Luxury Travel for Less
Tips for making it to the world’s most coveted destinations for cheap
The way the economy is going these days, it’s easy to understand why you wouldn’t consider luxury travel an option, especially if you’re working with a tight budget. But, there’s some great news for you frugal travelers out there: you can travel luxuriously without breaking the bank. Imagine savoring a romance novel beachside or a hot chocolate fireside at a ski resort, all without spending a fortune. There’s a luxury vacation meant for you and right within your grasp – you just have to reach for it. With just a few of our simple tricks, you’ll be off to the world’s most coveted destinations at a fraction of the price.
As any expert traveler will tell you, luxury travel isn’t just about the money. You have to travel in style. What you do, what you wear, and how you carry yourself are all equally as important as how you get there. If haute-couture, fine dining, rare vineyards and snow-capped mountains appeal to your psyche, you’re in luck: these top luxury travel destinations are affordable. You’ve just got to be smart, plan ahead and know how to spot a killer deal.
Here are few luxury travel tips that hold true for any destination:
- You don’t have to stay on the beaten path: find a hotel or bed-and-breakfast away from everything. It’ll be cheaper and you’ll be away from all the crowds.
- The truly fashionable dine a little later. Your evening doesn’t have to start as soon as the sun goes down, so start things a little later and you won’t be rushed from place to place. You’ll save money by staying in one spot and you’ll have a much better appreciation for the atmosphere of the posh location you’re dining in. You may even meet some cool people.
- Grab your Gucci bag, pick up your passport and listen carefully: Luxury travel isn’t about how much money you spend to get there, it’s about how good you look when you arrive.
Paris: Coco Chanel, Jean Paul Gaultier, Yves Saint-Laurent – their names convey luxury, and lots and lots of money. But you don’t need to dress in designer clothes to experience a luxurious Paris. Thanks to outrageous airfare deals to Europe, Paris flights have never been so affordable, which means a vacation in Paris can be easy on the checkbook. Pack your best little black dress and clutch purse (‘classic’ is always in style) and board a flight to the City of Light.
Once you’re there, the options are endless. Start your day with a walk down the Champs-Elysees, destination: Eiffel Tower. There are few iconic structures in the world that exude glamor like the Eiffel Tower, and for as low a cost. Spend a day in Montmartre walking the artists’ square, or pop into fashion boutiques by little-known Paris designers named Dior, Louboutin and Hermes. Some of the best food in Paris is found in not-so-familiar places. Opt for dinner at a romantic Moroccan restaurant in the 16th arrondissement or nestle in close at a corner café. Choices like these can definitely be easier on your wallet.
Choose a hotel or B&B off the beaten path – the boutique accommodations are normally less expensive than the brand name hotel chains, and often provide a more charming ambiance to your stay. The nice thing about Paris is its accessibility – no matter where you stay in Paris, you’re close to just about everything.
Milan: If you’ve got style, you’ve come to the right place. Milan is the fashion capital of Italy and sets the trend for future fashion worldwide at its annual spring and fall fashion shows. Milan is luxurious by nature – its history, culture and wealth make Milan the granddaddy of luxurious Italy vacations. But that doesn’t mean you need to spend a lot of money to vacation here. When it comes to fashion, it’s all about presentation – just ask Italian designers Valentino and Versace.
There’s more to Milan than stilettos and supermodels. Put down your shopping bags for a day and pay a visit to Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, walk through Mussolini’s central station, and enjoy a day in the park dining on bread and cheese.
When night falls, don your best black wrap-dress and a stunning pair of stilettos and hit the streets of Milan. Order a Bellini and mingle with the see-and-be-seen crowd, or remain incognito and mysterious in a corner table – you’re here to make a statement, not spend a fortune.
Milan hotels in the downtown district can run near $200/night, depending on your proximity to the city center, but those who truly understand luxury know to look outside the box for the best luxurious accommodations. Consider staying near the train station, which offers easy access to Downtown Milan or a quick ride out of the city for a last-minute rendezvous.
