Luxury Holidays for Less

Luxury Holidays For Less

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Over recent years, I’ve made a commitment to travelling and exploring the British Isles as opposed to travelling abroad.  That’s possibly to do with the fact that I always try to take my mum on holiday every year and staying within the UK has always been a more natural choice as opposed to fighting our way through airports.

I also love luxury but I want it for less as I have never camped [and I don’t want to start] but that’s not to say I wouldn’t be averse to glamping or a motor home as long as there were ample facilities available!  Trouble is, the luxury options always seem to cost more money don’t they?  Well, there are ways to still enjoy a luxurious holiday but shave off costs at the same time.

These are the tips I recommend:-

  1. Luxury Holidays for Less – Tip #1

Timing

I always make sure to avoid school holidays.  Prices shoot up dramatically and it can mean chaos on the roads too.  If you’re stuck in traffic jams that means not only time is wasted but also fuel too which, as we know, isn’t cheap.

I always research the holiday dates for the area I want to travel to and this is easily obtained by a search on the internet.  Remember that half terms and holidays in general differ dependent on where you are in the country.  Luxury for me is peace and quiet and as much as I love children, I don’t enjoy tourist attractions when they’re full to the brim

  1. Luxury Holidays for Less – Tip #2

Consider different types of accommodation

Mum and I had always wanted to visit Cliveden House near Windsor in the UK.  It has been named as one of the world’s best hotels and it has also got a lot of history too and was cited in The Profumo Scandal of the 1960s.

Unfortunately, such an experience does not come cheaply but there are a range of rooms available which vary in price from a few hundred per night to well over a thousand per night. Even three nights at Cliveden came to over £1000.00 but the memory was priceless and the time spent there was just enough to get a taste of all that history.  I even ended up getting upgraded to better rooms simply because Cliveden couldn’t accommodate the dates I had wanted so it’s always worth asking if something hasn’t turned out to your liking to see if you can get a bit of a bonus thrown in.

After the three days were up, we simply moved to another hotel that cost significantly less but still gave us great access to the sights and attractions of Windsor.  I’ve even used deals you find in newspapers to get great deals on a stay.  For example, instead of staying at a premium priced hotel in The Pantiles area of Tunbridge Wells, I simply used a newspaper deal to stay in a lovely Oast House style hotel  just outside of town [but within easy reach of the town centre] for a fraction of the price.  Same experience just a different price tag.

  1. Luxury Holidays for Less – Tip #3

Supplement luxury with your own snacks and drinks

Luxury hotels come with luxury price tags and whilst I did pay for us to have a meal in the restaurant, I certainly couldn’t justify paying over £100.00 for dinner every night [more on evening meals later!].

Tea in your room can be eye-wateringly expensive [circa £30.00] so why not just pack a travel kettle, your favourite teabags and biscuits so that you can enjoy a brew for a fraction of the price.  I always pack items like teabags, fruit and crisps as it all adds up massively.  It just takes a bit of forward thinking.  Alcohol for a night cap might also be worth taking along too as hotels/restaurants make their money on booze so you can enjoy your nightcap without burning a hole in the credit card …

I’ve also found that tap water can vary dramatically depending on where you are and paying out for bottled water also gets expensive.  I just buy the large bottles of fizzy water from a supermarket’s own brand [costs about 25p a bottle] and I usually apply the rule of one large bottle for every day of the holiday.

  1. Luxury Holidays for Less – Tip #4

Eat a full English breakfast

Holidays are the only time I really ‘go for it’ as far as a cooked breakfast is concerned.  Usually, it’s not that much more expensive than a continental breakfast that leaves you feeling hungry not long after eating it.  I’ve always found that a cooked breakfast [full of protein like eggs and bacon] will last you long into the afternoon meaning lunch, more often than not, can be missed.  Well, apart from the odd cheeky ice-cream …

Indeed, if you have access to a buffet breakfast you may find you have access to bread rolls, fruit, cheese and other goodies which can be snaffled away if you were feeling peckish.

  1. Luxury Holidays for Less – Tip #4

Use restaurant discount cards

Before I travel anywhere in the UK I will study the location to check for the availability of 2 for 1 restaurant deals using either a Tastecard or Hi Life card.  Both of these cards have afforded me wonderful savings over many holidays.  I’m not a fan of chain restaurants but the rule is never pay full price so always check on the internet for money off vouchers.

One particularly memorable occasion was finding The Macdonald Scottish Steak Club restaurant in Windsor that served the best fillet steak and french fries I had ever tasted [seriously, no word of a lie] and on a 2 meals for the price of 1 basis [using Tastecard].  We dined there every night for about £30.00 [including dessert and a couple of soft drinks] and this was after I had paid over £100.00 for one meal at Cliveden!  Much as I enjoyed it, racking up £700 on evening meals was not part of my plan!  The Macdonald Scottish Steak Club restaurant was truly luxury for less and I made a point of writing a review for them as well I was so impressed.

