If you think champagne on the cheap sounds too good to be true, then, well – you’re probably right. Budget travel typically won’t involve nights at five star hotels or days at top quality spas, but there’s a lot you can do to get those occasional sensations of living the luxurious life, whether it be an affordable fine dining experience, a spa treatment at half price, or a few free hours inside VIP airport lounges.
Collect travel points and book online
This one’s a no-brainer. If you’re doing a lot of travel, then collecting points through a loyalty scheme can add up and result in extra perks or discounts. Check with airlines and accommodation chains for membership cards. Some airlines offer frequent flyers time in their exclusive airport lounges. Booking online in advance, as opposed to booking at ticket booths on the spot, can also save you money on all types of transport.
Travel during off-peak season
Everyone knows that summer is the most popular season for holiday travels. Kids are off school, the weather’s great and – as a result – airline tickets and hotel prices skyrocket. Choosing to travel off peak season is not only cheaper, it can make for a more relaxing experience as you’ll be surrounded with fewer tourists. Off-season holiday package deals (flights and accommodation inclusive) are heavily promoted by travel agencies during non-peak season and can offer great value for money.
Activities and Excursions
Before paying for activities such as water sports or city tours, check online for special offers and discount codes that could apply to your purchase. If you’re visiting a popular tourist destination, then chances are that you’ll find at least some applicable promotional codes or coupons online.
Often, the best bars are the exclusive, chic ones that tourists don’t yet know about. So how are you going to find them? Ask locals, of course! Try the Like A Local Guide for insider tips on the best, and most reasonably priced, places to hang. Next, if you haven’t downloaded one of the many apps that help you discover which local bars are offering Happy Hour – then get on that right away! Nightclubs typically allow free entry until late, so turn up early and avoid wasting $30 on admission. Keep in mind that casinos sometimes offer free drinks to customers – just don’t be tempted to join a poker table or your financial loss might outweigh the benefit of a getting a couple complimentary mojitos.
Joining international globetrotting and expat communities such as Internations.org often gives you exclusive invites to international events. Sites such as Meetup.com will give you access to competitive prices on numerous parties and social events. If you’re lucky you’ll even find cost-free meet-up events on here, ranging from ‘yoga in the park’ groups to wine tasting tours. Best of all is how international expat sites help you build contacts and increase your chances of getting on guest lists.
Boutique hotels, being smaller and local, can often give you the same luxury experience as big brands but at a lower price and with a more authentic feeling. Booking sites typically let you sign up for price drop notifications, meaning you’ll get an email update as soon as any accommodation that you’ve got your eye on decreases in price. Apps such as HotelTonight show last-minute room rates at what can be 70% off the original price. This is a good method for finding cheap luxury accommodation providing you’re comfortable procrastinating until last minute. Alternatively, check for home exchanges on sites like AirBnB – you never know who might be renting out their luxury apartment just in time for your visit…
If possible, opt for fine dining lunch as opposed to fine dining dinner. Lunch menus are typically cheaper (even more so if you go for a set menu) so this is the best time to grab some fancy grub.
Saving money on luxury travel can make all the difference for a vagabond who could not otherwise afford the full price of glamorous accommodation, fancy events and Michelin star restaurants. Taking advantage of all these budget tips requires a great deal of planning, but is nonetheless necessary for most people who want to travel luxuriously in the long term.