Travel planning can be great fun, however, it’s not about doing everything at the cheapest possible price, but maximising the most out of the time and money that you have.
We strongly believe in the motto buy cheap buy twice, which is why this article is about creating luxurious experiences whilst being savvy about where you part with your cash.
Here are some of our smart tips on how to do affordable luxury travel for the ultimate getaway experience.
1. Travel Out of Season
This is one of our favourite ways to take a luxury break and save a few pennies!
For example, a five-day safari in the Serengeti would have cost us nearly $4000 each in October. By arriving on the 1st November and using the exact same itinerary and accommodation, we saved ourselves half the price.
It beggars belief that prices can fluctuate so sharply for the difference of a day!
Just make sure you thoroughly research the reasons for the price difference. If you cannot put up with potentially unreliable weather in low season then this option may not be for you.
On the flip side, if you prefer less crowds and huge savings across the board this should be top of your list of priorities!
2. Stay Clear of Very Popular Tourist Destinations
Once you’ve set your heart on the country it’s time to start thinking about what makes it special. Just because people have recommended Bali for the last twenty years it doesn’t mean you’ll love it.
Very popular places change rapidly to meet the demands of increasing numbers of tourists, resulting in higher costs of accommodation and daily expenses, making your experience less of a luxuriously affordable one.
Instead, consider other areas nearby that are often overlooked. You are also far more likely to have authentic encounters and soak up the local culture (if that’s what you want).
You can go a step further by really thinking about why you like the sound of ‘Bali’ and choose somewhere that resembles what Bali was known for – such as Siargao Island in the Philippines.
3. Find Out About The Local Joints
This is the part of self-planning that we absolutely love!
We have never been disappointed and it always becomes a far richer experience than we had originally expected.
Not only can you find exquisite meals at a fraction of the price, but often end up chatting to locals or ex-pats that share a wealth of knowledge you would have never found out elsewhere.
It’s good to be ‘out of place’ sometimes, running into situations and events that are not usually written down in guide books.
The easiest way to find the best local places is to ask for recommendations from your hotel, host or other trusted person you have met whilst out there. Local joints are very difficult to research before you get out there and most cannot be found on TripAdvisor.
4. Be Your Own Tour Guide
Essentially, this will take a little time and elbow grease on your part, but if you can plan out your itinerary to the very last detail then you can save yourself a small fortune. Not to mention the bragging rights of having planned it all yourself!
Being in charge of your day means that you can do what YOU want to do and not be at the mercy of others in group tours. There’s a lot of self-satisfaction when you become the go-to person for an amazingly successful getaway that cost way less than it looked.
Finding great itineraries online is easy nowadays. Just cut out the bits you know you won’t be too interested in and incorporate those that will.
As far as affordable luxury travel goes, this is one of the best ways to make use of your budget and enrich your experience.
READ: Make sure you never forget to pack your essential items with this handy packing list!
5. Travel in a Group
Now, this may seem a little odd, especially if you are a travelling couple. But 10 days in the Maldives (ordinarily setting you back £3000pp) can cost £2000pp with an additional guest sharing the room. Not all resorts and hotels enrol in this but it’s worth looking into for certain types of getaways. Simply Maldives has a great site where you can compare deals to see how it works.
Nope, we are not suggesting you pick up a straggler off the street (although that would be awesome). But if you’ve got a great relationship with someone close why not consider it?
The other feasible option is travelling in larger groups. Hiring a luxury fully catered five-bedroom ski chalet is actually cheaper than staying in average hotels, and a far superior experience.
6. Run Several Flight Searches
Once you have decided on the month of travel the next step is to try and find the cheapest time to fly. If your preference is a Saturday, work your way either side of this day to find the cheapest tickets.
Tuesdays and Thursdays tend to offer the lowest prices. Flying during less busy days and times will naturally result in cheaper airfare if you have the flexibility to do so.
Incognito mode searches tend not to work any more. The last time we tried and succeeded at this was well over a year ago. On a positive note, submitting several searches for the same flights and routes do not push the prices up any higher either, so you can happily fill your boots!
7. Business Class CAN Cost Less Than Budget Airlines
Wait, let us explain before you keep scrolling!
We go skiing every single year with British Airways Business Class and it works out cheaper than the most budget of budget airlines.
