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Favourite Splurges and savings

What are your favourite splurges, when you have gone over budget but it was worth it? Or when you have had something planned and not done it and saved and where glad you did?

Posted by
440 posts

Also the reverse so when you splurge but wish you hadn't, same for saving.


Posted by
3245 posts

We splurge on experiences: small-group tours or private guides to sights that are important to us, not necessarily the "must sees".

I regret not splurging on better seats to a performance at the Vienna Opera. The music was wonderful, but I would have loved a better view of the spectacle.

Posted by
2527 posts

Regrets? Spending way too much for some museums that are crappy. Not all museums are worth the money and time. I do more research in advance to sort ‘em.

Posted by
698 posts

Dont know if this counts as a 'splurge', but choosing either a taxi or car service from airport to hotel rather than public transport has been great for us. Much less stress.
Going to start splurging on direct flights if affordable.
Also, going ahead and doing whatever strikes our fancy while on the trip.
One souvenir splurge was woolen Norwegian sweaters, Admired them in Oslo , then Flam, then finally bought them in Bergen. Still wear it 20 years later.

Regret: not buying a purple wool cape in Spring Lake NJ while on vacation with my grandmother. Still think of it 40 years later.

Posted by
3207 posts

Splurging for a night at the Sofitel Hotel at Heathrow between transatlantic flight and European flight. It is now my regular routine. The traveling part becomes much more fun.

Posted by
5261 posts

Business class flights, or even first class if they're in a good sale. I simply can't fly long haul in economy. Virgin Atlantic Upper Class is a real treat, from the dedicated drop off, check in and security to the lounge at Heathrow right through to the bed and service on board, it really is the best start to the holiday. The only problem is the kids are still young enough to want to come on holiday with us so it does become quite expensive.

Posted by
11156 posts

Taking the pricey small group food tour in Hong Kong with Little Adventures in Hong Kong. It was a highlight of our trip to Hong Kong and. China and worth every penny spent.

Posted by
11156 posts

Another vote for splurging at Sofitel LHR, Nice hotel but the main draw is having dinner at their restaurant La Belle Epoque, fabulous.

Posted by
1481 posts

I also splurge on business class seat on the way to Europe and economy plus on the way back.
I save by eating 2 meals a day and then a snack (grocery, stall, food truck).
I splurge by spending on experiences.
I save by not buying many souvenirs.
I splurge by spending enough money on the trip to make it fabulous (according to my own definitions).
I save by not going as often, by taking less vacation and working more, driving an older car, eating at home more, living in a smaller house. Again, carefully choosing what makes the most sense for me.
I haven't figured out yet how to have it all : ).

Posted by
449 posts

While not Delft collectors ourselves, on our last RS tour, my wife and I bought some little Delft animals from the factory. It seemed like such a silly thing to buy at the time, but every time I look at them, I'm reminded how much fun we had on that tour.

The other thing I like to splurge on is a good wine / single malt / beer -- especially if it's something I know I'll never find in the States.

5 euros on a little Eiffel Tower figurine. It sits in front of my on my computer monitor shelf. I look at it and I'm back on the Rue Cler, enjoying a glass of wine and watching the ever-so-well-dressed people stroll by. Hey, that's worth 5 euros, ain't it?

-- Mike Beebe

Posted by
368 posts

I splurge by flying business. Find my back can’t take economy any more. Also to me getting there is the start of my trip and at 11 hours I want to be comfortable.

I always buy some item of jewelry. Does not always have to be expensive but I get what I want. Every time I wear it it brings back where I was. I would rather look at something and say, why did I get that rather than why didn’t I get what I really wanted.

Savings, don’t go often and don’t stay too long. Work does not allow a long vacation. Eat at home and save where I can. Try to curb my yarn and fabric buying for quilting and knitting. :-)

Posted by
4845 posts

We can't afford business class, more's the pity, but we do splurge on premium economy for our long haul flights. Makes the flights much less of an endurance test.
We save by buying our second class train tickets as far in advance as possible to take advantage of early discounts.

We splurge out on dinner at a nicer restaurant at least once a week while on vacation. Most other dinners, while nice, are in smaller bistros or tavernas. We save by buying lunch items at a local market or a simple "to go" place. Gelato is a non negotiable necessity.

We'd much rather spend money on an experience, like a tour, than on souvenirs. At my time of life, the last thing I want or need is more stuff.

