Enjoy a luxurious vacation on a budget
It's nearly impossible to go on Instagram these days without seeing one celebrity or another showing off photos of an amazing luxury vacation. From the exotic locales to the glamorous resorts to the five-star restaurants, most of us probably feel like a similar trip is out of our price range. But there's no need to feel travel envy every time you scroll through your social media feed. With a little careful planning, you can take a luxurious trip that would make a celebrity proud without draining your bank account. Here are some of our best tips for planning a luxurious vacation on any budget.
Choose an offbeat destination.
The key to planning a budget-friendly luxurious vacation often starts with choosing the right destination. Places like the Maldives and Bali are popular luxury holiday spots, but it's nearly impossible to cut costs in those locales. Thinking outside the box and selecting a less popular destination can often mean getting luxury accommodations and amenities at a much more budget-friendly price point.
Spots like Thailand, Curaçao, or Morocco usually offer more bang for your buck so you can travel in style while staying within your budget. If you have your heart set on more traditional destinations like Mexico, the Dominican Republic, or Jamaica, you can still save money by choosing less expensive areas of the country to stay during your trip.
Travel during the off-season.
Besides finding the right destination, choosing the right time to take your luxury vacation is usually the best way to save some money. Traveling during the off-season means lower costs on everything from flight to hotel. You might have to deal with some less than ideal weather, but it can be worth the risk to vacation in style at a fraction of the price.
When you settle on a destination, figure out the most popular time of year to visit so you can plan your trip when tourism is low. If you're dreaming of a luxury trip to New York, try visiting in the winter instead of the spring or summer. If you're interested in taking a luxurious cruise, consider traveling during hurricane season when the cruise lines can turn to alternative routes and other contingency plans to avoid severe weather. If you're as flexible with your travel dates as possible, you can save quite a bit of money.
Prioritize your needs.
If you want to save money on a luxury vacation, you might need to do a little prioritizing. Try to figure out which aspects of the trip are most important to you. You might care most about staying in a five-star resort, or you may want to indulge in delicious five-star luxury meals to satisfy the foodie in you. Or you could be more interested in luxury activities like glamorous spa services or private snorkeling excursions.
When money's tight, it's best to focus your budget on the aspects of the trip that feel most luxurious to you. For example, splurge on your hotel and save money on food and activities. You'll be able to stretch your vacation budget a little further that way.
Look for promotions.
Airlines, resorts, cruises, and other travel companies often run promotions that let you take advantage of outstanding deals that can really help preserve your luxury vacation budget. You can find a variety of websites that keep track of current travel promotions so you can find the perfect deal for your particular destination and needs.
Keep in mind that certain destinations or vacation types may have peak promotional periods. For example, you'll usually get the best deal on a cruise in the first quarter of the year, so you can plan the perfect luxury voyage if you start early.
Take advantage of rewards and loyalty programs.
Nearly every major airline, worldwide hotel chain, and cruise line has some type of loyalty program that rewards you with discounts or deals based on how frequently you make purchases from the company. In most cases, you receive points based on how many dollars you spend, so you can score a really good deal if you make a habit of flying the same airline, staying at the same hotel chain, or sailing the same cruise line.
Plenty of credit cards also have rewards programs that allow you to get airline, hotel, and cruise discounts and deals based on your spending. You'll usually have a greater range of options with a rewards credit card than you will with a brand loyalty program, so they can be a great option when you're planning a budget-friendly luxury vacation.
Choose a hotel outside the main tourist areas.
Hotels or resorts in the main parts of a city or town are always the most expensive. If five-star accommodations are at the top of your luxury vacation wants list, look for an option outside the busiest areas of your destination. You'll get much more bang for your buck if you're willing to stay a little bit off the beaten path.
Consider a home rental instead of a hotel.
It's always a treat to stay in a luxury hotel or resort, but traditional five-star lodging options can break your budget. Have no fear -- you can still have a luxurious experience by renting a home or apartment at your destination instead. These usually offer more affordable accommodations than a traditional hotel room but still have many of the same amenities offered by a luxury hotel.
You'll usually get the best price by renting directly from the home or apartment's owner, and there are a variety of websites with these types of listing, such as Airbnb. You can also join an online housesitting community, which often requires a membership fee of around $100. Once you pay the fee, you can stay at homes across the globe without having to pay any rental fee.
Go for an all-inclusive package.
Plenty of luxury resorts offer all-inclusive packages that make a high-end vacation a little more affordable. These packages include accommodations, food, drinks, activities, and other amenities for a single price, so you don't have to shell out any money once you reach your destination.
Keep in mind that all-inclusive packages only help save money if you're going to take full advantage of them, which means spending the bulk of your time at the resort. For example, if you want to eat at local restaurants at your destination, you can wind up paying for food you don't eat at the resort restaurants.
Eat high-end just once a day.
If you're a foodie, you probably want to eat in more than a few five-star restaurants on your luxury vacation. But you'll wind up spending a fortune if you eat every meal at a high-end restaurant. Instead, pick just one meal a day to have at a gourmet restaurant and grab more affordable food for your other meals.
You might have a bagel and coffee for breakfast, a basic sandwich for lunch, and then splurge on a five-star meal for dinner. You'll get to enjoy some luxury food options without blowing your entire vacation budget.
Taking a luxurious vacation to even the most exotic of locales doesn't have to break the bank. If you plan your trip carefully and take advantage of some convenient deals, you can travel in style on any budget.
Jennifer Blair is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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