Q – Have spent portions of the last three nights reading your Q&A. Really enjoyable and love the information. Here is our brief story: I am retiring in six months and, with the death of my folks earlier this year, have come into enough money that will enable us to do some serious traveling in the years ahead. I have one big question. We’re fairly normal travelers, been to Europe twice, once on a cruise, once on a tour. We’ve done a lot int he States and we spent two weeks in Mexico. But now we are looking to expand our horizons. So our big question:

We can’t splurge on everything – nor would we want to. Generally speaking, do you feel that money is best spent on flying in the front of the plane, on accommodations, on fine dining, or on sightseeing?  We’re having a hard time deciding and we’re not at all confident that a local travel agent can answer this one. 

A – It is a little hard to answer this one without knowing you and having an in-depth discussion. The answer will be different for different travelers. But thank you so much for phrasing a really BIG question. In gratitude, we are going to try to answer it as specifically as possible with our recommendations:

Aircraft Seats: If there are medical reasons to fly Business or First do so. If you have miles to use do so. If not try for a good quality Premium Economy that will still give you the critical extra legroom. We like to phrase it this way to our clients: Imagine you are going to sit through a triple feature at your local movie theater. Would you pay $3000 extra for a larger seat with more legroom? 

Accommodations:  Always select one of the top-tier hotels because they employ a 24-hour security force and they change the bedding as often as you would expect it to be changed. You also need to care about who your fellow guests are likely to be. But notice that the lower priced accommodations in a top-tier hotel give you access to each of these important features. Don’t splurge on the room but do splurge on the hotel. If you have a heart attack, they know they have to call best cardiologist doctors. And always remember that if you know the price of your hotel room you have likely overpaid.

Dining: This is where we save. Three-star Michelin dining is no longer chic. Dine as the locals dine and pay what they pay for food. You will eat well and come home with better stories. 

Sightseeing – This is the one most amateurs miss. The single most important element in your enjoyment and understanding of a destination is the use of a professional guide trained to discuss those subjects that interest you most.  The one BIG splurge ought to be, for most people, the services absolutely superb guides. The very best consultants know how to snag them around-the-world.