Travelling on a budget means making some sacrifices, but it doesn’t mean you’ve gotta slum it.
If you’re careful about how and when you spend your precious pennies, you can squeeze some celebrity-style experiences out of your budget, without resorting to fraud or extortion!
With thoughts of palm trees and poolside daiquiris dancing in your heads, here are some tips and tricks to get the most out of your trip.
Visit a 5-star hotel for lunch
There’s no rule that fancy meals have to be at dinnertime. Get the five-star experience at lunchtime, when meals are cheaper (but just as tasty). Who says you have to be an actual paying guest at the hotel? No one, that’s who.
Use the swanky pool
Even if you’re spending your nights at the Motel 6, you can still spend your days soaking up the luxury amenities at another hotel’s pool. You may need to pay a fee for day access, but it’ll be nothing compared to the cost of spending the night there, and it may even come with access to luxe change rooms and showers, a sauna and a hot tub and well-paid pool boy eye candy.
Master the art of the upgrade
Nothing beats the rush of getting something expensive for free, partly because it’s usually such a rare thing. But you can swing the odds of a free upgrade in your favour by following a few simple rules: be polite, be loyal and, often, be alone. Here are a few tips for scoring an upgrade to first class. Also, get to know the $20 sandwich; it works like a charm in more touristy spots like Las Vegas and the Caribbean.
Go in the off-season or get off the beaten path
It’s boring ‘ol supply-and-demand, but the fewer people there are clamouring for the same experience, the lower the cost to you. That means travelling in the off-season, when prices drop and you can score a five-star experience for a lot less than you would in the high season. Or it means getting off the beaten path and discovering a new destination that the masses haven’t flocked to yet.
Nothing says “1%” like sailing past long lineups. There’s an upfront cost to Nexus ($50 for five years), and it means the governments of Canada and the U.S. are all up in your business (fingerprints, retinal scan, the whole deal), but it’ll let you sail past customs lineups at the airport — and even skip some security lines — as the plebes in the regular lineups strain to remember what movie they saw you in that one time.
Hop on a private jet at the last minute
If you’re thinking more “0.1%” and a measly upgrade to first class won’t cut it, you can live like the ultra-rich and get from A to B on a private jet without having been born into extreme wealth. JetSuite, an American private jet company, offers SuiteDeals — last-minute deals that get you on a private jet already making a scheduled flight. It’s not the cheapest (i.e. you can go from Reno, NV to South Lake Tahoe, CA for $536 for the whole plane, but you gotta go TODAY) but it’s cheaper than buying your own private jet.
Buy a lounge pass
If you’ve ever wondered what life is like beyond the sliding glass doors of the first class lounge, as you nibble on a day-old ham and cheese sandwich from a picked-over convenience store cooler, you’re not alone. Getting inside may just be a matter of paying the price, about $25-50 dollars, which gets you in for the day. Or you may be able to score a free pass using frequent-flyer points or as a bartering chip if you get bumped from a flight. Your best bet is to play this card when you’ve got a long layover — so you can max out the free drinks, free food, showers, comfy chairs, nice views and Instagram bragging opportunities.
Provided you don’t want to throw a rager that involves chicken legs in shoes and mayonnaise on the couch (what kind of party doesn’t?), you can score some pretty sweet and cost-effective vacation digs using AirBnB — especially if you’re travelling in a group. It’s not hard to find an entire massive house to rent out, with beds for 10 of your best friends. Luxury cottage in the Muskokas for a week, anyone? Or any ol’ mansion will do.
Happy (rich) travels!