How You Can Live Rich and Travel for Free (Plus, a Passive Panda Giveaway: Win Free Travel!)

Did you know that there are a few simple strategies that will allow you to travel for free, meet incredible people, and see the world?

Let me show you how I have done just that… and I’m also going to give you the opportunity to win some free travel right now.

Here’s what you need to know…

How to Live a Rich Life

There is much more to living a “rich” life than being rich.

In many cases, you don’t actually need money to enjoy a rich lifestyle.

For example, when I was a poor graduate student, I traveled to Switzerland on a free flight, stayed for free in a downtown apartment, drank free beer and ate free food, and talked with Fortune 500 CEOs, political leaders, and presidents.

And that was as a graduate student at Ohio State with no money and no job.

I’m not saying this to brag or boast, but rather to open your eyes to what is possible: You don’t need money to meet incredible people and go incredible places.

Additionally, sometimes it’s easy to get wrapped up in trying to boost your income and we forget why we are trying to earn all of this money in the first place.

I’m thankful that Passive Panda is providing readers with real results (for example, making $900 on the side in 4 weeks or earning $30,000 in 30 days), but I don’t want you to get so caught up in the process of earning more that you miss amazing opportunities to enjoy life that don’t require money at all.

For most of us, we don’t just want money to have it. The real reason we want a bigger bank account is to enjoy the freedom and opportunities that money can provide.

Well, I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to wait to get rich before you can live rich.

You don’t have to wait to get rich before you can live rich.
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How to Travel for Free

There are 3 simple strategies that I have used to travel for free and meet amazing people.

  1. Get free travel to a conference or event.
  2. Get a business to sponsor your travel.
  3. Pay for your travel with an alternative currency that doesn’t cost money. (This includes frequent flyer miles, rewards points, and so on.)

Each strategy has it’s advantages.

For example, you’ll probably hang out with cooler people using strategy #1, but you’ll have the flexibility to go anywhere using strategy #3.

Speaking of strategy #3, in a few weeks I will be launching a totally free service that will show you exactly how to earn hundreds of thousands of frequent flyer miles, free hotel stays, and rewards points which can easily be cashed in for free plane tickets and hotel stays anywhere in the world.

This is the main method I used to travel to 17 countries in 2 years and it’s the simplest way to live a rich life without spending a ton of money. I can’t wait to share it with you.

But that service isn’t quite ready yet, so let’s talk about two other incredible options for earning free travel. And I have a free travel giveaway to tell you about as well…

How to Use Conferences to Travel for Free

A few years back I stayed in a small mountain village high up in the Swiss Alps. I spent a few days hiking around, passing another traveler now and then, but mostly spending my time with the goats that roamed the countryside.

And while I paid for my little room up in the mountains, I actually flew to and from Switzerland for free because I added my personal trip on the end of a conference that I was attending.

The conference paid for the flights, which I scheduled at times that were convenient for me, and I got a free trip to Europe out of it.

There are conferences, events, and competitions around the world that will pay for you to travel to them. I have found events like this in India, Switzerland, Russia, the UAE, Brazil, and the United States … and there are dozens of other options in incredible places.

Some are for students, some are for entrepreneurs, and some of them are for anyone. And many of them will pay for you to travel to their event.

Most people don’t even know that these options exist.

Personally, I think conferences are the most underutilized way to travel for free … and they have provided me with some of the greatest travel experiences I have had.

A Free Travel Resource for Conferences

Requirements for each conference differ — some want an essay, some want a full application, some just want a good story — but you can find these opportunities by searching the web.

My friend Gustav (who I met at a conference) started a site called Student Competitions, which lists many of these events in one place.

Most of the opportunities on Student Competitions are for students only (big surprise), but a few are open to anyone. There are also many other options that are not listed on the site, but Student Competitions will give you a place to start looking and will give you an idea of what these opportunities look like.

Honestly, if I was smart, I would have kept this secret to myself, but I would rather reward you for reading Passive Panda. Go out there, attend some amazing conferences, and take advantage of the opportunities available to you!

Of course, conferences aren’t the only way to travel for free…

Travel for Free with Partnerships and Sponsors

Another great way to travel for free is through partnerships and corporate sponsorships.

The best way I can think of describing this strategy to you is through an example. So allow me to tell you how I’m doing this right now.

Passive Panda and American Express

I’m proud and happy to announce that Passive Panda and American Express have just formed a wonderful new partnership.

