Luxury travel definition, in a few words: it's the way to go.
Luxury travel is not a state of finances, or even a state of mind. It's a whole approach to seeing the world the most enlightened way. With good planning, good intentions, good behavior, good taste. (And good money management, for sure.)
Are you a real luxury traveler? Here are a dozen behavioral giveaways that suggest...not yet.
1. You Spend Money, But Not Time, on Planning
Money can't buy love. And it doesn't necessarily buy a great luxury travel experience.
Throwing cash at a vacation is not a guarantee. If you simply open your wallet without comparison-shopping or looking for value, you let your money take charge.
Real luxury travelers put their hard-earned dough to work by spending it wisely. They invest time as well as cash in their vacations. And they like deals. True luxury travelers:
- Have a good idea of what travel should cost
- Read the fine print
- Look for travel discounts and deals online and elsewhere
- Know how to find a deal on Luxury Link
2. You Go With the Masses
You're too busy, or you can't be bothered. So you use a one-size-fits-all travel agent or tour company.
Real luxury travelers know that their specialized tastes call for specialized travel agents. They work with elite travel agents like Virtuoso, which confers A-list status on clients.
Real luxury travelers consult and travel with like-minded individuals. They know that they will be understood by and comfortable with upmarket private tour companies like:
- Artisans of Leisure, for 100% bespoke itineraries
- Abercrombie & Kent, for fine-tuned, elegant adventures
- Jacada Travel, for South American perfection
- Extraordinary Journeys Africa, for the safari of your dreams
- Elevate Destinations, to meet the townspeople where you go
- Kensington Tours, for the seven continents and seven seas
3. In Crowds You Trust
You skip doing basic research into your travel destinations. You base your choices on stereotypes, old news, hype, and celebrity trends.
You find yourself traveling at the absolutely wrong times:
- Spring break
- School recess
- When Northern Europeans swarm the Mediterranean
- When local mosquito larvae hatch
- When destination weddings take over tropical beach resorts
- When a massive convention, coronation, tournament, or other mega-event hits town
- When a national or religious holiday will shut everything down
- When it's transportation strike season in Italy and other Western European countries
- When seasonal monsoons, Santa Anas, or sciroccos ravage the locale
Real luxury travelers know what to expect. They learn the basics about their destination's climate, currency, safety, and health issues. They:
You have inflexible, unforgiving hotel standards. If the place is not famous, five-star, glossy magazine-featured and rapturously Tweeted, it's beneath your consideration.
Of course, the indulgence and pampering afforded by true luxury hotels is a wonderful thing. But a hotel doesn't have to be five-star to be enjoyable.
Real luxury travelers are open-minded and adventurous about hotels. While they may have a favorite hospitality brand (such as the divine Four Seasons or always-elegant Relais & Châteaux), they're not opposed on principle to going off-label.
Real luxury travelers consider various types of lodgings:
And they consider non-hotel options, too:
5. You Lose Your Cool
You get really angry and complain bitterly when you feel shortchanged or snubbed. You tell the poor clerk or attendant who you are, what a loyal customer you've been, how many miles you've flown, how elite/platinum/black your credit card is, and that you are going to make sure that the company brass hears about this.
Real luxury travelers never make a scene or threaten. They are not bullies or tantrum-throwers. They keep their cool, they focus on facts (not feelings), and they speak with the right staffer to solve the problem.
Luxury travelers know:
You buy airline tickets in a hurry. You end up with 5:50a.m. flights or seven-hour layovers, along with the college kids whose budgets give them no choice. You get stuck in the worst seat on the plane, hemmed in on both sides, and beside the sneezing baby.
Real luxury travelers may not always fly business or first class. But they always fly smart. Which means they fly content. They:
- Have reserved a window (or aisle) seat
- At the boarding gate, they ask the agent if there's an infant, Terrible Two, or traveling frat seated near them
- If so, they know how to request a different seat: pleasantly and humbly. Often, a bulkhead or premium economy seat will be found, and at no extra charge
- They know how to improve their chances of an upgrade
- They take care not to be the passenger that other flyers hate
- They do what it takes to get and stay comfortable on a plane (even in coach)
Your vacation is your fashion runway. You bring three of everything (but six pairs of shoes).
