If you want to have a luxury trip, go ahead and put that thought into practice. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise. You don’t have to be filthy rich to afford a trip focusing on the higher end of transpiration, accommodation, and dining – you just to plan it correctly.
With proper planning that saves money on various aspects of traveling, the money that has been saved can be spent on taking the trip one notch higher, in terms of quality.
Here is how you do it in 4 simple steps:
Even for a luxury trip, you’re going to need a budget. Unless you have practically unlimited amounts of money at your disposal, you’re going to need some sort of a budget even if you’re very well off.
A budget doesn’t have to be strict, as this can hinder your enjoyment in the trip, but to give an overall “frame” as for what are you going to spend on each aspect.
What you most certainly need is a ballpark of what would you want to spend on the trip, a number which you will compare to your expenses throughout the trip (and see if you need to cut back on a particular aspect, or have “excessive funds” to spend on additional things that were not pre-planned). It’s a bit tedious to go ahead and record all your spending, but it doesn’t take more than 5 minutes at the end of each day to come up with an approximate amount of daily spend.
If you want to save time, and don’t feel like recording your spending, you can just use the plain-ol’-cash-only-scheme. Do not use credit cards abroad, but instead use cash and that way you can easily understand what have you spent, and how much is left in your liquid cash budget.
The next stage that will help you analyze your budget and trace it even better, is to set a budget for each aspect of your trip, i.e. transportation budget, accommodation budget, gift budget, shopping budget, dining budget, etc., and record the expenses for each of those separately to see how you match against your planning. This is reserved for people who are very organized in character.
In any case, PLANNING the budget, and FOLLOWING UP on it, will make you spend less, and adjust as you go along.
Local to foreign currency exchange
The savings you can make by optimizing your money transfers are immense. Do you know how much will you pay by using bank services to transfer your funds into other currencies, using an exchange bureau, or simply taking your credit card with you and allow banks to make the transfer? You will pay up to 5, 6, and even 7%.
That means that by performing this aspect correctly, you can enjoy a much larger budget that will allow you to travel, sleep, and dine better.
How to exchange money if you’re traveling? The simple way is to use companies specializing in this kind of service. There are plenty of FX companies that will allow you to wire money through them to international locations (you transfer to them through a domestic bank transfer, they make the currency exchange and send it onwards to its destination, using much lower margins); Some of these companies also offer a service called prepaid cards, which are pre-loaded with funds in your local currency, and upon usage automatically exchange to the local currency, with a great exchange rate.
After you know your budget in local currency, research how much money you will have to spend on each aspect of your trip.
TripAdvisor can give you the ranges on all 3 main aspects – transportation/flights, accommodation, and dining. Other sites like Yelp include similar information. Numbeo can give you an understanding of another cost of living, things like gas, buying groceries, car hire, or renting a short term apartment (for that you can also check Airbnb).
After you get some sort of an understanding, you have to match the budget you have allocated for the trip, and the quality you expect in each of the main aspects of the trip. Sadly, there isn’t always a match. What you anticipated in your mind and planned with doesn’t always correlate with the harsh, expensive, reality in your destination country.
That means you have to prioritize between the different things you considered; Think what makes a luxury trip FOR YOU. Some would rather sleep in the nicest hotels but don’t mind low-cost airfares, some don’t care for dining, but want to shop like there’s no tomorrow; some would rather allocate their money for Museum visitations, and some other for amusement parks. You can’t have it all, so pick out the aspects that you can most for, and spend less on the things you less care for.
Accommodation – work by user reviews
All large accommodation sites, like the aforementioned TripAdvisor, Booking.com, Hotels.com, and Expedia, all have user-rating Engine that allows people to incorporate their reviews about hotel and motels (Airbnb offers a similar thing for apartment rental – Get a $30 Airbnb discount here.
Use these reviews to pick a luxurious hotel which was enjoyable to its past visitors, rather than sort results by price, mistakenly assuming the correlation between pricing and quality always matches. It doesn’t.
When you look at photos, at the offering made by the hotel, facilities, location, as well as user reviews, of course, you can make a better decision on what accommodation fits you and your needs. Disregard how many stars a hotel has, because often times, a 3-star hotel could be nicer, and more luxurious (by my own definition), than a 5-star hotel.
I’ve stayed in hotels costing less than 100 Euros per night, which were up to par with hotels in central Amsterdam, London, or Paris, and cost over 300 Euros per night. I’ve stayed at 5-star hotels that had practically nothing about them, and cost twice or thrice what a normal hotel offering the same things, at the same locations, would.
Don’t let the European Hotel Star Union confuse you; Rely on real people and real data.