One of the (supposed) benefits of working in the airline industry is free travel. And, I do take advantage of this when I can. However, I think the reality is a lot less glamorous than people imagine. I imagine that at one time, back before deregulation when planes were rarely more than two thirds full, it was pretty easy. In today's travel environment, flights are a lot more crowded.
It's easier for me to do travel standby than a lot of airline employees both because I am single, and also because my job allows me to ride in the cockpit jumpseat if a flight is full. If I had a family, though, and I was trying to travel somewhere popular during peak travel times...I'd probably do what a lot of people I work with do and just buy tickets. I have seen families get split up on full flights before, and it's not a very pretty sight.
In the last year, other than visits to see my Mom in Albuquerque (which can be fun but also can be rather stressful) I've only flown to three places. Once was to see my sister last month, once was on vacation to New England last summer, and once to Amsterdam on a work-related junket (international cockpit observation time.)
Part of this lack of travel is caused by finances (even if the flight is free, hotels and rental cars are not) and part is by schedule (being relatively new to the airline, I have a quite limited amount of vacation time.) Still, I do hope to do more international travel in coming years. I have to admit that I've very rarely gotten stuck anywhere or been late getting back home...having backup plans when you're flying standby is always a good idea, though.