12 Tipoffs That Tell You Someone Is Not a Real Luxury Traveler

Are you just along for the ride, or do you take charge of your vacation?

Sunset at Turtle Island Fiji
••• There are better things to do at Turtle Island Fiji than check your email. ©Karen Tina Harrison

How Is Luxury Travel Different?

Luxury travel definition, in a few words: it's the way to go. It's comfortable travel. Rewarding travel. The way to see this big, beautiful world.

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.)

What luxury travel is not: a statement of your finances.

Are You a True Luxury Traveler?

Along with some great travel tips, here are a dozen giveaways that suggest...you may not be a luxury traveler just yet.

  • 01 of 12

    You Spend Money, But Not Time, on Planning

    Foreign money: the euro, the pound, the loonie, and more
    ••• Money, money, money: you can throw it, but it may not stick. ©Karen Tina Harrison

    You May Not Be a Real Luxury Traveler If...
    You Think Money Alone Can Buy a Great Vacation 

    But 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.

    Find Your Vacation First. Then Put You Cash on the Line

    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
    • Comparison-shop
    • Read the fine print
    • Look for travel discounts and deals online and elsewhere
    • Know how to find a deal on Luxury Link

  • 02 of 12

    You Go With the Masses

    Private jet gangway steps
    ••• Runway the fun way. No longer out of reach: private jet travel ©Karen Tina Harrison

    You May Not Be a Real Luxury Traveler If...
    You Skimp on Vacation-Planning Time

    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 consult and travel with like-minded individuals. They 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.

    They're confident that upmarket private tour companies will understand the. 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

  • 03 of 12

    In Crowds You Trust

    Cat at computer
    ••• Your vacation planning got delegated...to a tabby. Who's doing your travel research? ©Karen Tina Harrison

    You May Not Be a Real Luxury Traveler If...
    You Cut Corners

    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:
    • Know how to decipher and judge a hotel website
    • Find out, before going, if out their hotel concierge's restaurant...MORE recommendation is not a horrid tourist trap
    • Get many of their facts right here at About Travel

  • 04 of 12

    You're a Total Hotel Snob

    Dive hotel, fleabag hotel, get-me-out-of-here hotel
    ••• We do not recommend this hotel. I concede: not five stars ©Karen Tina Harrison

    You May Not Be a Real Luxury Traveler If...Your Standards Are Inflexible

    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:
    • Under-100-room boutique hotels
    • Dignified, famous-name grand hotels
    • One-price all-inclusive hotels
    • Wonderfully out-of-the-box hotels

    And They Consider Non-Hotel Options, Too

    • Easy luxury villa rentals
    • Live-like-a-local luxury home exchanges
    • High-end cruises
    • Travel clubs like 3rd Home
    ...MORE and Inspirato with American Express

    Continue to 5 of 12 below.
  • 05 of 12

    You Lose Your Cool and Complain

    Nun taking off shoes at airport security
    ••• Everyone waits on the security line. Notice, Sister is not complaining ©Karen Tina Harrison

    You May Not Be a Real Luxury Traveler If...
    When You're Frustrated, You Throw a Toddler Tantrum

    You become infuriated 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're going to make sure the company brass hears about this

    Real Luxury Travelers Keep It Together

    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 They Can Work Things Out And...

    • They don't have to accept the first hotel room or restaurant table they're assigned; they know how to get the hotel room you want
    • What constitutes great service
    • And what to do when things go wrong at a hotel or restaruant

  • 06 of 12
    Sunrise dawn from airplane jet window
    ••• A sight you really don't want to see. Dawn, and you haven't had a moment's shuteye ©Karen Tina Harrison

    You May Not Be a Real Luxury Traveler If...You Buy Airline Tickets in a Hurry or Delegate this Important Task

    And you end up with the worst flights:
    • The ones with 5:50A.M. departures 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 Fly Smart

    They may not always fly business or first class. But they always fly smart. Which means they fly content. They:
    • Have reserved their preferred 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
    • f 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
    • Or they've upgraded at the gate, the cheapest way to get a premium economy seat
    • And they know how to improve their chances of a free upgrade
    • They do what it...MORE takes to get comfortable and fall sleep on a plane (even in coach)
    • And how to get better sleep inflight and how to beat jetlag

  • 07 of 12
    Dita Von Teese in an airport
    ••• That's a lot of clothes to take off. Dita Von Teese travels with an entourage and bag-handlers. Most of us don't ©Scott Barbour/Getty Images

    You May Not Be a Real Luxury Traveler If...
    You Pack for a Six-Month Grand Tour

    Your make vacation your fashion runway. You bring three of everything (but seven pairs of shoes).

    You make sure to bring a garment for every possibility, from black-tie dinner to archeological dig. You pack heavy, bulky, unnecessary things like hairdryer, an iron, a tall umbrella, hardcover books, full-size toiletries, a 15" laptop the weight of a bowling ball, and enough electronics to stock a store.

