Five Ways to Make Your Vacation Feel Extra Special

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Our normal day involves rushing in the morning to make breakfast, packing lunch, getting the kid to pre-school on time, work, work, work, break for lunch, work, pick up dry cleaning, run errands, pick-up kid, do laundry, fix dinner, watch a show, baths, pass the heck out…and that’s a simple day.

This is what a normal day looks like around here

This is what a normal day looks like around here

However, to really get a break from the insanity of busy family life, sometimes a little boost can make your vacation feel even more special, or at least make you feel a little extra special on your vacation. Whether it is an anniversary trip, a birthday excursion, or just a much-needed break from daily life, sometimes it is worth the extra effort to turn a trip into an epically fantastic vacation.

I’ve had the good fortune of being able to take dozens of trips and vacations (and yes the two are different) over the past few years, and I’ve learned a few easy tricks and tips that can take the trip to the next level. My experience has shown that you don’t need to make all that many tweaks to make an otherwise “ordinary” trip feel epic, even just one or two of these should do the trick.

1. Arrange for car service at the airport.
If you want to make things feel a little more special, don’t start your trip by getting in a long cab line or looking for public transportation. Those can be practical options on many vacations, but to make it extra special, splurge on car service to pick you up at the airport. Almost universally seeing your name on the pick-up sign for the first time puts a smile on people’s faces and makes them relax and slip into vacation mode!

If that sounds a bit pricey for your vacation budget then instead try something like Uber (which by the way earns double Membership Rewards points) that won’t be waiting for you with a sign, but can still appear at the push of a button.

2. Get your hair done.
Okay, this one is geared more for the girls, but I have found that getting my hair done on vacations is a special little treat that is so relaxing. Don’t laugh, I know it’s silly. I like to visit DryBar when in NYC, but there are joints all over the country that will wash and blow dry your hair to make you feel like a rock star…even if only for a night. Many larger hotels or resorts also have spas/salons you can use. For me it can be $30 or $40 well splurged.

I’ll never forget when my mom did this before my Vegas wedding several years ago and said that was the best treat she has ever done for herself. You get a few minutes of total quiet, and someone else is in charge of making you look (and more importantly feel) fabulous.


DryBar in NYC

3. Rent a gorgeous dress. Yes, rent.
If you want to take looking and feeling fabulous to the next level then consider renting a killer dress for the night. You can basically be Cinderella and Rent the Runway can be your Fairy Godmother.

Rent the Runway
I attended an Epic EveryDay Getaway Weekend in NYC earlier this year as a guest of the The Amex EveryDaySM Credit Card along with 50 moms + their guests, and got to experience the magic of “Rent the Runway” for the first time while I was there. My rental was provided as part of the whole weekend experience, but the prices are totally reasonable and the dresses get sent to you in the mail in a variety of sizes or styles. They also have a couple stores in places like NYC and Las Vegas where you can pick your dress in person.

The prices to rent designer dresses seem to often range from $25 – $50 for your choice of gorgeous gowns that would cost hundreds to buy. Why did they not have this when I was in high school and in need of a prom dress?

So not my everyday look, but fun for a night!

So not my everyday look, but fun for a night!

I slipped on a (rented) sequin gown courtesy of Rent the Runway and immediately felt like I was in another world because it was such a stark difference from the yoga pants and jeans that are staples in my wardrobe at home. I wore it to a concert as part of the whole experience that night, but you don’t need to be attending a VIP event to dress like it. Even if you are just going out in Vegas, to dinner at the resort, or dancing with your partner, the night will feel a bit more epic when you put on something you would never wear while running errands at home.

Get VIP Access:
I know I said you don’t need to be attending a VIP event earlier, but if you want to make the vacation special, then arranging some VIP access along the way can help. This sort of thing can get pricey, but it doesn’t have to if you are smart about it. Some credit cards and points programs offer special VIP experiences at good rates. For example, the SPG Moments program offers many VIP opportunities like meet and greets with celebrities, taking the field at Wrigley, and hospitality suites at events like the US Open.

Luxury Box at Wrigley Field via SPG points

Luxury Box at Wrigley Field via SPG points

You can get access to airline lounges via some rewards credit cards or even by buying some passes on eBay. If you happen to have an Amex Platinum card then be sure to visit The Centurion Lounge at the airport when visiting Las Vegas, Dallas-Fort Worth, or LaGuardia! If you don’t have an Amex Platinum, you can get into The Centurion Lounges with any Amex credit card + $50. I wouldn’t normally recommend getting access that way, but it could be worth it on a very, very special trip (especially at the DFW location where spa services are included!)

Included spa services at Centurion Lounge in DFW

Included spa services at Centurion Lounge in DFW

If you are going somewhere traditionally crazy like Disney World, look into a tour that can give you behind-the-scenes access. While the official Disney VIP tours are hundreds of dollars an hours, some of the official behind the scenes tours are much less expensive but can still feel very special.

Fly or Stay in Style:
For a special trip, make your airline miles or hotel points work for you and secure a flight upgrade or hotel suite. This isn’t always the best of use of points, but depending on the situation, it can be a good value. Either way, it is a pretty sure-fire way to make the trip even more fantastic.

Use miles for first for very special trips

Use miles for first for very special trips

This is especially true if you are traveling with someone who has never experienced flying in first class. I was able to upgrade my 90-year-old great aunt to first class on her recent flight on a cross-country move and the smile on her face when I told her she was going to be flying up front was worth every mile it took to secure the upgrade.
Even if you don’t have the points or miles to make that happen, sometimes the cash price to upgrade your flight, or especially your hotel room, can be reasonable, so don’t be shy about nicely asking what it would take to get you into a suite or whatever your heart desires.

Negotiate a suite upgrade on points or cash

Negotiate a suite upgrade on points or cash

Travel, in and of itself, is amazing and special, but sometimes it can be fun and rewarding to treat yourself (or someone else) and turn a trip into an extra special vacation.

Have you ever made little tweaks to a trip to make it truly special?

Add Disclosure:

I was selected by American Express to help educate consumers about the Amex EveryDay Credit Card. As such, I was paid for my services, but tips and opinions shared about American Express and the Amex EveryDayCredit Card are my own.

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. We use a car service on our airport trips. It makes that feeling of “special” start the moment you walk out the door.

    We also tend to use the hotel car service when we are going to a foreign country for the first time. It extends that feeling of luxury.

  2. Sponsored postings??? Sorry but I just lost a little respect for you and will not be reading this blog as much as I used to. You can say the opinions are your own as much as you like, but when you are being paid its impossible to be objective.

    • Seth, sorry to hear that. As a full time blogger I do very occasionally partner with companies whose products are naturally aligned with stuff I talk about anyway. I only partner with companies who allow me to write my own posts in my own way, but I can certainly understand natural skepticism. Thanks for reading the posts you do decide to read.

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