Vacations are expensive. Most of us scrimp and save just to be able to afford a couple of nice vacations a year for our families. We stick to a budget and make sure that we don’t go overboard because the little things do truly add up. However, if you are going to spend so much on a nice trip anyway, sometimes a couple expensive vacation splurges could really make the difference to keep your vacation from being just another trip to making it something truly special.
Here are 10 great ways to splurge to make your vacation memorable. You certainly don’t have to do all of these on every trip (That really would break the bank!), but I often do find that 1 or a combination of 2 of these suggestions will elevate your trip to the next level.
1. Get extra room on the plane
This is particularly important for us tall people with longer legs. I’m five nine and my husband is 6 foot. Even my three teenagers are all now taller than I am so when we fly we really hate for our knees to be pushed into the seat in front of us. On a shorter flight (under 3 hours), we will often grin and bear it. But when we are flying to a destination west of the Mississippi from Chicago or anywhere outside of the country we will always splurge for preferred seating that gives us that extra bit of space.
I normally try to get the bulkhead where even I can often stretch my legs fully forward. On some flights, especially when it is just my husband and I traveling, I find that First Class isn’t too much of a stretch budget wise. In general, on longer flights, because we have long legs I often find that splurging for some extra legroom is worth arriving at my destination without feeling like my legs are all tied up in a knot!
2. Set up a Welcome Gift
This is a fun expensive vacation splurge that really does not add much to your budget and can make for a very memorable arrival to your destination. When my husband and I are traveling together, sometimes I or he will set up in advance for a bottle of wine or champagne and flowers to be ready in the room when we arrive. This is such a nice touch and really “sets the mood” upon arrival. Even a few truffles with a welcome sign set up can make you feel so special.
Heck, even when I know that these touches are going to be there because I am the one who sets it up it still just gives me all the feels when I arrive.
You can do the same type of things with your kids and really tailor it to the type of vacation you are going on. Frisbees and sunglasses waiting for your kids for a beach trip or mouse ears and plushies for your Disney trip and your kids will squeal with delight when they enter the room. (We’ve even had bones waiting for our dog)
3. Get a room with a view
This is actually an expensive vacation splurge that I don’t skimp on. To me, the view from the room is a big part of the whole vacation. I love to sit out on the balcony of the room early in the morning, in the middle of the day and late at night to take it all in. I certainly don’t want to be staring at a parking lot, a brick wall, or worse, the garbage dumpster in back while I’m trying to relax.
Yes, getting better views is certainly an upgrade but I often find that many resorts/hotels have several different levels of views.
I may not get the highest level but sometimes the middle option is not much more than the baseline price but will give you a pool view or a courtyard view rather than the parking lot view.
And sometimes (not always) I have been able to upgrade my room just by asking at the front desk when I arrive.
One year during spring break after driving my kids and my mom 20 hours from Chicago to Disney World in Florida I was absolutely heartbroken to find that our room at the Boardwalk faced the parking lot. I had requested a room we had the previous year that faced a courtyard from which we could see the Epcot fireworks from our balcony. Upon going downstairs to the front desk I kindly explained to the cast member my disappointment in the situation. I explained that I knew that my request was unlikely to be possible since it was the height of spring break but I asked if he had anything else available. Not only did he have something else available but it was a huge complimentary room upgrade to a premium room right on the Boardwalk.
I’ve had some fabulous views on vacations but this one really stands out in my mind because I went from utterly defeated to beyond elated just from one cast member’s generosity! The moral of the story is; It never hurts to ask!!
4. Get a separate room from the kids
Traveling with kids can be incredibly stressful. Especially when they are young! It can really make all the difference if you and your spouse can separate from the kids for a quiet break.
This can mean getting a type of “condotel” or an airbnb type rental or booking two connecting rooms. Some destinations are easier to accommodate than others. This is no problem when you go to Orlando for example. The options are endless and very affordable. However, when my family and I went to Mexico over Christmas break a few years ago we went through a travel agent to find a family friendly resort that had connecting rooms (Not as common in Mexico)
It can certainly be a splurge to get two rooms but we are a family of 5 and having all of us in one room can be quite a squeeze. I have found through the years that my husband is far more likely to want to go on a trip if he knows we will have our own room apart from the kids. After all, even on a family trip, parents need some intimate time together!!
5. Purchase a special souvenir
Here is an expensive vacation splurge that really needs to be kept in check. Buying souvenirs can really add up so you need to make sure to budget for them properly. I was once on a trip with a friend and our kids and her 7 year old cried for everything that caught his eye. She was impressed that my kids seemed oblivious to all the glittery and light up toys that all the other kids were clamoring for. I explained that since they were little, I have ingrained in them that they get to pick 1 souvenir per vacation. Therefore, they take everything in and make a very careful decision regarding what they will pick and they are content.
The souvenirs we buy are often special for that particular trip. My daughter and I have purchased matching Minnie ears at Christmas time at Disney for example.
My husband has bought me a designer purse in Vegas that I have used for years since. We have often found that the best souvenirs are those that come with an experience. For example; building a droid at Hollywood Studios in Disney World was a huge splurge. But since we are a huge Star Wars family, the memories that came with that experience of building their own droids was money well spent.
