Travel Experts Reveal Their Most Expensive Vacation (And Why It Was Worth It)

Sometimes a particular trip calls for splurging, but the experience far exceeds costs and expectations.
Polynesian island getaways can be expensive but offer a unique and relaxing experience that creates lifelong memories.
TriggerPhoto via Getty Images
Polynesian island getaways can be expensive but offer a unique and relaxing experience that creates lifelong memories.

The internet is filled with excellent hacks for saving money on travel. Whether you book with points, scoop up exclusive deals, choose dates and locations based on price, or take advantage of free attractions, there are countless ways to take a relatively low-cost vacation.

But sometimes, a particular travel experience calls for a splurge. And if you can make room in your budget for that pricier vacation, there’s nothing wrong with splashing out every once in a while. After all, you get what you pay for, and an expensive hotel, airline ticket or excursion might offer a luxury experience full of memories to last a lifetime.

We asked experts in the travel space to share the most expensive vacation they’ve ever taken ― and why they felt it was worth the splurge.

French Polynesia

“The most expensive vacation that I’ve ever taken was to French Polynesia. I spent time on both Moorea and Bora Bora. French Polynesia was a dream destination for me so it was definitely worth it. From the moment you arrive the hospitality and sheer beauty of the islands is immense. It’s a place where pictures truly don’t do it justice. I also appreciated that it’s a destination that has a lot to offer. I took a guided tour where I learned more about the history and culture of the islands. And I also had the ability to rent a boat and snorkel and explore on my own. It’s a destination that feels remote in the best possible way and forces you to disconnect and unplug. Not to mention that you’re staying in an accommodation where you can wake up, take a few steps and dive into the clearest water imaginable.” ― Amina Dearmon, a luxury travel adviser and owner of Perspectives Travel


“The most expensive vacation I’ve taken was to Antarctica, though it was 100% worth the cost. We took an expedition cruise, which was a small ship experience and an itinerary with land-based activities. From dawn until dusk we were hiking, kayaking, exploring, swimming, sliding down glacial mountain tops, visiting a research base, eating incredible food, drinking amazing wine, and taking the polar plunge! Humpback whales would swim within 100 meters of our zodiac, penguins would walk straight over our toes, and we sat next to colonies of seals without disturbing them, left thoroughly in awe of the array of hardcore wildlife which call the icy continent their home. I can 100% recommend Antarctica as a destination which lives up to the hype of being a trip of a lifetime.” ― Meg Jerrard, co-founder of Solo Female Travelers

South Africa

“The most expensive vacation my partner and I have ever taken was to Londolozi Game Reserve, a premier luxury safari lodge in the Sabi Sands Nature Reserve in South Africa. A safari is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Londolozi pairs a life-changing wildlife adventure with unparalleled five-star service to create the most splurge-worthy safari experience on earth. ― Collette Stohler, travel agent with Elite Travel Arrangements and director of marketing at Roamaroo

“My recent trip to South Africa was easily the most I have ever paid for a vacation. While the accommodations in Johannesburg, Kruger National Park, and Cape Town were very affordable, the flights accounted for 90% of the total cost. As someone who cannot sleep on a plane in economy, I knew I needed to splurge. Unfortunately, United Polaris business class seats are very expensive when buying with cash, and there was no award availability for my trip dates. Usually, I plan the trip based on the cheapest days to fly, but the dates were already selected by my travel companions. Somehow, it still felt worth it. United Polaris business class seats turn into lie-flat beds, and we were given multiple pillows, blankets and slippers. I felt completely refreshed after each flight, and sleeping all that time made it seem short.” ― Phil Dengler, co-founder of The Vacationer


“The most expensive vacation destination I have been to must have been my trip to Mykonos in Greece. I have traveled there two times and both vacations were extraordinarily fun. I adore Mykonos because it is an accepting island with sections that are extremely LGBT-friendly. The Greek island has such a unique style with its famous blue and white architecture. Five-star hotels like the Mykonian Kyma are stunning while offering outstanding service. If you’re looking for a luxurious vacation, you can find incredible beaches on properties at every price point. Not to mention, Mykonos nightlife is on another level. Islands tend to be more expensive, but if you can afford it, I’d recommend going to this one. Mykonos is sure to exceed your expectations.” ― Rocky Trifari, travel blogger