The big winner in all of this is you and I’ll tell you why in a moment. But first, let me show you how partnerships like this can allow you to travel for free.

Companies — whether it’s American Express or any other business — want to reach their target market and if you can help them do that, then they will happily pay for you to travel to interesting places.

For example, my friend Johnny gets paid to stay at upscale hotels because his audience likes reading about these resorts. In other words, these properties will pay him to stay there because they know he can get their name in front of their target market.

If you’ve been paying attention to Passive Panda recently, you’ll notice that these mutually beneficial relationships are essentially The Remora Method in practice.

How American Express Will Help You Travel For Free

A few weeks ago, American Express reached out to me and told me that they wanted to partner with Passive Panda and offer hundreds of thousands of free rewards points through their Starwood Preferred Guest program to Passive Panda readers.

Needless to say, I was excited.

Let me tell you a few things about this partnership…

  1. In case you don’t know, the Starwood Preferred Guest program is arguably the best travel program out there and the Starpoints we are giving away can be redeemed at some of the best hotels and resorts worldwide.
  2. In addition to the free travel rewards that you get, I get some as well. For example, last week I was flown to New York City for the Tribeca Film Festival to see the premiere showing of a few films.
  3. Passive Panda’s partnership with American Express in no way alters the information or opinions you will be provided. In other words, they are not paying me to send you American Express ads or to say nice things about them. (I happen to love American Express, so this worked out well, but if I wanted to say that they were terrible, I would still have every right to do so.)

I hope you’re as excited about this as I am.

Passive Panda’s partnership with American Express and the Starwood Preferred Guest program is just another reason why Passive Panda is different and more valuable than almost every other site you read on earning more money.

My goal has always been for Passive Panda to help you earn more money, time, and freedom … and this partnership is a great way to do that. The fact that you take time to read this site is important to me and I want to give you as much value as possible for doing so.

And now, let’s talk about that free travel giveaway…

Passive Panda Giveaway: Win Free Travel!

Over the next few months I am going to be giving away six prizes totaling 210,000 Starpoints and a $250 gift card. These prizes are courtesy of Passive Panda’s new sponsor American Express and their Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card.

For the first round of the sweepstakes, I will be giving away 25,000 Starpoints to a random Passive Panda reader.

That’s enough points for a free round–trip flight anywhere in the US. Or two free nights at a high–end resort like the Westin New York. Or multiple nights at other great Starwood properties.

How to enter the 25,000 Starpoints Sweepstakes

  1. Follow @PassivePanda on Twitter.
  2. Pick your favorite New York City Starwood hotel from this list.
  3. Send a tweet to @PassivePanda that has your favorite hotel listed with the hashtag #SPGAMEX at the end.

Here is an example of a valid contest entry tweet…

@PassivePanda The Chatwal hotel #SPGAMEX

The contest will start on May 7th, 2012 at 1pm EST and will end on May 15th, 2012 at 1pm EST. A winner will be chosen at random from the Twitter entries. You may submit an entry as many times as you wish.

UPDATE: Congratulations to Passive Panda reader Amy C. for winning the sweepstakes! 25,000 Starpoints are headed your way!

Don’t worry. You can still get 25,000 Starpoints too: You can get 25,000 Starpoints by signing up for the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card. This isn’t required for the contest … just a fun way to get Starpoints that can be used for free travel anywhere. Also, it’s probably the best small business credit card, so if you don’t have it yet, then it’s worth picking up during this promotion.

And that’s it! Best of luck in the contest! I’m looking forward to sending you more free travel opportunities in the near future.

Disclosure: Just in case you missed it earlier, American Express is now an official partner with Passive Panda and they are sponsoring this post. American Express has donated the 25,000 Starpoints points for Passive Panda readers to win in a sweepstakes in conjunction with Starwood Hotels and the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival.

34 Responses to How You Can Live Rich and Travel for Free (Plus, a Passive Panda Giveaway: Win Free Travel!)

  1. Amazing prize! Thanks for the opportunity. ;)

  2. Marcus says:

    Thanks for sharing this, James. When I saw “travel for free,” I was expecting to hear about CouchSurfing for the millionth time. Ha ha! Nothing wrong with that, but I was hoping for something different.

    You delivered! Living the high life (without the high cost) is awesome. I’d read about people doing it, but no one really shared their secrets (for free, that is) until I read your post. Much appreciated.