You bring a garment for every possibility, from black-tie dinner to archeological dig. You pack a hairdryer, an iron, a tall umbrella, hardcover books, full-size toiletries, a 15" laptop the weight of a bowling ball, and enough electronics to thrill a tech geek.
Upshot: you struggle with leaden, unwieldy luggage and baggage-checking fees. You allow your bag to weigh you down logistically, physically, and emotionally.
Real luxury travelers know how to pack right and pack light. It's even a source of pride. They know that:
8. You Tip Like Scrooge
You're a miserly tipper. Maybe your parents were. Maybe you believe that only extraordinary service should be tipped. Or perhaps you think that the place's management pockets what you leave.
In fact, hospitality's tipped personnel are often paid below minimum wage, and depend on these extras.
Real luxury travelers give back. They tip everyone who assists them.
- In the hotel: doormen, bellmen, valets, elevator men, chambermaids, concierges, baby sitter, dog-sitters
- (Exception: room-service waiters; a service charge is usually included)
- In the restaurant: waiter, sommelier, the host who gave you a great table
- In the casino: the cocktail waitress, the blackjack dealer who did right by you
- On the ground: the tour guide, the sedan driver, the elephant mahout
- Whom and how much to tip
Then, when luxury travelers are home, they create good karma by writing positive online reviews of all the establishments they enjoyed.
9. You Misbehave
You use your vacation as an excuse to regress into deepest adolescence.
- You're loud, rowdy, sarcastic, rude – all those good things
- You disregard local customs. You wear shoes in Asian temples, bare outfits in churches, baseball caps in Michelin-star restaurants
- You disregard your hotel neighbors by playing your TV or music loud early in the morning or late at night
- You allow your baby to wail, your kids to run around, your dog to bark
- You try to make foreigners understand English by speaking it loudly
- You abuse your hotel room by smoking in it, stretching out on the white duvet wearing your shoes, appropriating the Frette pillowcases or a voltage adapter as a souvenir
- Or you play the rock-star game, Wreck the Room
- You are heedless of the environment. You indulge in 20-minute showers in a desert region. You drop your water bottles into the trash instead of the recycling box. You pick flowers, pocket seashells, and otherwise take from Mother Nature
Real luxury travelers travel on their best behavior. They know:
10. You Live Dangerously
Unknowingly or pig-headedly, you do unwise things that get you into trouble. These flagrant misjudgments can have serious consequences:
- Fly when you're sick. Get even sicker. And infect other passengers
- Travel with cherished or irreplaceable jewelry and other possessions, and are then heartbroken when they're lost or stolen
- Leave valuables (including your laptop) out in your hotel room, not in your safe
- Think you don't need a map
- Don't know your hotel's address
- Rent a stick shift if you're not a pro
- Go out alone to swim, surf, snorkel, cycle, hike, and so on
- Use your credit card for everything, even in sketchy little shops
- Attract muggers with flashy designer garb and jewelry
- Tempt thieves with carelessly carried purses, wallets, cameras, phones
- Ignore local advice: promenade in the wee hours, hail unlicensed cabs, hire strangers as tour guides, swim in treacherous Los Cabos waters
- Tease the temple monkeys
Real luxury travelers use common sense and practice caution.
- For Rio de Janeiro or any big, unruly city, a personal-safety tipsheet
11. You Do More, Even on Vacation
You spend your vacation time working on your laptop or calling/emailing/texting colleagues or clients.
Real luxury travelers plan their vacations for times when they can get away from their work. They know that:
- A hotel hangout beats a Google Hangout
- If you must work for more than a few minutes at a time, the most comfortable place is your hotel's club floor lounge
12. You Feel Like I, Robot
You forget spontaneity.
The flip side to working through your vacation is making your vacation a job.
- You tour nonstop
- You stick to your itinerary grimly even though all the temple and museum marches are starting to feel like a trade show
- And you'd rather just saunter around the neighborhood, sit at a café, or bliss out at the pool or beach
Real luxury travelers know the purpose of a vacation. It's supposed to recharge your batteries, not drain them. To be relaxing and fun, not an activity marathon. So do what feels right. You'll be happier.
- Those 12 sacred places in Asia have been there for a thousand years, and will be there next time you swing through
- Take some time out!