Charter a yacht
Don’t be fooled into thinking yacht charter is only for the rich and famous. Do it right and chartering a yacht can be a screaming bargain. If you’re after a holiday that involves days filled with sailing, swimming and snorkelling followed by nights spent star gazing and being gently rocked to sleep, look no further than a yacht charter holiday. Charter yachts are positioned in some of the world’s most desirable holiday destinations like the Whitsundays, Thailand, Tahiti, Tonga, Greece and the British Virgin Islands.
You’ll need to prove that at least one of your crew is proficient in sailing and can take responsibility for safety and navigation. How much: Bareboat yacht charters can cost less than $200 per couple per day (on a 7-night charter with 6 people on board during low season).
Tip: Brush up on your sailing skills before your holiday (local yacht clubs are a good place to start) to avoid the cost of hiring a professional skipper.
Camp on a Great Barrier Reef island
It’s true that travellers to the Great Barrier Reef are spoilt for choice when it comes to luxury hotels and resorts. But bargain hunters can camp alongside luxury resorts for about the same cost as a cup of coffee. Designated campsites are located on islands across the Great Barrier Reef. You’ll need to book in advance (school holidays are extremely popular) and in some cases, arrange your own transport to the island. The upside is that you might just have an entire island to yourself!
While cashed up travellers hand over thousands of dollars to stay at Lizard Island Resort, campers can pitch a tent nearby on the shores of picture-perfect Watsons Bay. Famous Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsundays is another classic example of a luxury location for a bargain price. Once the day trippers leave mid-afternoon, you’ll have Whitehaven Beach all to yourself. Other Great Barrier Reef islands worth considering are Dunk Island, Fitzroy Island or Snapper Island.
How much: Book a campsite on the Great Barrier Reef with Dept of National Parks, Sport and Racing for as little as $6.35 per person ($25.40 per family) per night.
Tip: Visit outside school holidays to give yourself the best chance of having an entire island to yourself.
Take a cruise
Cruising holidays are surprisingly good value. With accommodation, meals, entertainment and some excursions included in the cruise fare, which is paid upfront, you’ll barely put your hand in your pocket. Unless you’ve a weakness for cocktails that is. Admittedly, that’s likely to be a real challenge. Lounging around poolside as waitstaff waltz by with trays laden with drinks decorated with umbrellas, who could blame you for being tempted?
Re-positioning cruises, where a ship is relocated from one cruising area to another (such as between the Caribbean and the Med), are an alternative to port-hopping cruises and are offered between seasons, often at discount prices.
If you’re the adventurous type, save money while in port by exploring independently. Just make sure you know what time your ship sails to ensure it doesn’t sail away without you!
How much: From $472 per person (four-share room) for 4nts onboard Pacific Eden.
Tip: Book an inside cabin if you’re the social sort who plans to participate fully in all shipboard activities.
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Holiday at home!
Here’s a novel idea: why not holiday at home. With airfare costs a large part of holiday expenses, you’ll save a packet for starters. But by holidaying at home you’ll also save on a more important luxury – the luxury of time. There’s no wasted hours sitting around airports, standing in immigration queues, waiting for taxis or agonising on how to get from A to B.
Have a look around your hometown and you’ll probably find a few luxury hotels that international travellers fly across the globe to check into. Plan a long weekend in your home town by checking into luxury digs, book a day trip, reserve a table at the latest hip restaurant, and see your region’s highlights with fresh eyes. Savour and appreciate the joy of your own surroundings. Maybe you could strike up a conversation with a tourist and learn a little about how visitors see your home town.
How much: Take into account the amount of time you’ll save and the value of holidaying at home is a no-brainer.
Tip: Many hotels and tourist attractions offer ‘locals specials’ – don’t be afraid to ask.
Road tripping in a luxury campervan
Vehicle hire companies offer one-way relocation bargains all over Australia, New Zealand and the USA. Campervans range from basic backpack style to full luxury models that come with hot showers, toilet, kitchen, lounge & dining area, TV & stereo and comfy double beds. With your accommodation sorted, the only other expenses are stocking the fridge with food and drinks, fuel costs and campsite fees. Savvy travellers can even avoid the last two by avoiding caravan parks and cutting a deal for relocation expenses. The key to securing a luxury campervan at a bargain price is flexibility. You’ll need to be available to travel at short notice as vehicles are required to be moved between depots within specified time frames.
How much: One-way relocations start from as little as $1 per day, often with a free petrol allocation.
Tip: Choose a camper to pick up or drop off close to home to save on airfare costs. If time allows, book a second relocation vehicle for the return trip!
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Find cheap airfares online
Skyscanner Australia has some pretty cool tools for finding the cheapest airfares online. Use our Cheapest Month tool to see at a glance which days in any given month have the best airfare deals. If you’re still trying to figure out where to go, the Map feature is your secret weapon for bargain holidays! Simply click on the Flight Comparison Map, type in your departure city and you’ll see a global snapshot showing the cheapest airfares for each month. You’re welcome.
Where will you go for your next luxury holiday on a budget? Check Skyscanner Australia for flights, hotels and car hire to grab a travel bargain!
About the author
Fiona Harper is an Australian travel writer who likes to get offroad and offshore. Follow her at Travel Boating Lifestyle. Widely travelled, highly acclaimed and much published, Fiona's articles & images are published across the globe. When not writing she's probably running a marathon or exploring the world by foot, bike, kayak, camel or boat: whatever mode of transport she can get her hands on!