Posted by
2527 posts

I dream about flying business and first class, but the kids would off me before my time.

Edit: enhanced economy seats for longer flights. Shhhhhh...

Posted by
650 posts

Small number or private walking tours coming special topics are a splurge we indulge in once every week or two. We like Context Tours. But I have my eye on a Spanish Civil War tour in Barcelona by a private individual. We have never been unhappy with these experiences.

We also splurge on seat upgrades when flying. But we can't afford business class.

High speed trains are usually worth the price.

A really beautiful central apartment is worth the splurge for a week. But I want a view too.

I cook for most of our trips, but we sure splurge on local meats, veggies, cheeses, and sausages. I go for regional specialties. Often though it's still less than I usually pay for meat like lamb, elk, venison, rabbit, goat, duck, and goose at my local grocer. We indulge. We are often wowed and rarely diapointed. Cheeses are either unavailable at home or ridiculously cheap. We indulge with calories rather than cash.

Sometimes a private driver between stays is a wonderful splurge. From Vienna to Cesky Krumloff and then onto Prague via Tabor was worth every penny. The drivers didn't promise to be guides but their conversation filled that need and they were so much more time efficient.

We have been less thrilled with high entry price castles and villas such as Versailles. Yeah I know some people love rich palaces, but I rarely find the biggies worth the price and the crowds. I tend to wish I'd just paid for the grounds.

A good dinner out in places like Paris are wonderful, but cost more than I want to pay. Fine dinners in small towns are often a bargain.

Posted by
27104 posts

Jen, I took a 4-hour Civil War tour in Barcelona last summer. It was wonderful, and I think the cost was just €25. I think there were around 5 of us in the group. The tours don't run every day, so I sent an email ahead of time, giving my available dates. Barcelona can be tough, since so many of the sights really require advance purchase of tickets so you can avoid lengthy lines. It's easy to get boxed in so that you don't have the flexibility you need to fit in a rarely-offered specialty tour. The tour I took began in the morning (9 AM or 10 AM, I think) and ran until 1 or 2 PM.

Posted by
991 posts

I am also guilty of splurging on the Sofitel Hotel at Heathrow. It is so worth it.

Posted by
1803 posts


  • When I’m doing something physically active that results in sore,tight muscles....a massage followed by a glass of wine or cocktail. Feels great afterwards.
  • Some of the optional free time activities on RS tours. paragliding in Murren, hot air balloon ride in Turkey.
Posted by
5697 posts

Savings: booking transAtlantic flights when there's a big sale.
Splurges: booking cheap transAtlantic flights when there's a big sale (even though we have nothing planned), then figuring out where we're going. Yes, we're retired so no problem to get time off from work or schedule around kids' vacations.

Posted by
332 posts

We splurge on the flight home, when we're tired and need to sleep (I slept from Athens to Philly straight, not even waking up for meal service). Don't need it on the way there because adrenaline keeps us sharp, and because we're short (more leg room).

I regret not buying the cuckoo clock in Germany (justifiable-2 kids in college). Something to look forward to on the next trip.

We splurge on a lunch or dinner when the seating overlooks a stunning vista. Then we linger and order more wine or food, just because. We never regret those moments.

Sometimes the situation calls for impulsivity with no forethought. We travel for the experience, and build "extra" into our budget so there's no guilt when we spend more than we do normally.

Right now we're trying to decide if seeing Riverdance in Dublin next summer is worth the extra $120. We probably won't because it cuts short the time we've allotted to have dinner with an extended family member who lives in Dublin. And for that dinner we will definitely splurge!

Posted by
4318 posts

Another vote for taxi from train station/airport(sometimes) to hotel since you have luggage unless hotel is close enough to train station(1 mile) to be easily walkable.
Splurge-Tom Bihn backpack so I can walk from train station to hotel
Another vote for Premium Economy air-I label this an "affordable luxury".
Another vote for saving money by eating a big breakfast, a late lunch(if meals are cheaper at lunch), and snacking for dinner.
Lazy woman's splurge-buying same day train tickets so I'm not tied to a schedule.
Splurge-hotel within easy walking distance of sights-the Alimandi in Rome is best example of this(their breakfast is really good too) Rome savings: staying in a convent
Saving-looking forward to traveling in Fall and Spring when I retire and am no longer tied to the school schedule.
Saving-staying in city with cheaper hotels-Glasgow instead of Edinburgh when taking Highland tour and day trip to St. Andrews
Splurge-automatic transmission if driving in UK

Posted by
20081 posts

Splurges; That special room with a terrace in Venice. Room XXX at the Hotel XX. Best available seats at the opera. One or two expensive dinners with a good bottle of wine.

