Posted on 22 March 2010.
We asked Rachael Summers, a travel expert with Walt Disney Resorts and a seasoned traveler in her own right, how she would define “traveling in style.” At first, Rachael tried to break it down according to travel occasions, but she realized that a lot of her criteria applied whether she was traveling for business or pleasure, with or without the family. Then, she asked the most important question: “Does money matter?” We assured her money was no object; but until she got to the top of her list, Rachael listed little do-it-yourself amenities that added little to the cost of her trips. Among the top ten ways to travel in style, almost all of them depend on the choices you make, the people you meet, and the ways you manage your time. In Rachael’s own words, “It turns out that traveling in style is mostly a matter of honoring the reasons you travel in the first place: you want to do things, meet people, have fun, and make memories. You do not need a whole lot of money to have a whole lot of style.” Specifically, the travel expert recommends…
1. Everything private!
Sighing, Rachael says, “If money really were no object, I would make everything private. Private jet. Private ground transportation. Private accommodations. Everything. As a matter of fact, if I were traveling in Europe, I would book my stays at rental homes, which have cars included with them.” Clicking on several world travel websites, Rachael shows several “all inclusive” vacations that include luxury accommodations in a private residence with a full staff, all the amenities, and freedom to go where you want when you want. “No one would ever know you were a tourist,” Rachael grins. “Believe me: That’s a good thing.”
2. Always, travel with your best friend.
“It’s nice if you have the good fortune to marry your best friend,” Rachael smiles. “But make it a rule always to have your best friend with you wherever you go. You know he or she always has your back, will protect you from your own impulsiveness and bad judgment, will keep all your secrets, and will share your guilty pleasures.” Rachael concedes that family vacations do not always accord the best friend privileges, but her work with Disney resorts has taught her a good strategy. “Without making a big production out of it, make each of your children your best friend for one day of your trip. And try to save the last day for just your husband…if you can.”
3. Travel light.
“Even if you are traveling to the third world, they have everything you need.” Rachael emphasizes the word “need,” pointing out that people pay far too much attention to making the whole world seem just like home. “You travel to get away from home,” Rachael reminds. “Why do you want to take it with you?” By her own rules, Rachael says she could hit the road in a minute, because her travels have shown that, as long as she has her iPhone, her journal, and her American Express card, she is ready. “Anywhere I really need a blow-dryer,” she smiles at the thought, “the hotel will have one.”
4. Carry only 1 electronic device.
“When I travel, I take only two essentials: My iPhone and my journal,” Rachel nods her head emphatically. “The phone includes a camera, an internet connection, lots of games, and all my music. My journal does everything my laptop can do, and it actually gives me time to think about it.” Rachael points out that most people carry around a lot of extra electronic gear they never use, allowing that business travelers probably need their netbooks or laptops, but allowing only that one exception. Rachael’s insistence on only one gadget connects naturally, almost inevitably with her next recommendation.
5. Travel by Rail
Cars and planes stress-out experienced travelers who know the system and all the veterans’ tricks; for beginners and families, cars and planes guarantee frayed nerves, panic, frustration, and occasional outbursts of uncontrollable rage. Especially if you plan to travel during one of the peak travel periods, avoid cars and planes. “Take the train,” Rachael encourages, “because you will see more of the country with fewer delays and far less aggravation.” Rachael recommends working with a travel agent to arrange train travel, because an agent can arrange deluxe accommodations and first class service.