Rethinking Private Travel | Condé Nast Traveler - Condé Nast Traveler

Rethinking Private Travel | Condé Nast Traveler - Condé Nast Traveler

Of course, if the planning (and corralling friends and family) feels like too much, you can always enlist a travel specialist to fulfill your dreams—while keeping your desire for seclusion in mind. “We have the relationships and knowledge to make the trip special for our clients,” says Ilana Silverman, a travel advisor at New York–based agency Embark Beyond. A skilled travel fixer can help book coveted corner rooms or help figure out how to convert function rooms into a family lounge; they can even work with hotels to keep part of the property all to yourselves. And they’re pros at curating itineraries, so you can sit back and enjoy, say, a private horseback tour in the Dominican Republic without worrying about the finer details. “Having a dedicated travel agent will not only inspire new ideas,” says Silverman, “but will also make it easier to change plans and adapt to any new rules and regulations.” As the world continues to figure out what travel now looks like, such peace of mind is invaluable.

Private travel doesn’t have to define an entire experience, either. It can also improve the little moments between departure and arrival: resting at an airport lounge on a layover, calling a hotel concierge for reservations in a city where you don’t speak the language, arranging for a car service to pick you up from the airport. Personalized attention and tailored hospitality can make all the difference on a trip. These extra elements elevate the parts of traveling that feel like a chore into chances to be cared for, giving you more precious time with your travel companions—or with yourself. These experiences, whether big or small, can add a new dimension to your adventures, making the return to travel that much sweeter. —Matt Ortile

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Travel upgrades that make your trip feel private

“Private travel” isn’t just for celebs and CEOs—and treating yourself can turn even the most mundane tasks into moments of ease, fun, and relaxation. Here are some indulgences all travelers can score without burning through the vacation budget.

Relax in a lounge, even when flying economy

Many airlines like Alaska or American sell day passes to their clubs directly, or through a third party like LoungeBuddy—no premium ticket or elite status necessary. And paying for international lounge networks like No1 or Plaza Premium can feel like scoring a slice of first class for yourself, especially during off-peak hours (hello, 4 a.m. layovers).

Use a chauffeur service to get around town

See a city in style by hiring a car and driver by the hour or day. Beyond airport transfers, chauffeurs can save you the hassle of navigating a subway or shepherding your family into multiple cabs or ride-shares—and who doesn’t want to glimpse a brand-new destination at street level? Many services like Blacklane and 8rental also offer day trips (think, from Manhattan to the Hamptons, or even Naples from Rome). And sometimes, drivers even double as guides who can show you a local slice of life.

Book private tours—especially for popular tourist sites

Many tourist attractions offer private tour packages: At Universal Studios, a VIP tour gets you backstage access and the privilege of skipping long lines; at the Vatican, a guided tour can get you into parts of the grounds normally closed off to visitors. By getting in with a pro—whether through the attraction directly, or a third-party company like CityWonders or Viator—it can feel like any place is all yours to enjoy. At the very least, you’ll be able to make the most of your visit, since you won’t waste time waiting to buy tickets or deciphering maps.

Enlist the help of a concierge

Let a hotel concierge take care of you—especially if you’re celebrating a special occasion. They can often arrange event tickets, restaurant reservations, and other experiences you may not be able to snag yourself. (Don’t forget to tip!) Even at home, a concierge might be available to you through certain credit cards; American Express is famous for their Centurion concierge, but World Elite Mastercards and Visa Signature cards also offer top-rate concierges. —M.O.

Editor’s note: Please check local restrictions and guidelines before traveling.

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