“I traveled to Australia from the U.S. to scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef. It was a truly memorable experience and is definitely worth the splurge. As an advanced scuba diver, the Great Barrier Reef had always been a dream destination for me. Being able to make that dream come true and explore one of the world’s most iconic dive spots is a priceless experience. The underwater world I experienced in the Great Barrier Reef presented an exceptional display of colors that I hadn’t seen in other dive locations. This rare sight, with vibrant blues and purples of the coral, made the trip even more special and unique. Exploring the Great Barrier Reef allowed you to encounter large fish species that you had never seen on the other side of the world. This opportunity to witness unfamiliar marine life further enriched my diving experience.” ― Jessica-Kameko Rooks, blogger at Travel With Meko


“The most expensive vacation I’ve ever taken was a trip to Japan in 2018. It set me back a few thousand dollars in a short amount of time, but I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again. Most people prefer to splurge on something luxurious, but that’s not me. I prefer to splurge on experiences and things that will last a whole lifetime. From staying in traditional ryokans and meeting locals to bonding with other travelers from around the world and experiencing Japan’s unique (and quirky) culture, it was unlike anything I had experienced up to that point in my life. It is a trip that created unforgettable memories, expanded my horizons, and eventually inspired me to be a travel blogger.” ― Sean Lau, travel blogger

Multiple travel experts pointed to their Japanese travels as costlier vacations that were well worth the price tag.
Witthaya Prasongsin via Getty Images
Multiple travel experts pointed to their Japanese travels as costlier vacations that were well worth the price tag.

“In the mid to late 1990s, my mom took me to Japan for the first time. Back in the ’90s, ticket prices to Asia were over $2,000. Japan was also in its wild “bubble era,” so the yen was thriving and everything was expensive. We splurged on a stay at the Shinjuku Hilton, and went on guided tours to Kamakura and Kyoto by bullet train. In the 1990s, Japan was not as popular a travel destination and the city wasn’t geared to tourists. I’m forever grateful my mom invested in taking us to Japan in the ’90s, as the experience wouldn’t have been the same if I had gone later in time. Not many people knew about Harajuku fashion and culture back then, as these were the early days of the internet. I remember being mesmerized by the street style and futuristic tech that I saw firsthand ― it was like being on another planet. This 1990s trip to Japan was absolutely worth the price, as it spurred my love of the country and its culture, and led to the writing and TV work I do today.” La Carmina, travel expert and author


“We traveled to Peru several years ago, which was a dream of mine, so I decided to splurge on certain experiences. For example, we took a luxury train to Machu Picchu and hired a private guide so we could explore at our own pace and ask as many questions as we wanted. We also splurged on a few gastronomical experiences, like dinner at some of the top restaurants in Lima, like Central and Astrid y Gaston. We took this trip five years ago and we still talk about it. For me, it was worth it because it was a dream destination for me and I wanted to do it right. We saved for a year to have the ideal experience that we wanted.” ― Jessica van Dop DeJesus, founder and editor at The Dining Traveler

Swiss Alps

“The most expensive vacation I have ever taken was a two-week comprehensive wellness and weight loss program at the Waldhotel Health & Medical Excellence, which is part of the iconic Bürgenstock Hotels & Resort in Lake Lucerne, Switzerland. The two weeks I spent in the Swiss Alps in February at the Waldhotel were truly transformative. The program included a full medical analysis and consultation, nutritional coaching and cooking classes, a specially curated diet with every meal prepared, several personal training sessions, cryotherapy, massages, dermatology consultation and more. I learned techniques, exercises and recipes that continue to benefit my health. The investment was well worth the return!” ― Kareem George, travel adviser and founder of Culture Traveler

