3 Travel Experiences That Redefined 'Luxury' For Me
Photo by Chris Owen
The term “luxury travel” may conjure up images of palace-like accommodations, tuxedoed butlers and Rolls-Royces, but to identify a certain travel experience as “luxurious” is highly subjective, and doesn’t necessarily need to include anything fancy or expensive.
Teatime in the Desert
Some of the most “luxurious” cruise travel experiences can happen in places where great comfort and extravagant living do not take center stage. On a recent trip with a luxury travel company, we toured Egypt then went on into Jordan with first class accommodations every step of the way. Still, one of the most luxurious moments of the adventure came via an old Toyota pickup truck in the desert of Wadi Rum.
Stopping for fresh brewed tea in the Jordan desert, we enjoyed drinking in the scene as camels passed, locals stopped by and there were virtually none of the common elements usually associated with luxury travel. No butler, no opulent accommodations, no sumptuous culinary creations and exclusive access. We just paused for a few minutes to take in the scene, put our heads in the right place and absorbed a luxurious memory.
A lot of what defines real “luxury” is our interpretation of and reaction to what travel throws our way.
A Ship That Never Sailed
Sailing with Viking River Cruises in eastern Germany, our Elegant Elbe river itinerary quickly went in a different direction than we had anticipated due to low water on the river. Basically, we did not sail anywhere, but ended up with one of the best river cruise experiences ever.
Divided between two Viking Longships that were used as bases for daily tours, we spent more time in each place, which allowed for deep destination engagement. Nicely paced anyway, our Viking experience was made all the better by having an abundant amount of time to play with.
Ask me in advance if we planned on eating most dinners off the ship and I would have said no. Indeed, there are cruise lines that stay longer in port so travelers can revel in port-of-call nightlife, but I don’t typically indulge in those types of itineraries.
But put a German pub/restaurant between me and the ship and good things start happening, such as a really luxurious education on German food — as we found out nearly every night of that no-cruise river cruise.
Luxury, it seems, has a lot to do with what matters to us, not what we are told is “luxurious.”
The People We Might Not Have Met Otherwise
Luxury can also be accessed by keeping our eyes, ears and mind open to spontaneous experiences. Often, it is our attitude that either enables or disables that experience from happening.
Take the example of the river cruise that never sailed. There were people on that ship who were understandably mad about the ship not going anywhere. They paid for a cruise and never cruised. Forget that the cruise line offered a full refund and percent off a future cruise, even though the cruise line does not control the weather.
They were mad and never got past that. Unfortunate for them, that same situation brought others one of the most unique and luxurious travel experiences possible.
With time on our hands, we enjoyed lingering at sidewalk cafes a bit longer and met friends along the way we would not have had time for otherwise.
Don’t forget to embrace the luxury of time.
Not one of these experiences was fancy or expensive, though all could be defined as luxurious.
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