Intrigued to know how to travel in style with a small budget? I’ll be sharing how to enjoy affordable luxury travel for less, including affordable air travel, bargain boutique hotels & my own luxury travel hacks!
Giving you all the tips for how to travel for less, helping you save money on travel; this post is packed full of cheap luxury travel hacks to help make your holidays more affordable!
The Benefits of Booking Affordable Luxury Travel for Less
As a travel blogger, one of the main questions I’m asked is how I can afford to travel as often as I do. Particularly, as I don’t stay in hostels (other than on one occasion when I enjoyed an adventurous weekend in the Lake District) and I don’t do backpacking trips.
In all honesty, I do spend a lot of money (probably more than I should) travelling as frequently as I do (or certainly did pre-2020). Travel does add up, especially if you have a penchant for luxury travel like I do. But, one thing I have found is that if you can save money on the travel itself, and even find a discount on luxury travel accommodation, it gives you more money to spend in the destinations you visit to fully immerse yourself and enjoy exploring new places.
The benefits of booking affordable luxury travel for me are:
- Booking cheaper luxury travel trips enable me to travel more frequently.
- Saving money on travel enables me to explore more of the world within my own financial means.
- Finding affordable luxury travel deals gives me more money to spend in the destinations I’m visiting so that I’m able to go on tours, eat in local restaurants and experience the culture of the places I’m visiting.
- Saving money on my travels means that I am still able to enjoy my everyday life, know that I have some money available and a trip to look forward to.
So, now you know the benefits of affordable luxury travel for me, are you ready to get more bang for your buck?
Flexibility is the key to experience luxury travel on a budget
One of the most simple ways to save money on travel, including luxury low-cost holidays is to travel off-season. This means avoiding travel during school holidays or seasonal holidays such as Easter and Christmas.
Last year I spent 3 days in Cornwall in September, rather than visiting during August. The weather was glorious and there were far fewer tourists…win-win!
Be flexible about travel dates
If I can, I try and have a two-week window that will enable me to be more flexible about travel dates to get flights for the cheapest price possible. It could be that flying out on a Wednesday is significantly cheaper than travelling on a Tuesday (I’ll be sharing more on this further down in the post 😉).
Be flexible about when you book
You’ll often find that the day and time you book travel can impact whether you travel for less or not. For instance, prices increase closer to the weekend and you’ll find Fridays and weekend days are a bad time to book as the travel prices are hiked come the weekend when more people have time on their hands at home.
Prices also tend to increase throughout the day when more people are online searching, as this drives the demand. The moral here is not to panic book on a whim, even if the website does say the last booking was 10 minutes ago!
If you are flexible about when you book and compare prices on different days, you are likely to have more success finding cheap luxury travel deals.
Be flexible about where you travel
When I’m thinking about booking a luxury trip on a budget, I normally have a few destinations in mind. If you have your heart set on one particular destination you will often find yourself drawn into spending more than you had initially intended.
Be flexible about where you fly from
Living in Milton Keynes, my closest airport to fly from is London Luton Airport. But, when I’m booking flights I will also compare flight prices from Birmingham Airport and Stansted Airport. Sometimes I will look at Heathrow too. I often save lots of money on flights by comparing airport prices.
In doing this, I will also consider the prices to park at different airports. For instance, I always choose meet & greet parking at Stansted as it’s cheaper than Luton. I don’t need to meet & greet parking at Birmingham as the car parks are much closer to the terminal.
Being flexible about where you fly from can make a big difference.
Go Undercover – Clear History and Website Data
Now it’s time to put on your best black stealth outfit, have your cap and sunglasses ready to go undercover….
The most luxurious travel deals are ready for the taking and we’re about to be armed and dangerous!
We’re going in anonymous and those pesky websites are not going to be able to track us down…!
Clear your Cookies & Cache Data
Cookies are not just those wonderful things you schoff whilst watching the telly, they are also tracking data that help tailor your experience online.
