When I travel, I love to do it in style (when my bank account lets me). Problem is my champagne taste is hard to pay for on a beer budget. However, if you plan in advance, know the right deals and websites, it can be a lot easier to live like a King without the big cost you would think might be involved.
Below are a few tips to make the most out of every aspect of a trip, without sacrificing the luxury.
BOOK “LAST MINUTE”
Accommodation doesn’t always come cheap. How central it is to the city you are staying in, the time of year or how many stars it has on trip advisor are all factors to the price. For a luxury hotel without the price tag, I highly recommend Last Minute for booking accommodation.
Most hotels don’t want empty rooms, so they will advertise on Last Minute with a below standard price tag. If you are daring enough, I have had great experiences with the ‘Secret Hotel’ deals. This offers you a 4 or 5-star hotel at a significant discount, the catch being you are unaware of the hotel until you have paid for it. You are given all the details and a location summary of the hotel, and it is mostly always a 5-star hotel that has a few empty rooms they want to fill.
I once got a great deal on a 4-star hotel in London for nearly $1000 less than the retail value. Winning!
If you are like me and want to make sure you are getting the best possible deal, hit up Trip Advisor and do research on the hotel you are looking at before you commit, look at the area, what it has to offer and customer reviews.
I have always wondered how you become that person sitting in Business Class? How on earth do you get into a lounge? Every overseas flight I took I was always hopeful one of the stewards would walk up to me and say “Mr. Love, you are the chosen one, follow me” – sadly I realized this wasn’t going to happen.
After doing countless Google searches on “How do I get an upgrade” and watching endless YouTube videos on how to sit on the pointy end of the plane, I kept getting the same answer. Loyalty
If you fly often, its beneficial to become a frequent flyer member with the airline of your choice, preferably the one you fly with the most. I decided to stop flying with whoever was the cheapest at the time, and dedicate my airtime to 1 airline, and slowly it has paid off.
Since becoming a member with Virgin Australia, I have progressed to a Gold Velocity membership, allowing me access to a range of advantages.
Access to the Virgin Lounge (and partnering lounges throughout the world) when flying domestic or international makes the flying experience a lot more enjoyable. Another great advantage is being able to bid for an upgrade from your Economy seat to Premium or Business (depending on availability) – the higher the bid, the more likely you are to be accepted. It makes you feel a lot more special knowing you are sitting at the pointy end of the plane for a lot less than the guy sitting next to you. You can also upgrade your seat using points, or a combination of points and pay.
The only downside to any loyalty program is trying to keep your status credits up to maintain your membership level. Suddenly, its easy to convince yourself taking a day trip to Sydney just to get status points, is worth it.
Virgin has recently linked up with Fly Buys, where you can transfer their points into Velocity points, as well as earning 1 status credit for every $100 spent at Coles.
Qantas also offers similar through Woolworths, with points earned for every $30+ spend.
If airline loyalty isn’t for you, comparing the cheapest flights is another great option. There is a list of different websites that will do this for you, but at the top of my list is Skyscanner.
Skyscanner is a global search engine that enables you to find not only the cheapest flights online, but also hotels and car hire. It searches over hundreds of airlines and booking agents to make sure you get the best deal.
Because we are accustomed to what we know, many airlines that might not be the most generic, offers business class seats for the same cost as an economy ticket through the major airlines. Always be open to options, but do make sure you read every option carefully. When it comes to selecting the best and cheapest route for your trip, it will sometimes offer you a long stop over just to save some $$$.
It is advised you read through all the terms and conditions of the flight you are booking before committing. While it is all done through the respected agent or airline, you don’t want to get trapped into paying extra fees you weren’t aware of.
AVOID PEAK TIMES
Even though cheap flights are easy to come by these days, thee are still certain times of the year you should avoid if cost is a priority.
Christmas and Easter are the 2 main holidays you want to avoid if you don’t want to include a price increase into your budget. Flying to Europe or the USA over their Summer period (June-July) is also going to cost you, but be on the look out for early bird deals through airlines around 6-8 months before hand.
If flying domestically, flights increase the closer to the date so try to avoid last minute travel.
If you want to know the cheapest times to fly to a city of your choice I recommend Expedia Trend Tracker. You simply choose the origin and destination, and it will calculate the cheapest months to fly, along with detailed weather conditions.