Budget or Luxury Travel: Why Not Do Both?

When it comes to travelling, everybody does it a little bit differently. Despite what some snobby travellers would have you believe, there is no right or wrong way to travel.

During a few interviews recently I have been asked what my style of travelling is – specifically, when it comes down to it, do I prefer budget or luxury travel?

Now don’t get me wrong, being a hardcore budget backpacker or a luxury jetsetter are both absolutely amazing, but why does it have to be one or the other? Why can a person not be both?


If you have followed this blog for a while, you may have noticed that when it comes to travel, I love anything and everything. I enjoy staying in dodgy 20 bed dorms where the only toilet doesn’t work (makes for a community atmosphere – everyone bonds over the hideousness of it) and I enjoy staying in luxury 5 star resorts (I mean – who doesn’t?) – it makes for a travel lifestyle that is never predictable and means I can experience travel from each and every point of view.

So when it comes down to it, the question still remains: ‘how would I describe my style of travel?’

When push comes to shove, I describe myself as a ‘mixed traveller’.

So what is Mixed Travel?

‘Mixed travel’ refers to a style of travel which allows the individual to prioritise what travel experiences mean the most to them – and helps them budget accordingly. For example, lets say you have a $2000 budget for one month of travel and in that one month of travel you desperately want to do one or two specific things (whether they be amazing accommodation or once in a lifetime experiences) which are quite pricey. A mixed traveller will then spend the majority of that trip on a super strict budget so that they have the funds to splurge on the experiences that really matter to them.

It’s All About Deciding What Is Important To You.

When people travel, it is normal for people to have many different opinions about what matters most. After all, these differences are what make us unique and what makes living in this world so damn interesting.

Some people may think that fancy accommodation is important, other people may prefer to spend their money indulging on each and every local cuisine. Some people may want to save for fancy camera equipment, others may want to spend more on day trips out to remote places.

There is absolutely no right or wrong, you just gotta work out where you want to spend your hard earned moolah.

Bungee jumping in South Africa! On this super budget backpacking trip, an $80 bungee was a total splurge, but it was so definitely worth it.

Mixed Travel Makes Life Interesting.

Earlier this year when I explored the Filipino island of Palawan, I literally went from spending my nights in a luxury over-water villa in El Nido to sleeping in a completely gross 20 bed dorm in Puerto Princesa which featured a toilet that was broken more often than it worked.

Being a mixed traveller means that I never really know what each new day will bring, which really does make my travels all the more exciting.

Mixed Travel Makes You Appreciative.

Not only does being a mixed traveller make for an even more exciting travelling life, it also makes you much more appreciative of each and every experience.

After you have stayed in some seriously dodgy hostels, staying in a fancy hotel or resort feels like the ultimate in luxury. In a similar vein, after you have spent more than a day or two in the confinement of a private hotel room, the camaraderie and sense of community that only be found in a backpackers becomes more welcome than ever.

Travelling on both sides of the fence means that you don’t become blase or complacent, and that you wholly appreciate each and every positive element of both the budget and luxury experiences.

 Ultimately, mixed travel is about getting the best of both worlds.

I get to make new friends in dorms, play drunken games of Cards Against Humanity in hostel bars, eat all the questionable street food I like and get super strong from carrying around my big backpack. In addition to all this, I get to treat myself to beautiful massages, sleep in big fluffy beds, enjoy private drives to remote locations and visit some of the most difficult (and pricey) places to get to in the world.

I truly do get the best of both worlds, and that is why I love living the ‘mixed travel’ life.

Baby Ellen seeing snow for the first time!

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20-something year old Australian backpacker writing her way around the world.

46 thoughts on “Budget or Luxury Travel: Why Not Do Both?

  1. I like how you come up with mixed traveler. I’ve been asking myself a lot whether I am a budget traveler (I’m a student with no income) or a luxury traveler (I love to eat in beautiful restaurants with amazing cuisine). Now I don’t have to put myself in either of them because I’m a mixed traveler! Thank you Ellen!


  2. I’m with you on this. Some trips I’ll seek out the hostel life (and even with this I vary between staying in a shared room vs a private room), other times I stay in motels or hotels. I like to think of myself as a flexible traveller. I have holidays that are more about relaxation and trips that are all about packing everything in and a variety of styles in between. The intended vibe of the trip I’m going for influences my accommodation choice a lot more than budget. In the last yr I stayed in a motel for a weekend away, hostels whilst on a road trip, and a hotel whilst on a city break.

    1. I totally agree! Like, when I visited the Maldives – travelling in luxury was a big part of the appeal, but when I visit most European places I much prefer hostels.

  3. One of my favorite family vacations with my kids was camping at the State Park on Amelia Island for a week…then checking in to the Ritz Carlton Resort for four days! I loved the bellman’s very controlled reaction to unloading our tents and backpacks from our grubby car!

  4. Totally agree. I have said for years that I sleep cheap so I can eat well (and stand a better chance of meeting people), but I’m not willing to do dorms. I am starting to think I should sleep a bit higher up the scale as I hit 70, but I don’t want to travel with the clothes I’d need for five star places (I travel for months at a time).

  5. I agree, much better to mix things up, you get more experiences that way. I think even if I was super rich I would still like more budget options like camping or eating at street stalls, often they’re much more fun than the expensive options. Although I would of course never turn down a bit of 5 star luxury!

  6. Loved it!! Mixed travelers…I like it. My husband, little one and I, when we travel we dont usually spend a lot of money on luxury hotels or top restaurants. We spend money on scuba-diving at the best places on earth, or renting a boat to get to a private desert island to chill..or skydiving etc. I think what is important is to be really happy how you spend your money, doesnt matter whether it is hotels, food or smth else.

    Nice post!!

  7. you speak my voice! i think i’m in that category too! i feel the need to reward myself with fancy hotel for 1 to 2 days after saving money by staying at a backpacker’s hostel or control my shopping. or splurging money on the thing i like the most while saving on others.

  8. Like the expression on Ellen’s face the first time she met snow… My ex-wife (Aussie) had same expression first time she experienced an American winter!

  9. Loved the post, I’ve often thought about people who have luxury travels and those on a budget and I try to work out where I fit in, like yourself I’m a mixed traveller and that’s now what I’ll call myself 🙂 I often stay on a tight budget until the end of my holiday when I realise I have loads of saving left so I splurge on fancy hotels. Eithier way like you as long as i travel have new experinces and meet great people imm happy

  10. Hey Ellen,

    Do you find any work as you travel or make money through the blog?
    Or do you just fund your trips before you go?

    I love the take on budgeting: Spend on the important things and budget hard everywhere else.

  11. I think one of the best things you can do when you travel is to go on your journey with an open mind and with no expectations – let the destination surprise you don’t build a perfect image of how it should be like. I love your blog and your pictures are phenomenal – wish mine were at least half as good!

  12. love this post!
    I definitely agree with the “mixed travel” lifestyle… sometimes I want to sleep in a tent and feel like a part of nature, other times I want to stay in the pent house suite and order room service.

    It all depends on my mood, budget and the location to which I am travelling.

    – Haley

  13. My boyfriend is happy sleeping in a pile of dirt with a hole in the ground for a toilet, while I’m more of a fan of having an actual clean toilet that flushes. I think he’d rather spend his money on a steak he can grill than somewhere nice to shower and poop. I actually didn’t really think of it until I read this post that we both just prioritize different things. I thought he was just crazy lol

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