Known as the queen of affordable luxury travel, I frequently get told how lucky I am to come across such great travel deals. But there’s more to it than luck – we’re able travel in the manner we’re accustomed to thanks to the effort we (well, OK, mainly Justin!) put into finding the best deals and offers.

You can travel well without breaking the bank, but you need to put in the time, effort and thought to do so. Consider this – if someone said they’d pay you £200 to sit in a chair for four hours you’d think about it, right? Yet people think spending the same four hours doing research into ways to save the same amount of money on travel isn’t worth the effort. Strange, huh?

This research has allowed us to gain free companion flights to travel long-haul with BA or stay seven nights in boutique hotels for the price of five. We also save money while we’re actually on holiday to allow us to spend a little extra on special experiences or hotel upgrades.

Here’s some of our tips on how to save money on your travels and ways to find great deals and discounts that allow you to stay in amazing hotels in amazing locations.

1 – Have an open mind

If you’re set on a specific location or dates of travel then its gets harder and harder to find a good deal. So, whenever you can, keep an open mind and have a real adventure – visiting wherever the cheapest flights take you!

I discovered the beauty of Seville thanks to a cheap flight, and spent three luxurious nights in my own suite in Kaunas, Lithuania simply because it only cost us around £20 each to get there!

affordable luxury travel how to enjoy the high life at low cost

2 – Be flexible

Flexibility when you travel can also be a great money saver. For example, travelling from Thurs to Sunday could cost you a lot more than travelling from Saturday to Tuesday. Again, take the time to check out your options.

Also try to go out of season if you can, or at least in shoulder season as flight and accommodation is often a lot cheaper. Now I’m not recommending you whisk off and book a trip somewhere in the height of monsoon or hurricane season, but a little bit of common sense and flexibility can make a world of difference.

We often visit South East Asia right at the end of the rainy season and get some amazing deals on high-end accommodation, but usually only see an occasional rain storm, which more often than not is refreshing rather than depressing.

3- Use comparison websites

Justin always uses comparison sites to help him get a handle on the number of hotels in an area that might be worth considering, and then goes off to check their reviews. (Insider tip: His first ports of call are always Trivago and Tripadvisor).

On occasion it can worth going to the hotel direct, but strangely, they rarely beat the online booking companies.

4- Take advantage of cashback sites

Once you have established which hotels to use then head over to a cashback website. Our two main ‘go-tos’ are Quidco and Topcashback. Check each of them to see what deals they offer on the different booking companies then work out which one will save you the most cash.

For example, at the time of writing Quidco is offering eight per cent cash back on anything you buy through Expedia, and four per cent on any purchases from Booking.com. These rates change regularly; so do keep an eye on them.

affordable luxury travel how to enjoy the high life at low cost

5- Simply search Google for discount codes

Want to stay in a particular hotel chain or fly with a specific airline? Or perhaps you’re ready to book something with a booking company/ Well why not type their name into Google followed by ‘discount code’?

It takes 30 seconds of your time and you never know what you’ll find. I just checked and found an eight per cent discount code for all bookings on Otel for example!

Be aware though, these codes can often invalidate cashback, but on the other hand, they do offer immediate money off. It’s definitely worth doing your sums to see which is the better deal.

6- Make the most of your credit card options

affordable luxury travel how to enjoy the high life at low cost

If you use a credit card regularly, there are certain offers that you can really benefit from. Unfortunately our Lloyds/Avios credit card offer is no longer available (for a fee of £50 a year and a spend of £15,000 we get a free companion flight every 12 month), but there are still some credit card accounts out there worth considering.

For example, there’s a Lloyds credit card where you can earn flight upgrade vouchers if you spend £7,000 a year on the card and pay the annual £24 fee.

Free companion flights!

I’m also aware of two other credit card accounts available where you can still gain a free companion flight every year if you’re able to put enough on your card to hit the minumum spending amount.

The British Airways Premium credit card has an annual fee of £195 and in order to gain your free BA companion flight you have to put £10,000 onto your card over a 12 month period.

Then there’s MBNA’s credit card that gains you a companion flight with Emirates. To earn this you need to spend £15,000 per year on the card and pay the annual fee of £150.

Now, for some people putting this much on your credit card sounds like a rather big deal, but it can be doable. We’ve managed to hit our £15k spend every year by essentially putting all expenditure over £5 onto the credit card. Meals out, shopping, petrol, train tickets etc, we put everything on there and then make sure we pay the balance in full every month. It takes a little effort, but now it’s routine to us and well worth the return, as we save anything between £400-800 a year on our main holiday flight costs!

