I love the finer things in life and am super passionate about luxury travel for less. Why pay up, if you can experience something for a fraction of the price? Now, I am not saying that you can have the most opulent experience for the same price, but I am saying, that it’s perfectly realistic to have a comparable experience for a whole lot less. Here’s how I do it.
When you travel can have a huge impact on the cost. I don’t really like to travel out of season – there’s usually a reason it’s cheap. If there’s a chance that I’ll experience shitty weather, I’m not risking it! That said, shoulder seasons are worth exploring and are a great way to reduce the cost of your trip.
If you don’t have little ones, do yourself a favour and don’t go on vacation during school holiday! Not only will you likely have a more peaceful holiday, but you will also save yourself some money.
We are unfortunately pretty fixed on our travel dates when we travel because of Si’s work commitments, but if you can be flexible this is definitely another way to save yourself money. I was always told if you can travel mid-week you’ll get a better deal on flights, as airlines are normally quieter then.
There are a few luxury hotel brands I know really well and trust. If a hotel is certified as a Small Luxury Hotels of the World, The Leading Hotels of the World or a Relais & Châteaux hotel, then I know it’s going to be a decadent hotel with all the creature comforts I’d expect from a luxury property. I start with an online search of those websites to find out which of the hotels (normally a handful of the cheaper ones), I want to look into further. I then jump onto a couple of price comparison sites and specifically search rates on each property I am interested in staying in. I used to use TripAdvisor a lot to do this, as they were unbiased and did not offer accommodation bookings themselves, although this has now recently changed. I also like to use Skyscanner and Trivago to compare the cost. Then whoever comes up trumps gets my booking!
I also love design and boutique hotels. I’ll always choose a smaller hotel over a larger chain. Mr & Mrs Smith, Splendia and Tablet Hotels are also great places to look specifically for these sorts of hotels.
It’s also worth remembering to check the price of booking directly with the property. It makes sense for them to have the most competitive rates so they don’t have to pay third parties commission for the booking! They will often offer other incentives for you to book direct. And don’t be afraid to tell them you have found a cheaper rate elsewhere and ask what they can do for you if you directly book with them.
I have a Lloyds Bank Premier Avios Rewards credit card. In my opinion, it’s a traveller’s best friend. Not only do you earn Avios as you spend, but they also give you an upgrade voucher and a companion voucher when you spend a certain amount on your credit card in a calendar year. This means that I can book economy flights and upgrade them to business for no extra cost to me! Or, I can book my flights and Si can come along for free! And when I’ve used up my vouchers for the year, then I can still book other flights with my Avios. (Subject to availability of course).
If I am not booking flights with Avios, then I will search for flights on my favourite flight comparison site, Skyscanner. When I know which airlines offer the best routes and timed flights, I’ll then cross-check the flights directly with the airlines. Again, whoever has the most competitive price wins my business. There is normally ore flexibility on a ticket when directly booked with the airline, so wherever possible I always prefer to do this.
What the expert says
After doing such a fantastic job booking our honeymoon, I asked Claire Picknell, Travel Expert at Mahlatini, what her top tips were for getting luxury travel for less. This is what she suggests:
- Use a reputable, established tour operator – they will secure the best rates from their supplier network.
- Always use a specialist who has been to the country you are travelling to. They can offer advice on the different properties and advise which is the best and why. The most expensive properties aren’t always the best option. They will also have unique insights into the best rooms, guides, staff and can contact properties directly to request special treats/requests for rooms.
- Travel off-peak when rates are lower but the experience can often be enhanced due to fewer crowds.
- Plan ahead – with luxury travel the concept of last-minute deals rarely applies; with the exclusive nature of safari small lodges usually get booked up a year in advance.
- Celebrate the special occasions – honeymoon and anniversary couples can avail of some great discounts as well as lovely added extras.
- Book long haul flights well in advance! The bulkhead seats offer extra legroom and can be a great alternative to business class and are considerably cheaper.
- Let your travel expert know as much as possible about what you want and your budget. The more information they have the more they can offer you.
- Build a relationship with your travel expert and ask them to send requests for upgrades and extras 😊
- Also, refer as many friends as possible to your trusted travel expert which could lead to bigger discounts and nicer upgrades for you when it’s your turn to travel.
I hope these tips will help you to plan your next luxury holiday for less. Do you have any preferred sites you use or a method for sourcing the best prices on luxury travel? I’d love to hear from you 😊
Until next time, safe travels.
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