Inflation? Need a vacation? Don’t let your budget get in the way. Luxury travel expert gives tips on travelling bougie, on a budget.
Decide on your wow factor and center your travel around a few signature experiences (Splurge once, not daily). Once you’ve decided on a cool activity, then pick smaller and cheaper ones (lunch, ice cream, ferris wheel, etc.) to go with it to fill up your entire day. Need ideas? Here’s a few experiences created for luxury travelers on a budget:
Spring for a private tour by a local: This is a big step up in bougie travel. You can actually find private tours really cheap sometimes. Think about things you wouldn’t usually do but aren’t tourist traps – bike tours, food tours – can often give you the taste and history of a place. Also, my clients love private cooking classes on location—and you don’t have to spend a fortune to do this. It just takes a little planning.
Rent a nice car and take a 2-day road trip with a Porsche or Lamborghini. You can rent a much nicer car on TURO much cheaper than from a traditional car rental company. Or, book a track day and drive fast cars you’d never be able to afford. There are companies all over the world that will give you driving lessons and allow you to do something often reserved for the ultra-rich.
Have a luxury picnic set up for you: Just about anywhere in the world, you can have a company set up a gorgeous, gourmet luxury picnic for a few hundred dollars. Think tables, chairs, linens, chef-prepared meal, local wine in a special location only a local would know.
Book a private or small sunset sail: A nice bougie option that is often overlooked. This is usually with other people (max 20) but they’re small enough that it still feels like an exclusive experience.
This may seem obvious but spend the least on the parts that matter the least to you.
Aim to spend the least amount possible on flights that still get you where you want to be quickly, unless of course your only goal is an Instagrammable selfie in first class.
Don’t book the 4-star spa hotel: Instead search for 3-star superior, travel industry speak for a 3-star hotel that is basically 4 star, but doesn’t have one thing, like an iron and ironing board. You’re essentially getting a 4-star hotel for a 3-star price. Who cares when you’re not in your room?
Don’t blow your budget on transportation: Book hotel that is central to everything you want to do. Typically, people completely forget to budget for local transportation. But a Rs 39,880 ($50) uber ride each way can mean you have to miss a private tour or beachfront dinner.
Incorporate multiple forms of travel and experiences (not present in your normal life) like a train, a boat, or a helicopter. If you typically drive and go on a vacation with a lot of driving, it won’t feel like a break. If you wake up and take a ferry to an island or a train to a new city, it will feel special.
Create an experience where you don’t have to bring out your wallet (e.g. everything is paid for ahead of time). The mere action of reaching into your wallet is something you do on a typical daily basis. I like to create experiences that create a small psychological break from a normal day.
Spending quality time with your loved ones is “bougie” at any price. Time is luxury. Being able to take minutes away from what you’re normally doing and enjoy who you’re there with, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing.
Be in the moment: My clients often value privacy, exclusive experiences with loved ones and downtime more than anything else. Consider putting your phone away (in the hotel safe, even) and just being in the moment and taking the break you deserve.
Shane Mahoney is the founder of Lugos Travel and a luxury travel expert who has personally crafted 1000’s of authentic trips for travellers. Mahoney is also the founder of Travel 2 Give Back, a socially conscious booking platform.
This story first appeared on Travel+Leisure India and South Asia
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