  3. Kate says:

    Great tips James! I buy everything with a credit card to get those points. As long as your disciplined and pay it off each month your good.

    • James Clear says:

      Yep. There are two keys to success with the credit card flying strategy. 1) Be responsible and pay your balance in full every month. 2) Carry no debt on the card.

      Thanks for reading Kate!

  4. Steve says:

    What a nice prize. I have never been to NY city before – is this valid for Canadians?

  5. Poor Panda says:

    I do not twitter or facebook, is there a way to enter the
    contest?

  6. Bee says:

    Why Twitter? can we use Facebook? I don’t have a Twitter account because I don’t like the 140 characters limit.

    I have never been to New York. I would like to go there someday. The hotel I would stay in is the Sheraton Harbor Hotel because it has a nice view of the city and looks quiet at the same time.

    The way I learn how to travel for free (I never actually put it into practice)is to use credit cards from airlines. The more you rack up, the more points you earn and you can redeem it to fly free. I’ve been told that to maximize this method, you should use the credit card to pay for everything.

    The traditional way is start a business. Charge your trip as a business trip. Write the expenses off in the next year tax.

    By combining the two, I guess it could be a very powerful method. :D

    The airline also give you discount if you’re flying to see your dying family. Thought I haven’t heard the update on this since 20 years ago.

    • James Clear says:

      Hi Bee,

      American Express wants this to be a Twitter sweepstakes, so it has to be on Twitter. I’ll see if the future giveaways can be done in a different fashion.

      Thanks for reading!

  7. Tram Tran says:

    Awesome, though I suppose people from
    Australia can’t enter the giveaway;(

    • James Clear says:

      I think you’re still eligible! Don’t quote me on that, but I just browsed the official contest rules again and didn’t see anything about this being restricted to a particular location.

  8. Betsy Talbot says:

    James, we live this life full-time, and if people knew just how easy and inexpensive it was to travel more of them would be doing it. It is all about seeing opportunities, networking, and thinking creatively — all things that work for an entrepreneur, too. I’m so glad you are teaching this method to people, because it really isn’t just about the money.

    We’ve taken a 5-week cruise up the Atlantic for free, house-sat in some of the most beautiful and interesting places in the world, and routinely meet powerful and fascinating people who often become good friends.

    A warning to your readers: Once you put these methods into practice you will never go back to your old way of living again. It is addictive!

    • James Clear says:

      Hey Betsy — great to hear from you and it’s amazing that you’re doing this full-time.

      Shoot me an email. I’d love to hear more details about your whole approach to low-cost travel.

  9. Dan Meyers says:

    James – I don’t often push credit cards, but when I do, I push the Starwood AMEX (said in Dos Equis man voice).

    I’ve been a card holder since 2004 and am also on my 8th year of SPG platinum status. It is by far the best rewards program. I’ve earned most of my points through work-sponsored travel, but I’ve had some incredible free vacations thanks to the SPG program. Thanks for the opportunity to win more points – they are gold :) .

  10. Benny says:

    That’s cool SPG is offering free points. How did they connect with you? Did they just contact you to partner with them?

  11. Van Luu says:

    I am from Vietnam, can I join programs similar to this one (if available in the future)?

    • James Clear says:

      I think you’re eligible for this contest. I can’t say with absolute certainty, but I just read through the contest guidelines and I don’t see any restrictions based on location.

  12. Aurus says:

    Hi James, similar Q as other peeps – is this open to international readers or just those in North America?

  13. Libby says:

    I have this card myself and love it. Accumulating for a nice ticket at the end of the year. :D

  14. Oscar says:

    Im from Chile, And I always read Passive Panda, I just wanna fly to the US!!

  15. John says:

    Awesome contest because it’s easy to enter, and has great prizes. Free things exist for those willing to ask.

  16. John says:

    Others are able to travel for free to different places by applying for volunteer work abroad. Others travel and publish a book regarding their travels and that’s what keeps the buck coming in. It may not be much but at least that person is able to do what he/she loves the most and that’s traveling.

  17. Will says:

    Just missed the deadline because I just subscribed to the page.

    I’ll try next time.

  18. Dan says:

    Great tips, thanks a ton ;)

  19. D says:

    Great piece!

  20. Rahul says:

    Wow great article, really inspirational and motivational as well.

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