How to Travel Like a Queen on a Retirement Budget


Well, I certainly don’t have my own plane and can’t afford super luxury hotels on Lake Como. But when I look at the attributes of what is considered luxury travel, there are many ways I can accomplish them even on a budget.

As always, it’s a question of attitude and your inherent sense of “taste” and of what makes you feel luxurious. Different things for different people. Here’s how I travel and some of the things that make me feel luxurious. It’s a companion piece to how to live like a millionaire on a retirement budget.

Jet Lag Affects Everyone Not Just Economy Class

First of all, let’s remember that travel comes from the French word “travail” which means work. Travel is not glamorous. Travel is work. It’s planning, packing, getting there, waiting. Sitting. Arriving. Remember, jet lag affects everyone, whether flying in first class or economy. It’s your attitude and how you deal with things that can make a trip feel good and luxurious – or annoying and exhausting.

Take Control of Your Travel Experience

For me, traveling well means taking as much control of my travel experience as I can. This way, I can enjoy mostly the good. I can’t control everything, but I can control a huge amount. When I am in control, I feel less pushed around. I deal with fewer people which causes fatigue. I get through airport routines much more quickly.

No Rushing

For me, luxurious travel is about being relaxed and tranquil. Rushing, being late, running for a plane is not luxurious. It’s stressful and not attractive! Getting nervous, sweating, worrying are the exact opposite of calm, luxurious travel.

I leave extra early for the airport, train station or even a road trip. I want to arrive at the airport with no nerves jangling. There are always things that can happen. Traffic accidents can clog roadways. There can be mass transit delays, weather situations, overcrowding at peak hours on airport shuttles. I can’t control so many things, but I can control what time I leave the house. So I leave extra early. I’d rather arrive early and sip a cappuccino at the airport, browsing through Vogue, than sweat, worry and run. I am relaxed, which promotes a luxurious sense of well-being.

Hurry Up and Wait is Not Luxurious

Here are some ideas on how to get around travel rules and regulations. You can’t get out of the strict security rules of travel, but you can make your life a lot easier. It requires work. Are you willing to do it?

For starters, you can apply for TSA PreCheck and go through designated, private security lines. These are faster, less crowded security check in lines, where you’re not taking off clothes, belts, shoes and emptying computers into the bin. From my experience, everyone in TSA PreCheck seems to be happy. Happy is nice.

Go a step further and apply for Global Entry. That allows you to bypass immigration lines by going to a fancy kiosk, putting in your Global Entry card/number and you’re done. While you’re calling Uber, your seat mates are still standing online for immigration and customs.

Global Entry requires planning. Go online, pay $100 USD, fill out an application. Then go to a Transportation and Homeland Security office in an airport for an interview. The savings in time and effort when you return back to the U.S. and in certain cities around the world is invaluable. Imagine landing, and just whisking yourself out of the airport.

Carry On Is Glam On

Carry on travel is luxurious because I am not standing around waiting for my luggage at the end of a long flight when I’m tired and in desperate need of a shower and a glass of bubbly. Also, I look pretty sleek and powerful as I wheel myself easily through the airport, onto buses or trams without making a grimace face. I want to look lean and mean. Easy and free. That’s luxurious in my book.

If You Look Good, You Feel Good and Vice Versa

One of my gripes is how people dress today for airplane travel. In the “old days” people actually dressed up to travel. It was a glamorous occasion. Times have changed, and travel has become commonplace and an endurance contest. Today, it looks as though everyone’s in their pajamas.

I’m all for comfort, but if I’m frumpy, that’s not a luxurious feeling for me. There are ways to dress stylishly and in great comfort. Start thinking about “travel clothes.” Try the perfect black pull on pants that are comfy but look tres chic. War some edgy, slip on shoes that are super comfortable. Layers and a yummy, oversized scarf for the airplane chill. When I look good, I feel good. Travel is trying, but I don’t need to look frumpled.

Comfort Is the Ultimate Luxury

Being hungry or uncomfortable is not luxurious. Pulling out a sexy, overstuffed sandwich that I picked up at my favorite gourmet deli, or better yet, one I made for myself at home, is sheer luxury. A home cooked meal on an airplane? Yes, please.

I always pack a bar of really good chocolate and some gummy bears for snacking on my own time. I never wait for the drinks cart to make its way down the aisle. I bring a bottle of bubbly water and a beverage (a cup of soothing, milky tea or a cool smoothie) onto the plane, so that I’m refreshing myself just like the passengers in first class, as we wait to take off. If it’s a short flight and only coffee and tea are offered, I like to pull out a scone or muffin that I packed to make that lonely cup of tea seem oh so more delightful.

Comfort is the ultimate luxury. I make sure to have a travel pillow, a large shawl to keep cozy and look glamorous in. I take my shoes off and put on my fluffy fleece travel socks. I have my eye shade and earplugs. I always have a grippingly good book (paper or on my iPad) and a notebook to write my thoughts in. I knit and crochet, so I like to have a small travel project with me. Not being bored or antsy is a way to turn long hours into a relaxed, contemplative “me” time.

Brushing my teeth and washing my face before I land makes me feel fresh and, that magic word: in control. Fresh for me is luxurious. I arrive at the hotel or back home without looking “as if.”

Luxury = Pampering Myself

I know these things sound obvious and you’ve probably heard them before. But I find they always serve me well. Attitude adjustment is everything. Travel is not something we should suffer as much as we seem to. Let’s make it as gorgeous as we can.

Let’s bring the luxury back to our travel. Do you have any travel tips you can share with us? Have you had travel experiences where you felt pampered and luxurious. Please join the conversation!

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