Diving with whale sharks, flyboarding in turquoise blue water, and an unforgettable stay in an overwater bungalow in the Maldives. It’s a trip of a lifetime that most of us dream about. But you too can experience luxury on a not-so- luxurious budget at a stunning island paradise. How? It really comes down to your priorities and sacrifices.
[RELATED: [WATCH] Part 3: Luxury and Adventure on a Budget: Pacuare Lodge, Costa Rica]
To save for a trip of a lifetime, figure out how much money you can stash each week or pay period, then consider automatic withdrawals from your paycheck to a dedicated travel savings account, or open a money market account. According to Ally.com, “While money market accounts sometimes have lower interest rates than CDs, they often offer greater flexibility. For instance, at Ally Bank you can withdraw or transfer funds from your money market account six times per statement cycle without paying a transaction fee.
With CDs, you usually can’t touch that money before the product’s term is up without paying an early-withdrawal penalty.” Additionally, what sacrifices can you make? Are you prepared to give up your $4/day Starbucks latte, nights out with friends, eating out at restaurants or shopping for new clothes? Small changes in your daily habits could lead to several mind-blowing trips of a lifetime.
BlackEnterprise.com caught up with Nate Chambers, a globetrotting marketing professional and founder of Vagabonding Heights, to learn a few of his favorite cost saving tips in some of the world’s most luxurious destinations.
BlackEnterprise.com: You’ve traveled to some amazing places around the world; Maldives, Zanzibar, and Costa Rica, to name a few. What are some of your rules of thumb when planning your vacation?
Chambers: Be flexible: Travel during shoulder season. As travelers, we’re well aware of the main seasons to travel: Peak season – accompanied by great weather, but filled with crowds and exorbitant hotel prices. Then you have an off-peak season, where low prices, hurricanes, and seasonal closings of most businesses (i.e. Europe) are the norm. The solution around this is to travel in-between both seasons. During a shoulder season, when crowds are thinner but the weather is still pleasant, there’s a great chance for finding both luxury hotels and flights at a reasonable price.
Prior to departure get the inside scoop: Research travel forums. Or even once you get to your hotel, spark up a conversation with the Concierge. Find out if at any point during your stay the hotel will experience low occupancy. Then, politely ask if there are any chances for an upgrade. Don’t stop there – inquire about local deals, happy hours, ‘Kids eat free on Sundays,’ etc. that are happening during your stay to help eliminate some costs.
Rent a Condo/Apartment: You’d be surprised how affordable penthouses and duplexes are in comparison to hotels. Check out Airbnb.com to find lavish rentals that are available during your intended stay.
Book with the hotel directly to avoid missing out on special deals/perks, such as free nights, airport transfers, and breakfast.
Can you share any tips and advice on things to do and see in the Maldives?
Speak with the hotel reservations manager directly. By doing so, I was able to negotiate and customize a special package that included my transfer and meals. Most resorts in the Maldives are only accessible by an additional transfer via seaplanes or speed-boats upon arrival at Male International Airport. Additionally, all-inclusive options are considered ‘add-ons’ and typically [are] not included in your nightly villa cost. Also, bring small denominations of cash for tipping. All other charges will go directly to your room/credit card.
Watch Nathan’s top things to do in Maldives: