I was very fortunate to have been born into a travel-loving family. My parents would pick up and go at any opportunity possible, whether it be during our school holidays or bank holiday weekends. Travelling in luxury isn’t always easy when kids are in tow and there were very few hotels that were child friendly when I was very young. Therefore, my parents had to be savvy in their travels to keep things luxurious and child-friendly until we grew into older, mature travellers.
As I grew up, I started to find my own style of travel. I was never the sort of person that enjoyed going camping or sleeping in a caravan. I always preferred to stay in a hotel wherever possible and not only just your average hotel – I was all about the full blown 5-star luxury experience.
When I left to go to university, I often didn’t go on the usual family holiday that we had planned several times a year and had to learn a thing or two on how to travel in true champagne style, whilst being on a lemonade budget.
1. Go Direct
Everyone thinks that booking hotels through online OTA’s (Online Travel Agents) are the best way to go about getting the cheapest luxury hotel rates. It’s not always the case. Often enough, if you contact the hotel you want to stay at directly, they are happy to offer you a discount on your booking and give you further amenities too. This is because OTA’s like Booking.com charge a commission of 20-25% on each booking which means the hotel loses out. They would much rather give you a better rate directly and thank you for doing so, than letting an external OTA take away a large chunk of money. That’s my hotel marketing experience coming into play.
2. Use an airline credit card
I have an American Express credit card, but it is branded by British Airways. Therefore, when I’m doing my usual day to day spending, I’m building up Avois points from every purchase. These points then build up and equate to a long haul flight or multiple short haul flights. I noticed within six months on my usual spending activity, I built up enough points for a return flight from London to New York city. It’s like being treated for spending money you would anyway, a total win-win!
3. Airline sales
I can’t stress enough how fantastic airline sales are. They offer great discounts for flights you would normally be paying full price for. Many airlines such as British Airways, Qatar Airways, Norwegian and American Airlines offer these sales at various points in the year. It’s the perfect way to pick up a first class/ business class flight for a fraction of the price, the only thing is that you have to plan ahead. It is definitely worth it for the savings.
4. Travel off season
Travelling off season can be a make it or break it for your bank account. Flights drop down to a 1/3 of the peak season prices. I remember when I was looking at flights to New York for a friend, the flights during the summer season (July and August) rocketed up to £1,000 per person (and that was for economy) but when you went a couple of months before or after they were as low as £340. The same goes for 5-star hotels, you can be paying around £150-£200 a night for the same hotel that would cost you £500-£600 during peak season.
5. Book newly opened hotels
Often people have the preconception that a new opening would cost a lot, but actually it is the opposite. New hotels want to lure guests into their hotel and get it know, as well as building up a reputation through traveller reviews. Many hotels will offer over 50% off the usual price for a room, along with extra amenities too. For that reason, it is always good to keep up with any new openings that are happening in the destinations you are planning on visiting.
6. Travel in luxury with a friend
I have often found that when travelling with friends, people feel the need to get separate rooms. I understand that many of you want your privacy, but it is also part of the fun of travelling. I recently travelled to Paris with Binny and we saved money on splitting the cost of the room rather than paying for two separate rooms. We had two separate large beds, which most luxury hotels will offer automatically when you ask for separate beds. It’s the perfect way to bond with your best friend and save money on luxury travel.
7. Book lounge access
Not everyone has the budget or feels the need to travel business class or first class. However, airports can get very stressful and it is often nice to feel relaxed before a flight. Booking lounge access is something that everyone should consider doing. Often enough, you can pay as little as £20 for lounge access and that comes with all the amenities, such as food, snacks and unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Not to mention it gives you some peace and quiet or a bit of pre-travelling pampering in the resident lounge spas.
There are so many more ways to travel in ultimate luxury on a lemonade budget, when required. However, the above are my 7 favourite tips.
Until next time…