Traveling is wonderful. It gives you new experiences, allows you to discover different cultures, and sometimes can even be relaxing. Traveling on a budget is usually connected with cheap hostels, sandwiches in a dirty backpack, and sleeping on a train or bus in between destinations.
After a week of being on the road, I dream of being spoiled in some luxurious place…and I have good news for you. Luxury travel can be done on a budget as well! Here are some tips that I have gathered over my years of budget travel.
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1. Choose a Cheap 5-Star Destination
It is not a secret that what some might see as expensive, others see as pretty cheap. When you are planning your luxury vacation, think about a destination that you can consider to be cheap.
If you live and work in the USA, for instance, choosing Central and South America as a destination for your retreat is a great idea. If you are a UK citizen, going to Greece or Portugal and booking your stay there might be affordable.
2. Stay in Less Touristy Parts of Town
The closer to the center of the city you are visiting, or to popular sights, the more expensive it gets. So, if you are planning to go for a luxurious vacation, but do not have a big budget, try to search in areas a bit outside of the beaten path.
Choosing these locations not only saves you money but also allows you to discover interesting, less popular neighborhoods.
3. Pick Eastern Europe over Western Europe
If you are traveling in Europe, choose Eastern Europe for your luxurious stay, which is generally cheaper than Western Europe.
Countries like Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Romania, or Slovenia have a lot to offer and are famous for their hospitality. Choosing them also allows you to get off the beaten touristic path of others who travel to the old continent.
4. Choose Emerging Destinations
Emerging destinations are those that recently popped up on the touristic maps and started being more and more popular. Very often it happens because of the lifting of visa or border restrictions, or because of social media trends. Usually, these destinations are cheaper in comparison to more popular directions.
5. Go to a Location that has the Cheapest Flights
When you want to spend money for a deluxe hotel, a night in a spa, or other luxurious activities, try to look for savings elsewhere. Choose a destination that has the cheapest flights. That $100 that you save on a flight you can use for an extra massage or yoga session by the ocean.
6. Use Skyscanner’s “Everywhere” Button
Skyscanner is a great website to find the best flight offers. If you have not yet decided which country you would like to visit, simply search “everywhere.” This way, you get a list of the cheapest flights all over the world.
7. Look at Solo Traveler Deals
Solo Traveler World is a website where you can find the best tour deals. Search the page to discover the best offers that include luxurious stays and special offers. They are always sorted from the cheapest to the most expensive, so they are a great choice if you are looking for an all-inclusive trip on a budget.
8. Upgrade Flights at Check-in for a Fraction of the Price
Try to buy the cheapest ticket and then upgrade it while checking-in. Very often airlines want to sell some extras that are still available for the flights. At the last minute, they have better prices.
9. Take Advantage of Airport Lounges Before Takeoff
If you want to feel a bit of luxury at the airport, try to relax in the lounges while sitting in comfortable seats and enjoying good food.
To enjoy this convenience while being on a limited budget, choose the Priority Pass subscription. You can choose between three different programs and enjoy their benefits at over 1300 airports, regardless of destination and the class of your flight.
10. Travel in the Offseason
Traveling in the offseason gives you more choice regarding a place to stay. Also, prices are usually much lower when most of the tourists are gone.
Other benefits that you can notice are a lack of crowds and no queues for the main attractions. Locals are also more friendly, as they have more space and a laid-back atmosphere when holiday mass tourism is gone.
11. Sign Up for Deals to Your Email Inbox
The same way shops have sales and special offers, hotels and booking pages offer good deals. If you are looking for a special occasion, subscribe yourself to the newsletters of airlines, hotels, and booking websites. This way, you can always be aware of the newest promotion.
12. Go to Attractions Late in the Day When They Have Discount Tickets
Some attractions offer free entrance or discount tickets late in the day or on a particular day of the week or month. It is worth researching before you travel to save money on sightseeing.
A visit to a beautiful museum or a popular amusement park can be a lot cheaper, but you must be prepared for waiting in a long line or visiting a few hours before “happy hour.”
13. Last Minute Travel Deals Save a Lot
Booking a lot of upfronts can save you money, but sometimes it is hard to plan your travels a year ahead of time. But not to worry, another great way to save some dollars is booking last minute. Some tours, flights, or cruises have open spots that you can get at the last minute for really cheap!
14. Stay in a Smaller Boutique Hotel Over Large Chains
While booking a hotel, do not follow the rule that the more stars it has the more luxurious it is. There is no universal system that rates hotels and this is why it is better to read reviews.
I suggest you choose a smaller boutique hotel over a large chain. Usually, they have a beautiful design and a lot of charm that no large chain can give you. Generally, you can pay less for more individual care from the personnel, too.
Small boutique hotels are often located off the beaten path, in cities as well as in little towns, so you can save extra money, paying less for a location far from the main attractions of the city.