East Africa

“My trip to Rwanda and Kenya in East Africa was nothing short of amazing. It was the trip of a lifetime, and the price reflected that as well. In Kenya, I stayed at two different luxury safari lodges (Segera Retreat and Angama Mara) that included game drives and onsite experiences. Easily one of the highlights of my entire time in Kenya was floating gently over the Maasai Mara in a hot air balloon. Next, it was on to Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. Singita Kwitonda Lodge offers an experience that is unlike any other. The lodge was designed in response to the remarkable location, which overlooks breathtaking views of the Sabyinyo, Gahinga and Muhabura volcanoes. Of course, gorilla trekking had become a bucket list adventure I was dying to experience. You have the ability to encounter one of Africa’s most majestic and gentle creatures in the wild, while immersed in the beauty of their pristine natural habitat. Was it worth it? 100%. The experience of being able to float above the Mara, sit with wild gorillas halfway around the world, up the side of a volcano in the middle of Africa, is hard to put into words. It is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life, and ranks at the top of coolest things I’ve ever done.” ― Brianna Glenn, CEO and travel adviser at Milk + Honey Travels

“The most expensive vacation I’ve taken was the Premium Tanzania tour with Intrepid. As an African American I’ve always wanted to visit Africa with my mom. Not only did we get to go back to the motherland, we got to experience a safari! Our local guides were so knowledgeable about all of the animals. It was a dream come true to see so many of the ‘Big Five’ up close and in their natural habitat. I would encourage anyone interested in connecting with nature and experiencing the real-life Lion King to visit Tanzania. You’ll stay in permanent camps in the middle of national parks where you’ll see and hear the animals from the time you wake up until the time you go to sleep. When you’re not glamping, you’re staying in premium hotels with pools and stunning views. There are more affordable ways to have this experience, but the pools, spas, and other inclusions made it worth the splurge.” ― Annette Richmond, creator of Fat Girls Traveling

Grand Cayman

“We went to Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands as a fun beach escape with a group of our close friends for Gabi’s 30th birthday. It was an incredible trip but also by far the most expensive, and that honestly really surprised us. The minute we started looking into accommodations along Seven Mile Beach (the popular area for tourists) we realized if the accommodations were this expensive, it meant almost everything else was going to be as well. We paid more then we even normally would in New York City for every single meal of the day! Since it’s a small island, a lot of things are imported and therefore way more expensive. Having said all of that, it was definitely worth the splurge! The island itself was beautiful! We really loved being there, and it wasn’t touristy at all! It was also a birthday trip ― so it felt celebratory, and people didn’t mind paying those prices as much. The food on Grand Cayman was also incredible everywhere we went, so even if the price kind of shocked us, we were happy that it was at least really delicious!” ― Gabi & Shanna, travel bloggers at 27travels

Mexico City

“The most expensive vacation I’ve ever taken was to Mexico City during the holidays ― the most expensive time of the year. I spent 30 days there from Dec. 3, 2021 to Jan. 3, 2022. It was expensive because I splurged on my accommodations: $3,000 for a one-month, short-term rental. To me, this was worth it because I wanted a luxe experience. I wanted to feel extremely comfortable. I was staying there by myself and had been traveling for an entire year adjacent to that experience, so I wanted a luxe place to relax with really nice amenities, a really nice shower, a really nice bed, a really nice view, and a lot of sunlight so I could work remotely. I also ate out somewhat frequently (at least once every other day), which cost an extra $1,000. Mexico City can be extremely affordable, but that month I was trying to treat myself to a hard-earned vacation so I ate out at great sushi places, had drinks with friends, went to Xochimilco, and did a lot of tourist activities. So between the accommodations, the food, the entertainment, Ubers, shopping, and other random activities, it was probably a $5,000 trip, making it the most expensive trip I’ve ever been on. But it was 100% worth the splurge for the safety, luxury and relaxation that I got out of my investment.” ― Gabby Beckford, travel expert and founder of Packs Light

Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Support HuffPost

Do you have info to share with HuffPost reporters? Here’s how.

Go to Homepage

Popular in the Community


Gift Guides