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Ten (almost) free travel deals

Free nights for pink sands in Bermuda 

Depending on which hotel you book, you get a third, fourth, or fifth night free in Bermuda through March 15, 2012 (minimum three-night stay required). Rooms begin at $195 per night in beachfront resorts and boutique hotels, including Elbow Beach, Rosewood Tucker’s Point, and The Royal Palms. The “Compliments of Bermuda” promotion also includes special discounts for restaurants, shops, and island activities. Bonus: You’ll also find free things to do, such as Hamilton walking tours or Gombey dances with the “Bermuda Rendezvous” promotion through March 31, 2012.

Fly free to Crested Butte, Colo. 

Buy two airline tickets to Crested Butte ski resort, and the third one is free. The “Friends and Family Fly Free” program is valid for travel between December 15, 2011, and April 8, 2012. There are no blackout dates during the Christmas or New Year‘s holiday period, but there are blackouts in January for the three-day Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend and in February for the Presidents’ Day weekend. Crested Butte is an old-fashioned cowboy town surrounded by cattle ranches. The ski terrain ranges from gentle enough for kids and beginners in the aptly named Paradise Bowl to slopes that will challenge accomplished experts. Stay on the mountain at The Grand Lodge and ski in and out, or stay in town. Crested Butte is served by American, United, and Continental via Denver, Dallas, and Houston.

Take a hike in a national park 

The U.S. National Park Service operates more than 32 million acres of picture-postcard views and educational experiences in nearly 1,000 national parks, historic sites, and heritage areas. You can visit them all for cheap with an $80 annual pass for a carload or with a $10 lifetime pass for seniors. Or, just go for free on one of the 17 fee-free days in 2012: January 14 to 16 (Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend), April 21 to 29 (National Park Week), June 9 (Get Outdoors Day), September 29 (National Public Lands Day), and November 10 to 12 (Veterans Day weekend). Many park-related hotels, restaurants, gift shops, and tour operators offer special discounts on fee-free days, too.

Fly free to the Bahamas 

Book a four-night air-inclusive package from Nassau before June 30, 2012, at any participating Out Islands resort and receive two free plane tickets, good for travel through October 31, 2012. Or, get one free plane ticket with a three-night package (double occupancy is required). Blackout dates are March 4 through April 14, 2012. The Bahamas Out Islands include Abaco, Bimini, Eleuthera, and the Exumas. Some are close enough to take a ferry from Nassau; others are better served with interisland flights. Participating resorts include Sandals Emerald Bay and Bimini Big Game Club, which is favored by sport fishermen.

Two-for-one in the Swiss Alps 

The Jungfrau region in the heart of the Swiss Alps is celebrating the 100th birthday of its mountaintop railway system with a two-for-one deal on trains and hotels. Stay overnight in Interlaken, Grindelwald, Murren, Lauterbrunnen, or Wengen, and use the whole Jungfrau Railways network for six consecutive days with an Unlimited Pass. The twofer deal includes the spectacular scenic rail trip to the Jungfraujoch—at 11,333 feet, it’s the highest-altitude rail station in Europe. The jaw-dropping 360-degree views from the summit include glaciers and a collection of 10,000-foot mountains, including the Eiger. The offer is valid for a minimum two-night stay from June 30 to July 6, 2012. Use the promo code “National Week” when booking.

Free airport parking 

Get up to 14 days’ free parking with a one-night airport hotel stay. This is a great deal if your flight leaves or arrives very early or very late in the day. Book a package from and take your one-night sleepover at the beginning or end of your trip at participating locations in major cities throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe, including New York, Miami, Orlando, San Francisco, and Salt Lake City. Or, opt for a discounted airport hotel room in destinations from London to Bangkok, so you can have a shower and a nap during a long layover.

Ski/snowboard for free at Whistler 

For the entire 2011/2012 winter season, guests of The Fairmont Chateau Whistler can hit the slopes for free. Guests receive nightly deluxe accommodations, plus two Whistler Blackcomb lift passes per room, per day (with the exception of the arrival day). Rates start from $399 CAD per night (based on double occupancy), plus taxes. With lift tickets costing $100 per adult per day, you are essentially getting your room for half price. The Fairmont Chateau Whistler is in the heart of Whistler Village, and its lively apres-ski scene is just steps from the main lifts to both Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. The resort is 90 minutes from Vancouver International Airport, and there are regular shuttle buses.

Free Companion Airfare To Fiji 

In honor of its 30th anniversary, the upscale resort Turtle Island is offering couples the perfect incentive to escape to paradise. Get one free international ticket on Air Pacific between Los Angeles and Nandi, Fiji, with the purchase of one ticket, plus one night free when paying for six nights (at press time, it was two nights for five) at the resort. Accommodations come in the form of a romantic, two-room, beachfront bure, the Fijian version of a thatched-roof cottage. Turtle Island is all-inclusive, which means three meals a day, beverages (including wine and spirits), inter-island transfers, and all activities, including sportfishing and scuba diving, are included. Air taxes and fuel surcharges are extra, and travel must be completed by April 30, 2012.

Get Charged (for Free) At Hotels 

A growing number of hotels, resorts, and even BBs are adding free electric-car charging stations for guests to get off the grid and plug in their cars when they travel. The Kimpton Hotels chain has free charging stations at many of its locations, and so does the LEED-certified Ritz-Carlton in Charlotte, N.C., and the Element Lexington and The Charles Hotel in the Boston/Cambridge area. Walgreens is adding 30-minute fast-chargers to more than 300 of its shopping centers in the U.S., so you can recharge your car while you shop for the toiletries and other items you forgot to pack or didn’t have room to pack. As for drivers of hybrid-electric cars, Kimpton will let them park for free at eight properties in the U.S. or receive discounts of up to 50 percent off at a few dozen more.

Kids stay and eat free at Holiday Inn 

Take the kids, but don’t pay for them, at Holiday Inns and Resorts in the U.S. and Canada. Up to four kids ages 12 and under eat free in the chain’s restaurants when accompanied by a parent, and kids and teens up to age 19 stay free when sharing their parents’ room. This family-friendly freebie is also valid at SunSpree Resorts, which are operated by Holiday Inn. Unfortunately, kids don’t eat free for group reservations of 10 or more, although kids still stay free.

Read previous columns features expert travel advice and unbiased coverage of travel deals.

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