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10 Hacks to Travel Like a Billionaire (but on a Budget)

Traveling like the rich and famous is easier than you think.

Life can be a hustle when you’re not in the top 1%. Between being gouged by gas stations and hidden resort fees, satisfying wanderlust by even regular means can be a struggle. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could live like an episode of The Crown or Life of Kylie for just one day? (I.e. bask in luxury.) We’ll let you in on a little secret…you darn well can…even without Buffet or Gates behind your first name.

Here are 10 absolutely genius hacks to help even the most humble of travelers get a taste of life as the rich and famous. Some, we admit, are a tiny splurge while others are as cheap as a DVD bundle, but all of these gems will bring you a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience that any Tinder Swindler would covet. 

1 OF 10

Fly Semi-Private

Does anyone REALLY need all that space? When you’re used to Spirit (*shudder*), even basic economy on Delta can feel LIKE a treat (OMG, free sanitizer wipes and pretzels).

Get the ultimate selfie and five-star service on JSX. The airline proudly offers a private jet-style experience as close to a commercial price as possible. A single trip from Burbank to Concord/Napa, for example, will set you back $189 each way, while Dallas to Austin goes as low as $169. You’ll waltz through a private terminal 20 minutes before departure, walk the tarmac right onto the plane, and fly in an intimate cabin with a maximum of just 30 other passengers, who you can just pretend are your personal entourage. Hop off and grab your bag from right under the plane, and you’re good to go.

All together now (Fergie-style): g.l.a.m.o.r.o.u.s.

2 OF 10

Rock the Penthouse Suite in a Boutique Hotel

While the Palms Casino Resort in Vegas charges a whopping $100,000 per night for its Empathy Suite, you can get Hotel Theodore’s “Residence in Seattle” suite for around $1,200 during low season (that’s $400 each if you don’t mind sharing with a couple of pals). Here, a private key-access elevator opens directly onto the 2,000-square-foot penthouse, which features 360-degree floor-to-ceiling windows, its own theatre, balcony with hot tub, and a private art gallery containing original works by Roy Lichtenstein and Northwest artist Fay Jones. As if that’s not enough, the suite has a breezy wrap-around terrace and fireplace. This is the ultimate secret super stay.


3 OF 10

Borrow a Designer Wardrobe

Are you one of those people that buys a holiday outfit and then never wears it again? Then you might as well just borrow your wardrobe. Companies like Rent the Runway have ballooned in popularity over the years, loaning customers items from over 750 designers for either one flat monthly price or a purchase per rental. You can trial four items for $69—a lot less than if you were to buy-to-own (and less wasteful, too). Meanwhile, high street clothing brands are also getting in on the act. Scotch and Soda offer a three-item per month subscription for $99.

4 OF 10

Hire a Professional Photographer

When on vacay we all want to look our most scrumptious in front of monuments—it’s no wonder that Anna Delvey hired all that creative help to travel with her to Morocco. Shoott is an awesome AAPI female-run business that finds the most talented local freelance snappers and offers their services at an affordable price. They service over 60 cities in the U.S., so whether you want the perfect summer picnic shot in Central Park or snowshoeing action shot in Colorado, you’re guaranteed something your Instagram hubby regularly misses the mark on. Simply book a free 30-minute session at your selected destination and pay only for the photos you love starting at $30 a photo. Totally worth it.

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Hire a Chauffeur...For the Airport

While it’s most luxurious to have a suited driver at your beck and call, it also costs a fortune (and rideshares are more than adequate to get you from bar to hotel). However, to get a taste of the VIP-on-wheels experience, book a Blacklane. Their airport pickups include a stellar meet-and-greet experience, including luggage assistance, with your dedicated team tracking flights to adjust pickup times, so you need not fret upon arrival. The service is available in over 50 countries, and really, there’s nothing like seamless tarmac to hotel journey after a grueling flight. Rates vary on distance and are all-inclusive (including taxes, tolls, and fees) at the time of booking.

6 OF 10

Join Airline Clubs for First-Class Lounges

Did you know that you don’t have to fly first-class to get the first-class experience on the ground? Many airlines have great loyalty programs, such as Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club. Their points morph into rewards such as upgrades, flights, and best of all, 1,000 tier points get you Upper-Class check-in, extra baggage allowance, and Clubhouse access, no matter what cabin you fly.

Understand what a big deal this is: Clubhouse is the Disney World of airline lounges. We’re talking sleeping pods, steam rooms, fine dining restaurants, Peloton workout rooms, and cocktail bars. You’ll probably have more fun here than on the actual vacation.

7 OF 10

Fly Through Airport Security Like a VIP

Considering how affordable and beneficial it is, we’re surprised that most travelers haven’t opted in for Global Entry. Their loss is your gain (suckers) because you’ll speed through to the departure gate before they’ve even taken their shoes off. It costs just $100 for five years and includes TSA pre-check. When returning from international trips, simply get a face scan, and you’re expedited past immigration within minutes (in most cases, anyway) like you’re Oprah. TSA-line officers are also much friendlier too—like, you’ll even get a smile. Now that’s 20 bucks a year well spent. Can’t score a Global Entry interview? Nab the freebie Mobile Passport app and fly right through customs.

8 OF 10

Forget the Yacht and Charter a Boat Instead

According to Getmyboat, the average boat owner only uses their vessel 8% of the year. That means that our seas have a lot of boats just waiting for your eager rear ends to grace their plush marine interiors. There are plenty of charter companies where you can get a captain thrown in, so there’s no need for a license, from rental apps like Boatsetter to adventure gifters like Virgin Experience Days. We’ve spotted gorgeous sailboats from around $200 per hour for up to six guests.

9 OF 10

5-Star Resorts Without the Hefty Pricetag

Spending a week-long vacation at a Ritz-Carlton or Fairmont is a luxury we can’t all afford, but there’s still a way to dip your toes in their glorious pools nonetheless. ResortPass partners with over 1,000 hotels and resorts to offer up day passes to their pools, spa, fitness, and other activity areas. In short, you can utilize luxury hotel amenities during the day and retreat back to your Airbnb at night. Day passes start at just $25, and for a little more, some hotels offer work passes whereby you get down to business in plush surroundings, a desk, and high-speed Wi-Fi.

10 OF 10

Look for 5-Star Deals

If you’ve always wanted to rock up at a fancy restaurant and say, “I’ll have one of everything,” then consider this your bucket list dream come true. You just have to do your research: many big cities offer all-you-can-eat-or-drink situations that only the locals know about. For example, in Tokyo, a number of fancy hotels—like the swanky Lost in Translation hotel, The Park Hyatt—have free-flowing drinks and canapes every evening around sunset. Meanwhile, in London, did you know that afternoon tea in most hotels and restaurants is unlimited? This is rarely ever advertised, but we’ve asked for extras at The Dorchester, Sketch, Shangri-La, and The Wolseley and had nothing added to our bill. 

INSIDER TIPAsk your waiter if they offer complimentary refills before going crazy.