Budget travel or luxury?

What sort of traveller/tourist are you?

Do you stay at five star or four star? And if you cannot, then just don’t travel?

Does any hostel do you?

I’ve just finished reading Absolutely Faking It: Thirteen luxury hotels, five months … no money by Tiana Templeton. 


Tiana and her husband won a round the world trip staying at the best hotels of the world: including the Ritz in Paris, Dorchester in London, Il Palazzo in Venice. Their normal travel mode is backpacker. In fact, they travelled to these luxury hotels with their backpacks. And very little cash. So they sneak supermarket wine and pizzas into their suites. (Yes, they mostly got put into the hotels’ premier suites.)

At first they self-consciously try to fit in and hide but as they relax and care less about what others think, they enjoy their surroundings more. Even though they can’t even afford to really tip. 

Definitely makes me want to stay in some of these places – but rooms, let alone suites, are out of my budget. 

I did the whole backpack across Europe thing in my early 20s; stayed in hostels, crashed at people’s places, slept curled up on trains and ferries. Too old for that malarkey now. 

When our kids were younger, winter holidays were spent down the snow in a rented unti which we shared with friends. A week there was expensive but then everything about skiing is expensive. The cost were reduced as we shared with friends and cooked most meals. Summer holidays were spent driving north to family, stopping on the way in cabins in tourist parks or mid-price hotels or, as we earns more money, resorts. 

Now Mr S and I stay in ‘”nice” places. We prefer self-contained so we can cook but like to mix it up. Last trip to Tassie our accommodation was a mixture of B’n’Bs, resorts and holiday rentals. Same thing, with a bit of staying at family, in New Zealand for the two summers before that. In London we booked the one apartment through AirB’n’B. I didn’t go for cheapest but one that looked good. And it was. 

Our London apartment on the first floor


A spring holiday driving to my mother’s in Queensland last year, we stopped at a coastal resort on the way up and the loveliest B’n’B on the way down. We do prefer quirky or historic B’n’Bs to hotels. 

Bedroom in B’n’B in Victoria

Guest lounge in B’n’B in New England region, NSW


We’ve been to the Whitsundays twice. Once with the kids at Hamilton Island, spending a week in a self-contained apartment (but with buffet breakfast daily at the resort lounge – we love the big breakfast). Family priced = cheap. The scond time without kids at Hayman in more upmarket accommodation. That was beautiful and the price matched. I’d love to go back to the Whitsundays and cruise on a yacht!

I’ve only really been burned once. Booked a place in Rotorua for the views over the geo-thermal activity. Woke to bed bugs!!!! Left that morning and got my money back. Luckily we did not transport the black beasties home. 

Recent work trips to Japan, South Korea and China were spent in quite expensive hotels. Some I probably wouldn’t book if we were staying for a holiday. 

An extended holiday in a hotel doesn’t really grab me because I do miss eating food I’ve cooked myself. Or cooked by Mr S. But I think the thought of how much more travel we could afford is the real reason I wouldn’t stay at expensive hotels. Then everything is relative, isn’t it? I have friends who think we pick expensive places. 

What’s your choice?

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6 thoughts on “Budget travel or luxury?

  1. When we go to a new place, like New York or Paris these past two years, I try to find an area of the city that will be a good home base for the duration of the trip – mainly looking for good access to public transit, a safe location, and food options. I try to find a B&B with a private bathroom, and if that is not available, move up to a motel/hotel that ticks the basic boxes – clean and quiet. I do discriminate between our regular travel (attached to a visit to see relatives) and splurge vacations, which are always short. In both the cities above, we paid a high rate compared to anything we’re accustomed to, but neither was downtown or luxury. I have never taken an extended holiday (more than a week) without it being a visit to see relatives. I am more inclined to take a shorter trip, stay at a nicer place, have more meals out and go to more shows. But then all our vacations are to cities, and not to resorts – have never done that!

    • No long summer holiday? Just Wikipediaed long service leave. You don’t get that either. (Worth looking it up. It’s a great entitlement to have. I didn’t realise it was to sail back to the UK.)

      A agree with you. A central place in a new city is what we aim for. Better to pay more than be out in the sticks and spending on transport and wasting time on trains and buses.

      A few days at a resort is very relaxing. Great way to break up road trips.

      • I have 5 weeks vacation (it is capped at 6 when I have been on the job long enough) and Rom has 3. Most people here take 2 weeks in the summer. It suits us better to take our London and Toronto trips in Spring and Fall so we’ve never done a big summer holiday and I don’t expect we will. I wouldn’t mind a winter holiday to a sun resort someday.

  2. Ooh, I like those photos. Makes me want to go on a snug winter vacay.

    We like to mix it up a bit on holidays. Many holidays, we’ll camp a few nights then go luxury via Wotif last-minute (cheaper) mini-resort booking. I still like the adventure element of going with budget accommodation (we stayed in a pub in Narrabri on our last road trip – that was interesting!) Mr D prefers 4 star.

    We have only ever once done a ‘proper’ resort: 3 nights in Fiji on our honeymoon. Would love to do the Whitsundays at some point or The Daintree. Or especially a real ‘eco-resort’ in Tasmania or far-north Queensland.

  3. When I travel for work, I either share an apartment with someone or stay in a moderately flash hotel. I’m so excited by the whole bed to myself thing, that the luxury surroundings are wasted on me!

    When we travel as a family – if it’s only a night or two, motels are ok, if it’s more than that, we try for an apartment or something and it’s more what we can get where the four of us can be in together than any other requirement (aside from off street parking. We never seem to go away without the fancy car!) Although, I did discover that having a .gov.au email address leads to discount rates in Canberra – man, that apartment was FANCY!

  4. Pingback: Free slippers, anyone? | lucinda sans

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