Often, the memories we treasure the most on our travels are the moments that money can’t buy. SJ Fallick shares her tips for achieving luxury travel experience without the high price tag.
There are few moments in life as magical as watching the sun rise and set, and a twinkling starry night sky. And when it comes to luxury travel, there’s no need to spend a fortune on jam-packing your days with expensive activities.
It can be difficult not to wish you had a millionaire’s bank account when travelling. However, as the old saying goes – money can’t buy happiness and it isn’t everything. Often, the memories we treasure the most on our travels are the moments that can’t be bought – those spent with great company, incredible views and good food, wine – or if you’re lucky – both!
With that in mind, we’ve put on our thinking caps and drawn from our collective (and rather extensive) travel experience to compile the best ways you can achieve ‘luxury’ travel, minus the Rockefeller AMEX card.
While domestic Business Class flights don’t fit into most people’s budget, there are many ways you can save money on transport without sacrificing comfort.
Setting price alerts is a great way to monitor when fares are lowest, with research indicating that generally Tuesdays are the best days to book. Travel agents can also be helpful when it comes to bagging the best deal; and if you always keep an eye out for sales, you never know what you may find.
If you’ve got more time up your sleeve, consider taking the low road and doing a self-drive trip. As they say, it’s about the journey, not the destination – not only will you see a lot more from a vehicle, but you can stop when you feel like it to buy that cheese, visit that winery or dip your toes in the ocean.
Some ways to see Australia that don’t involve a plane are:
- Great Southern Rail’s Indian Pacific, The Ghan and The Overland train journeys
- hiring a dream car and doing a road trip up the East Coast of Australia, along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Nullarbor Plain in Southern Australia, from Hobart to Freycinet in Tasmania or 4WD along the 75 Mile Highway on Fraser Island.
Sure, five-star hotels are nice, but they don’t offer the same freedom as someone else’s home and sure aren’t as memorable as sleeping under the stars.
Think outside the box when it comes to where you sleep and book one of the following instead:
- a quirky Airbnb
- a property with a kitchen so you can cook your own meals rather than eating out all day every day
- book a private room at a hostel. Many now offer a superior level of accommodation closer to that of a hotel, with the added bonus of a more social atmosphere and better deals when it comes to breakfast, drinks and organised activities
- swap your home and stay for free at your swapper’s place with home exchange. You’re likely to even get use of their car while you’re there too. Try houseswapholidays.com.au or aussiehouseswap.com.au
- camp under the stars – unlike going bush, camping on a beach has a much more exclusive and special feel to it, especially as you fall asleep listening to the sound of the waves and ocean, or the outback and wildlife.
Regardless of how you get there and where you stay, the lasting travel memories come from the moments. That said, there’s no need to spend a fortune on jam-packing your days with expensive activities.
Make the most of local produce
Rather than mindlessly heading to the nearest restaurant, enjoy your food with a view. Buy fresh seafood and enjoy it washed down with champagne on a pier or by the beach. If you have access to a barbecue, pick up some high-quality steak and a nice bottle of red wine for a more luxe option to the traditional BBQ.
With a number of options around Australia now, outdoor cinemas are a more memorable way to see a movie. Often featuring beanbags, deckchairs or the ability to take your own mat, it’s the perfect opportunity to pack a picnic full of your favourite foods to enjoy while you sit back beneath the stars and watch the film.
There’s no need to stay at a five-star hotel to treat yourself while on holiday. Look into local shops that offer massages or nail services and book yourself in for a treatment. A quick Google search will also give you the details of any providers that can come to you – a great way to get an in-house massage without the five-star fee. Many hotels will also allow you to make use of their pool, spa and sauna facilities for a day rate or sometimes just the price of a drink there.
Top five free events in Australia
Finally, for a trip to remember, factor one of the following events into your travel plans:
- Taste of Tasmania – Hobart, December 28 2018 – 3 January 2019
- Sculpture by the Sea Cottesloe – Perth, March 2-19
- Moomba Festival – Melbourne, March 9-12
- Blues on Broadbeach Music Festival – Gold Coast, May 17-20
- Vivid Light Festival – Sydney, June 16-18
Do you have any tips for luxury travel experiences without a high price tag?