when it's free. But how can you score free drinks (both alcoholic and nonalcoholic) without compromising your morals? Why, with these savvy tips, of course! Read on for 10 shameless ways to get a free drink while traveling.
Join a Rewards Club
Just like you should never fly without joining a frequent-flyer program, you should never eat at a chain restaurant without joining a loyalty club. Most chains, like Starbucks, Caribou, and Qdoba, will treat you to a free beverage after you've earned enough points.
Ask for It as Compensation
If your flight is delayed, if you get bumped, or if the flight attendant asks you to move seats to accommodate other passengers, ask if you can get a free drink or two as compensation. They're likely to say yes.
Sign Up for Newsletters
Southwest Airlines sometimes includes free-drinks coupons in its Click 'N Save newsletters. (Other carriers occasionally do this as well.) If the thought of potentially free in-flight booze outweighs the thought of endless junk emails, go for it.
Stay at Hotels with Free Happy Hours
Location, room price, and happy hour: all things you should consider when booking a hotel. Many properties now offer free happy hours for guests. The Embassy Suites Hotels, for example, offers free alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages (plus snacks) every night for guests at all their locations. Likewise, Kimpton Hotels offer nightly wine hours, where guests can sip free vino.
Scope Out Gallery Events
Art and alcohol go well together, which is why many galleries have free events with open bars. Bonus: You'll get to drink your free libations surrounded by gorgeous art. Check local papers, online listings, and your concierge's knowledge to learn about events happening in your destination.
Attend the Captain's Party on a Cruise Ship
Many cruise lines host a captain's cocktail party on every voyage so that passengers can meet the crew. The booze usually flows freely at these parties, which can last for an hour or longer. On Disney Cruises, all trips have captain's cocktail parties with free drinks, so that cruisers can mingle with the captain and Disney characters.
Use Groupon or Other Deals Sites
Looking for a quick weekend getaway? Sign up for Groupon and other flash-deals sites. These sites often offer one- or two-night hotel stays that include a complimentary bottle of wine. Although, be warned: The free alcohol is usually something that's only worth around $10. Price out the room without the Groupon to see if it's really that much of a deal.
Hit Up the Airport Lounge
Free beverages are worth double in an airport since you'd otherwise be paying twice the typical rate for drinks in airport restaurants. Airline lounges, however, are full of free drinks. You don't always have to shell out for a first-class ticket for this perk, either. Porter Airlines, for example, offers lounge access for every passenger. Inside, you can sip on Starbucks coffee, Tazo teas, juices, sodas, and waters.
Let People Know You're Celebrating
Celebrating an anniversary, birthday, honeymoon, or other life event? Let everyone know, and they might set you up with a free glass of bubbly. If you're booking a restaurant on OpenTable, use the Special Requests field to share your happy occasion. For hotels, call ahead or make a note in your online reservation. Or, try to discreetly let a gate agent know what you're celebrating—he or she may comp you a drink or two.
Attend an Art Auction at Sea
Free sparkling wine is often served to attendees at cruise-ship art auctions. But don't drink and bid, lest you buy something you'll sorely regret in the morning!