July 24, 2019
LOOKING FOR SOME INSPIRATION for your next big vacation? Every year Virtuoso, a global network of luxury travel agents, puts together lists of the top destinations across a range of travel categories.
We recently reached out to Virtuoso’s Misty Belles for the 2019 winners in each category—as well as for some money-saving tips for making each destination more affordable. Read on, and get ready to pack your bags. (Talk to your advisor about the vacation-planning benefits that clients enjoy through our partnership with Virtuoso.)
“I think this city’s perennial appeal has a lot to do with Parisians’ focus on enjoying the moment,” Belles says. “Whatever your pleasure, it has it all: food, art, architecture—and shopping.”
TIP: Hit the fancier restaurants at lunchtime and order the set menu. And if you’re an avid museum-goer, pick up an affordable Paris Museum Pass—or else get your art fix in on the first Sunday of the month, when many top museums are free.
Luxury safaris aren’t the only way to go. For a more affordable way to get closer to nature, consider visiting some of the national parks on your own, from the remote Golden Gate Highlands National Park, with its gorgeous sandstone outcrops, to the rugged reaches of the Cape of Good Hope. “I’m a big fan of Cape Town,” Belles says. “It’s gorgeous, and you can do everything from paragliding off Table Mountain to swimming with seals.”
TIP: To take a break from all of the activity, visit the Winelands, just west of Cape Town, where you can sample superb vintages at easy-to-take prices.
“What makes a Mediterranean cruise special is that it offers a wonderful opportunity to see several beautiful countries—Italy, France, Monaco and more—in a single visit,” Belles says. “Cruises take a minimum of planning and tend to please a wide variety of people,” she adds.
TIP: “Some cruises are more affordable than others, but what they have in common is that you can manage the costs,” says Brian Shambo, a Merrill financial advisor who talks with many of his clients about ways to fund their travel plans. Just take care that you rein in the extras, like casinos and shipboard photography.
Following some years when it was considered too costly to visit, Japan is once again seeing a surge in visitors. This time, people aren’t just flocking to Tokyo. Explains Belles, “Travelers are attracted to some of the smaller cities as well, such as Kyoto and Nara, both known for their centuries-old shrines and other historic sites.”
TIP: To save, book for the late fall or winter (except over the New Year). When you’re there, you’ll notice that sushi is often pricey—save by dining at what’s known as a “sushi train,” where you sit at a counter and your raw fish arrives by conveyor belt.
What makes this country a romantic place for newlyweds as well as couples celebrating a 25th (or even 50th!) anniversary? Italians’ fondness for lovers plays a big part. But there’s much more. “It’s such a diverse country. Even if you’ve already been to Tuscany, going to Venice or the Amalfi Coast gives you a totally different experience,” Belles says.
TIP: To keep costs down, consider some less-traveled—and still spectacular—regions, such as Puglia and Piedmont. And search out alternatives to hotels. “Not only can a house rental be a money saver, but it can also be a great way to get to know the locals,” Shambo notes.
For more ways to incorporate travel planning into your budget, suggests Shambo, don’t hesitate to reach out to your financial advisor. “Your advisor can help you figure out the best way to fund your vacation without disrupting your long-term financial strategies.”
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