Given my passion for travel and penchant for left-of-center, retro motels, many of my friends turn to me when it comes to finding decent lodgings on the tightest of tight budgets. This was taken to a new extreme when one of my friends asked me if it is possible to stay in a hotel for free. At first I thought this idea was absurd, unless of course you’re talking about programs that offer free motel vouchers for emergencies, like Sacramento’s Francis House Centre. But upon doing a bit of research, I realized that it actually is possible to get a free motel stay, but it does require a bit of luck and skill. I have decided to share the few tips I have learnt.
Tip #1: Keep Your Eyes on Your Local Classifieds… and get a Free Motel Stay!
Instead of staying at a motel for free, how about actually owning a motel cabin for free? This concept sounds far-fetched, I know, but it actually did happen in St. John’s Newfoundland in early 2017. An old couple were in possession of 10 motel cabins that they simply wanted to get rid of…free of charge. Naturally the response rate was overwhelming, and the free motel cabins were scooped up in no time. But history repeats itself, right? Keep refreshing your local Kijiji classifieds and you just might get your hands on a free motel cabin. I wouldn’t get my hopes up too high though…
Tip #2: Cherish your coupons, no matter how old they are.
In the spring of 2017, a Winnipeg woman named Kimberly Cooke made local headlines when she scored a free stay at a motel. The reason this made headlines was because her free night was granted by a 17-year-old coupon given to by her father years prior. The coupon was part of Super 8 motel’s reward system which basically offered a free tenth night after nine paid motel stays. The coupon sat in her wallet unused for almost two decades, and was even overlooked when her wallet was stolen. Finally, she decided to test out if the voucher was still valid and it turns out that it was. Super 8 apparently have very flexible expiry policies on their coupons, which sure is good to know if you’re trying to follow Kimberly Cooke’s footsteps.
Tip #3: Be a Puzzle-Master and a Free Motel Stay Will Follow (Seriously)
Earlier in 2017 (which seems to have been a great year for free motel stays, who knew!), a photo circulated on the internet showing a sign displayed in Milwaukee’s Continental hotel advertising a “Check-in Challenge”. Basically, this challenge gave customers the opportunity to earn rewards by playing different games. Among these games was the option of solving aRubix cube in less than three minutes, and being rewarded with a free night’s stay at the hotel. Sounds like a sweet deal, specifically if you’re this kid. But for the rest of us who are not puzzle-master prodiges, I suppose all we can do is practice, or, you know, actually pay for our motel stays.
If this article has taught us anything, it’s that free motel stays are not so easy to come by- they require luck and unconventional “skills”. While it is certainly not impossible to stay at a motel for free, it is best to plan for the most likely outcome which is, as you may have guessed, paying a rate of some sort.