If you’ve ever browsed a website or visited a shop and been surprised to see numerous adverts for that same shop come up a week later, that’s cookies. Brands pay to target customers with marketing/ads that may have purchased from them previously or that have shown an interest in the brand. Cookies feature on websites and are also tracked using the location on your phone. Whilst sometimes a little too intuitive, they show you things that you are likely to be interested in online, rather than see tons of adverts for things that hold no interest for you.
The pluses being that sometimes that brand will present you with an advert for a money-off code, alert you to a sale or something along those lines. The downside is that these sites will sometimes put their prices up if they know you are looking for something in particular, flights, hotels and holidays being some of them. Therefore, if you want to enjoy luxury travel on a budget, you need to clear your cookies!
For most devices that’s simply going into your settings – Safari (Internet Browser) and selecting “clear history and website data”.
As we know now, airlines increase their prices when they realise from your cookies that you’ve searched for flights previously. Therefore, with our cookies and history now cleared…we are going one step further by borrowing Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak. If anything, to save us the hassle of having to remember to repeatedly clear our history, cookies and data.
To go incognito on your device, press control/command (for Mac) + shift + n. The browser search bar will go black and will inform you that you are incognito.
The great thing about going incognito is that every website you visit in incognito mode isn’t recorded in your browser history. Helpful if, like me, you always forget to clear your history, cookies and data!
Be a super-sleuth and use a VPN
A Virtual Private Network or (VPN) as it’s more widely known enables you to create a private network from a public internet connection. VPN’s keep your IP address private, which makes browsing the internet anonymous.
Don’t worry, they aren’t just devices used by cybercriminals and creeps, VPN’s are used worldwide by savvy travellers trying to snag cheap luxury travel deals.
Using a VPN, you can change your location to a different country to obtain cheaper flights. Therefore, if you found flights expensive from the US you could change the location to say Mexico or India to find cheaper flight deals. The benefits of a VPN are that it keeps your browsing safe and anonymous when you are at home or on the go. Using WiFi in cafes and other places you may visit often requires you to enter personal information to access and use an unsecured network, which can often be hacked.
I am yet to buy one of these myself after seeing these widely used by friends and the most common one I see that others recommend is the NordVPN.
Luxury Travel Hacks for Affordable Air Travel
Being fully prepared for booking flights at the right time, knowing where to book, how to compare and what packages to go for are key for finding the most affordable air travel prices.
Be prepared for Airline Flash Sales
When I’m booking a big trip, especially long haul flights to luxury destinations I always keep in mind when airlines are likely to have their flash sales.
Be mindful that airlines are normally booking for around 6 months plus in advance. Therefore the flash sales you see in January are often for the late Summer/Autumn months. The end of the summer and September, in particular, is a great month to find some great flight deals.
But, how do you find out about airline flash sales? The answer is below…
Join Jack’s Flight Club
Jack’s Flight Club is my favourite way to be notified about airline flash sales and unmissable flight deals.
Jack’s Flight Club is free to join and you simply sign up for email notifications to receive a weekly email with the best flight deals from your chosen location.
For frequent flyers (like me) you can pay to receive additional emails such as mistake airline fares, business class seats and more. I pay and subscribe to the quarterly package, which is around £19 for 3 months.
I’ve found some incredible flight deals on Jack’s Flight Club, including flights to Europe for £25 return and flights to New York with a stopover in Iceland for £210 return.
The emails from Jack’s Flight Club explain how to flight hack, including the tools to use, routes to travel, whether to stopover and more.
Ideal affordable air travel, which is great for those who want to travel in style with a small budget!
Join Airline Frequent Flying Clubs and Rewards Schemes
Airlines like to reward their loyal frequent flyers by enabling them to earn flying miles from their travels, which they can use to pay for future flights or to upgrade their seats.
I don’t often do long-haul flights anymore, but I am a member of Virgin’s Flying Club. This membership has paid for mine and Adam’s flights to San Francisco and enabled me to do miles plus money for other trips to keep my costs down.
But, how do you earn miles if you are not taking long-haul trips I hear you ask…The great thing about many of these flying clubs is that you can connect other things you use regularly such as a Tesco Clubcard or Eon bill so that your electricity or shopping pays towards your miles. So instead of receiving Clubcard vouchers to spend in Tesco, I earn flying miles instead.
