Five - Star Travel On A Backpacker Budget
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Five  -  star Travel on A Backpacker Budget

IN 2012 stretching your travel dollar further was easy. A well performing AUD meant cities, hotels and fair types seemingly out of reach suddenly became attainable. But what to do now the cost of travelling is rising again? With a few canny apps and tricks, you can still get that bang for your buck luxury when overseas.

Sky bed or a stiff neck?

Living out of a suitcase has its ups and downs no matter the fare-type but nowhere is the difference between luxury and budget more obvious than on the plane. If a business class ticket to Europe is out of your price range, then you better focus on your upgrade game.

Join the club

When it comes to Frequent Flyer programs it pays to start early. Qantas’ Frequent Flyer program clocked impressive results during the national carrier’s dark days and Virgin Australia have announced a sell-off of their equivalent Velocity program — Australians still see value in the loyalty programs and so should you.

Beef up your balance by reading the fine print. Choosing an affiliate credit card gives you a point-for-spend return and will result in a complimentary access pass to the airport lounge. But keep in mind that while you can sign up to a new affiliate credit card (on average) every 90 days it may hammer your credit rating in the long run. Select the right card or cards for you (and get the deluge of welcome points) then subscribe to FF program partner services. Purchasing via the wine clubs, golf clubs, travel agencies and online portals like the eBay x Qantas partnership makes for a truly embedded program with points that add to your upgrade balance.

Make sure you take into account the carrier network when making your selection. Qantas = Emirates and Virgin Australia = Singapore Airlines.

The more rare the metal associated with your Frequent Flyer status, the higher the chance you’ll receive that upgrade.

Wi-Fi on the go

Finding internet access on the go is the traveller’s daily struggle. If you can’t find a hotspot friendly Starbucks or Pret A Manger in your vicinity then logging on to Foursquare is your next bet. A secondary use of the platform is that users typically flag a cafe, bar or restaurant’s Wi-Fi password in the comments so you can log on without having to ask (or purchase).

Your pocket travel agent

Travel aggregator sites like Expedia put the best deal in travellers’ hands. But for that attention to detail that only a travel agent can bring, download Tripcase. The app makes sure you never miss a travel update again by prompting users to load in their flights, hotel reservations and attraction itineraries. The app takes all of the hassle out of staying on top of your travel information by serving you updates and reminders and keeping your tickets in one place.

Hotels amenities as standard

Accommodation that offers the most return on investment is the equivalent of the travelling Holy Grail, and though a new breed of cheaper design hotels are emerging (think Tokyo’s Shibuya Gran Bell and Paris’ Hotel Max) finding a place to leave your backpack is always going to require a chunk of change. If you can’t afford board beyond a single hostel room than book your stay in proximity to a five-star hotel you like and use their services.

Often the reasons people flock to the fancy place — the spa, yoga at sunrise or the wood panelled bar — are also the services open to the public. Want beachfront access? Stay a few blocks back instead and book your umbrella at the property with the million-dollar views. Hotel guests typically pay the same daily fee as non-guests so though the colour of your towels will denote ring-in while theirs say key card, you’ll be in the same boat. Instead of staying at The Royal Hawaiian, stay a few blocks back and sort deckchairs with the Sheraton Waikiki.

Keep in mind though, if you want in that Marina Bay Sands infinity pool, you’ll have to book a room.


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