When it’s just as easy to hire a private plane and guide to visit South Africa and Victoria Falls with a fast phone call, why waste time fighting the crowds and trying to make a deal with a website for first class flights?
A friend of mine spent less than an hour organizing a 10-day journey with Abercrombie & Kent, taking her from Minneapolis to Cape Town, South Africa, for a first-class trip.
Curiosity getting the better of me, I contacted Abercrombie & Kent after perusing their “Best of 2015 Luxury Small Group Journeys.” I realized their customized tours are worth the expense. In this case, it was $6,295 per person, double-occupancy for a nine-day tour, limited to 18 guests.
“It’s the extras making luxury tours a different experience,” says Cindy Kjaergaard, a self-styled globetrotter who has played lost and found with misplaced luggage and other miserable mishaps during the last 10 years, visiting more than 50 countries in the process.
A & K eliminates the underside of travel with their exclusive services, from their “traveling bellboy,” where you simply leave your packed bags behind in your guest rooms as you walk to the door and find them waiting inside your guest room at the next location. Their complimentary laundry service during your journey’s midpoint is also a great way to keep luggage light.
Luxury Small Group Journeys include the “scenic sundowner:” an opportunity to enjoy a cocktail with the resident tour director at a site chosen in advance for “its breathtaking vista.” Then there are the “Family Luxury Small Group Tours” designed to dovetail with school breaks and provide child-friendly stays.
But if you want to travel at a faster pace without losing luxurious touches, such as the security of a physician who accompanies your tour from start to finish, TCS Expeditions by private jet is the way to fly in style. Seating is limited to 78 guests in two-by-two VIP-style leather seats. IPads come equipped with trip itineraries and Bose noise-canceling headphones keep distractions to a minimum.
Start 2015 with the “Around the World” tour, Jan. 10-Feb. 2, where local experts guide travelers through the Seychelles, Okavango Delta and Yangon, Myanmar. The “Golf Around the World” tour, Oct. 23-Nov. 15, visits Samoa, Fiji and Dubai. If you’ve seen and done all that, consider the “History’s Lost Cities” tour, Nov. 1-23, and take a look at Lhasa, Tibet; Baku, Azerbaijan; and Luang Prabang, Laos. The price tag hovers around $59,950 per person.
If you are more gregarious, check out the mythical magic of Crete with Backroads, the world’s top active travel company. Featuring premier inns such as the Rimondi Estate and the Casa Delfino, this six-day tour offers “private trip pricing” starting with two guests for $5,698 per person.
Pam Price is a contributor to Forbes. com/sites/pamprice/.