Travel like an A-lister: How to have the luxury holiday of your dreams

Any chance for a vacation is fine by us, but there are times you want to give your holiday plans an upgrade and make the experience extra special, without needing an A-lister's budget to pull it off.

Plan ahead as much as you can, or as little as your nerves will allow

If you're looking to score a great deal, your chances improve if you can get in early. Anywhere from six to twelve months in advance should give you the edge when booking flights and hotels, because airlines and hotels appreciate the security of knowing they have reservations in the book. If you have flexibility on your side because you're planning so far in advance, be sure to look at the costs to holiday on two weeks each side of your ideal dates, and take the time to look through the costs on each day, especially for flights. There can be differences of hundreds of dollars in flight costs between week days and weekends, and if you're willing to fly during non-peak times.

On the flip side, hotels and airlines will often discount heavily as booking dates draw closer, and these are aggregated by a number of sites like lastminute.com. If you're prepared to be flexible, you can secure some awesome deals at the last minute for top class hotels around the world.

Loyalty pays off

This is more of a long-term exercise, but if you fly or travel frequently, especially for work, try to remain loyal to a certain airline or hotel chain, and join their rewards programs. While the days of free upgrades for frequent fliers are becoming more rare, you will increase your chances over the long-term if you can show that you're a loyal customer, and have the creds to back it up. Use your frequent flier card at every opportunity, and make sure you're aware of partner programs where you can also secure points on transactions that are unrelated to the airline or hotel chain.

While most of us would like to deal with less emails, it can also pay off not to automatically delete the emails from these providers when they land in your inbox. Often there will be deals on experiences, restaurants or car rental that can add another opportunity to upgrade your trip.

Spend your cash on experiences

Everyone is getting on board with the idea that experiences and memories are far more valuable than things, and while a holiday shopping spree certainly has its place, you'll almost certainly appreciate the once-in-a-lifetime activities you indulged in instead.

In addition to offering accommodation, AirBnB also curates experiences from suppliers all around the world so you can find something truly unique and local, and often arrange private events.

Be upfront about special occasions

If you're booking a hotel for a special occasion, such as a milestone birthday, anniversary or other big event, take the time to contact the hotel directly and make your reservation, or enquire about how to make the event more special. A simple call or email letting them know that you're planning your stay to mark a special occasion, and whether they have any recommendations for restaurants or activities to make the event even more special, can pay off with the potential for an upgrade, a discount at the bar or even a bottle of wine delivered to your room.

Let someone else plan it out for you

Many people scoff that the days of the travel agent are over thanks to the internet, but these companies still exist for a reason. They have programs and connections that are able to search farther and wider than anything you have access to online, and the knowledge to craft a truly unique experience that is in line with your budget.

In a similar vein, don't scoff at all-inclusive packages from sites that operate as digital travel agents. Many people worry that they won't be getting value for money if everything is bundled in together, but often you will get more included because your supplier is working with preferred vendors who are able to provide lower prices due to long-term relationships. There are a number of sites dedicated to curating luxury holiday packages at significant discounts, so it can pay off if you take some time to research your options. Knowing you have breakfast organised every morning, a range of dinner options each night, daily activities and private airport transfers all sorted before you arrive can be enough to make anyone feel like an A-lister!

Consider splashing out on a fancy holiday home instead of a hotel

Thanks to AirBnb, you can spend a week or so living in the kind of mansion you could only ever dream of. While you won't have the benefit of hotel service, you will have complete peace and privacy, and is a great option if you're travelling with a group of friends. After all, nothing says A-lister like letting the champagne flow with your entourage at a private party in a fancy mansion!

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