Invaluable Tips for Experiencing Luxury Travel on a Budget
Travel Smart So You Can Travel Extravagantly
Luxury travel on a budget may sound like an oxymoron, but there are ways to make it doable. While you probably won’t be able to jet off to a private island or fly in your own private suite on the Dreamliner, you can enjoy some luxurious perks for less if you do it right.
Choose a Value Destination
The first rule for cheap luxury travel is to choose a value destination. You’re not going to find the best bargains in places like Paris, Fiji or Bora Bora which draw tourists in droves. Think something different — look for lesser-known destinations that deliver what you’re looking for at a more reasonable price.
If you’d like to go to Europe, consider eastern European countries which are far cheaper than the west. For example, romantic Ljubljana, Slovenia is nestled in an alpine valley along the Ljubljanica River, and is known as one of the most beautiful destinations in eastern Europe.
This capital city is also incredibly affordable. In fact, it’s easy to get by on under $40 USD a day, and that includes accommodation, meals and entertainment. You can look forward to strolls on the cobbled streets that are lined with trendy bars, charming cafes, museums and art galleries and marvel at breathtaking views of the city and far beyond from the hilltop castle tower.
There are lots of fantastic day trips nearby, such as Lake Bled, one of Europe’s best kept secrets. Surrounded by alpine mountains and with Bled Castle sitting on a tiny isle in the center of the sapphire blue waters, Lake Bled looks like a scene from a fairy tale.
Those with tropical destinations in mind will find a number of budget-friendly Caribbean islands to choose from, including Jamaica. You’ll find many properties here that offer fantastic specials and incentives, including free nights. Plus, with budget airlines like JetBlue flying between many major US cities and Montego Bay, the country is one of the cheapest in the region to get to.
Once there, you can hike to romantic waterfalls and swim underneath the warm cascades, snorkel among colorful fish or just relax on the soft sands and soak up the sun and the view.
Of course there are ways to make even more luxurious destinations more affordable. Instead of staying in a high end hotel, go luxury camping instead. You’ll still have the creature comforts without having to pay for pricey accommodation fees.
Travel in the Off-Season
It’s a lot harder to score bargain rates when you travel during the peak season of a destination, such as spring break in Cancun, summer in Europe, or winter in the Caribbean. Traveling in the off-season will not only allow you to enjoy discounted prices, but get to know the locals while avoiding hordes of tourists.
While holidays are usually an expensive time to travel domestically, traveling internationally on an American holiday — such as Thanksgiving — is often much cheaper.
For example, if you’re thinking Caribbean, consider that most travelers avoid this region from September through November as it’s hurricane season. By visiting one of the islands that are so far south that storms usually bypass them, such as Bonaire, you can enjoy the tropics without the high price tag or serious risk.
You’ll find accommodation rates will be much lower and you’ll still enjoy temperatures in the mid-80s. The water will be wonderfully warm and clear for snorkeling and diving and the beaches will by idyllic and sparsely populated.
Ireland is fabulous in the fall, when the summer crowds have dissipated and accommodation rates often drop dramatically. While the weather isn’t guaranteed, oftentimes mid-September through mid-October is ideal. You’ll likely experience more sun, albeit crisper temperatures, and gorgeous autumn foliage in places like the Wicklow Mountains, a short drive south of Dublin.
If inclement weather does roll in, ducking into a pub and enjoying the warmth of a roaring fire with a pint of Guinness and a chat with the friendly locals is a great way to pass the time.
Score the Cheapest Flights
Oftentimes airfare is the most cost prohibitive part of a vacation, but using Google Flights is a simple but highly effective way to score the cheapest ticket. All you have to do is enter your travel dates and destination. You can even hit “explore destinations” and Google will bring up a map that reveals where you can travel from your home airport for the lowest price.
Keep in mind that traveling during the peak season or around holidays is usually the most expensive time to fly. Being flexible and going in the off-season will bring you the best airfares.
Part of luxury travel is enjoying fine dining, which is an especially good way to try cuisines in various parts of the world. While pricey restaurants can easily throw off your budget, there is a way to do it cheaper: plan to eat out for just one meal a day. That doesn’t mean starving — try to book accommodation that includes breakfast, or offers the opportunity to make your own.
Many hotels these days, and of course all B&Bs, include breakfast. Or you can always book an Airbnb apartment or home that has a kitchen. For lunch, pick up a few things from the grocery store, look for cheap but tasty street food or skip it altogether and enjoy an early dinner.
Participate and Learn How to Work Mileage and Points Programs
Most airlines have frequent flyer miles and many hotels have loyalty programs that allow you to earn miles or points that can be redeemed for free flights, upgrades, hotel nights, car rentals or shopping. Participating and knowing how to use them is one of the best ways to enjoy luxury travel for less.
It’s going to take some effort to learn how, but it’s well-worth the reward. Do a search on Google and you’ll find a wealth of helpful tips. One of the best is The Points Guy, but you’ll find many others.