These flying clubs also have shopping portals where you can earn miles for other places you shop. Therefore, if I log into the Flying Club shopping portal to access websites such as Topshop, ASOS or to buy household items I can earn miles from these purchases to. That said, they are more rewarding shopping portals out there…(more on that further in the post!)
Shopping Portals – Book via cashback websites Topcashback & Quidco
Whilst they do sound rather gimmicky, cashback websites enable people to claw back 100s on their purchases. All you do is register with an email address and password, find websites you would normally book your travel through and see what cashback options are available from clicking through on these cashback shopping portals.
These websites have links to clothing websites, home retail sites, you name it, so you can soon clock up the cashback if you remember to use them regularly. I often find that TopCashback offers the best cashback percentages, but it’s worth browsing Quidco’s offers too. The best thing is that there is no minimum amount for you to reach to be able to transfer the money to your bank account – I’ve just logged into TopCashback and there was £30 ready to be transferred to my account!
Discount Luxury Travel Codes
So you’ve clicked through to your travel website to earn your cashback from the shopping portals mentioned above. Now you’re on the site, open a separate tab (in incognito mode of course) to search for discount codes for that website. It could be that you can find travel discount codes to save even more money on flights!
Find flight deals on Skyscanner’s Everywhere Tool
For budget based travel inspiration, there is no better tool to find discounted flights than Skyscanner’s Everywhere Tool. I use Skyscanner before I book all of my flights.
Simply visit the Skyscanner website (in incognito mode with clear browsing history, of course!)
Find flight deals on Google Flights
Google Flights works very similar to Skyscanner, but what I love about it is that it’s easier to compare prices for different trip lengths to determine whether it’s cheaper for 3 or 5 days for example. You can also see prices for singular flights compared to a round trip, which can make a difference in the prices you pay. More on that below…
Go to Seatguru.com to find the best seats available
SeatGuru helps travellers find the best seats and amenities using their flight number. It could be that you want to ensure your seat has plug sockets to charge your devices or you want a seat with extra-legroom, you can easily source the best seats for your needs on SeatGuru.
Consider and compare one-way flights instead of a round-trip
Unless you are planning on travelling the world or doing a multi-trip, most of us want to book an outbound flight with a return flight home included.
However, sometimes it’s cheaper to book single flights there and back rather than booking a round trip ticket.
Compare flights prices to those included in package deals
Most of us have been brought up on low-cost holiday packages where the flights, hotel and transfer are included in the price. If this is something you are used to, it can take a bit of a process to get yourself out of that package holiday mindset.
Travel companies are aware of how easy it is for us travellers to have this cost for our flights, hotel and transfer as one. That’s why the prices for package holidays are often marginally higher than booking your flights, hotels and transfers separately. Though, on occasion providers such as Expedia, Ebookers, Jet 2 and even Tui can sometimes offer a better deal for those booking a package with them.
Adam and I booked a package deal to Miami South Beach for £1100, which included flights from the UK and a Miami boutique hotel with a pool within walking distance to South Beach and Ocean Drive. We found in this instance, it was cheaper booking a package than booking the flights and accommodation separately, but it’s always best to compare prices.
Check flights times to see if you can get a better deal
The time you fly can often impact on the price you pay. For instance, flights that depart before 8 am are generally cheaper and less likely to be delayed too! Booking an earlier flight could mean that you save money on your flights and get more time to explore a destination!
Set your currency to the local currency of an airline
Similarly to using a VPN to find cheaper deals by changing your location, setting the currency to the local currency of an airline can also be a great way to snag a deal! For example, changing your currency to pesos for AeroMexico could help you save a substantial amount of money on your flights.
Luxury Travel Hacks for Affordable Hotels and Accommodation
I’m not as thrifty about where I stay as much as I am on my flights. The reason being, I think where you choose to stay can really impact on the overall enjoyment of a trip and the memories you treasure of visiting a certain place.