7- Book spots on free tours

Rather than pay what seem to be rapidly increasing prices on sites like Viator, there are more and more companies offering free tours. Many of these tours often use local students as guides, who are always entertaining and full of interesting facts. It’s a more fun way for them to earn some extra cash as they ask for a ‘donation’ at the end, and it’s down to you to offer money dependant on what you think the experience was worth. We recently did these in Tallinn and Oslo, and always found the guides intelligent and friendly. They’re a great way to learn about a new city!

8 – Eat cheaply

The less you spend on food the more you have for everything else. BUT I LOVE MY FOOD I hear you cry. Not as much as we do!

When we’re in Asia we always head to the food courts where the two of us can eat like kings for under a tenner. They have a much wider choice of food than restaurants and for a fraction of the price. And it’s your not ‘cheap and cheerful’ basic fare either – this stuff is mouth-wateringly tasty. In truth, the food courts are one of my holiday highlights – if you don’t believe me, check out my foodie tour of Singapore and Hawker highlights of Penang!

Food Tour Singapore | Ladies What Travel

More often than not, the money we saved by eating this way we end up using for a super special meal at the end of our trip. These have included eating a fish feast on a beach in Bali as the sun set, having a BBQ dinner brought up to us in a ‘tree house’ in Sri Lanka and gorging myself at the world’s most amazing afternoon tea experience at the Fullerton Bay Hotel in Singapore.

9 – Use a local SIM card

Although not such an issue for those travelling closer to home in Europe anymore, it can still be very expensive to use a mobile elsewhere. Our tip is to buy a local SIM to make calls at a fraction of the price and stick to checking Facebook and Instagram when on WiFi at your hotel.

affordable luxury travel how to enjoy the high life at low cost

10 – Prepaid currency cards are the best

If you insist on taking large chunks of cash, then as well as running the risk of losing it, you’re also losing out on charges. At time of writing you can take £100 into the post office and get €111.20. Put that onto a Revolut travel card and get €113.75. It doesn’t seem a lot but it all adds up.

You use them like a credit card but don’t pay credit card handling fees. They’re safer and better value than carrying cash, and don’t apply any transactional charges that normal credit cards usually do.

11 – Use your reward cards to collect points

Supermarket loyalty schemes are also a great way to find some cool travel and experience deals. For example, you can convert Tesco Club Card points into Avios or use them to pay towards hotels or days out.

Sainsbury’s Nectar points have similar offers, and partner with companies like Easyjet for example.

12 – Sign up to the relevant email lists

If you use a service or company often then be sure to sign up to their mailing list, as you’ll often be emailed a special deal or two.

For example, Heathrow Airport, Bristol Airport, APH Parking and Holiday Extras are on our list and we occasionally receive an email that saves us a few bob on airport parking, lounges, premium security or a quick meal before boarding the plane…

 

So there you have it, our tips on saving money in order to enjoy more affordable luxury travel experiences. I hope you’ve found a few handy hints here and if you have any of your own you’d like to share, please do by leaving them in the comments section below!

 

affordable luxury travel how to enjoy the high life at low cost


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42 thoughts on “Affordable Luxury Travel: How to Enjoy the High Life at Low Cost!

  1. Love this post Keri as I could relate to so many of these tips, which we use too and which have enabled us to go places that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise! I’m a huge fan of street food and grabbing amazing bargain flights. I have never been keen on the BA card points thing (but that’s mostly because I don’t really like the airline) but you’ve definitely given me something to think about with the MBNA one, which I wasn’t sure about and would certainly consider if it gives you good deals on destinations flown to by Emirates and companion flights etc!

    1. Yep, it’s worth taking the time to look for the bargains, right?! Yeah the Emirates one sounds interesting – if you go for it let me know what you think. The companion flights are a godsend for us I have to say!
      So why no love for BA? (It’s not that Im a massive fan, I focus only on the safety record when picking companies to fly with ).Who are your personal faves and why?

  2. I totally agree with you on free tours (usually walking tours), eat cheap and travelling during shoulder season. I had recently returned from Portugal – it’s a cheap holiday destination (compared to Ireland which was my next destination) though mid-Sept wasn’t exactly shoulder season – apparently, locals said that it’s still the peak season because now a lot of people want to escape the autumn rain, so they travel to Portugal for the sun, lol!

    1. Ah I can understand that! Some places never have a low season either as they’re so popular – Rome and Venice for example!

  3. I recently did a similar post and I agree with so many of your tips! The cash back sites are definitely something I need to check out though, thanks for heads up!

