How to make your vacation first class without breaking the bank

Travel hacks

We all dream of a stress free vacation with an added dose of luxury, this how to get it. Source: Shutterstock

HANGING around at airports is about as fun as watching the grass grow and when you’ve got a long stop-over it can seem as though time passes even more slowly than a herd of snails traveling through sticky peanut butter.

You may decide to pass the time by chomping through an overpriced sandwich from a standard café or simply gaze longingly at the aircraft taking off and coming in, wishing your flight would hurry the heck up. But this boredom needn’t be the case.

Here are five low-cost travel hacks to make your airport wait and onward journey first-class experiences, without having to pay the premium price tags.

Lap up lounge life

As well as the swanky seats, yummy food and extra attention to detail you get when purchasing a business or first-class ticket, you also receive access to exclusive airport lounges around the world.

The lounges often include complimentary meals, fancy cocktails, tasty snacks, charging points, free internet connection, and space away from screaming children and fussing adults. However, these lounges aren’t reserved just for premium ticket holders.

Many airlines offer one-day passes to their exclusive lounges for less than US$60. There are also third-party companies that offer this luxurious experience for as a little as $30. Have a look at Lounge Buddy before your next trip and see what lounge-access bargains you can grab.

Ask for an upgrade

This may sound cheeky, but hundreds of people do it every day and reap the rewards in their fully reclined airline beds, or while they sip champagne from their deluxe bathtub, and all for no added cost.

When checking in, either at the airport or at your hotel, simply ask if there is any possibility of an upgrade. The worst-case scenario is that you’ll be in the exact same position as you were before, the one you originally chose, so it’s all hunky-dory.

Sometimes airlines and hotels may ask you to pay a small upgrade fee but nothing anywhere near the original price if you were to book the luxury alternative in the first place.

Arrive early, leave late

Checking in early can be a Godsend when you just want to unpack, freshen up and lounge by the pool. Equally, a late check out could be the difference between being a grumpy, tired, moaning mess for the rest of the day or feeling bright and breezy.

Again, it is essential that you simply ask for an earlier check-in and later check-out. Many hotel policies restrict this or may ask you to pay more. However, if you flaunt your membership card, tell them it’s your honeymoon, or request this extra in advance, you may find yourself in luck.

Equally, the SnapTravel app will do this all for you. You can tell the app via Facebook Messenger what you’re after and it will generate three top hotels to match your filters in seconds.

On top of this, it has a team of 24-hour travel reps that will start the negotiation process of early check in, late check out and room upgrades before you arrive.

Be the first off the plane

This one doesn’t cost a penny, but it does mean you have to get yourself organized.

To make sure you don’t get stuck behind the drabs of people who spend six minutes getting their bag down from the overhead locker and then dawdle along slower than the snails through peanut butter, you’ll need to be sitting as close to the front of the plane as possible.

Often, the seats right at the very front are classed as Premium Economy because of the extra legroom. However, if you’re one of the first to check in, you can request the rows just behind. Alternatively, if you’re on a short-haul flight and it’s a free for all, get to the front of the boarding queue to secure your preferred seats.

Take a mini spa break

If you’ve got time to kill between flight transfers, why don’t you make your way to a nearby hotel spa?

Hotels that are located on airports sites such as Hilton, Radisson and Ramada will have gym, pool and spa facilities that you can use on a fixed daily rate.

However, do your research before to make sure your airline allows you to leave the airport and to ensure the hotel is close enough to your terminal so you don’t spend the majority of your time traveling to and fro.