Do you ever wonder about where to splurge vs. save on vacation? Travel can be expensive, and even more so when you think of all the things you want to do and don’t want to miss out on when you take that dream vacation. I’m planning my family trip now to Germany and Austria, and it’s so easy to get carried away with the planning, from luxurious resorts and five-star restaurants to once-in-a-lifetime tours in places we’ve only dreamed of.  When setting your vacation budget, consider all the areas in which you will need to spend money, and then determine what is most important to you. If you’ve ever wondered where you should splurge and where you should save, here are some handy guidelines to consider.

Upgrading to Business / First Class

Lufthansa Premium Economy seats

Maybe you’ve always wanted to be on the other side of the curtain aboard your plane, and you think now is your chance. While it is tempting, paying thousands more for a business class seat can drastically blow your overall travel budget. An option that straddles the line between splurging and saving (although leans heavily towards a splurge) is checking last minute at the gate if there are any seats available in business class at the time of departure. If there are empty seats, some airlines will sell them off for less than what they sell them for online – although it can still end up being a hefty sum. Instead of stretching your budget to reserve business class, consider asking your travel advisor to book you bulkhead seats with extra legroom, or in the premium economy section.

Verdict: Save 

Nonstop Flights

Have you ever seen an ad for ultra-cheap flights to a popular vacation destination and thought for a moment that you should jump on it?  Did you ever wonder why it was so cheap? It’s usually because those fares include multiple connections or overnight layovers. Unless you enjoy layovers and transfers and sitting on tarmacs for any length of time, splurge for the nonstop flights. This kind of splurge can almost always be seen as worth it if it significantly reduces your hassle while traveling, or if it gives you back your time. Remember, time is money.

Verdict: Splurge

Travel Insurance

Never forget the travel protection

Since COVID19, we’ve all heard horror stories of non-refundable trips gone wrong. Never before has travel insurance been so important, with rules and regulations changing rapidly from country to country. You’ve invested so much in your vacation – don’t let it go to waste by trying to save those few extra bucks to protect it.

Verdict: Splurge

Cheap Trinkets and Souvenirs

It can be tempting to want to pick up all kinds of little tchotchkes with your destination’s name on them – those shot glasses, t-shirts, or key chains.  They’re cheap and a quick memory of your trip.  But chances are they’ll break, wear out or simply end up in next year’s yard sale. The run-of-the-mill tourist shops that have these items get them in bulk for a fraction of what they’re selling them for, and more often than not, are not from the local area. Take a trip instead to the local grocery store! While the treats won’t be as delicately packaged, they’ll be extra authentic, after all – they’re what the locals eat!

Verdict: Save


Artists’ market in Panama

Art is a souvenir that will never go out of style. Instead of those cheap trinkets, visit a local market for artisan-made goods. Locally created art is something that will adorn your home for a long time and will be a constant memory of that dream trip vacation. For an extra special touch, consider setting up a private photoshoot with a local photographer through a service like Flytographer.

Verdict: Splurge


Food cart in NYC

Good food is an absolute must on vacation and can eat into your vacation budget (see what I did there?), but it doesn’t have to. When it’s time to eat, walk a little further away from the tourist attractions. The best and most authentic restaurants in any city can be found off the beaten path and in the local neighborhoods. It’s there that you will find memorable meals for a fraction of the cost of a meal in the tourist areas. These are the places that the locals go to with their families and friends. Also, never overlook the street food and the hold-in-the-wall restaurants if you want a meal that will be seared into your memory for years. Remember, fancy does not necessarily equal good. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should completely overlook a meal at that Michelin-starred restaurant you’ve been reading about and are dying to try. Just don’t think you have to eat like that every day or for every meal.

Verdict: Save


This is a tough one to call, and ultimately really comes down to your travel style and comfort level. For some, a vacation includes 1,000 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets and prompt room service, while others simply want a place to rest their head after a day of explorations and adventure. Ultimately what matters most is location, location, location. Wherever you choose, make sure it’s accessible to attractions you’d like to visit and activities you’d like to partake in. The view doesn’t hurt either – I mean, who wouldn’t like to wake up to a view of the Acropolis or the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean?

Verdict: It’s a Tie.


When you are hitting multiple cities in one trip, it will be hard and expensive to book private tours at all the attractions. Consider taking one of the many free walking tours major cities offer to get your bearings, or even a less expensive group tour, and book the private or small-group tour for the places that you really want to visit in-depth, not just the ones you think you need to visit. 

Verdict: Save

Bucket-List Experiences

Hot air balloons over Cappadocia, Turkey

I’m talking about the stuff travel dreams are made of. A hot air balloon ride at sunset over Cappadocia, a private driver on the Amalfi Coast, a private safari experience in Kenya. Whatever is on your dream list, if your budget can allow it – definitely make it happen. Life is short, you’ll never regret a once-in-a-lifetime travel experience.

Verdict: Splurge.

Whether you’re splurging or saving, I’d love to help make your travel dreams come true! Get in touch with me here and we can talk about how to make your dream vacation become a reality!

Happy Travels!



Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out these articles:

5 Luxury Vacations to Add to Your Travel Dream List

Luxury Family Travel in Mexico’s Caribbean

Amazing Trips for Every Season