Initially, EasyJet will most certainly look like they’ll win hands down on price, but we are about to show you exactly what we mean below.
These flights are for a one-week skiing trip to Switzerland. As we don’t travel lightly, we will always have hold luggage (usually 23kg). Plus, we will need an additional checked bag for our ski equipment.
EasyJet looks very appealing at first glance…
And let’s just add the luggage for both ways….
Doh! EasyJet is not anywhere near the initial £60.76 for a return ticket!
And now let’s look at BA Business Class which includes two checked bags as standard…
Wait, I know what you’re thinking.
The British Airways Business Class flight is still a little more than the EasyJet ticket.
One other thing to note is that we always like to have a nice meal at the airport, normally setting us back around £30 each (not including any alcohol).
When you incorporate this both ways that’s an additional £60 minimum to add to the EasyJet price, bringing the grand total to £244.24.
Oh and you obviously get full access to the Business Class lounge with unlimited yummy food, alcoholic beverages, decent wifi and comfy seating. Difficult to put a price on that!
This will not always work out cheaper than budget airlines, particularly for long haul flights. But in certain situations it’s good to check whether a 1000% more luxury will only cost you a little extra.
8. If You’ve Never Tried Airbnb, NOW Is The Time
We remember our first Airbnb experience.
As two lots of couples heading out to Iceland, we found a luxury Airbnb apartment that was half the price of an average local hotel room and offered far more in terms of comfort.
We wondered whether it was going to be a shambles and perhaps not as advertised, however, it turned out to be just the start of our Airbnb love affair!
If you are travelling somewhere that has notoriously expensive accommodation, then this is a great way to experience it whilst saving the cash for other activities. London is one of the best places to take advantage of this.
Plus, you’ll normally have a huge range of options to choose from that you’re guaranteed to find one that’s perfect for your price range.
9. Book Somewhere Strategic To Stay
If you want to save a load of cash then looking further afield from all the action is a sure-fire way to achieve this. However, it’s not a great idea if you plan on heading towards the action every day.
Yes, accommodation will be cheaper. But how about your overall experience? Not to mention additional costs in taxis or time wasted on trains or buses?
Time is money!
Visualise your routes and make sure you are happy with them, as booking a hotel in the wrong location is at the top of the list when it comes to reasons people fail to have a great time.
10. Follow A Vlogger That Knows WAY More Than Most
Travel influencers are worth their weight in gold when they really know what they’re talking about.
When we started looking at the Philippines we quickly became fatigued with which island out of 7000 we should choose as our main base. There was tons of information online, but it wasn’t until we found Lost LeBlanc that everything became very clear.
He introduced us to Siargao Island (which we didn’t even know existed), making this little gem one of our most favourite places in the world. By choosing to follow a great vlogger who provides the right type of information, we had all the tips and knowledge for what to expect.
Finding a valuable influencer can be a challenge, but once you’ve located great content on YouTube, check out their profile to see what other goodies they have in store.
If they are specialists for ONE specific area or country and you enjoy the way they present, then you’re halfway there!
11. Time Spent Reading Reviews Is Time Spent Wisely
We cannot stress how much money we have saved as a result of thinking about what we ‘love to do’ VS ‘actual reality!’
A perfect example of this (many moons ago) was our perceived need to visit Phuket in Thailand.
Everyone had been raving about it and it was a ‘must visit’ location based on what people thought we’d like. We had been travelling around the whole of Thailand and based on this assumption, we thought our trip would not be complete without seeing what the fuss was about.
Had we done a little more research we would have realised very early on that Phuket could not offer us what we normally enjoy from our getaways.
Instead, spend your time and money on the things you know you’ll enjoy.
Likewise, if you have specific bug-bears then check them out on TripAdvisor before you book. Choosing to stay somewhere purely because of low prices doesn’t equate to a luxury experience and can be a total waste of your hard-earned wonger! Equally, we have managed to avoid paying for ‘high-end luxury’ that was NOT so luxurious once we’d sifted through all the reviews online.
There are many ways you can save money before and during your trip, freeing up that cash to spend on other valuable experiences.
All that is required is a little research and planning before moving one step closer to affordable luxury travel memories that you will cherish forever.
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