Incentive programs can be found throughout the travel industry. By offering special perks airlines, hotels, car rental agencies, cruise ships, tour companies and others create loyalty among their frequent users. Until our recent road trip through northwest Nebraska, I didn’t know that states had stepped into this incentive arena. The Nebraska Passport Travel Program encourages visitors to see an assortment of interesting places with the enticement of tiered prizes and special drawings.
Anyone taking a road trip through Nebraska from now through September 30 shouldn’t leave home without his or her Nebraska 2017 Passport. This free incentive program showcases 80 stops throughout the state. Each year, the list of venues changes. This year’s booklet includes an assortment of locations that fall within these themes:
- Hidden Treasures
- A Little Me Time
- Uniquely Nebraska
- Good People, Good Times
- Celebrate Nebraska 150
- Be a Kid Again
- Thrills & Chills
- Art for the Heart
- Hello Sunshine
- A Warm Welcome
At each of the locations, visitors can have the vendor stamp their booklet as well as the Prize Entry Sheet. The program has digitally friendly options— The Nebraska Passport App for iPhones and Androids or Selfies. After closing hours, Selfies can be used to verify that someone visited the site. The process couldn’t be any simpler.
Best of all, the Nebraska Tourism Commission has selected fun destinations that give a taste of what the state has to offer. Foodies, history mavens, nature lovers, adventure seekers, art enthusiasts, collectors, and shoppers will rejoice. A few locations offer small discounts or free samples.
The color-coded maps with corresponding venue descriptions are a useful resource. Kids are able to track their journey and then later save as a souvenir. Participants are asked to share their experiences on the Nebraska Passport Travel Program website.
Sampling of Destinations
While I only visited a handful of Passport attractions in the northwest portion of the state, I can wholeheartedly recommend these places. Nebraska’s early history was seen through a women’s voice at the Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center (Chadron). By staying a day and a night at Fort Robinson State Park, I learned about the former fort’s
diverse history and also observed all of the family friendly activities available onsite. The Legacy of the Plains Museum offered additional insight into the people who passed through the nearby Mitchell Pass or chose to settle in the area. While at Ash Hollow State Historical Park, I was able to walk up and down the steep Windlass Hill Trail and imagine what it was like for the wagon trains to traverse the hilly terrain. I chuckled at Carhenge. After spending a few hours at Stonehenge in the U.K., I didn’t know that a Nebraskan would use his creativity to make a car version in Alliance, Nebraska.
Nebraska 2017 Passport Travel Program Prizes
To be eligible for prizes, participants must send their Prize Entry Sheet by the October 2nd deadline. Prizes are awarded for 10, 20, 40, 60, and 80 stamps. Anyone who returns the form is eligible for a drawing that includes four Nebraska weekend trips valued at $500 each and three hundred $1 Lottery Scratch Tickets. There’s also a Grand Prize drawing.
The Passport has been a win-win situation for visitors and attractions. Karen Kollars a Nebraska Tourism Commission consultant proudly boasted:
Last year, more than 26,000 people participated in the program and 1,292 returned their Prize Entry Sheets for prizes. One hundred sixty-eight people took the time to visit all of the stops. This number was a little more than double from the year before. It was unanimous—100% stated that they would recommend the Nebraska Passport Program.
Can You Share?
If you’ve traveled through Nebraska, what was your favorite place?
Fellow travelers… Are you aware of other states that offer similar incentive programs? Please feel free to share
Sandra Bornstein is a freelance travel and lifestyle writer. She shares her experiences and recommendations on this blog and on other websites. Recent articles have appeared on One Travel: Going Places, Cheapoair.com Miles Away Travel Blog, We Said Go Travel, Mom It Forward, Boulder Jewish News, and Family Circle. Sandra writes a monthly travel tip column for Golden Living, a Best Version Media magazine.
Sandra is the author of MAY THIS BE THE BEST YEAR OF YOUR LIFE. This memoir highlights Sandra’s living and teaching adventure in Bangalore, India. As a licensed Colorado teacher, Sandra has taught K-12 students in the United States and abroad. She also taught college level courses.
Sandra’s memoir was a finalist in the Travel category for the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, the 2013 International Book Awards, the 2013 National Indie Book Excellence Awards, 2013 USA Best Book Awards, and a Honorable Mention award in the Multicultural Non-Fiction category for the 2013 Global ebook Awards.