Here are The Traveling Professor's top tips on traveling in luxury on budget prices.
Fly Premium Economy: Coach class, especially on a crowded overnight flight to Europe can be a tough thing to handle. Airlines have been offering more and more Premium Economy fares. The seats are bigger, the meals are better, and some even offer preferred boarding. I priced a 10-day round-trip flight between New York's JFK and Madrid on American Airlines. The business class fare was a pricey $2005. But coach was $626. I would be happy to pay the $970 fare I found to fly Premium Economy and be well rested to and from Europe.
Go in Shoulder Season: Traveling, especially to Europe during high season can be expensive and crowded. Hotels are at peak prices. Plus, who wants to wait in lines and push and shove in cities like Rome, Florence, Venice, London and Amsterdam in the high season? Try off-season (usually before Memorial Day and after October 15) for much better deals on good hotels, many priced below what you would pay for a budget hotel in high season.
Buy the Museum Pass: Many cities offer a pay-one-price with VIP admission pass that gets you into the best attractions in a city. Some even throw in local transportation too. Good examples are The Paris Museum Pass, the Oslo Pass, or Florence Italy's the Firenze Card. Even if it doesn't save money (but it probably will) the privilege of not having to wait in line is priceless.
Don't Eat at Tourist Traps: While there is nothing more romantic than sipping coffee on St. Mark's Square or having dinner in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, it will cost you. Find the best local restaurants with a guide like Andy Herbach's Eating and Drinking series of books.
Book a Private Car: Sometimes driving is cheaper (and nicer than flying). For instance, we were in Trieste, Italy and needed to get to Zagreb, Croatia. We used a car service called MyDayTrip. A luxury car with driver picked us up at our hotel and drove us all the way to Zagreb, Croatia with a short sight-seeing stop in Ljubljana, Slovenia. All at the cost of 246 euros. Flying would have been much more expensive and of course, not as pleasant as having a private driver in a Mercedes-Benz. Other examples are Amalfi to Naples for 120 euros.
Join The Traveling Professor on a small group tour to Europe, Canada, and South America.