Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Monday, January 30, 2012

How To Travel Five Star on a One-Star Budget

Before we explore the secret sides to London, I'll like to offer some tips on how to travel cheaply. Admittedly, I'm not as skilled at this Travel On A Shoe String Thing as my frugal parents, but I've picked up a few tips over the years. You lovely readers will probably have a lot of ideas as well, since most of you love to travel too, so just drop me a comment and I'll add it to the list.

1. TRAVEL ON A TUESDAY. Or a Thursday. These days are usually significantly cheaper than other days because business people don't travel as much as they do on Mondays or Fridays. Same goes for hotel rooms. Always cheaper mid-week. I almost always fly on a Tuesday now.

2. IF YOU'RE FLEXIBLE WITH DAYS, RESEARCH WHETHER YOUR DESTINATION IS CHEAPER WEEKDAYS OR WEEKENDS. Some cities are more expensive on weekdays, and cheaper on weekends. New York, for one, is cheaper earlier in the week (Tuesdays, especially.) Miami, on the other hand, is more expensive on weekends – like many of those destinations that people fly to for the weekend. Paris is also more expensive on weekends. It becomes cheaper on Mondays and Tuesdays.

3. BOOK YOUR OWN FLIGHTS FOR THE BEST PRICES. If you're not used to travelling, go with a travel agent. Otherwise, shop around online. I use One year I flew to London return for A$900. And get on email lists, so you know when good deals come up. At the moment there's a price war to the US. You can fly to NY return for $900 or so (plus $200 or so taxes).

4. JOIN A FREQUENT FLYER PROGRAM. You'll be able to accumulate points towards free flights, use airport lounges and be first in line when upgrades become available. We're with United / Star Alliance. I know United isn't as highly regarded as, say, Singapore Airlines but I love them. LOVE THEM. I check in via First Class, occasionally get free upgrades to Business, and last time I flew home from NY they let me check in the 72 kilos of books I've bought at Strand bookstore. For free. They're always lovely, professional, kind and willing to help with problems. Such as excess book baggage. Gotta love a FF program. Some people dismiss them, but they're better than you think.

5. IF YOU REALLY NEED SOME EXTRA ASSISTANCE OR EXTRA ROOM, DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK. (NICELY.) I've had countless times where this has happened. One year I had to fly to Europe to interview a member of a royal family (virtually as soon as I stepped off the plane), so I quietly asked the cabin manager if I might have two seats somewhere at the back of the plane to get some sleep? (I did say the BACK of the plane.) The lovely manager proceeded to move some poor guy out of a seat and let me have three seats in a row. And yes, I felt guilty – especially in front of an almost full Economy Class who were glaring at me! And I'm not sure I'd do it again. But it was incredibly kind of them. The same goes for when you need a larger room in a hotel (such a family room), or a room with a bath. If it's late in the day and there's a room free, ask nicely and they might just upgrade you.

6. DON'T BOOK A HOTEL DIRECTLY THROUGH THE HOTEL. They'll just give you an expensive 'Rack Rate'. Go through someone like,,, etc, for better deals. If you can be bothered doing it, take the "better deal" and go back to the hotel with it. They may match it.


8. CHECK CANCELLATION FEES. I once came across a hotel in Nantucket that had a 6-week cancellation-fee policy! WTF?

9. DON'T GET AIRPORT TAXIS. Most airports have shuttle buses or trains to the city that are half or even one-quarter of taxi fares. (Catch JFK's shuttle at Grand Central Station for $20.) Research before you go. Wouldn't you rather save the $50-$100 and spend it on shoes when you get there?

10. IF YOU DO WANT TRANSPORT, RESEARCH PRIVATE CAR COMPANIES. You can usually find a limo company that will pick you up from JFK for $80 or so. If you're a group of 4, it works out the same as getting the bus.

11. TRAVEL IN SHOULDER SEASON IF YOU CAN. It's the 'in-between' period, when fewer people travel. But the weather's usually fine and hotel rates are cheaper too. We usually travel in May or September/October.

12. INVESTIGATE THE IDEA OF RENTING A BEACH HOUSE. Even hotels are now offering private beach houses as part of their menu of rooms. Hayman Island, for example, has just installed beach houses for families who want the extra space. The sublimely designed Beach House (above and top image) is part of the Coral Sands Hotel on Harbour Island in the Bahamas. {Via Coral Sands} Wouldn't you rather be here than in a hotel room?

13. DON'T THINK TRAVEL IS EXPENSIVE. Not everywhere is like Australia! For example, if you're going to New York, look at side trips to Mexico and the Mayan ruins and resorts of the Yucat√°n Peninsula (very IN right now) as flights to Cancun are often just $60 through JetBlue. Or Nantucket island ($100), or even Miami ($80). If you're flying halfway across the world, make the most of it when you get there. 


