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Tips for a Luxury Vacation on a Budget

By Joanna Harrison

As soon as you cross the bridge onto Hilton Head Island you will feel the Zen of a good vacation. Without being gaudy or sparkly, the island is still a dreamy mixture of luxury and natural simplicity. Emerald green, perfectly manicured gardens next to the wild dunes and weeping willows. You can opt for an afternoon of sunbathing and sparkling blue swimming pools, or get a little salty kayaking in the green marshes. Whatever you define as luxury, you deserve to have it – and we’re here to help you capture it on a budget.

• Find a Good Spa Deal


When it comes to the perfect spa day, Groupon will be your new best friend. Search “Spa” with Hilton Head Island as the location on the Groupon website and you’ll see dozens of deals from local spas for facials, massages, manicures and pedicures, and more. Insider Tip: Spas are usually busiest Thursday through Sunday, so if you schedule an appointment earlier in the week you may have a better experience since your masseuse won’t have back-to-back appointments. When comparing Spas and deals – try to find a spa that gives you some pre-massage relaxation time with a mimosa or time in the sauna, etc. Plan your spa day early in the vacation to set the tone for the rest of your luxurious trip!

We Love: Freda Salon, Fountain Spa, Hilton Head Island Spa & Wellness, Massage Therapy Inc.

• Go to the Best Happy Hours for Fancy Drinks that Won’t Break the Bank



Is there anything more luxurious than a romantic atmosphere, a warm summer night and a perfectly crafted cocktail in hand? A good drink is absolutely essential for any vacation, especially a luxurious one. Happy hour is the best time to get those fancy shmancy drinks for an affordable price.

We Love: Alexander’s, Bistro 17, Bomboras Grille, Catch 22, Jazz Corner, and The Old Oyster Factory.

Try downloading the App “Happy Hour Finder.” We love it because it compares every happy hour in the area and shows you the best deals nearby.

• Luxury Sunscreen & Lip balm


Small things like shifting your regular chapstick brand to an organic, all-natural lip balm can make a big difference! Come prepared on your vacation with some inexpensive sunscreen and lip balm that will make you and your skin feel pampered.  You probably know from experience that there is nothing luxurious about a painful sunburn, so make sure you cover up to protect your beautiful skin! There are plenty of brands out there that offer natural, luxurious products for a very affordable price.

Lip balm We Love: Eos, Burt’s Bees, Kiehl’s, YesTo, S.W. Basics

Sunscreen We Love: Goddess Garden, Honest Company, Badger, AllGood.

• Stay In for a Night


On vacation we often find ourselves throwing money around at every turn, $20 for parking, someone forgot a swimsuit, you got desperately hungry and suckered into a tourist trap restaurant… Everything adds up so fast! Take a night or two to stay at your resort, order sushi or make a nice steak (cheaper than eating out!), and get a bottle of wine that fits right into that perfect “cheap but not too cheap” range. Soak in a bubble bath, do a facemask, watch a movie or read a book! Sometimes we lose ourselves in the “vacation chaos,” afraid to miss a beach day or not take advantage of everything the city has to offer, that we forget that we’re on vacation! The point is to relax and recharge your mind and body. So take a load off – stay in for a few nights and save a few bucks!

• Take a Drop-In Yoga Class


Yoga is so incredibly healing for the body and soothing for the mind, it is a perfect addition to a luxurious vacation. Sometimes in the summer you can find free yoga classes at Coligny Beach, and many studios on Hilton Head offer very affordable “drop-in” rates for a 1-time class. If you want to save even more money, learn 5 or 6 poses and do a sunrise session at the beach by yourself!

Tip: If you are a beginner make sure you choose a beginner class so you don’t push your body too hard! You are on vacation after all!

• Retail Therapy


Okay, okay, shopping is not the most traditional recommendation for a “budget” vacation – but the Hilton Head Tanger Outlets host a variety of name brand luxurious clothes at major discounts. Give yourself a spending cap, and treat yourself to some beautiful summer threads! Shelter Cove Town Centre is also home to several stores that offer high quality clothes at an affordable price (Belk, Francesca’s), and other pricier stores that are still fun to “window shop”!


Is it really vacation without ice cream? Or a cupcake? Top off your luxury vacation with a decadent treat. Dessert is one of life’s great pleasures – AND it’s a cheap date – win, win? And remember…life is too short for one scoop, so go for two.

We Love: Hilton Head Ice Cream, Kilwin’s, Frozen Moo, Sweet Carolina Cupcakes, Signe’s Bakery

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