For most travelers, it’s impossible to put a specific label on their travel style. On the same trip at times I may travel like a backpacker, opting for cheap and basic hostel accommodation, while at others I am the quintessential tourist, lining up with everyone else to see the city’s most famous and crowded monument.
Sometimes I run at a frenetic pace; sometimes I’m all about slow, thoughtful travel, immersing myself in the local culture and getting off the beaten path. Sometimes I like to be active, exploring hiking trails and jungle paths, and other times I want to do nothing except sit by the pool with a frozen drink. And sometimes, in the midst of a small-budget trip, I like to splurge on one all-out luxury experience.
According to Miriam-Webster, the word luxury is defined as:
“Something adding to pleasure or comfort but not absolutely necessary or an indulgence in something that provides pleasure, satisfaction, or ease”
- Splurge on a place to stay. It doesn’t have to be one of the most expensive hotels in the world or a place with one of the most amazing pools to be a memorable luxury experience. If you’re used to a higher standard of accommodation, sure, go all out and spring for the pricey overwater bungalow. But if you generally stay in basic budget hotels or opt for a dorm bed in a hostel, a few more amenities can make a big difference, even if it’s only for a portion of the trip. In Vegas, go for a hotel with a view of strip. In Sydney, go for a luxury hotels with a view of the Opera House. And in Paris, invest in a hotel with a view of the Eiffel Tower. It’ll cost you, but you’ll never forget waking up to that sight each morning. As for me, I think renting a villa in Italy seems like the ultimate in indulgent accommodations.
- Take the train. No, we’re not talking about the third-class cattle car. Make the journey the destination by riding the rails in style on an epic train journey like the Trans-Siberian or South Africa’s Blue Train. You get the experience and the accommodation all in one, and many routes allow you to get out for “layovers” along the way. There are so many great Canada train trips that are much closer as well. Who’s up for a trip through the mountains on the Rocky Mountaineer?
- Find luxury for less. Some things traditionally considered “luxury” can be done for less than you think. There are a surprising number of affordable safari options in Africa, and in the cheapest wine tasting destinations you can sip and swirl like a wine snob even on a backpackers budget. I love taking low cost wine country trips, which I’ll be doing when I go wine tasting in France, skimping on accommodation and dining so I can spend my savings on wine.
- Indulge your foodie fantasies. If you love exploring a place through its food, opt for a few spectacular meals. Though you can easily experience some great food without spending much, if there’s a particular restaurant you’ve always wanted to try or a certain food you just can’t get for less, save up for one big meal you’ll never forget. Try some Icelandic delicacies like whale or puffin. Eat at one of Chicago’s best (and priciest) restaurants. Opt for the foie gras or champagne in France, or sit down for high tea in London. The memories will last far longer than the meal.
- Pick one big thing. Even if you’re on the smallest of budgets, pick one big thing to splurge on. If you’re always wanted to go on a dinner cruise in Hawaii, soak in the Blue Lagoon in Iceland, golf in Greece, or take a trip to Lamborghini Museum in Italy, just do it! Even if it’s touristy and expensive, it may be worth it if it’s on your dream list.
What’s your favorite luxury item to splurge on when you travel?
Photo by: jadam