You also want to stay somewhere that’s comfortable and relaxing to chill out after exploring. My accommodation of choice is boutique hotels as I feel that they give an affordable luxury feel, with unique interiors and often are better at supporting local communities. No boutique hotel is the same and that adds to the unique and individual qualities of a trip.
Find out more about the boutique hotels I’ve stayed – read my Best Boutique Hotels in Europe post.
Affordable Luxury Accommodation on Booking.com with a free cancellation
My favourite place for booking travel accommodation is via Booking.com. I love that they have a wide range of accommodation styles from apartments, boutique hotels to unique stays.
One of the great things about Booking.com is the ability to book accommodation with free cancellation, so you can lock in a good price, but if your plans change you can cancel without a charge.
Book a unique stay on Airbnb for an affordable luxury stay
Over the past year, I’ve loved staying in Airbnb properties as they give more space for longer stays and the flexibility to cook too.
Head over to my Perfect Cornwall Road Trip Itinerary for 3 days in Cornwall post to check out my Airbnb stays.
Airbnb properties range from apartments, yurts to treehouses and really provide a unique stay to help treasure your travel memories.
Get a room upgrade with Corporate Hotel Rewards Membership
Whilst I prefer a more boutique, unique hotel stay these days, I appreciate that many like to stay in hotels by well-known brands and there are rewards for doing so.
Hotel chains such as Hilton, Marriott (who owns Starwood, Westin, St Regis, Sheraton and more) all have preferred members reward schemes, which can save you money or come with added perks, including free automatic room upgrades.
For instance, for my first trip to New York, I stayed in The Element Times Square (a Starwood Hotel) and I signed up for Starwood Preferred Guest membership before my stay, which gave me a room upgrade to a room overlooking The Empire State Building. I think you’ll agree, it was a great view!
Whilst I booked my New York accommodation via Expedia, signing up for the membership before my stay enabled me to get the free room upgrade. If you like to stay in corporate hotels like this, always check the offers for memberships before you book to see if you can get a better deal.
Find hotel day trips
If staying in a fancy corporate hotel is outside of your travel budget, some hotels offer day trip packages for when you are visiting certain destinations. For instance, during my day trip to Bimini from Miami I had one day access to Hilton Resorts World Bimini, which gave me access to all the pools and amenities on the resort.
The resort also had a free shuttle service to enable me to explore the things to do in Bimini and get a taste of The Bahamas.
Seek special hotel packages
Many hotels offer special packages, which are ideal if you are celebrating an anniversary, birthday and so on during your trip. If these aren’t available on the hotel website, email the hotel prior to your stay and see what they can do. Most hotels are only happy to oblige to make your stay with them even more special.
During my first trip to Barcelona, Adam and I stayed at The Petit Palace Museum Hotel and booked the romantic room, which came with its only skylight, outdoor terrace and we enjoyed champagne and chocolates on arrival. It’s features like this that give an affordable luxury hotel stay and memories to cherish from our travels.
Choose accommodation with a free breakfast included
One way to save money on your travels is to choose accommodation with a free breakfast included. A money-saver and a time-saver – This is a great option for shorter breaks if you have limited time to explore as you have the rest of the day to see as much as you can!
If you are on a really tight budget, you could also look into all-inclusive stays. However, I do not find all-inclusive meals the best way to enjoy local cuisine and see them as more of a budget option rather than a luxury!
Choose hotels with happy hour!
Hotels are finding more creative ways to entice guests and an option to make us all happy is a complimentary happy hour! Adam and I stayed at Hotel Ottilia in Copenhagen, a Brøchner Hotel which included happy hour at all their hotels between 5-6 pm. The happy hour enabled us to drink as much house red or white wine as we wanted within that hour, and we could enjoy it at the other hotels in the chain too whilst we were out exploring Copenhagen: Hotel Herman K, Hotel Danmark, Hotel SP34, Hotel Astoria and Avenue Hotel Copenhagen.
Book Accommodation with kitchen facilities
Scandinavian countries are not exactly the most affordable luxury destinations, but my biggest money-saver visiting them is booking accommodation with kitchen facilities so that we are able to cook our own meals. Easily the biggest way of saving money in Iceland, we were so lucky that our stay at The Swanhouse Apartments in Reykjavík included kitchen facilities as it also enabled us to cook our meals following long days exploring Iceland’s Golden Circle route.
