The following guest post was submitted by Abby Woody.
As I told our esteemed editor Brooke here at HPL, I am kind of a nut for signing up for free samples through the mail. I hope by now my husband is used to getting tiny trial sizes of all sorts of products on a weekly basis — because if he can’t adapt I think he just might go crazy. The great thing about collecting free samples though is that it kind of goes hand-in-hand with my love of travel. So many of the things I collect are perfect for tossing in my suitcase. Read on for examples!
1. Toiletry Items
These are the most well-known type of samples available. As you may have guessed, they are also the most common. Generally, samples come in a one-time-use foil envelope (though enterprising travelers may use less at a time and get more mileage out of what’s provided).
However, as you can see from the photo, some samples I’ve received have been larger, too. I particularly love the 1.8oz Dove body wash and the .75oz Crest Optic White toothpaste — these are monsters in the freebie world!
>>Read about more great toiletries for carry-on travel.
2. Medical Products
I’ve gotten a lot of great stuff to toss into my travel medical/first aid kit since starting collecting samples. Personally, I never try to take enough medical items to last me the duration of the trip. I just want to know I’ll be safe through the plane and the first night at my destination, at which point I’ll seek out a pharmacy if I’m still under the weather.
Because this is how I pack anyway, my samples have been really useful. Lately I have gotten a lot of items to help me get some sleep, like the EmergenZzz, Advil PM, and Breathe Right Strips you see in the photo.
3. Feminine Products and Others
Samples for pantyliners, pads, and tampons are fairly common, and it’s great to have one or two of each to toss into your bag in case of a dire emergency.
I’ve also gotten other samples that have been a boon for travel, such a packets of baby wipes (great for taking off makeup or freshening up when a shower isn’t possible!) and envelopes of laundry detergent. (The one pictured is supposedly one use, but I stretched one of the same size into 3 sinkfuls during our last trip!)
The price of magazines and books at airport newsstands is famously inflated — why not try bringing free entertainment from home? I get magazine subscriptions for free, too, and generally save these to read during trips.
Once I disembark (after having enjoyed my magazine in-flight), I can drop them in the nearest recycling container and reduce weight. Then there’s no regret in hauling a real live magazine along (versus having paid to download one to my Kindle).
How to Utilize Free Samples when Traveling
The first and most obvious method is to just take along a bunch of free samples when you pack. You shouldn’t have to worry about liquid limits, since sample sizes are generally quite small, but this is the potentially problematic thing about this method, too. If you’re taking a long trip, you’ll have to lug along a lot of free samples.
Maybe not a concern for some, but to those who are carrying their possessions on their backs or headed to a place with limited trash or recycling options, it’s not ideal.
The second method, and my personal philosophy on traveling with free samples, was hinted at above. Because I haven’t yet gotten a chance to travel to the developing world, it’s easy to locate pain reliever, feminine products, or shampoo in the places I’m traveling to.
When I pack for longer trips using free sample sizes, my goal isn’t to have enough for every single day of travel – rather, I want to make sure I’ll be comfortable and pain-free in-flight, that I’ll sleep well the first couple of nights (avoiding jet lag is crucial to me enjoying the trip overall!), and that I can take one or two showers before having to pop out to the store.
In this way, I never have to worry about airline liquids requirements when traveling carry-on only, but I can still purchase a product if I find I need to use more.
How to Get Free Samples
It’s quite easy to get in the know of which free samples are available at what time. I utilize an RSS service (Bloglovin’ is my drug of choice) in order to subscribe to bloggers who post free sample alerts. Personally, the sites Money Saving Mom, Hip2Save, Cha Ching on a Shoestring, and Freebie Finding Mom have consistently posted sample alerts I’ve found useful for travel.
When signing up for samples, read carefully. Many times, you will not need to subscribe to get the company’s email alerts in order to qualify for the sample. Take advantage of this kind of opportunity when it’s offered, because in the spirit of full disclosure, I’ll say that I definitely have noticed an increase in the amount of junk mail (both physical and digital) I’ve received since starting to collect samples. Thankfully, Gmail recognizes a lot of the product emails as junk, so my inbox isn’t too much of a mess because of my penchant for free.
Free samples have been a great asset to me while traveling. I get to try out new products, and they are always the right size to toss into my suitcase. I hope you found this information useful. Happy freebie hunting to you!
About the author: Abby Woody is the editor of HumaniTribe.com and an avid drinker of single-origin coffee and small-batch gin. She loves hiking muddy trails with her dog Brida and getting her passport tattooed at customs. She enjoys writing about self-acceptance and finding peace within. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, and most other social media platforms – she hates privacy.
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Thanks for the free sample sources – another I like for somewhat random free stuff is http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/free-stuff/
Also, depending on your library you may be able to get magazines for free through Zinio – and they have a great variety to pick from!
Thank you for the great tips, Amy!
Diane Atkinson says
I am planning on going to South Africa next year in August. I use a c-pap machine at night.
I don’t know how to get distilled water for it. Should I leave it at home and use maybe????
those nose strips they sell? I’m in a pickle. Any suggestions?
Micha Elyi says
FYI, Optic White is a Colgate brand, not a P&G product.