Though some may be reluctant to admit it, everyone wants a taste of the good life every now and then. And there’s no better time to treat yourself to a bit of luxury than when you’ve clocked out of your daily routine while on vacation.
The problem is that many budget travelers tend to think that the good life is something that’s reserved for a select few. You may be thinking that the cost of your airfare and hotel is expensive enough, so how in the world could you ever afford to kick your vacation up a notch to luxury status?!
In your mind, luxury travel may conjure images of delicious spa treatments, stays at 5-star hotels, and roomy flights in first class. But the truth is that luxury travel is something that can only be defined subjectively. Your idea of luxury may be totally different from mine, and that’s perfectly okay.
With that said, I’d use three words to describe my idea of a luxury vacation: affordable, authentic, and personalized. In my opinion, the combination of these three qualities makes for a priceless luxury experience.
One of the most luxurious travel experiences I’ve ever had included a stay at a former hunting lodge in Avignon where our B&B hosts greeted us with fresh squeezed apricot and pear juices to compliment a picnic lunch we’d set up for ourselves on the front lawn.
At night, the springtime winds lulled us into one of the most restful slumbers of my life, and in the morning, we awoke to breakfast with our hosts and other guests over fresh baguettes with homemade jam, fruits, strong coffee, and great conversation.
Our stay at that lodge gave us such an authentic taste of Provençal living. And while our B&B was by no means a glitzy mega hotel, our stay there was uber luxurious, and the cost was easy on our wallets. You can read more about our stay in Avignon here.
Our escape to the French countryside was exactly the kind of luxurious experience I travel for!
If you want some ideas on how to infuse more luxury into your budget travels, then read on for some inspiration.
Opt for Boutique Hotels
I’ve said it time and time again – boutique hotels are the way to go. Similar to our Provençal B&B, boutique hotels offer such personalized experiences and provide guests with a better feel for local life than a stay at most chain hotels could ever accomplish.
Look for Hotels that Offer Unique Experiences
Regardless of whether you stay at a boutique hotel, a B&B, or at a mega brand like the Marriott, whenever possible, try to find a hotel that offers one-of-a-kind experiences such as cooking classes, golf lessons, or small group excursions with your fellow guests. The Dreamcatcher Guest House in San Juan, Puerto Rico’s Ocean Park neighborhood has mastered the art of offering guests unique experiences including sightseeing tours, SUP, and calming sessions of Yoga Under the Stars. So it’s no wonder that this intimate guesthouse won Tripadvisor’s 2015 Travelers’ Choice award in the “Caribbean B&Bs and Inns” category.
Click here to clock in for your stay at The Dreamcatcher Guest House and get a discount of 10% off of everything.
Did you know that that there are ways that you can take a luxury vacation for free? Click here to find out how!
Use Discount Sites
We budget travelers are always on the prowl for discounts. That’s exactly why you should check to see whether your destination offers local deals through discount sites like Groupon. Another great way to score discounted deals on luxury products and services in your destination is by jumping on the email lists of local newspapers or websites that frequently advertise discounts. And of course, you can always find a discount at a boutique hotel or on a local tour through Time Card Express™.
Incorporate a Few High End Restaurants
My husband and I usually book stays at hotels where breakfast is included in the rate, and while traveling, we usually skip lunch and opt for a midday snack instead. While the majority of our dinners are at high quality restaurants that are priced from the low to mid-range, during our vacations, we’ll usually treat ourselves to a few dinners at higher end restaurants. If the dinner menu at a particular restaurant looks too pricey, we’ll sometimes opt for lunch (if available) or happy hour and/or appetizers with cocktails instead.
Take Advantage of Concierge Services
If you have a credit card such as American Express or a Visa Signature card – some of which require an annual membership fee – chances are that your card offers some great discounts in addition to concierge services. Some concierge services are available 24/7 and provide a variety of perks such as help with choosing hotels, event planning, or securing reservations at in-demand restaurants in your destination.
Incorporate the Arts
One way I infuse luxury into my vacations is by incorporating the arts into my itineraries whenever possible. Experiencing a culture’s art – whether at a museum, a live performance, or the like – is an excellent way to authentically experience a destination. The cheapest way to apply this tip is by visiting museums on days where the admission is free or extremely discounted. Also, depending on the season, many destinations offer free outdoor concert series, art festivals, and similar events. While planning your trip, if you can’t seem to find any free events, consider a matinee performance instead.
Find Intimate, Free Tours
If you’re headed to a touristy destination, most Tripadvisor searches of things to do in your destination will reveal a number of free tours. More often than not, these tours are offered in small groups which gives guests a great sense of intimacy from a local perspective.
Another great resource for finding intimate, free tours is the Global Greeter Network, a “welcome visitor” program offering customized tours by local residents. My husband and I along with my parents took two tours through this network, one in Marseille and the other in Nice, and our tours were truly the highlights of our time in each destination as we were the only ones on each tour and had our guide all to ourselves. Being able to pick our guides’ brains about local life and to see and experience their home cities through their eyes, was definitely a luxury that money can’t buy!