how to travel on a budget

How to find the best design-led accommodation for less


Much like how I ‘try’ to maintain a sensible diet by eating little and often, I have more success when it comes to getting away ! 

Time and budget dependent, I much prefer to indulge in a short break every couple of months rather than wait for two weeks of solid summer sunshine. Personally, I know I work best in short bursts, to deadlines and often by a project by project basis knowing 72 hours of switch-off time is no more than a few months away. 

Some of you lovely folk have recently been asking how and where I seem to find these little bijou bolt-holes to rest my head ? And so I’m going to share my favourite travel sources and tips for getting the best deals, so you can stay somewhere fancier for cheaper. Sound like a winner ? Read on below ...

My Top 5 Travel Sources

Petite Passport 

Pauline’s great eye for design and passion for interesting interiors, save me so much time trawling through endless Google searches. Her pictorial travel blog, Petite Passport is very easy-reading with qualitative, concise content about the coolest hot-spots to visit around the world. Her printed travel guides are packed with beautiful imagery of her best recommendations and are small enough to carry in your handbag. I’m a bit old fashioned in preferring to purchase a printed guide as it makes a nice keepsake post holiday, plus it means you’ll spend less time on your phone Googling what’s good and where to go. 

Favourite places I found via Petite Passport

The Ludlow, Lower Eastside, New York

Image - Petite Passport

Image - Petite Passport

The Line, Korea Town, Los Angeles 

Image - Petite Passport

Image - Petite Passport

Welcome and Beyond 

Easy peasy travel website to search, navigate and discover ‘hand-picked paradise’ in unique locations, suitable for various budgets. From idyllic Italian farmhouses to urban Brooklyn warehouse apartments, Welcome and Beyond’s carefully chosen collection of places to stay is a key influencer for me on deciding where to visit next time and time again ! I really like the personal interviews with the hotel or guesthouse owner, it gives you a great insight and feel about where you’re going to stay. 

Favourite places I found via Welcome and Beyond

Masseria Moroseta, Puglia, Italy 

ostuni puglia
Masseria Moroseta Ostuni .jpg
maseria morreto ostuni puglia

CNT Traveller

I usually use CNT Traveller to discover more about the destination as their features are often presented as an in-depth article, written from the journalist’s personal experience. They are champions at covering relatively unknown places with little tourism and sometimes this can lead to finding really beautiful destinations that aren’t too costly. For more popular cities and towns, CNT Traveller organises content into specific guides such as Best Rooftop Bars in Lisbon or Best Coffee Shop in San Francisco, which gives you lots of good choices within the same feature and saves time searching for recommendations separately.

Favourite places I found via CNT Traveller

La Masion du Bassin, Cap Ferret, 

La Maison du Bassin cap ferret .jpg
La Maison du Bassin.jpg
La Maison du Bassin 2.jpg


What I really like about planning my travel escapes via Pintrest is that one attractive image of a bar or restaurant can lead to discovering so many other similar style places in the city or town by scrolling down the page to ‘More like this’. It’s really useful when travel bloggers and journalists create collage images with introductory text, for example 48 hours in Bordeaux. I can usually see from the style of the images if I am going to be interested in the content without having to click through and read the first few paragraphs. 

Favourite places I found via Pinterest

Casa Blanca, Les Chartrons, Bordeaux 

casa blanca hotel .jpg
casa blanca hotel 1.jpg
casa blanca hotel bordeaux .jpg

Cereal Guides

Really well-priced printed travel books and digital guides featuring the most stylish places to sleep, eat, drink, shop and explore. Cereal do tend to feature more higher-end establishments but 'just visiting' a lust-worthy interiors store or treating yourself to an expertly made flat white to be enjoyed in the most incredible setting, doesn’t cost more than your time or a couple of pounds. Their location maps that are organised by a key code are really useful for planning itineraries on your trip too. 

Favourite places I found via Cereal

Thyme Manor, Southrop, The Cotswolds 

Image - Black Tomato

Image - Black Tomato

Further Recommendations

Lodestars Anthology, In Clover Magazine, Stylist Online

Tips for getting the best deal when booking accommodation

  • If possible stay mid week when rates are usually lower than at weekends.
  • Research when locals are on holiday. For example we made the mistake of visiting Puglia in the last two weeks of August when many Italian families where also enjoying their holiday. This meant accommodation was more expensive as were restaurants and bars due to huge surplus of tourists. 
  • Use comparative sites to find the best nightly rate and then contact the hotel or guesthouse directly and ask them if they can match the fee. 
  • If you can, pay up front as the economic market is so volatile, the exchange rate could differ by the time of your stay. 
  • Always check if taxes, resort fees and parking are included in the total price at the time of booking.
  • At check-in always ask if an up-grade is available. If so, it’s worth enquiring to see if it is possible to up-grade at a discounted rate.
  • Skip over-priced breakfast at the hotel if it isn’t included in your rate, especially if it is a buffet breakfast, non-one ever eats the equivalent to the hefty price tag anyway.