I have got a confession to make: I am a picky traveller.
Don’t get me wrong, I love travelling and I feel rather lucky about how much I managed to fly in the last 15 years—actually, more than I ever thought I would in a lifetime. However, I have never felt too comfortable about backpacking trips and hostels. I’ve always admired people who can spend their gap year wandering the globe from youth hostel to youth hostel without a second thought, but that has never been my teacup. (To be brutally honest, the mere idea of finding bedbugs on a shabby hostel scares me so much, I have recurring nightmares about it). As I grow older though, I notice these pet peeves have only increased, and this reflects in the way I organize my holidays.
To me, a perfect holiday has nothing to do with a huge budget, caviar over breakfast or flying on my own private jet (which by the way, I don’t own yet. If you do have a spare one to share though, I’ll be glad to borrow it. THANKYOUVERYMUCH), but it’s all about comfort, organization and all those nice little details that can make the difference.
So, how can you plan a five stars trip in a budget? Is it possible to travel like a Royal without bankrupting? Spoiler: It is and I am telling you how.
These are my five tips for a luxury holiday on a budget.
Be flexible with your dates
This is probably The One Ring of the tips: the tip to rule them all. In order to travel in style, being flexible with your dates can mean all the difference between a budget-friendly and a bankrupting trip. Most flight companies offer big sales during off-peak season and the same applies to hotels, including high-end and five stars ones. Whether you are visiting an exotic island or domestic destination, don’t be shy to compare fares through different websites and travel agencies. You can save up a fair amount by using your fidelity points too (Sebastian and I are always offered good discounts through Booking since we are frequent flyers).
Plan ahead all your city tours
Most companies offer huge discounts on their tours and organized events when booked in advance. Last Summer, for instance, we saved about 30% of the price on a Danube luxury cruise experience by simply booking online. And let me tell you something: champagne tastes twice better when you make a good deal.
If possible, book your dinner/lunch in advance too
There are a few things that can spoil a fun trip so fast like endlessly wandering for a nice restaurant. Walking around only to discover that every place is full and overpriced after a long tiring day is quite disheartening. (And I don’t know about you guys, but I am not any nicer when tired AND hungry.) During our planning sessions before a holiday, we usually invest time to research about good restaurants and culinary experiences, and although it may sound like a hassle, it is less time-consuming than looking for a good place on the spot. Money-wise is smarter too since you can find reasonable offers for the best places. When in Budapest last month, we chose to book in Café New York, the Four Seasons Hotel, and the Mazel Tov restaurant among others. They were all impressive value and the food was nothing but exquisite.
Make your research on designer outlets and sales
Are you into designer fashion? Then, I would recommend making a little research on your destination: the number of luxury outlets and seasonal sales available can be shockingly high sometimes. If you are going to splurge extra cash in something fabulous, be sure you obtain the best value for your money. What about vintage? If the pre-loved market is your cup of tea, do not forget to make some research too! To me, hunting for bargains abroad is one of the biggest pleasures (and I have got a nice personal collection to prove it!)
When in doubt, upgrade the experience
Please, visualize this scene in your mind: you are chilling in that wonderful sky garden at dusk after a wonderful city tour. The views are breathtaking and the day was a memorable one. You would gladly drink a good glass of wine to celebrate now but when you reach for the menu— surprise, it is like £500, plus the blood of your first-born child! Familiar with the situation? Look, we have all been there which is the reason to upgrade with extras when offered during booking. Most of the times, you will end up saving money (and avoiding a hangover due to cheap drinks too…)
22 thoughts on “5 tips for a luxury holiday on a budget”
I love your tips. I mostly travel on a budget, but always try to have some basic things at my accommodation, like private room and bathroom and great location. We are mostly out and about anyway so the look doesn’t really matter that much to me. I like to upgrade my experiences when I travel to places that are generally cheaper, so I can get more for my money, but if its expensive country I will just stick with the most basic things.
I see your point about not spending that much of a time in the hotel room. Of course, it is all up to your personal preference. But upgrading on tours and other city experiences is a great money and time saver. After all, it is all in the details!
Being flexible with the dates really is the best way to get the best holiday on the cheapest!
– Laura // afinnontheloose.com
Indeed! You can also find great last-minute sales, but of course then you rely on luck.
In 2020 I plan on taking a few city trips. Tips like these are so handy to know x
Hi Chloe! What destinations are you visiting this year? 😊
Flexibility is really key in terms of affordable dates. I like to plan where to eat in advance because you don’t realise just how much time you spend looking for places to get food when you have no idea! X
I totally get you! I am pretty much like a child when hungry, which is the reason why I never risk to wander around without a reservation on the peak holiday season. 😂
The hanger is real! 😂
Hey girl, I feel completely the same. A lot of people kinda judge me because when I travel I stay in hotels instead of hostels but I really don’t feel I could do it.
Ugh, I know what you mean. People tend to assume you are high-maintenance just because you like to feel relaxed and comfy while on holiday. I am not high maintenance, I am OLD. 😂 Now, please provide me with a decent bed and food, thanks.
Finally.. I don’t feel bad booking hotels.
I absolutely loved this blog post hun, being flexible is vital and helps keep your cost down whilst still enjoying a luxurious holiday xx
Why should you feel bad about booking a nice room? You wouldn’t probably rent the cheapest and most uncomfortable apartment to live, so why do people think holiday is any different? I hope these little tips helped. Take care!
Great post, and love your dress by the way! I quite like to look for fairly modest hotels, say 3 star, but then go for their best, priciest rooms. They often turn out to be beautiful, and still cost less than entry-level room in a posh 5-star (which will often be poky and overlook the brick wall of the building next door). In fact, if you go for the second-priciest room in the 3-star, you have a good chance of being upgraded to the top one at no cost. Hotels find it easier to sell lower priced rooms than higher priced ones.
This is such a brilliant tip! Thank you so much for sharing the idea. As you said, premium rooms in 3-4 stars are usually better than the most basic at 5 stars, but it’s something that we frequently forget. I shall keep the advice in mind next time. 😉
A traveler after my own heart….I’m a solo travel blogger…havent crossed over to hostels yet either…don’t know if I ever will. I agree and adhere to everything on this list.
I did a youth hostel once and I fell so uncomfortable I simply couldn’t repeat the experience. Nothing against it, though. It simply isn’t my cup of tea.
This was such a great post! I loved all of your travel tips for having a fancy vacation! Something I’ve always wanted to do, but I’ve never stayed in a hostel, because like you, I’m terrified of bedbugs (and also what happens in the movie Hostel, haha). But now I really want to take another trip soon and use your tips to really make it a trip of a lifetime 🙂
Emily | https://www.thatweirdgirllife.com
Hi Emily! Thank you so much for commenting! I am glad to read you found the post useful. I hope you enjoy that holiday soon! Where are you planning to go?
These are some really great tips.
I’ve always loved to go on holidays to different destinations as I don’t think I’m a backpacking kind of girl! I love the idea of planning ahead all the trips as I usually just sort them out when I’m in the country but i bet it’s a lot better to plan beforehand! X
Hi Aaliyah! I used to be more spontaneous when abroad but after a good deal of try and error, I found out that I am more comfortable when I stick to plans. 😊 Everyone is different though!
loved the article. that’s exactly we also tend to do. There are times when you want to go with the flow but I have realised planning and booking early always works better for us.