Rio: Lola and Tony didn’t stop the party at the Copacabana, so why should you? Just because the sun is coming up doesn’t mean the party is over in Rio. Home to some of the most beautiful people in the world, Rio de Janeiro exudes extravagance. But if you’re going to party like a rock star in Rio, there are a few essentials you’ll need to have with you: a teeny bikini, a big sun hat and whole lot of attitude.
Unleash your inner sexiness while you dance the samba in one of Rio’s hottest nightclubs and partake in one of the hedonistic parties spilling into the streets. Rio is silly with temptation. If the samba doesn’t seduce you, the people surely will. Carnival is the city’s big tourist draw, but if plan a trip to Rio any other time of the year you’ll find discounted rates and a more lax lifestyle.
The best part about Rio: everything is nearby. You don’t need to pay for location in this city – the tourist hotels are near the main attractions, including the beach. Book a cheap flight to Rio and find 3-star hotel rooms for less than $150/night. Save money on transportation and take one of the shuttle buses to and from Beach Road. Many hotels offer free continental breakfasts or gift certificates for one night of room service. If your hotel has a private beach area, ask for the weekly towel and chair service rate so you don’t have to wait every day for a new spot.
This city isn’t for the faint of heart – bring an open mind when you travel to Rio and embrace all that the South American city has to offer.
Hawaii: If you’re into sand, sun and seclusion, look no further than Hawaii for your luxury vacation. Let volcanoes, cliffs and swaying palm trees provide the backdrop for your relaxing beach vacation. The best thing about Hawaii is the endless options. Whether you choose to relax poolside in a private cabana or island hop to experience the vast variety Hawaii has to offer, you’ll find plenty of luxurious options that’ll please any traveler.
Discover paradise in Hawaii: blue lagoons, rainforests, secret gardens, waterfalls, and towering volcanoes make up the landscape. Relax on the beach or take advantage of some of the more adventurous opportunities including rock climbing, kayaking, parasailing and scuba diving. Here’s the best part about vacationing in Hawaii: its ‘cheap’ season boasts the best weather.
If you’re looking to save money, plan to travel in the spring and fall – from mid-April to mid-June and September to mid-December. The weather is at its best and because it’s opposite times of school vacations, Hawaii is relatively calm and quiet – the perfect getaway for the luxurious traveler needing a bit of recluse. Where you stay depends entirely on your travel preferences. Resorts are the most common type of accommodation on the islands and range from all-inclusive to remote and private. Travel during the off-season and find rates as low as $140/night for resort rooms at beachfront properties. To really escape, book a bungalow or private villa.
What makes Hawaii so luxurious? Sit back and listen to the waves, sip a cocktail and enjoy the perfect weather – Hawaii has it all…
Aspen: If the beach is too blasé, head for the mountain – but not just any mountain. The fabulously fashionable take to the Aspen slopes in their best designer duds, clad with state-of-the-art ski accessories and mountain-side lodging. But before you break out your snow white ski pants and high-tech ski boots, take a moment to consider all that Aspen has to offer.
You don’t have to love winter weather to enjoy a vacation in Aspen. At the bottom of the hills are restaurants, shopping and nightclubs that always score big, whether you’re a first time visitor or a long-time Aspen traveler. Thanks to Hollywood’s elite, Aspen is incredibly posh and ultra wealthy, making it a ski resort for the rich and famous, as well as the paparazzi. The historic town is decorated in red bricks and cobblestones, and features a plethora of 5-star restaurants and see-and-be-seen locales.
Hollywood stars and first-time skiers vacation in Aspen for its natural beauty and the ultimate in relaxation. If you book flights to Aspen during the peak season, you’re bound to spend extra on hotels and resorts. But hit the slopes toward the end of winter or in the off-season, and hotels near the Gondola or at the base of Aspen Mountain start from $100/night.
(Featured image: Simon Pielow)