Luxury travel is a lot of things, but one thing it doesn’t have to be is expensive. Traveling in style doesn’t just have to be for the rich and famous – and here are 4 tips on making this possible.

I’m the first to admit that I like to travel in style. I like a comfortable hotel room where I feel pampered, I enjoy flying first class every chance I can, I love grabbing rental cars or even hotel rooms for free and almost always I get offered upgrades whenever I travel.

My tastes have always turned towards comfort. I’m not a tent/rustic cabin type of girl nor am I fabulously rich. What I do is travel smart.

There are a few things I always do when I prepare for a trip. I set up a budget for hotels (I will check places like expedia and find an average room price and use that for my budget). I also check out flights and how much they cost (economy and business class). Then I look for the deals. I consider it a great day when I’ve cut my budget in half for a luxury trip (and by luxury I am meaning 4 or 5 star hotel, business class tickets (flight or train), car rental if needed).

Here are 4 tips that I use when I start booking my trip:

1. Point Redemptions:

Thanks to the points I earn with American Express and Visa, I’ve been able to fly first or business class for a lot of my flights the past 3 years (to Europe, Hawaii, throughout the US from Canada etc) for free. I’ve also been able to book 3 out of 4 car rentals through points, and I’ve spent three nights at a luxury hotel in London, England. I’ve cashed in points for gift cards that I use for meals when I’m traveling and I’ve earned free nights or upgrades at hotels thanks to booking directly through a hotel website and using their points system.

Bottom line: 
if you have a credit card that does not earn points for airlines or hotels or anything else you could use it for…you should switch. You’ll often get bonus rewards just for signing up (sometimes enough for a free flight) and if you are the type to use a card for every day purchases and pay it off that same month, then you’ll earn those points in no time.

2. Specialized luxury websites:

There are sites out there that offer great deals – from cheaper prices to upgrades and free amenities when you book through them. Sometimes the little things make up a huge difference. For instance, if you book through Kiwi Collections, you can get early check ins, late check outs, free upgrades, special treats in your room, great deals and more.
Here are some sites that I like to use when I’m looking for the best deal at a luxury hotel that I want to visit:

Kiwi Collections
Small Luxury Hotels
Leading Hotels of the World
Five Star Alliance
MrandMrsSmith
VacationstoGo.com
virtuoso.com

Bottom line: There are deals to be had out there and it’s worth it to look around. I’ve found rooms for 65% off the price of a regular travel website (like Expedia or Travelocity), upgrades to suites that are normally out of my price range and I’ve always been able to ‘travel luxury for less’.

 

3. Travel Agents: find you deals

If you know a travel agent, they can be a great resource for you! They have access to last minute deals or know of some great spots you might not know about and can help with getting that discount. PLUS…they can book through some of the websites listed above to make sure you get the same perks! Also, sometimes you’ll find they can add a little ‘extra’ touch. I have a Disney travel agent who always leaves tasty and amazing gifts in our hotel or cruise rooms as well as credit for us to use at the stores. When I booked my last cruise through VacationstoGo.com, my cruise agent left me a store credit and I bought the cutest of purses and necklace (which I normally wouldn’t have bought).
As well, if you book another cruise while you are currently on a cruise…you’ll often get sweet perks. LIKE…$$ off your booking, extra credit towards a stateroom or stores, swag etc.

Bottom line: Travel agents are NOT just out there to steal your money. They work hard to get you the best options and yes, sometimes it may seem simpler or you can find a better deal through through a website that is literally giving away their trips, but you miss out on those special touches as well as taking care of the details for you. They can also add extra incentives for booking through them, so it doesn’t hurt to check…and if you need a name of a travel agent, let me know. I know a few 🙂

 

4. Travel discount sites: cheaper prices

There are literally hundred of travel discount sites out there. Expedia. Travelocity. Hotwire. Priceline – to name a few. They all have different incentives for booking through them – I like to use Expedia and I’ve gotten money off trips based on points I’ve collected as well as little ‘treats’ at hotels for booking through them. You can find great deals – if you book hotel and flight together sometimes you can get amazing deals. I have a travel notebook where I write down all the prices/room types and sometimes there are no differences but sometimes there are huge savings. If I can stay in a king room that overlooks the ocean compared to a city view standard room for only a few dollars more by booking on one site vs another, you bet I’m going for the luxury as well as the deal!

Bottom line: there are great deals out there to be had and there is no reason to pay full price for a luxury vacation if you don’t have to. In fact, I rarely do!