Traveling comes in a number of different ways, and most of the time luxury travel is always associated with having a lot of money. However, some luxury here and there never hurts anyone and today, even backpackers that travel the world in the cheapest way possible find themselves indulging in some luxury activities from time to time. And the needs of the growing number of globetrotters have turned the concept of “affordable luxury” into reality. This means that, even though it sounds ridiculous, there are some tricks for having a luxury vacation on a budget. That’s exactly what this article is about: how to travel in style even with a limited budget.
Research, more research, and planning!
I would be lying if I said that research isn’t the most important part of a successful travel plan. Whether it’s booking tickets, browsing accommodation options, or planning an itinerary, research is extremely important. After all, thousands of travel agencies make a living out of this and you can save a lot by cutting the middleman out when possible and doing all the research work yourself.
Even if you’re not very good at planning or don’t know much about the place you’re visiting, you can get a tonne of useful tips from travel bloggers that visited that place and wrote articles about it which are only a click away! Still don’t feel very confident about planning a trip on your own? Try reaching out to different travel agencies directly and see which one can provide the best offer. With that being said, keep in mind that you can always have luxury at a lower price if you…
Visit a less touristy city
Getting off the beaten path can not only cut down your major expenses, like accommodation, sightseeing, and local transport but it can also allow you enjoy tourist-free places, which are oftentimes more authentic and just as pretty as the major tourist hubs. This way, your limited budget will take you a lot further and allow you to enjoy a luxury-vacation for less. Once you decide where to go, you obviously need to find the best way to get there. That leads us to…
First class flying and private jets?
I tried flying first class and honestly, I’m not a big fan. Some airlines offer an extraordinary service but I don’t think that’s worth the price difference compared to economy class tickets. Additionally, with some airlines, the difference between classes isn’t drastic at all. However, a first-class ticket also doesn’t necessarily always cost so much. If you apply for a loyalty program and collect some points, you can purchase an upgradeable coach and then apply your points to get a business class seat. If you don’t have any points, you can also upgrade your seat for a good price at check-in if there are available seats in the business class.
Another thing I’d like to mention in this section is private jets. I know you might be shocked by reading this but there are some companies out there that are making semi-private air travel accessible to more people. There are private jet rental websites, like Private Fly that offer flights from London to Nice as low as £250! I was also absolutely shocked when I got a semi-private Easy Jet flight from Nice to Birmingham for only £184! I guess the time when private flights were reserved only for millionaires has passed. While we’re at it, you should also check this Trip Savvy Fly Private article for some useful tips regarding private flights.
And if this is still too expensive for you, you can always get some great first-class Air France’s Discover the World at a low price program. I warmly recommend it.
Don’t be obsessed with loyalty programs
Loyalty programs sure provide a lot of benefits and can allow you to experience some amazing things like staying in luxurious hotels and flying first class. However, with time this loyalty becomes less rewarding as the competition increases and the loyalty programs can start determining your travel plans and not the other way around. This is something that should never happen! Besides, you can get even better deals than the one provided by loyalty programs because the market is more competitive than it ever was. Some of these offers even cover your entire vacation and allow you to have some luxury on a budget while traveling.
Enjoying this article? Check out my list of travel writing tips that will help you become a better travel writer.
Consider an all-inclusive but don’t forget about deal sites
If you want to leave a part of the planning to someone else and have a hassle-free vacation, consider an all-inclusive-vacation. You can find a lot of last minute deals for 4-star or even 5-star properties for only a fraction of the price. However, despite booking an all-inclusive holiday, there can always be some other things you might want to do. That’s why you shouldn’t forget about travel deal sites like Groupon or Travelzoo. You can find guided tours, boat cruises, and even helicopter tours for prices that you didn’t even think are possible!
Travel where your currency is worth more
Following the economy news never hurts, especially if you’re planning to travel. Keep a track of which currencies are performing well and which are plummeting before you visit. Don’t forget to compare the exchange rates before you visit. For example, I had a surprisingly cheap holiday in the US in 2014 because the US dollar hit a record low against the Euro. This leads me to my next point:
Not all Five-star destinations are expensive!
