Luxury travel is something many of us aspire to, and probably spend hours dreaming about. But the very nature of luxury travel means that it is out of reach for most of us. Or is it? You might be surprised to find out that affordable luxury travel – that is, luxury travel on a budget – is very achievable!
If you use the 10 tips and tricks that I’ve outlined for you in this blog post, you’ll be able to fulfil your dreams of lounging by an infinity pool, while the staff at a luxury hotel cater to your every need!
Read on to find out how to do this…
1) Avoid Touristy Destinations
We’d all like to stay in a luxury hotel on the Cayman Islands or in the Seychelles. But these trendy and touristy destinations are ridiculously expensive because they’re easy to get to, have great PRs and are made famous by celebrities and travel influencers.
If you swap well-known luxury destinations for more obscure and exotic locations, you’ll get the same level of luxury for a third of the price.
For example, I’ve stayed in 5* all-inclusive resorts in lesser-known regions of Southwest Turkey. Similarly, Oman instead of Dubai, or Iran and Bulgaria instead of Italy offer similar landscapes and vibrant cities but for way less!
2) Travel during the Shoulder Season & Mid-Week
Deciding upon which season to travel and how long to spend in a country is one of the first things to think about when achieving affordable luxury travel. If you travel in the shoulder seasons, you’ll find many luxury hotels, airlines, and other travel services are cheaper. The attractions, travel services like hiring a car and luxury travel experiences will still be open. Likewise, travelling mid-week will mean room rates and flight prices are halved!
The shoulder seasons are defined as the months just before and just after tourism peaks. For most countries, the shoulder seasons bookend school calendars. This means travelling between March-May and late August-October is cheaper.
The shoulder seasons can also vary according to climate and region. Warm countries have their shoulder seasons during late autumn and late winter. Winter destinations, however, have shoulder seasons during spring and summer.
3) Spend longer in a country and Make your own Meals
Staying longer in a country might sound counterintuitive, but it can halve the overall cost of a holiday. Staying longer means you’ll find more discounts for weekly or monthly Airbnb rentals or hostel prices.
In addition, staying longer in a country means you can establish a semi-permanent base in a luxury villa, apartment, or home. This will allow you to eat in rather than eating out every night. Buying ingredients from local stores will save you a lot of money! Additionally, heading to local bakeries or delis to make a sandwich for lunch is a great way to save money.
4) Research Destination Exchange Rates
If you do research on exchange rates, you’ll definitely be able to achieve affordable luxury travel. For example, one destination where the British pound is weak will mean you can buy only a few nights in budget accommodation.
But for the same amount of money, you could spend a week in a luxury resort in a country where the exchange rate is favourable to the British pound. For example, stay in Letoonia, an all-inclusive spa resort on the Turkish Riviera.
Make sure to consider the cost of living in a country and how a country’s currency is performing. The lower the cost of living, the better chance you’ll have of finding affordable luxury travel deals. If a country’s currency is plummeting, your money will also be worth more.
5) Book Ahead & Last-Minute Deals
If you can book a trip early, flights and rooms will be cheaper. The closer you are to your departure date, the more expensive your flight tickets will be. Plus, if you book in advance, you’ll have your pick of the best hotels at a lower rate.
It’s best to book domestic flights at least 80 days in advance for peak holiday times. For international flights, book 90 days in advance.
Another way to achieve affordable luxury travel is to wait for last-minute deals. This is an excellent option for travellers who are flexible with dates. Some of the best websites for last-minute deals are Travelzoo, Secret Escapes, Hotel Tonight and Lastminute.com.
6) Find the Cheapest Flights
There are many websites on Google that check the price of international and domestic flights. These websites also show if there is a direct flight option. I mostly use Skyscanner because I like having the option to filter results and compare the cost of flights across an entire month.
Other platforms to use are Google Flights which compares flight routes (provides a map of your chosen destination) and schedules, and ITA Matrix Flights. The latter is good for more complex itineraries. Kayak and Expedia are also great websites for planning air travel at the lowest price. Join loyalty programs for the chance to redeem flights and get upgrades!
7) Find the Cheapest Hotel Prices
One of the main ways I save on luxury travel is by doing thorough research on accommodation options.
FIND HOTELS WITH SEPARATE APARTMENTS: If I know a luxury hotel or resort will be too expensive, I look to see if they have separate cabins, chalets, cottages, etc. From personal experience, these annexes are just as luxurious as the hotel bedrooms but at half the price. Plus, you get so much more space than a single hotel room. There will usually be two bathrooms, a living room, a kitchen, one to two bedrooms and an outdoor space. In addition, guests opting for these units also have full access to the hotel facilities like the restaurants, spa, gym, pool, etc.
RENT A HOLIDAY HOME: Just like my point above, renting a holiday home or apartment is more affordable than booking into a hotel. For example, I rented a boutique apartment in Tomar, Portugal, and in Amsterdam and this allowed me to stay for an entire week rather than just a couple of days. Airbnb and Booking.com are great platforms for booking holiday rentals!
STAY IN A NEW HOTEL: Newly-opened luxury hotels and resorts often have ‘soft’ opening rates. This means you’ll not only be among the first to experience its facilities, but you’ll do so at a quarter of its ongoing price.
STAY OUT OF THE CENTRE OF A TOWN OR CITY: Sleeping in the centre of a town or city will always be more expensive. If you don’t mind walking, have a car or are open to taking public transport, then staying in a hotel or holiday rental outside of a town or city centre is much cheaper.
BOOK DIRECTLY WITH THE HOTEL: Booking platforms like Booking.com or Trivago are great for competitive room rates with free cancellation. However, always check what a hotel is offering as they sometimes have cheaper room rates or offers on free upgrades or packages.
DON’T GO ALL-INCLUSIVE: Booking a luxury hotel with all-inclusive amenities and facilities is great if you’re looking for no hassle. But one of the best ways to achieve affordable luxury travel is to avoid going all-inclusive. Instead, book on a room-only basis. This doesn’t mean you can’t eat in the hotel or use their facilities, but it does mean you can balance out the cost of the luxury hotel by eating more frequently in reasonably priced places. This will also mean you won’t be wasting money on facilities you don’t use and instead pay as you go.
FIND THE CHEAPEST ROOM RATE: If you want to stay in a luxury hotel, make sure to shop around for the cheapest room rate. There are many websites that calculate this for you, including Trivago, Hotelscombined, Expedia, Hotels.com, and more! These platforms give discounts, sometimes up to 70% off on luxury hotels!
8) Don’t Book Tours Online in Advance
Booking online in advance is always more expensive than booking tours at your chosen destination. For example, I booked a boat trip in Porto at the harbour instead of online in advance. If I had booked online, it would have cost anywhere from €12 per person to €80 per person. But it only cost me €2 per person!
Also, check with your hotel for affordable tour packages!
FINAL THOUGHTS ON AFFORDABLE LUXURY TRAVEL
Learning how to achieve affordable luxury travel is a must for travellers who want to experience a luxury lifestyle without breaking the bank.
It does take a bit more planning, budgeting and sometimes flexibility. But, if want to stay in luxury hotels like the Macdonald Leeming House in the Lake District, go on private tours, or visit exotic destinations, it’s worth the extra planning!
If you’d like more travel inspiration, please subscribe to this blog or get in touch.