Savings: 2nd cl train tickets bought 90 days in advance. Smaller hotels, often without AC. Taxis only for special situations. Dinner of cold cuts, cheese and bread with a cheap bottle of wine from the grocery store in the hotel room.

Posted by
1878 posts

My wife and I did a Gondola trip $140 for half on hour in Italy on our 2007 trip which started in Venice. We did not regret it, but would not feel the need to repeat it either. the next time when we were in Venice was on a cruise stop, and I think a two day vaporetto pass was around the same. Guess that was a splurge too, but worth it. Generally we travel on the frugal side, but not excessively so. I can't think of any other instances where I felt we were splurging. Europe in general seems like excellent value when you live in the S.F. Bay Area as we do, after you get over the cost of getting there.

Posted by
440 posts


I agree with dinner in hotel room. The bread from local stores is always fantastic. A good filling meal with wine for the price of a starter in a restaurant then head out after you have eaten to enjoy the evening.

Posted by
11315 posts

Splurge: Private tours with excellent guides like Gaetano Manfredi in Pompeii and Sonia Tavoletta or Francesca Caruso in Roma. Worth every Euro!

Splurge: Economy Plus/Premier no matter what.

Splurge: Taxi on arrival in a big city like London, Paris, Roma.

Over Budget but worth it: Business Class on Icelandair on our last trip. Very nice.

Save: Cooking 50-60% of our dinners in an apartment; Skipping dinner in favor of simple munchies like veggies and hummus when we are sick of restaurants.

Save: Longer stays now that we are retired. Less moving around. Apartments whenever possible.

Save: Pre-purchase train tickets for discount wherever possible. (Not afraid to commit to a schedule.)

Something planned and not done: Every trip we have ideas of things to do that get rejected at the time of execution. Maybe for weather, maybe because we are tired and need a "day off." Sometimes because we look at the cost versus interest level and go "Meh. Not worth it." We had a day trip planned recently in the U.K. and when I looked at the total cost of 75 GBP (trains + entry fee even with 2-for-1) and the 6-hour time commitment, we decided to spend our day elsewhere and were delighted with our decision.

Posted by
420 posts

Splurge - We stayed in a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) in Japan that was simply spectacular. The whole interior was so beautiful. The room was incredible. Talk about service. Whenever we came downstairs they were at the door holding our shoes for use. When we approached the parking lot they were already there to help guide us into the parking lot. My youngest daughter said "We're never going to have service like this again are we." I told her probably not.

The cost was $260 total for the night. That was last July. I considered it a splurge. However, I just got back from New York City were I paid $450 a night for the Holiday Inn Express midtown Manhattan west. Sigh.

Posted by
454 posts

Splurging on a chic little apartment in Paris, located at the intersection of Rue Cler and Rue de Grenelle, with a bedroom window view of the Eiffel Tower, was worth every Euro.

Posted by
4845 posts

Jehb2, staying at a ryokan was the highlight of our trip to Japan. That it was also an onsen was a huge bonus. The level of service was amazing. And sitting down to a traditional meal after soaking in the baths was absolute heaven. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience for us.

Posted by
3996 posts

Favorite splurges:

  • Early-morning balloon ride over the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia

  • Day passes to play tennis on the famous and arguably most beautiful
    clay courts in the world at the Monte Carlo Country Club

  • A morning of horseback riding around the caldera in Santorini

So glad we splurged on these activities because experiential travel is what makes travel worthwhile and creates lifelong memories.

Posted by
1944 posts


First trip abroad, a day in Chianti with a private guide. We were picked up in Florence, drove through the countryside to a winery where we toured, then had a cooking class and lounged with the chef & guide for 3 hours, eating and drinking with the Tuscan breeze blowing in through the French doors. Magical, and for $350 (dollar: Euro was 1.40 in 2010), worth every penny.