Book a hotel outside the city centre
One way to enjoy affordable luxury travel for less is to book a hotel outside the city centre of the destination you’re visiting. Hotels in the city centre normally come at a premium rate due to their close proximity to tourist attractions and amenities, but if you can find yourself a luxury hotel with good transport links outside the city then you are on to a winner!
Some hotels may even offer a complimentary shuttle, therefore it’s worth looking into these options before you book your accommodation.
Compare the hotel website to comparison sites to get the best deal
As I mentioned, I book the majority of my accommodation on Booking.com, but I will also check the prices on the main hotel website, comparison sites and check if I am able to get a better price booking a package deal (flights and accommodation as one). If you are looking to book affordable luxury travel for less, you have to be prepared to take the time out to compare prices on different websites to find the best hotel discounts available. Again, as I mentioned earlier in the post, ensuring you have cleared your browsing data, cookies and are searching in Incognito Mode are key to get the best prices!
Book a luxury villa for a group trip
Did you know it’s often much cheaper per person to book a villa rather than individual hotel rooms for a group trip? Villas that might be outside of your normal travel budget are within your grasp when booking a group trip to really enjoy affordable luxury travel for less!
I enjoyed my fair share of the true Italian dolce vita lifestyle when I stayed at a luxury Italian villa in Puglia, which sleeps 15 people! Head over to my Corte dei Massapi villa review post for a peek at pure luxury!
If you are looking at villas in Italy or France, check out villa specialists Bookings For You and use my code Butterfly for a special discount!
Don’t forget to check out my Northern Italy Bucket list post too!
Additional affordable luxury travel hacks
The best of the rest! Now, you have a good idea how to find affordable luxury travel for less, in terms of your flights and accommodation, here are some additional money-saving travel hacks to get more bang for your buck during your travels!
Choose the most affordable luxury destinations and travel where your currency is worth more
I look back fondly on the days when us Brits could visit The United States and get more for our money. Though, there are plenty of destinations to visit to get more for your money, such as parts of The Caribbean, Asia and South and Central American countries. Yes, you may have to fork out for your flights (hopefully, you’ve used my flight hacks to save money) but the accommodation and spending money is likely to be significantly cheaper with a better exchange rate.
Contact an Airbnb host for discounted longer stays
If you are wondering how to travel the world on a budget, most long-term affordable luxury travellers will contact an Airbnb host for discounted longer stays. Depending on the Airbnb host, most hosts will agree as they are guaranteed the rental costs over a longer period of time. It’s worth a shot sending a polite email if it means you can enjoy luxury accommodation for less!
Use a bank current account with travel insurance included
Travel insurance can be a costly business, particularly given recent pandemics! Luckily, I managed to sign up for bank current account with worldwide travel insurance included prior to March 2020! Some of the accounts available include travel insurance as standard, but many of these will have changed in light of recent events.
The Nationwide FlexPlus account has a monthly fee of £13, which can be split between two of you if you open it as a joint account card. This card gives me and Adam worldwide travel and mobile insurance, as well as breakdown cover for our vehicles.
If you are living in the UK and want to find the best packaged current account to suit your individual needs, get advice from Martin Lewis at Money Saving Expert.
Use a travel credit card
Travel credit cards are one of the cheapest ways to spend abroad as many include no fees for using your card abroad and if you have a 0% credit card, you can pay off your holiday expenses over time (always pay the minimum payment!)
I’m no expert, but Martin Lewis is so head over to Money Saving Expert for more information about travel credit cards.
Luxury travel on a budget
So there you have it! I hope you enjoyed reading this post and it has proved to you that you can enjoy affordable luxury travel for less, even on a tight budget!
These travel for less affordable luxury travel hacks have saved me so much money on my travel expenses over the years and I hope they help you save money on your travels too!
No need to wonder if you can travel cheaply now! Please share this post using the social media icons & Pinterest pins below to help others save their travel pennies too!