If I’m totally honest, I’m all about the luxury travel. I know that for some people, travel is all about experiencing the local culture and that a bit of luxury is an added bonus. I’m not one of them – a bit of luxury makes a holiday for me. Don’t get me wrong, I like experiencing different cultures, but if I can retreat back to the luxury of a five star hotel at the end of the day, it makes it so much more enjoyable!
As a family of five, holidays can be expensive. However, this hasn’t stopped us enjoying some amazing luxury holidays. We’ve just learned to do it more cost-effectively. People often say to us that we must spend a fortune on our holidays and sometimes we do. However, they’re also surprised when we reveal just how reasonable some of our holidays are. For example, a couple of years ago we stopped at the Atlantis in Dubai for a week. We paid the same for this holiday as it would’ve cost us for a week in Lanzarote in a four star hotel!
Here are my top tips for finding luxury travel on a budget:
Don’t use a travel agent
Although there are some exceptions to this, in our experience booking everything (flights, hotel, car etc.) yourself ensures you get a better deal. It also allows you to shop around to find the cheapest prices. Some people like the security of booking through an agent, but if you ensure whoever you book with is ABTA/ATOL protected, book using a credit card and take out decent travel insurance, then you’ll be fine. We tend to book flights directly with the airline and then use websites such as Expedia, Hotels.com and Trivago to find the best hotel/car deals.
Book directly with the hotel
Most hotels will price match, so take a bit of time to shop around (using the websites above). If you find a good deal elsewhere contact the hotel directly and ask them to match it. Many of the big hotel chains, will also offer a small discount if you find their rooms cheaper, so you could save even more money.
By this I don’t mean with dates (although if you can, then you’ll almost certainly get a better deal), but with how you get there. If you are going long haul, stopping on the way and changing planes can often result in some pretty decent cost savings. The Dubai trip I mentioned above was so affordable as we flew Air France and changed in Paris. Yes, it was a bit of a hassle with three kids, but I’d rather a couple of hours inconvenience for a week in an amazing hotel!
Sign up to travel loyalty programmes
Most airlines, big hotel chains and cruise lines offer loyalty programmes and they are well worth signing up to. We’ve flown first class for free using our reward points and some airlines let you use points as part payment towards a flight to help reduce the cost. With hotels, you can collect points for free nights. Most programmes offer extra perks too, such as room upgrades, lounge access and priority boarding. It’s definitely worth signing up to get that extra bit of luxury.
Research room upgrades and packages
Often it’s assumed that upgrades are just so you get a nicer room. However, sometimes upgrading your room or buying a meal or drink package works out to be more cost effective. Disney offer meal plans, cruises now offer drinks plans and hotels like the Atlantis offer room upgrades that also get you lounge access with free alcohol (during set times), breakfast, afternoon tea and canapés. When you have children to feed these sort of packages can actually end up costing you less than if you purchased snacks or a meal, so don’t just discount them as an added unnecessary expense.
Book flights early
Most flights are cheapest as soon as they go on sale, so don’t wait to book. Recently, we set our alarm for 5am to book our flights for our 2019 summer holiday – an hour later the flights were £1,000 more!
Explore villas and Airbnb
As a family of five some hotels won’t let all of us sleep in one room. The cost of booking an extra room can increase the total holiday cost quite significantly, so sometimes it’s much more economical to stay in a villa or an Airbnb.
So, there you have it, a few ways to enjoy luxury travel on a budget. I hope you find these tips useful. If you have any tips of your own, please feel free to share.