The beauty of these cards is that you can really research and target the food you like in the area you want and then build a luxury break around it.  After all, we all need to eat so you might as well do it in style for less!

  1. Luxury Holidays for Less – Tip #5

Use a credit card that gives you cashback and cashback sites

I always use my American Express [AMEX] card whenever I can as it means I can get cashback on products and services I may have had to splash out quite a bit on eg the Cliveden House hotel experience plus paying for meals, petrol etc.

Very often though, certain establishments won’t accept AMEX so I always have my M&S Mastercard in reserve which also has a rewards’ scheme in place.  It just means you’re getting something back every time you spend.

As a cautionary note, I would always advise you take a notebook with you and track all your expenses as you go along.  I treat my credit cards like debit cards as I consider the money as gone from my account immediately.  Anything bought with AMEX is highlighted in green and anything bought with Mastercard is highlighted in yellow.  Diarise a phone reminder to pay off your credit cards in full every month to avoid the interest penalties.  There’s no point getting the cashback if it’s then wiped out by hefty charges.

I also try and book as much as I can through TopCashback which is a fab way of earning money back on your expenditure.

Claw as much cash back as you can!

Claw as much cash back as you can!

  1. Luxury Holidays for Less – Tip #6

Use Tesco/Nectar points to get into attractions

Instead of just trading Tesco points against your shopping, they actually have more value if you exchange them for one of their deals like a Merlin 2 for 1 attraction voucher.  By doing this, I’ve managed to get into attractions that would otherwise be quite expensive for absolutely nothing.  Hampton Court Palace was one very memorable visit and with tickets at nearly £20 for adults, I was rather pleased with my ability to sawn in without having to open my purse!

I also got my i-pad after trading in my Nectar points and that always comes with me so I can keep an eye out for local deals using free wi-fi as and when they crop up.

After all, not much feels better than a price tag of ‘FREE’!

  1. Luxury Holidays for Less – Tip #7

Enter competitions for some nice little extras

I’ve been a bit of a competition junkie over the years and won quite a lot of good stuff including a laptop, a washing machine and some luxury furniture.   However, what I have tried to do is also target prizes that I can combine with a holiday.  Sometimes you’ll see competitions to win fuel, meal vouchers and spa treatments – they are all my idea of good ‘little extras’.

I’d always wanted to visit Champneys in Tring, Hertfordshire but couldn’t really justify the cost and travel of a day trip.  However, I saw I Macleans toothpaste competition which offered a full day of treatments at a Champneys resort of your choice so I thought that had my name on it for sure!

It required a tiebreaker completing and those types of competition are my favourite.  I did one for me and one for my mum in the hope that I would win prizes on both entries and sure enough I won two Champneys day passes worth £250 each.  There was no accommodation included and it was very expensive so I simply booked a lovely little B&B self-contained annexe just down the road for a fraction of the price.  It was a few years ago now but I still recall the fantastic masseur who had massaged royalty …

So, whilst it wasn’t a huge win in the overall scheme of things, it did tie in nicely with my trip to Tunbridge Wells mentioned earlier.  Anything that shaves a bit off the cost is my idea of getting luxury for less.  A good place to find competitions is Loquax as there is a very broad spectrum of competitions and whilst tiebreakers are rarer these days, there are some great prizes still to be had!

  1. Luxury Holidays for Less – Tip #8

Check the local tourist information office

I’m not sure how I stumbled upon this one but I remember one time when I visited Bath that I could buy an ‘all in’ ticket which allowed me to go round the city of Bath for the whole of my stay on the ‘hop on hop off’ tourist bus for a greatly reduced price as opposed to just getting on the bus and paying each day.  It also included a big discount on a Champneys City Spa which allowed me to have another Champneys treat at a knockdown price.

  1. Luxury Holidays for Less – Tip #9

Book online and in advance

By planning carefully, you can save considerable amounts by booking well in advance.  If you’re travelling by train, you can dramatically reduce the costs of travel by not leaving it to the last minute or just paying on the day.

Attractions usually have online discounts as well.  One example is Chester zoo where you can save 10 – 16% by just booking in advance and if you’re travelling with a few people that can definitely make a lot of difference to the purse strings.  Recently, I travelled back from London to Manchester on a fantastic Virgin train [that was fast and on time] which cost me approximately £20.00 as opposed to nearly £100.00 if I’d not booked it weeks in advance.

All savings not to be sniffed at!

Here’s to life on your terms,

Rachel a.k.a The Life Hack Tutor

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Luxury Holidays for Less

Luxury Holidays for Less

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