    And Then Your Vacation Becomes the Epic Battle of the Luggage

    Upshot: you struggle with leaden, unwieldy luggage and baggage-checking fees. You allow your bag to weigh you down logistically, physically, and emotionally.

    It's Time to Lighten Your Load

    Real luxury travelers know how to pack right and pack light and become a nimble carryon-ony flyer. It's even a source of pride. They know that:
    • No entourage means you'll have to shlep all your gear yourself
    • Luxury hotels offer lightning-fast laundry...MORE service
    • Carryon-only means you can walk with your luggage or take quick trains instead of taxis
    • And you will never again wait at the luggage carousel or discover your bags didn't make your connection

  • 08 of 12

    You Tip Like Scrooge

    Elevator man in New York Hotel Piere
    ••• "What floor, Madam?". Tip target: elevator men, like The Pierre Hotel New York's Edmond Siu ©Karen Tina Harrison

    You May Not Be a Real Luxury Traveler If...
    You Don't Share the Wealth

    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

    And They Keep the Love Going with Reviews

    Then, when luxury travelers are home, they create good karma by writing positive onlin...MOREe reviews of all the establishments they enjoyed.
    • See why and how to write a Trip Advisor review
    • Want to really give back? G2G is the world's first philanthropic travel club

    Continue to 9 of 12 below.
  • 09 of 12

    You Misbehave and Get the Wrong Kind of Attention

    Housekeeping maid in messy party hotel room
    ••• Don't play wreck-the-room. Rock-star hotel-room style ©Darrin Klimek/Getty Images

    You May Not Be a Real Luxury Traveler If...
    You've Gone Wild

    You use your vacation as an excuse to regress into deep 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 Disrespect Mother Earth, Too

    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...MORE flowers, pocket seashells, and otherwise take from Mother Nature

    Real Luxury Travelers Travel as Good Citizens

    Real luxury travelers travel on their best behavior. They know:
    • How to respect the local ecosystem
    • How to make people feel good How to say I love you in over 100 languages

  • 10 of 12

    You Live Dangerously

    National Parks poster of forest snad deer
    ••• Wild night? Keep it to yourself, thanks. Animals should be wild. Not us ©Karen Tina Harrison

    You're Reckless, and You Know It

     You do unwise things that get you into trouble. These flagrant misjudgments can have serious consequences:

    • You fly when you're sick. Get even sicker. And infect other passengers
    • You travel with cherished or irreplaceable jewelry and other possessions and are then heartbroken when they're lost or stolen
    • You leave valuables (including your laptop and your passport) out in your hotel room, not in your safe
    • You think you don't need a map and find yourself in dangeous neighborhoods - or lost
    • You don't know your hotel's address
    • You rent a stick shift if you're not a pro
    • You out alone to swim, surf, snorkel, cycle, hike, and so on
    • You use your credit card for everything, even in sketchy little shops
    • You attract the wrong kind attention with flashy designer garb and jewelry and with rolls of cash brandished in public
    • You keep your wallet in a pants pocket like at home
    • You tempt thieves with carelessly carried purses,...MORE cameras, phones

    You Ignore Common Sense and Local Advice

    • You saunter about in the wee hours, or alone
    • You hail unlicensed cabs
    • You hire strangers as tour guides
    • You swim in treacherous waters such as off Los Cabos beaches
    • You tease the temple monkeys

    Real Luxury Travelers Are Cautious

    Written for Rio de Janeiro, but appropriate for any big, unruly city: an urban personal-safety tipsheet 

  • 11 of 12

    You Do Too Much, Even on Vacation

    Computer working on the beach
    ••• Do you really have to? ©Karen Tina Harrison

    You May Not Be a Real Luxury Traveler If...
    You Never Quit (Not Good on Vacation!)

    The work involved in great vacations happens in the planning. When you're there, you should leave the office behind as much as possible.

    You haven't gotten away from it all if you spend your vacation time as an employee, peering at your laptop or calling/emailing/texting colleagues or clients. You're not relaxing. You're not present in spirit, and your travel companion is unhappy.

    A Getaway Means You Get Away in Body and Soul

    Real luxury travelers plan their vacations for times when they can get away from their work. They know that:
    • A pool, golf course, spa, or bar 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 of 12

    Your Itinerary Is So Much Work, You Feel Like a Robot

    Fun funky girl in Taiwan China
    ••• You could shuffle through another museum. Or you could relax with a snack from her shop ©Karen Tina Harrison

    You May Not Be a Real Luxury Traveler If...
    You Forget Spontaneity and Go on Tourist Auto-Pilot

    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 

    Leisure travel should 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  and the 1,000 UNESCO World Heritage Sites have been there for centuries, and will be there next time you swing through
    • Take some time out!