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How to relax in style

Updated: May 29, 2022

Your one-stop guide to luxury travel

Luxury is in reach

First-class travel experiences really can be for everyone. Luxury is about far more than staying in exclusive hotels with helipads or chartering private jets to take you around the world. You can absolutely indulge in a higher level of comfort and convenience without breaking the bank.

Yes, you usually have to pay a bit extra to enjoy the benefits of luxury travel, but the benefits often more than outweigh the costs. Even something as simple as paying a few dollars more for a skip-the-line private tour of a top attraction can elevate your experience to a richer, more personal memory than standing outside in the heat for hours, waiting.

Increasingly, we’re hearing of travelers willing to invest in an experience: 61% of travelers say they plan to spend more than they normally would on a trip in 2021, and around half of business travelers say they’re happy to pay out of their own pocket for certain upgrades, including on flights, in hotels, and for car rental.

The face of luxury travel in 2021

Luxury travel looks rather different now than it did a few years ago. In 2021, luxury travel means:

  • Exploring remote destinations with space and privacy. This is now the ultimate luxury. Three-quarters of travelers said complete privacy is a key component of luxury travel

  • Personalized and unique experiences

  • A chance to recharge and improve health and wellbeing

With such personal requirements while on vacation, it’s little surprise that 81% of travelers are turning to travel agents for expert guidance, loving their rich destination knowledge and ability to recommend unique experiences to build amazing trips.

To upgrade or not: When is the extra cost worth it?

We recommend you only invest in upgrades that make a meaningful difference to your experience. Here are some things to consider:


How long will you be in the air? Upgrading to first or business class has greater benefits on a long-haul flight than a short hop. Also, not all higher-class cabins are created equal – make sure you talk to your travel agent about exactly what your airline provides, and what the differences are between first class and business class.

Roughly speaking, a ticket for first class can cost about double a business class seat (though you could save up your air miles and offset a lot of this cost), it’s the complete privacy and additional space that really sets the experience apart.

But you don’t have to go all-in to enjoy flight upgrades. The extra legroom with a premium economy seat can make a tremendous difference on a long flight. Paying to select your favorite window or aisle seat in advance is a real treat, and some people like sitting nearer to the front of the plane where turbulence is gentler, and the trolley arrives sooner.

Ground transportation

How tired might you feel after your flight? And how easy is public transport at your destination? Stepping off a long-haul flight into a hot and unfamiliar country, then into the extra comfort and convenience of a private car that whisks you straight to your air-conditioned hotel can be priceless. Or instead of exploring a destination on foot, you could make each unique moment more luxurious—maybe a private boat along a waterway or snuggled under a rug on a horse-drawn carriage through the park or over the cobbles of the old town.


The reason some hotels and vacation rentals cost more than others isn’t always as straightforward as a fancier room or a bigger swimming pool. You might be paying for a more central location or for amenities, such as spas, restaurants, or even childcare. When you’re booking, decide if the price is worth the difference on your trip—if you aren’t planning to do any workouts, then that stunning gym means nothing to you.

Luxury doesn’t necessarily mean a five-star resort. Luxury could mean an ocean-view room or daily breakfast in bed, or maybe even ask your travel agent to reserve the best table in the house for a couple of meals—sometimes eating earlier or later also means you have a better table selection.


Experience is such a big part of true luxury in travel. When a hotel room or flight is long forgotten, experiences stay with you for years to come. Get your travel agent to book a cookery class with a local family. Arrange a sunset meal on the beach, with the waves lapping your ankles. Plan a guided tour of favorite local spots. Rent pretty bikes and cycle off on a day-long wine tasting. Learn to carve, paint, or sculpt with a local artist. Even something as simple as arranging a late checkout on the last day of your vacation can make all the difference to the memories you make.

Spotlight: 3 uber-luxurious locations


Known for its ultra-luxe hotels, including Burj Al Arab, reportedly the only 7-star hotel in the world. Famous, too, for designer shopping malls and unique adventures: think buggy rides over the sand dunes, world-class golf courses, shipwreck dives.


One-island resorts, private villas on the sea, and complete remoteness. Add stunning beaches, thrilling water sports, and the freshest seafood, and you’re in the Maldives.


From its yacht-lined marina to designer boutiques and world-class art galleries, Monaco is a playground for the rich and famous. Think Michelin-star restaurants and glitzy casinos galore.

How to enjoy luxury on a budget, too

Lake Bled, Slovenia

Stunningly beautiful landscapes off the beaten track–with prices to match

Marrakesh, Morocco

Great deals in luxury bohemian riads and on accessible yet unique experiences, like glamping in the Sahara

Lagos, Portugal

Seaside cliffs, picturesque beaches, and boutique hotels at a fraction of the cost of the rest of Europe

Simple pleasures: luxury on family vacations

On a family trip, luxury might be a little time away from the kids for a romantic evening night together. It might be taking the children to somewhere they’ve seen in a movie or read about in a book. It could be as simple as breaking up long flights with fun stopovers, so you don’t have to constantly distract tired, fractious little ones. A travel agent can give you the support you need in planning an itinerary that keeps everyone happy.

That could mean:

  • Prioritizing accommodation with activities for all age groups, such as kids’ clubs, private babysitting services, and family-friendly pools

  • Booking amazing experiences that delight both kids and adults, say Christmas in Lapland or a safari in Africa

  • Arranging private tours of top attractions that skip the queues, work around your family’s schedule, and free you to take breaks whenever you need

For the ultimate luxury, speak to your travel agent

One of the biggest luxury travel trends is using travel agents. That’s because luxury isn’t about paying more, but about having a better experience—and travel agents can help with both. We combine our insider travel knowledge with access to a huge supply of transport, accommodation, and activities to create a seamless end-to-end experience, with a level of comfort and convenience that’s tough to come by when planning and booking a trip yourself.

We use our experience and expertise to recommend destinations that fit your personal criteria and create an experience that is worth every penny—often for less than you might pay if you tried to organize it all alone.

Let us take all the hassle away so you can focus on relaxing in style. Contact Shadow Kissed Travel now.

This guide was created with the support of Expedia TAAP © 2021

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