Choosing the right vacation destination is arguably as important as the whole planning process. There’s a difference between staying in a luxury hotel in the US and staying in a boutique hotel in Indonesia. This comes down to the living standard and price levels in that particular country, as well as the currency exchange. If you’re a smart traveler, you will ideally choose a country where your currency can buy more things for less.
For example, if you’re from US or Canada, traveling to Central America will save you money. If you are from the UK, traveling to Greece and Portugal will allow you to have luxury-vacations on a budget. You might even save by choosing a unique wedding destination if you plan it properly. Doing your homework regarding the economic situation in the country and the particular currency conversion rate will help you choose the right destination with ease. Also, when you travel, try to…
Avoid tourist traps
All popular places that attract a lot of tourists will always have higher prices than normal. Generally speaking, tourist traps will account for most of the money you will spend during your holiday. This is of course, due to the inflated prices in these places. Again, a great way to avoid tourist traps and save some money is to do my favorite thing in the world: get off the beaten path!
Alternatively, you can settle for a hotel away from the metropolitan area. A 5-star hotel in the city center oftentimes costs much more than a 5-star hotel away from the city center. Usually, this can help you save a lot of money when it comes to accommodation.
Related: the best honeymoon destinations for 2019.
Give a shot at contacting hotels directly
I know websites like Booking oftentimes offer a lot of good deals on accommodation but one thing I learned throughout the years is that sometimes, you can get an even better deal if you reach out to a hotel directly. Also, most hotels allow you to cancel your stay up to two days before check-in without paying a penalty. Finally, some luxury facilities can arrange a tailored package for you at the best possible price. Rushing through the planning process will almost always lead to you overpaying for practically everything. That’s why you should take your time and reach out to more hotels directly and see which one can offer you the best deal.
When I want to stay at a luxury hotel, I always start by searching for the cheapest-room-rate at that hotel. After that, I try contacting the hotels I have shortlisted directly. Most of the time, the price that the hotel can offer is even lower, because you effectively eliminate the commission that these portals charge for listing the property on their websites. Not only does direct booking cut down on commissions but it also allows you to save more on taxes.
Related: myth-busting: no one really gets paid to travel the world.
Finally, what about fine dining?
Finally, I will round this up with some tips on how to enjoy fine dining on a budget. First of all, when you’re visiting a luxurious restaurant next time, consider lunch instead of dinner. Lunch Prix fixes are usually way cheaper than set dinner menus because a lot of restaurants have an overlap between their dinner and lunch menus. Sitting at the bar also helps most of the time, as restaurants frequently have cheaper bar-menus with equally good food.
Also, don’t forget that location matters too. Every time you’re seated at a restaurant table, you’re paying rent. That’s why it’s important to do your research before choosing where you will have your next meal. Just like with real estate, you’ll get a better value-for-money when you eat in neighborhoods that have “lower rents”. This Forbes list of Michelin 3-Star Restaurants worldwide can help you find the highest-rated restaurants in different locations around the world.
Finally, even by applying to these tips, remember that high-end restaurants are hard to even get into, let alone afford. That’s why perhaps the best option is going for a cappuccino and a dessert after regular dinner hours. This will allow you to feel the luxury while also skipping the most expensive part of it: the meal. Combinе this with a night at the theater and you’ll get your ultimate luxury experience!
Helpful resources for luxury travel on a budget
Saving on flights is one of the most important things if you want to experience luxury travel on a budget. One of the main reasons why I can afford to travel as much as I do is Air France’s Discover the World at a low price program. I warmly recommend it.
If you want to save on travel insurance, my go to choice is always World Nomads.
If you want to rent a car during your travels, this Sixt special offer can save you 15% on car rentals worldwide.
For great accommodation deals, use my Booking discount coupon on all accommodation bookings around the globe.
Finally, if you’re collecting miles and points, track and combine all loyalty programs that you participate in and save on every trip with points.com.