15. Check for Deals on Groupon
When you already know your destination, check Groupon offers. You can find amazing deals for spas, massages, main tourist attractions, special meal offers, theatre experiences, sporting activities, and much more!
Most of them give you quite a lot of freedom when choosing the hour and the date to redeem your Groupon, so you do not have to worry about that. If you’re not convinced, let me just tell you that you can find deals there up to 90% off.
16. Call the Hotel Directly to See if They Can Offer You a Better Deal
While booking through online services, you usually pay some hidden fee in the room price. There may also be an extra fee that goes not to the hotel, but as profit to the website.
This is why it’s a good idea to call the hotel directly and ask about prices. Sometimes the company can offer you a special deal. You can often get a better price calling them directly rather than online booking services.
17. Opt for B&B Luxury Options
Bed and breakfast started as a very cheap option for accommodation where you rent a room in someone’s house. Nowadays, B&B is a totally different story. You can find various types of offers, including luxurious options.
You can level up your accommodation choosing houses with pools, jacuzzies, or even massages that you can order during your stay. Simply search for bed & breakfast deals at your travel destination to find great deals.
18. Look into Using a Home Exchange
If you are the owner of a house or an apartment, you may be able to find accommodations on the other side of the globe for free. There are several websites where you can “give away” your home to someone else while you travel. In exchange, you can choose from other houses or apartments around the world.
The good news is that you do not need to swap directly. For example, if you are going on vacation to a house in Portugal, your guest does not have to be from there. That gives you a lot of freedom in choosing a destination that you would like to visit.
19. Check Apartment Rentals for Better Deals
Nowadays there are a lot of alternatives for hotels. Try to search for a stay in rental apartments to find a better deal. On platforms such as Airbnb, Homeaway, or Vacation Home Rental you can search for beautiful fully furnished rentals with a luxurious spark.
20. Join Loyalty and Rewards Clubs
Some hotels offer a free loyalty card. This way you can use their discounts and be up to speed with the special offers that they present to their customers. Some resorts offer discounts when you decide to come back for your next vacation with them.
21. Book Luxury Facilities
If you cannot afford a full-time stay in an exclusive hotel with a spa, it does not mean you can’t enjoy its amenities. Choose cheaper accommodations but book a skin treatment or hydro massage at the more expensive place. This is much cheaper than staying in the resort and is a wonderful way to spoil yourself with a bit of luxury.
Dreaming about dinner in the exclusive hotel restaurant? The good news is that you do not have to be a guest to enter and enjoy the fusion of gourmet food. Just make sure you have reservations because hotel guests are usually given preference for walk-ins.
22. Luxury Car Rental
Instead of choosing a standard rental car, spoil yourself with a luxurious vehicle. They do not have to be more expensive. For example, with Silvercar, an Audi company, you can rent a deluxe car for no more than you would pay for a full-size car in other rental companies.
23. Eat your Biggest Meal at Special Restaurants
For food lovers, eating in exclusive restaurants can be on the top of the travel bucket list. Usually, getting into such places is not only hard financially, but also due to necessary reservations.
However, a lot of luxurious restaurants offer cheaper lunches around noon, when not as many people go for food. You can then enjoy the same chef and infusion of tastes like the others, but with more privacy and while paying much less.
You can also go to your desired restaurant to drink coffee and enjoy dessert. This way you are going to pay less than for a full meal but still be able to enjoy the interior and vibes of the place.
24. Look into City Passes
While staying in one city, check if there are special city passes that you can use while visiting. They often offer free entrances or reduced prices for tickets to many attractions.
They are especially economical when you are planning to visit many places. The other benefits of City Passes are discounts on public transportation and in local cafes and restaurants.
25. Be friendly and Polite
This rule should apply no matter if you are traveling on a budget or if you are on the most luxurious escape of your life. Being polite and friendly can also give you an opportunity to meet new people.
Becoming friends with locals is a great experience as they can give you tips and tricks that you would never learn about from a tour guide. While you shouldn’t be nice just for potential upgrades, staff is more likely to give an upgrade to a friendly couple over people who cause problems.
As you can see, luxury travel does not have to be super expensive. Adding even a bit of extra comfort to a journey can raise it up to another level. Just follow the advice presented above and there won’t ever be a need to compromise your comfort and budget.
With a little bit of patience for research and spending time to book attractions at the right time, you can find yourself taking an unforgettable vacation with a bit of luxury.
Look for the best offers and be open to different options. Maybe a luxurious trip to the Maldives is out of your reach at the moment. But do not worry, I am sure that a more accessible seven days in the thermal hotels of Budapest or a visit to a little boutique hostel in an Alpine village can make up for it.
Were you able to afford luxury travel on a budget? Which tips did you use?