  1. Fabulous tips here Janelle lets get travelling?? Feel like being in Australia and some warmth after looking at these beach pics!
    Carla x

  2. Dear Janelle
    Your work is exquisite. I predict that your beautiful blog and your sharing will result in international recognition and appreciation from thousands of fans. Just love everything you do.
    Shared your link with Vicki Archer of French Essence and Greet from Belgian Pearls who loved everything too. Lots of success Janelle. x sherie in cape town

  3. First off ... your previous two posts. Love the shoes and Julia G one (and yes, agree Humph is rather dishy! - quite a nose on our Julia isn't there??!). Sambag flats (well some) have a nice little cushioned heel part I have found though.
    And your London secret addresses post - fantastic - some places I have not been too either!
    Your travelling post is wonderful and I agree Frequent flyer programmes are the best. I have always found Qantas to be the bizz. Love them, however totally agree on your Tuesday policy for flying (which is what I do) and I will alson check out the travel site you mentioned. Great posts as ever, Janelle. Sarah x

  4. What always bugs me is that it costs us so much just to get to London from Scotland. I'm headed to LA soon and I'm going to pop into the Bel Air which used to be one of my favourite hotels, oh it looks awfully generic and sceney now.

  5. Thank you so much Sherie. I'm very touched. And Vicki Archer writes beautiful books, doesn't she? Thank you again. Janelle x

  6. Thanks Carla! Love your blog too. Your photos are always beautiful. Never tire of seeing Paris in black and white... Janelle

  7. Lovely to hear from your Sarah, as always. Yes, I have a couple of Sambag flats, including a gorgeous hot pink pair. Can't wait to hear about the tripette to Tasmania. Do hope it was suitable romantic?!! Janelle xx

  8. Hi Tabitha, Yes, the Bel Air used to be THE hotel in LA. I think it's just had an update though? Will be interested to hear your thoughts. I love the Beverly Hills Hotel, if only for its significance in pop culture and history (Elizabeth Taylor/The Eagles, etc) and its glam restaurant and poolside cafe. It's a faded old lady but it still pulls in the stars! Do post some LA pix on your blog. J

  9. Well that's sorted all the whens and hows now I just have to organise the plane phobia and then I am of to the Bahamas, I am moving into the Coral Sands Hotel and then possibly never leaving!!!!!
    I continue to enjoy it all! Julienne

  10. Oh the BHH is my other favourite but thanks to this new redo I think it will become my number one. Nothing beats dinner at The Polo Lounge.

  11. Great tips Janelle...I am relieved to see that we follow nearly all of them! We are on the Qantas frequent flyer program so much so that I managed the Chairman's Lounge card. Skip the holiday, I could happily spend all my time hanging out in the Intl First Class One World Lounge...and I don't travel First Class. Just a whole lot of miles...:)

    I am with is just a matter of time before everyone discovers what a gem your blog is... I have been checking out your books on Amazon too. The book on your trip around America is on my wish list..

    Jeanne xx

    Jeanne xx

  12. I am married to MOTH aka Mr. Tight Wad. Therefore his mantra on travel accommodation is 'Lob with relatives, lob with relatives.' repeat 20 more times. So you can imagaine how grumpy he was when we went to Honkers in May & he couldn't locate anyone vaguely related & we needed to stay in a glorious 6 star hotel. Never mind that I'd won all the airfares at work! He reckons the greatest thing about my bloggie life is now we can lob on my poor unsuspecting bloggie chums around the globe & never have to fork out for a hotel ever again!
    Millie xx
    P.S. You've set the bar very high this past week with a motza of fabulously gorgeous posts. Any chance you could cool it a bit, I'm struggling to come within a cooeee of you.

  13. Hi Jeanne, Oh what I'd give for entree to the Chairman's Lounge! Or Singapore Airlines' First Class Lounge. OR First Class beds for that matter. Emirates once invited me to fly FC to Singapore on a media freebie. I took one look at the suites, with their drawers, wardrobes, mirrors, lamps, even the sound of birds tweeting in your ears in the morning (Economy Class pax just get snoring...), and it was all too much. The caviar, the cashmere blankets, the gallons of Chateau Margeaux... I couldn't do it. I was just too shy! Plus, I'd have to fly Economy back and I would have needed therapy for the comedown. Janelle x

  14. Hi Julienne, We're planning on going to Harbour Island in May. I have to do a photo shoot there. You're welcome to come! Janelle x


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