The same type of thing could be said for buying interactive wands at Hogsmeade in the Harry Potter world at Universal Studios. It isn’t something we would do on every trip, but watching the kids run around the park and making “magic” was an experience that we will never forget and they have brought those wands on subsequent trips so the original investment was well worth it.
The bottom line is, if you don’t have a strategy at the beginning of your trip, buying souvenirs can get out of control. But if you are careful about it and budget it properly, souvenirs can be a splurge that has special memories for years to come.
6. Rent a luxury car
This is a splurge that we have only done a couple of times. With our family of five we normally rent some type of large SUV to accommodate us and all our luggage. So when it comes to a family trip, space is more important than luxury. But when my husband and I drove across England for our 20th anniversary it was fun to rent a little zippy Mercedes. Not only did we have a small little car to get us through the tight hedge lined roads of the English countryside but we could do it in style. This is one of those expensive vacation splurges that was well worth the money.
As my husband and I travel more often together on our own, I can see us indulging in this splurge more often. This suits my husband’s tastes since he is very much into sporty cars and I can sit back and enjoy the scenery while he is in his happy place behind the wheel. (Win-Win!!)
7. Book an upscale hotel for a part of your vacation
Have you ever done a “split stay” on your vacation? This makes the most sense to people when you are doing a “travel” type trip where you will be in multiple destinations and you are obviously staying in multiple hotels across the length of your vacation. But you could do this same thing even if you are going on a 1 destination type of trip.
For example; If you are going to Disney World in Florida for a week or Disneyland in California for 5 days you could split your stay across 2 different hotels. This is helpful for when you want to stay in one of the deluxe hotels but cost wise, don’t want to spend that kind of money for every night of the trip. We once went to Disneyland in California for four nights. We stayed at the Disneyland Hotel for 2 nights and then switched to the Grand California for the last 2 nights.
When you do a split stay, you want to make sure to keep the upscale hotel as the hotel you are switching to, not the one you are leaving behind. Otherwise, this could be a vacation splurge turns into a bust. You want to obviously be excited by the switch, not dreading it. It may sound like a hassle, but at a place like Disney, they will actually transport all the luggage for you.
When we were in London, we switched from one hotel to another several blocks away and the hotel we were switching to even sent a bell hop to the hotel we were currently in to help us move our luggage.
When our family is on a multiple destination trip, we often stay in moderate hotels throughout the trip and then book a couple nights at a more luxurious hotel at the end of the trip. It’s always one of our favorite expensive vacation splurges at the end of a trip and exciting to save the best for last!
8. Treat yourself to a message at the spa
This is another one of those expensive vacation splurges that my husband regularly takes on vacations. A message helps my husband relax and loosen up on the trip. He can often find the hectic pace of our trips to be a bit stressful so I often book him a message in advance. If we are on a trip without the kids, he goes for a message while I can chill with a cocktail at the pool (my way to de-stress ) If we are with the kids, I likewise will spend time with the kids at the pool while he is getting his message. This schedule works great because I love the pool and he really doesn’t so it’s another Win-Win and therefore, it is money well spent.
A splurge at the spa is also a great little activity to take part in on a girl’s trip as my suitcase sister, Andie and I can attest to. The last time we were in Vegas on a couples trip, the guys went to the shooting range while we hit up the spa. The Cosmopolitan has a gorgeous spa by the way so it was time and money well spent!
9. Book a unique excursion
To be honest, my husband and I do not often like the group type of excursions that you can book through the hotel itself. A lot of time is often wasted and I don’t really want to spend my vacation time with a lot of strangers. But we will frequently book our own excursions in which I can choose exactly what I am looking for. On our recent family trip to Anna Maria Island in Florida, My husband took our two boys on their first fishing adventure.
He really loves to fish and so it was a unique bonding time for them and my youngest really came away enjoying the experience ( my older boy not so much but you can’t win them all!) My daughter and I in the meantime got to sleep in and get a lovely breakfast together on the pier. We also booked a fun “tiki” ocean excursion on the same trip and the captain took us to some outer islands to get some unique pictures and collect some interesting shells.
These expensive vacation splurges ended up being some of the highlights of our family trip to the beach.
10. Have at least one nice dinner out
We are big foodies in our family so good food is a very important part of our vacations. We quite often have more than one nice dinner on our trips and we certainly always make our last meal of the trip very special. By saving the best restaurant for last, we always have something to look forward to at the end of the trip.
I also make sure that we all pack at least one nice outfit for that special meal. Some of my favorite vacation memories are the nice meals that we have together.
The kids all have their favorite types of restaurants too. For my daughter, it’s hibachi. For my older son, it’s any steakhouse and the youngest likes a good burger.
On an intimate vacation with just Erik and I or a fun couples trip with my suitcase sister, Andie and her husband Kelly, dinners out are often the highlight of the trip.
I love dressing up and indulging in good food and wine. It truly would not be a vacation to me without splurging on some nice dinners! When investing in expensive vacation splurges, don’t forget a great meal out!
Vacations are pricey. But if you are going to take one, you want it to be memorable. Make sure you go above and beyond by indulging in some of our recommended expensive vacation splurges!
What is your favorite vacation splurge? Which of our recommended expensive vacation splurges have you done? Do you agree with our assessments? What are we missing? Join the conversion and share any tips, questions, or thoughts in the comments!
For more travel ideas be sure to check out our other posts!