Smart Traveling: Affordable Luxury Escapes

Travelers have different styles when embarking on journeys. Some are early birds, rising early, planning meticulously, and squeezing every bit of daylight to explore all the sites on their list. They start their days early and come back late, making the most of their travel experience. On the flip side, spontaneous travelers don't bother with planning. They enjoy the excitement of discovering new places without any prior research, leaning towards a more relaxed and surprise-filled approach. 

Another type of travelers is those who seek out famous landmarks but with a twist. These extreme planners are solely focused on capturing countless pictures for their social media followers. The essence of the place takes a back seat as they quickly move from one tourist spot to another. Their travel experience is dominated by a click-and-go mentality.

Then, there's a group that values relaxation above all. They indulge in luxurious accommodations with stunning views, often on picturesque islands. Their preference is a leisurely stay, unwinding by the pool, and savoring the moment without the rush to tick off must-see places. Typically, these travelers have the financial means to indulge in such a laid-back escapade.

Having tried all these travel styles, my personal preference for island getaways aligns more with the relaxed category. However, I aim to achieve this without breaking the bank. Here's my secret: finding affordable accommodations that offer a touch of luxury, allowing me to enjoy a leisurely stay without compromising my budget. This way, I can relish the tranquility and scenic beauty of the island without the hefty price tag.

In mid-January 2024, my friend and I decided on a spontaneous weekend trip to Nusa Penida, Bali, aiming for the perfect mix of budget-friendly stays and a touch of luxury. To get to the island, we took a ferry boat from Sanur port, enjoying a pleasant 45-minute ride.

Our home for this adventure was a charming hotel with four bungalows and a basic swimming pool, all at an unbeatable rate of $14 per night. The trick to our budget-friendly approach was choosing affordable lodging, allowing us to treat ourselves to five-star dining and beach club experiences.

Our strategic plan unfolded as we relaxed at the Maruti Beach Club on our first day. Although a bit pricier than regular eateries, the exclusive facilities, including a beachside swimming pool, justified every penny spent. We stayed until dinner, and our total expenditure of $55 still represented significant savings compared to the hefty bills of upscale hotels.

The next morning, we headed to Pramana Natura Nusa Penida, a five-star cliffside hotel with a breathtaking sea view. Non-staying guests, like us, were welcomed to enjoy a sumptuous breakfast and lunch, along with complimentary access to the inviting swimming pool. This gem even allowed the option for a day's stay.

After five incredible days in Bali, my journey took an unexpected turn to Jakarta. Grateful to have my iPhone back from its repair at iColor, I took the chance to share my trip highlights on WhatsApp status.

A delightful surprise awaited me on a Friday morning—a message from a Spanish friend I had met in Budapest and Barcelona. He revealed his plan to visit Bali in December 2023, a message lost due to my broken iPhone. Without hesitation, I booked a flight from Jakarta to Bali, finding myself back on the island within hours.

In Nusa Penida, I revisited the Q Rimbuk Bungalow, sticking to the same cost-effective strategy. The first day was all about exploring two pristine beaches, a tale I plan to share soon.

The next morning unfolded at Pramana Natura Nusa Penida, where we chose the most budget-friendly breakfast on the menu. "It's paradise, mi amigo," my Spanish friend exclaimed. Our original plan to explore another southern beach took a backseat as we surrendered to the allure of the poolside, spending the entire day reveling in the serenity.

Lounging in beach chairs, we immersed ourselves in captivating views, engrossed in reading and writing. My friend, inspired by the surroundings, penned fiction based on his travels—a dream he aspired to see published one day.

To show his gratitude for the unforgettable experience, my friend generously covered the $50 bill for breakfast and lunch. As we reveled in this opulent escape, he posed a curious question, "Do all five-star hotels in Bali offer the same complimentary facilities when dining in their restaurants?"—a testament to the allure of our savvy travel tactics. ~ Ritueli Daeli

Bali, January 2024


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