This last March, wife surprised me for my BDay with an upgrade to business class Chicago/Frankfurt, then Economy Plus to Rome. Was able to stretch all the way out. Cost an extra $1200 for the two of us but for a one-time thing, OK. And I saved about $800 of that when booking in the first place by waiting & monitoring fares on Kayak & Google.


Didn't learn how to really save until our 3rd trip, to Rome. Weekly bus/Metro pass for 24 E. Small but nice apartment for 85 E/night. Not eating 3 square meals out--buying prosciutto, cheese, fruit, coffee at a store for our apartment and that's our breakfast. Couple slices of 'take-away' Roman pizza for lunch, probably 2 E per slice. Nice dinner, no splurging. Most meals including wine and tip were done in the 40 E range total for both of us.

Posted by
4573 posts

My splurges are private guided bird watching day tours. As a solo traveler, this means an entire day of company with a person or people with a common interest. It gets me out of tourism and city for a day (or part of). I see the rural areas and can better understand the average person. I call them my 'grounding days'.
Splurge....going over my accommodation budget for an apartment with a private rooftop deck in Seville (a whole $20 a night over my limit). Savings....a 16C apartment in Granada $20 under budget...still with a view of the Alhambra (I love AirBnB).
Savings.....2nd class train or bus tickets, economy flights, lunch out with breakfast and dinner in, no shopping.

Posted by
27104 posts

Savings: I opt out of hotel breakfast whenever I have the opportunity. There are virtually always cheaper options, and I've been known to sleep through breakfast.

Posted by
68 posts

1 - Use miles for an air upgrade to Premium economy or Business class
2 - Stay at the Sofitel Heathrow while staging my flight to Europe because I used miles to upgrade the flight
3 - Take a taxi or car service from the airport to the hotel
4 - Use laundry service during the trip
5 - Upgrade the hotel room for a view or bigger room room

Posted by
7278 posts

Splurge: I purchased tickets for the Vienna ballet at their opera house - close box seats. I used a work recognition reward to pay for it - a special, wonderful evening. On a subsequent trip, I went to the opera at La Fenice at Venice - another great evening. Can I count the Venice opera as a half-price savings, too? My husband doesn't like opera, so I didn't make him go with me. : )

I typically have a splurge hotel during our trip and offset it with a basic hotel at another location. A few special hotels have been: Vienna’s St. Stephansplatz, Imperial Palace at Lake Annecy. Both of those hotels also upgraded us to beautiful rooms with excellent views.

We have enjoyed splurging on a cooking class on several trips. Actually, since it’s a full meal plus an event, the price becomes very reasonable. And the quantity of croissants I’ve baked after taking the class in Paris has been rewarding for my family.

We’ve saved money by enjoying the moment and not feeling like we must see all of the top sites. As others have mentioned, we also skip some lunches or grab something at a grocery store.

I’ve saved a lot of money by purchasing train tickets ahead of time, and we use the local transportation or walk. Also, I start shopping for hotel or apartments ten months before our trip, so there’s an excellent selection in our price range.

I also enjoy selecting a few less touristy locations, and those are less expensive to stay & eat.

Posted by
996 posts

Splurge: I fly business/first class when we travel overseas. Sometimes we flight coach plus (the name varies per airline) on the trip home, but I love to make the start of our trip a little more special. Given the fact that this gives you the lie flat seats for the overnight leg to Europe, I always consider it a respectable splurge.

Splurge: If I am staying in a city with a unique or historic hotel, I will try to book one night there. Again, this is often a little extra money, but this one is more for the experience of having stayed at something notable.

Budget: I do not need a five course meal at every meal. I'm more than willing to grab a sandwich or buy the ingredients to make a sandwich to save on the cost of a lunch or part of a dinner. We travel with a checked bag which contains a paring knife (fruit/cheese from the market) plus a corkscrew (a bottle of local wine served in plastic cups still tastes great b/c you're drinking it THERE.)

Budget: We no longer purchase a lot of souvenirs. Anything we do buy is usually a consumable product such as a spice for cooking when we return home, candles we will burn or bath products which are quickly used up.

Posted by
8372 posts

Apparently I am currently all about splurge as I signed up for a Rick Steves Tour.....😀

Posted by
3996 posts

My all-time favorite splurge was a ticket to Le Nozze di Figaro performed by the Wiener Staatsoper. I didn't go over budget; I planned for it. Was I glad of it? Most definitely.