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Feb 25 2014

10 Luxury Travel Tips on a Budget

I am a bit of an adventurer: I like a challenge, I don’t mind roughing it, and I tend to travel on a tight budget.  Because of that, I don’t tend to travel in luxury, but I do crave a bit of luxury every so often.  That’s more difficult to achieve on a tight budget, but it’s not impossible.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently because I’ve been roughing it for a while and feel the need for a bit of luxury and pampering.  I think it’s important to have little treats now and again.  That’s what keeps me going when I travel.  Yes, I like a challenge and adventure, but I’m not out to punish nor deny myself some luxuries.  You don’t have to either.  Here are my top luxury tips if you are travelling on a budget.

1. Five star luxury

You might be wondering how you can have five star luxury on a budget.  Well, I found this tip on the Internet before I went travelling around the world.  I think I might have got it from Journeywoman, but I’m not sure.  Anyway, this is a great tip.  While I was in India, in particular, I used to go to into five star hotels to escape the heat, noise, and traffic to relax.  I’d make use of the gleaming, western-style toilets and enjoy an ice cold coke while cooling down with the refreshing air con.

2. Where and when you stay

You are likely to find luxury accommodation cheaper if you stay outside the main tourist areas and further away from the centre.  In addition, the time of year can make a huge difference and means you might be able to stay somewhere that might otherwise be over budget.  I found a couple of wonderfully luxurious places to stay because of this.  Alternatively, if you’re good at budgeting, you could occasionally splash out on more luxurious accommodation and find a way to cut back on other things.  It’s worth thinking about this if you are on an extended trip.

3. Chill with a massage

I had more massages in the year I travelled around the world than I have had in the rest of my life.  Most of the massages I had were in Asia and they varied.  I had Thai, Lao, Chinese, Indonesian, Ayurvedic, 4 hand massage, Indian head massages, and leg massages.  This is a great way to de-stress, relax, feel rejuvenated, and be pampered.

4.  Enjoy a glass of champagne or cocktails

While I was in Cannes, I was lured by the big luxurious hotels that were overlooking the beach.  I imagined what it must be like to be there during the Cannes Film Festival and had an urge to get a little taste of the high life.  I just couldn’t resist the temptation and ended up having the most expensive glass of champagne I will probably ever have.  I savoured every sip.  Then, when I was in Liverpool, I had a very reasonably priced glass of organic wine in Panoramic 34 in the West Tower building, with fabulous views over the city and the River Mersey.

5.  Work exchange

Having passed my PADI course in Indonesia, I wanted to do some diving in Australia, especially at the Great Barrier Reef.  I found out that it was possible to live aboard a dive boat and that really appealed to me.  To keep this as cheap as possible, I booked one night on a live aboard boat in Cairns, which I paid for, and then agreed to work as a hostie for another few nights.  It was hard work and long days, but it gave me the opportunity to do a lot of diving.  This included morning and night dives.

There are websites such as Helpx where, in exchange for doing some work, you get accommodation and food.  Some of the places look incredible.  I have only ever done this once.  I stayed at a place near Girona that had a hot tube and, although I had to work quite hard, I did get to relax in it under the stars.  You can work at retreats which offer yoga, meditation or other wonderfully luxurious treats.

6. Have clothes tailor-made


In Asia, you can have clothes made to measure.  I had some clothes made in India and Vietnam as I travelled around.  It’s really cheap and great treat if you’ve never had clothes tailor-made.  I hadn’t.

7. Travel Business/First Class

I have only ever been upgraded to Business Class once and that was when I was in New Zealand, flying from Auckland to Christchurch.  I didn’t ask; I was offered it on check-in.  That was cool.  You can ask.  I haven’t tried, but I know people who have.  Sometimes you can get great deals that cost only a little bit extra to upgrade to Business or First on trains.  I have actually paid to travel First Class on trains for that reason in addition to getting food and drink on board and having a more comfortable journey overall.

8. Spas

I seem to have an incurable love of spas, particularly natural and quirky ones.  I didn’t realise it until my obsession with spas became apparent on a trip around Europe last year.  I’ve been to natural spas in South America and Europe and had my first beer spa experience in the Czech Republic.  That’s the quirkiest one so far!  The thing is, it is a luxury experience and I come away feeling thoroughly pampered at a very reasonable price.

9. Beauty treatments

Whether it’s a facial or some other beauty treatment, you can find good deals around the world.  There are discount websites you can sign up to, like Groupon for example, to find out about them.  In Asia, local women offer to paint your nails, thread your eyebrows etc. in all sorts of places.  While I was relaxing on a beach in Lombok, a woman painted my nails.  Oh, did I feel special!  In Australia, I went to one of the hairdressing academies and had my locks cut and coloured cheaply.  The girl did a fantastic job under the watchful eye of her tutor for a fraction of what I would have paid if I had gone to a decent hair salon.

10.  Airport lounges

One which I have yet to try are the airport lounges.  For a relatively small amount of money, you can make use of the lounge and all its facilities regardless of which class or airline you are flying with.  I didn’t realise this was possible until my dad mentioned it recently.  This means you can take a cheap flight but, while you’re waiting to board, you can have more of a first class type experience.

Have your say

What do you do to treat or pamper yourself when you travel?  Do you have any other luxury tips on a budget you would like to share?

About the author

Teresa Keane

Teresa has been to almost 60 countries. She started travelling independently at the age of 38 when she gave up her job, rented out her house, put her possessions in storage and spent a year travelling the world. It changed her life. She now creates, publishes, & promotes online travel content and is an experienced freelance trainer & EFL teacher.

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