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100 Things You Can Get For Free This Summer

Starting with ... 20 terrific travel freebies to ease your wallet woes.

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illustration of travel adventures such as camping fishing and exploring a big city
Hye Jin Chung
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The Girlfriend is celebrating its 100th issue today! And we couldn't have done it without you. So we're rolling out 100 things you can get for free in 2019. Enjoy! Because everybody needs a Girlfriend.

Travel can take a big bite out of your budget, but these 20 fabulous freebies can help you save money.

1. National parks waive their entry fees on certain fee-free dates each year. Here's a list of parks, state by state, that you can check for operating hours and event schedules. In 2019, admission is free to 400-plus national parks — as well as national monuments and other sites — on the following days: Aug. 25, National Park Service birthday; Sept. 28, National Public Lands Day; and Nov. 11, Veterans Day.

2. Thanks to free travel apps, your smartphone can ease your wallet woes. Here are just a few of the apps.

GasBuddy helps you pay less at the pump by locating nearby stations with the best prices on gas.

Google Translate is your one-stop translation spot that allows you to type in a word or phrase and instantly have it translated into more than 100 languages.

TripIt organizes all your travel plans and documents in one place, and can even share your itinerary with those picking you up at the airport or anyone else who needs to know.

The XE Currency app for iPhone offers current exchange rates, historical charts and on-the-go currency conversions.

3. Both luxury hotels and budget-friendly motels offer an array of nifty freebies to draw in guests, from complimentary cookies at DoubleTree to Netflix access at Marriott properties to hosted wine hours at Kimpton Hotels. GOBankingRates has a nice list of freebies travelers can take advantage of at a wide range of hotels.

4. You can save money on passport photos by taking your own picture and ordering it for free through

5. If you crave more culture in your life, the long-running Museums on Us program offers Bank of America, Merrill Lynch and U.S. Trust credit and debit cardholders the chance to visit more than 225 of the most popular cultural institutions in the United States free of charge on the first full weekend of every month.

6. For those who prefer old-school navigation, there are a lot of maps, planners and guidebooks you can request — for free. Here are just a few.

The twice-yearly free Washington, D.C. guide and map is packed with information about the nation's capital.

For those going to California, there's a free visitor's guide and state map.

You can order a free official Colorado state guide ... and a free guide to the Palm Beaches of Florida.

For a free guide to another destination, go here.

7. For those who prefer a personal touch, there are free tour guides you can ask to show you around your destination. The Global Greeter Network helps you find local volunteers in more than 200 locations who love their city so much, they'll accompany you for free. There are even greeters who will join you and show you around in locales around the world.

8. If you’d rather go around on your own, you can download free audio guides from services such as

9. Traveling on your birthday? Score a free beverage at the Starbucks in the airport if it's your birthday — and you have the app. Baskin-Robbins also offers a free scoop of ice cream to anyone with a birthday who has an account with the company.

10. Many airports are now offering free Wi-Fi as an amenity for travelers. To find out where it's offered, go here. When it comes to airlines, JetBlue is currently the only U.S. airline that offers free in-flight Wi-Fi service. It’s called Fly-Fi and is available on all flights over the continental U.S. But other airlines may jump on the bandwagon, with Delta recently announcing plans to eventually offer free Wi-Fi on flights.

11. Yapta — short for "your amazing personal travel assistant" — monitors prices on all your company-booked flights and hotel rooms. When a price drops, it immediately shoots out a savings alert.

12. During National Fishing and Boating Week, most states offer free fishing days. Some states even offer free fishing weekends. Check out the next free days in your state here.

13. When it comes to free checked baggage, only Southwest Airlines will allow it. Indeed, Southwest will permit two checked bags for free, provided they are a certain size and weight. But if you are a member of a frequent-flyer club, you may also qualify for free baggage.

14. Often, you can earn cash back when making travel arrangements online if you book through a site such as Ebates or TopCashback. Another way to score cash back or freebies is to cover travel costs with a cash-back credit card or a travel rewards card. CardRatings offers a detailed, frequently updated list of best cash-back credit cards.

15. For some, house-swapping may seem too risky or too much of a hassle. But for others, it can be a nice way to score free lodging. Obviously trading homes works best for someone who lives in an interesting place, but even those who reside in a small town can draw interest. (Remember the swap featured in the film The Holiday?) To get started, check out a variety of swapping sites, including perhaps HomeExchange and Intervac Home Exchange.

16. If you google "third night free," you will see dozens of offers from hotels that give you the last night free if you book a stay for three nights or longer. These hotels include everything from the Four Seasons to Fairmont Hotels.

17. Similarly, if you google "kids ski free," you'll find loads of destinations across the United States, Canada and Europe that allow kids to, well, ski at no cost. Often they have to be 5 or younger, but many resorts offer complimentary skiing to kids up to age 12. One particularly nice program is the Colorado Ski Country USA's fifth- and sixth-grade Passport Program. It allows fifth graders to ski or snowboard for free for three days at 22 of Colorado's premier ski areas. Sixth graders can ski or snowboard for four days for just $125.

18. Planning a long family car trip? Keep everybody busy by printing out some free travel games. Here are a few places to find them: Mama Cheaps, MiniTime and Pinterest.

19. Anyone love music? Most cities offer a wealth of free concerts in the summer. In New York City, for example, you can listen to every genre of music without spending a dime, from May through August. In Washington, D.C., you'll not only find a ton of free outdoor concerts in the summer, but the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage boasts free performances, with no tickets required, every day of the year.

20. Finally, in the miscellaneous category, you can get all kinds of other freebies — just by asking. For example, most hotels will provide you with a phone charger or international power adapter, and some will even fork over iPads, MacBooks and headphones. Other hotels provide guests with umbrellas and free transportation services. Through Kimpton Hotels' "Forgot it? We've got it" initiative, guests can request a wide range of freebies, including makeup mirrors, lip balm and hair straighteners.

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