As it is with life, so often the most glamorous way to travel is also the most expensive. As the apex of human luxury, travel has a tendency to burn a hole in your pocket. With our penny-pincher’s guide to exploring the world, we’re got the lowdown on fashionable frugality.
Find a home away from home
Home is nice, but someone else’s is even nicer; especially when it has a swanky kitchen and a view across whatever city you’re in. Non hotels are fast becoming the discerning traveller’s way to go native in the smartest possible way, while avoiding other tourists as well as hefty hotel costs. Find uber-chic apartments and townhouses in many beautiful destinations at One Fine Stay (onefinestay.com), and more budget offerings on AirBNB (airbnb.com). From Paris to Tokyo, these house-stays can involve getting a place to yourself, but an even thriftier version is to take a room in a home while your hosts are living there. It’s a great way to get to the know the locals.
The inn crowd
You can book a characterless little hotel room in a harried part of town, or opt for a charming suite at an inn with a residential vibe. In many cities, these businesses-with-a-room are often overlooked. Sure, a room above a pub can get noisy but these cosy rooms offer people watching opportunities all day, plus you never have to go far for a tipple.
Not all galleries are created
All over the world there are die-for art galleries and museums that have you coming face to face with the pharaohs and then the great Impressionists in the next room. It’s a dreamy and learned world and we love nothing more than click-clacking along the marble floors discovering new finds in art and history. The only pitfall? The hefty entry fees. Bypass the cultural tourist traps and drop into smaller, often free-entry boutique galleries that host art, fabric, vintage and even antiques. These small, fascinating spaces are curated by locals and often missed by tourists.
Find the gardens
Sure, you can don your best couture and eat away from the riffraff at any fine diner all over the world to secure your chic charm. But some of the best food in many cities globally is found in little no-frills dives and even supermarkets. Tokyo’s supermarket food sections offer a bounty of world-class food to go, for example. Pack your own gourmet picnic, shun the masses and head to your destination’s most beautiful natural oases. There are plenty of places to hide away (think the daffodil-filled lawns in London, the pretty parks of Paris, the sunny piazzas of Italy), and dig in.
Ask for a room upgrade
If you don’t ask, right? So you were forced to book the room with a view to a brick wall and a shower that hovers over the toilet; here’s what to do next. When you check in, flash the reception your pearly whites and explain you’re so excited to be staying with them. Tell them you can’t wait to post images of your beautiful room on Instagram and Facebook, tell them you’ve started a blog and want to do a thorough flattering write up complete with lots of images, or that Trip Adviser is your favourite resource to share your holiday with others. Then, ask whether there are any slightly more chic rooms currently not being used. The alternative is to be so thoroughly and obviously appalled by the room when you see it that you demand an upgrade. But the former is much more satisfying, secures much better results, and is much more chic.
Pack your own snacks
From making your own healthy protein balls for the flight, snap-lock bagging some home-popped popcorn for the kids, realising there’s nothing better than your own vintage cheddar and some crackers while wandering the Champs-Elysees; DIY snack will save you a veritable fortune while travelling. Every time you stop for a coffee and a paltry slice of tart in a café, you’re racking up the costs of your trip. Save those stops for places you really want to try rather than dropping into whatever hole serving edibles you see because you simply can’t go another step without eating something. The same thing goes with a bottle of water, and top it up when you do stop in that die-for café or restaurant you’ve been excited about.
Glamping, and other chic cheap accommodation
Glamorous camping businesses have sprung up all the world, offering hot showers and mattresses while you doze in treetops and under the big blue. They can, however, often cost the same as a luxury hotel room. There are cheaper options in countries all over the world. Camping itself can by luxury as well, if you make it so. Steer away from caravan parks and anywhere people can actually move in (an often do) and head to the national parks. As long as it’s safe (any local bears/ lions in the area?), sleeping in your well-stocked tent with its blow-up mattress and excellent source of marshmallows under the stars, surrounded by nothing but the pristine environment, can feel luxurious indeed.
Shop the markets
There exists in many cities a breed of merchant who scours the local environment for the most interesting items. From antiques to items sartorial, trinkets and old books, this assortment is then put on display in markets with a minimal mark-up. Use these intrepid people and their crafty ways when hunting for souvenirs. They’re often representative of the local area (think old Parisian brooches, fabrics in Morocco, frame-able original political cartoons in London), and no other traveller will have anything like it.
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