A luxurious hotel includes an outdoor sofa with a patio and private pool with a view of the ocean
Luxurious travel doesn’t necessarily mean traveling like a millionaire — the true definition is up to you.
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Luxury Travel Might Be the Key to Bringing Your Travel Dreams to Life

What Is Luxury Travel?

Luxury travel is one of those terms that is used so frequently it tends to lose its meaning. One person’s idea of luxury could be another person’s idea of slumming it.

Does it mean flying first class, staying in five-star hotels, dining at Michelin-star restaurants, taking expensive tours like helicopter rides around New York? Perhaps it means simply flying to your destination, staying in a hotel and eating at a sit-down restaurant, period.

With no universally accepted definition of what luxury travel is, the travel industry conducted a survey among luxury travelers to ask them what it meant. Travelers thought the best word to describe luxury travel was “exclusivity,” followed by “differentiation.”

“Unique,” “experience” and “discovery” were also highlighted by the survey.

Those within the travel industry were also asked to define it, and, not surprisingly, their definitions varied as well.

“The definition of luxury travel to me is to undertake a new experience and immerse oneself in a new destination whilst indulging in the very best levels of personal and attentive service, lavish and sumptuous accommodation, exquisite and unrivaled levels of gastronomy and informative and educational guides,” noted Gareth Harding, sales director at The Cruise Line Ltd. “It is travel without stress, pressure of time or daily routine, where your every need is preempted and your every expectation is met and exceeded.”

To some, travel itself is the luxury.

“A luxury experience for me is to have time to travel! To have the freedom to travel! To do things which you wouldn’t do every day! To travel is luxury!” said Melvin from Traveldudes to Velvet Escape blogger, Keith Jenkins.

Luxurious travel doesn’t necessarily mean traveling like a millionaire — the true definition is up to you. Is it staying in a five-star castle with a butler at your service, a yurt at a glamping resort, an ocean-view villa, a luxury train vacation, or unique experiences based on your particular personal preferences?

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The Pros and Cons

A do-it-yourself approach to global travel is a great way for more people to get out and see the world, but a luxury vacation certainly has its perks, too. It’s all about treating yourself to some of life’s indulgences, from more leg room on that 10-hour flight, to falling into the softest linens you’ve ever felt on that four-poster bed as the sounds of the ocean lull you to sleep.

But other than the difference in price tags, what are the pros and cons of luxury travel?

The Pros

  • Less stress. Luxury travel generally involves someone else taking care of the details. With less planning for you to do, you’ll be able to spend all your time enjoying your getaway without worries. If you’ve ever spent hours poring over guide books, maps and travel sites trying to figure out where to stay, or gotten lost trying to navigate unknown streets, a new language and different culture all at the same time, you understand.
  • You get to be pampered. Constantly living on a tight budget gets taxing. With all the day-to-day stress in life, it’s about time you let yourself be pampered. Having someone else take care of you for a while can be a great way to rejuvenate. This is especially the case when you opt for small luxury hotels, which can provide a more intimate experience.
  • It’s a good way for new travelers to get their feet wet. If you’re new to traveling, going on a guided trip can be a great way to get your feet wet. It’ll give you a chance to see what you like and don’t like, and allow you to glean some insight on how to put together your own trip.
  • You may see places you wouldn’t think about seeing on your own. A luxury travel company likely knows the destination you’re visiting inside and out, and can give you the opportunity to see sights and places you probably wouldn’t have considered otherwise. You’ll learn more about hidden gems like off-the-beaten-path restaurants and more unique attractions.
  • A better sense of security. If you join a tour, particularly when traveling in a more volatile area, the company and its travel guides will know which places to avoid and give you advice on how to stay safe. Plus, when you’re in a group, you’re less likely to be harmed, and you’ll have someone else there to make sure you’ve gotten back to your room safely at night.

The Cons

  • You don’t have a say in the details. While this is also “a pro” as it can mean less stress, having a hand in the details can be an important part of the entire experience. For some, the planning process itself is a valuable aspect of travel and exploring a new locale.
  • You have to follow a strict itinerary. While this isn’t always true, if you take a luxury tour, most companies will have a preexisting set of options. This can be frustrating for anyone who is used to having complete control of their itinerary.
  • The same tired tourist spots. This is where it really pays to closely check a company’s itinerary before booking anything. In some cases, the itineraries include the same old sights and attractions every other company visits. These are the spots where you see the massive tourist buses stop; tired travelers get off one by one, snap a few pictures, and then head back on the bus. If that’s not your idea of fun, check to make sure the organization offers more novel experiences before you commit — a luxury travel guide should be bringing you to some places that the average tourist won’t see.

Tips for Booking Luxury Trips

Whether you’re looking for specific luxury tour groups, luxury accommodations or luxury destinations, there are a number of tips to keep in mind to ensure the best experience possible.

  • Read reviews and ask for referrals. Even if you don’t want to plan any aspect of your trip, be sure to read traveler reviews for any company you’re thinking of booking with. Follow at least a few on social media to get an inside look at what their customer service experience is like and to be informed when any special deals are offered. Create a short list of companies with positive reviews, and then ask those organizations for referrals. They should be able to connect your with customers who can tell you about their experiences.
  • Look for a company that has extensive networks of connections in destinations around the world. It’s even better if they have connections in the destination you plan to visit. These companies have experts who can ensure you’ll get to see the very best sights, dine in the best restaurants and enjoy lots of authentic experiences.
  • Make sure the experience offered is the experience you’re looking for. In most cases, you’ll be paying more for luxury travel, so it’s more important than ever that it be the experience you really want. Do you want to see the country by taking a luxury train vacation? Or maybe spend a week in the most lavish hotel Paris has to offer? It may help you to write a list of everything you desire in your ultimate luxurious travel vacation.
  • Ask the company what’s included and what’s not. It’s very important that each and every service they’ll be providing is spelled out to avoid disappointment.

When it comes to budget travel, you have to go with the flow a bit more often in order to get the cheapest deal. In other words, you can’t afford to be picky. With luxury travel, however, the perfect experience is yours to craft. While the packages might be less flexible, don’t settle for anything less than what you are looking for.

This is your chance to treat yourself to something truly special — whatever that might look like for you.

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