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Money: Live like a millionaire … for less

SOME things are just out of most people’s budgets: staying in luxury properties in the Caribbean, sailing on enormous yachts around European islands or flying on a private jet. Except in 2018, thanks to the sharing economy, these luxuries, once only possible for the super-rich, have become a lot more accessible due to innovative companies who operate nifty peer-to-peer lending platforms and subscription services. Ever dreamt of living the high life on a budget? Here are a few ideas…

House sit instead of paying for hotels

Would you rather pay through the nose for a luxury hotel or babysit a lavish property for free next time you go on holiday?

The answer is obvious, which is why house sitting has become such a popular option. With trustedhousesitters.com, the world’s biggest house-sitting site, you pay £89 a year to join. Then take your pick of luxury houses, apartments in 130 countries around the world, to stay in for free. Most owners put their homes on the website so that sitters can take care of pets as well as their houses while they are away, but there are plenty of pet-free properties you can apply for, too.

Since 2010, members have saved more than £745million on travel accommodation and pet-care costs.

Charter a private jet

Private jets are out of your reach, right? Possibly not: you might be able to bag surprising bargains with companies that connect travellers to unused seats in private planes around the world. They can often end up costing less than business class and as little as £300. Forty per cent of private jet flights are empty as planes fly back to their bases, which means you can grab great bargains on empty leg flights. These can be up to 75 per cent cheaper than the full private jet costs. Companies vary, with some operating on a subscription basis or one-off deals, single seats or some only rent out the whole plane. Check out jetsmarter.com, stratajet.com, surfair.com and privatefly.com.

Spend your holiday on a yacht

You might think that yachts are only for the super-rich, but they can be more affordable than you imagine.

Peer-to-peer boating platforms, like boataffair.com, connects boat owners with renters. You can rent sailing yachts, motorboats and catamarans, and choose whether you want a skipper, hostess or cook, for surprisingly affordable prices. Antonina Andreeva, 36, from Bexhill, East Sussex, recently enjoyed a holiday in Greece with six friends, paying €780 each for a week’s cruise on a huge new catamaran. ‘I was looking to do something out of the ordinary, so I contacted boataffair on Instagram,’ she says. ‘You can communicate directly with the boat owner before you book.

‘The yacht was incredibly spacious, very new and well looked after and the skipper was very friendly and experienced, with lots of local knowledge. I’ve already booked my next trip!’

Anchors aweigh: Rent a yacht

Enjoy airport lounges

If you travel regularly and enjoy lounge access, there’s no need to splash out on business-class tickets every time. Sign up to prioritypass.com to get access to over 1,000 lounges in 130 countries. There are three different membership plans, starting from £69 a year. Fun lounge perks include spa treatments at London Heathrow, sleep pods at Dubai International Airport and a distillery tasting room at Portland Airport. ‘My wife and I like the peacefulness of a lounge, where we can enjoy a glass or two of wine and read our books,’ says Jon Millward, 57, from Bromley, south-east London, who has a prioritypass.com membership. ‘It’s a great way to start our holiday and is always a treat.’

Borrow designer items

Many of us save for months to splash out on a designer item, but it’s much more fun to rotate expensive clothing and accessories and pay a fraction for the privilege. Check out websites like hirethecatwalk.com, chic-by-choice.com, frontrow.uk.com, wearthewalk.co.uk and FatLama.com.

Kara Oliver, 29, also from Bromley, paid £26 to rent a Hermes Birkin bag for 24 hours with FatLama.com for a work awards ceremony.

‘I own some OK handbags but nothing designer, and nothing that matched my dress,’ she says. ‘I’d never have actually bought a Hermes bag, I just wanted something extra for the night. It got a lot of comments from my colleagues! The idea of borrowing designer pieces that other people aren’t using makes a lot of sense for both sides.’

Borrow flashy cars

If you want the fun of driving a luxury car without the costs and commitment of owning one, make sure you’re taking full advantage of the luxury vehicle-sharing economy and car-sharing platforms such as easyCar Club or turo.com. There is plenty of choice, from Rolls Royces and Mercedes to Teslas and Porsches, with prices very reasonable and renting available for short periods of time.

Home from home: Charli house sitting on the Caribbean island of Nevis

CASE STUDY: ‘I can stay in luxury homes and not pay anything’

CHARLI MOORE, 30, a digital content specialist and seasoned house sitter from Kent, has stayed in luxury properties all around the world for free, with TrustedHousesitters.com, and founded a blog during her travels, wanderlusters.com.

She says: ‘I started house sitting about seven years ago. I was researching my gap year, and came across the concept and signed up. The first sit I got was in Costa Rica.

‘It defined how I travelled because I realised I could live in luxury homes and not pay anything while I was travelling.

‘I pick and choose the sits that suit me in terms of dates and location. In the Caribbean, for example, hotel costs can be over £200 a night, so house sitting means I can take five-star trips for three-star prices, paying only for flights and living costs. ‘I’ve looked after some amazing places: a Balinese-style property with an infinity pool overlooking the Caribbean sea in Barbados, a house in the grounds of the Las Vegas Country Club, looking after the most pampered pooches I’ve ever met, and an amazing home on the island of Nevis, where on a clear day you could look out and see Saint Kitts and even Antigua.

‘I’ve also house sat in Australia, New Zealand, New York, Canada and more. Some of the houses had luxuries like hot tubs and cinema rooms.

‘One of the best things about house sitting is that I get to hang out with animals and enjoy the comforts of home, despite being abroad. It’s always the pets that make my experience. I have looked after homes without pets, and although I’ve found it gives me more freedom to explore, I don’t make quite such special memories during my stay.’