  4. Some really good tips here! I only started using a pre paid currency card this year and it’s a game changer! Thanks for sharing #farawayfiles

  5. I really need to get better at savvy travel deals for flying. We just drive everywhere but there are places I want to go that require flying to in Europe but the tickets are always so expensive. These are great tips! #FarawayFiles

    1. Maybe book two separate flights one from home to a European travel hub then find yourself a bargain flight for the more local trip? We do that when travelling to Asia – use BA or Emirates etc to fly from London to KL or Singapore then use airlines like Air Asia for really cheap flights onto our final destinations…

  6. I agree with all of this! I’m also a traveler who enjoys traveling more and spending less, I love the term affordable luxury! All of these tips I use and definitely recommend to my friends and readers. Being flexible is definitely the key! Great post!!! Looking forward to reading more of your blogs!

    http://www.fromdiamwithlove.com

  7. I’m constantly searching for deals on flights and accommodation and if you’re not picky on where you’re going or how far out you stay, there are some great deals around! #FlyAwayFriday

  8. I’m glad to see someone else out there using all these tricks – we’re often called out for the amount of travel we do and told we must be spending a fortune! Not that it’s anyones business but it’s simply not true, we too manage to shave off so much by just being savvy!
    However, I did not know that companion flights were a thing so thanks for introducing that to me. At the moment we are restricted to travelling to Europe most of the time because of life circumstances but in the future this could really come in handy for us!
    Great post! #flyawayfriday

    1. You can still use them for short-haul Alex, we’ve been thinking about a crazy idea of using them to travel first class to Moscow -Justin’s found some great deals! 😀

  9. Keri there are some hot tips here! I had no idea about those cash back sites although I finally worked out Avios just as we are leaving the UK. Thanks for documenting and sharing on #FarawayFiles

  10. I really dig your tips in here. They are aligned with my travel style. A lot of people ask me how I am able to do one big international and many shorter national trips each year. The answer is that I take time to research the best prices (like you mentioned). Sometimes, I set the goal of spending an entire Saturday afternoon planning a trip. I am on that chair until I have researched every major aspect of the trip (flight, accommodation, travel between cities). A lot of times, I follow the sales and travel in the off-season. During my last trip, we didn’t book any tours since we were able to sign up for free tours or do out own day trips. I think a lot of people can follow the same advice and still travel in a comfortable way. #FlyAwayFriday

  11. Great tips! My daughter is always booking flights in Europe to places dependent on the cheapest flights – she is heading to Aarhus in December on an excellent deal. I plan trips for months beforehand and will often book hotels with a free cancellation policy and monitor prices in the lead up the the trip – have saved £££ doing that! #FlayAwayFriday

  12. These are great tips. My wings were clipped when the kids got a bit older though and are seriously trimmed now they are in high school. We can’t just take off on last-minute deals (and nor can I) as they can’t miss school. But when I was kid-free and even when they were young, I took advantage of last minute deals and travelling on the spur of the moment and during school time. But with and without kids some of my best holidays have been last minute or spur of the moment cheap deals. And I always love eating at local food haunts (even food courts and buying food from markets and shopping centres) because it’s so exciting when it’s local food.

    1. Totally agree with you on the food front Bronnie – Im soo excited about going back to Malaysia next week and eating at the food courts! 😀

  13. This is a nice roundup of sensible tips and tricks for saving money on travel. It’s especially helpful for UK travellers. You certainly do your homework while planning your trips. Good job! #FlyAwayFriday

  14. I have a credit card with no commission or costs. It’s free to take cash abroad in any currency, so we always use it to take small amounts as we need it.

  15. I love food courts, too! They saved us so much money and hassle when we travelled through SE Asia. They’re much more of a thing here in Australia too, which makes me happy. It’s good to know if you want to go out for food but don’t want anything fancy, you have lots of decent options aside from McDonalds.

    I’m also a big fan of Revolut, they do save a lot of money over time and it’s so great to be able to transfer money on the go, and not have to worry about finding ATMs all the time.

    1. Wish we’d known about Revolut earlier, but hey at least we’ve joined the party now. Cool about food courts in Oz – super exciting to get to eat at them again next week when in Malaysia! 😀

  16. Thanks for these simple and practical tips, Keri! I only recently learned about cashback sites and they sound like a great idea – almost too good to be true, actually. I wonder what the catch is! And yes, you can certainly get good food on the cheap! 😉

  17. I absolutely love all of the tips! Yes you can definitely experience luxury travel without luxury costs 🙂 Thanks for joining Fly Away Friday – hope to see you again this week! xo

  18. Great post of ideas for luxury for less. I cannot agree more about the local sim card being a victim of ridiculous phone charges! Cheap flights are hard to find in Canada, but that hopefully will change soon. hope to see you at Fly Away friday tomorrow!

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