By Rick & Sandi Griffin & McKenna, on May 4, 2016

Celebrity travel on a budget

Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t travel the world, or even spend your staycation, like a celebrity. Whether you’re dreaming of traveling to Paris like the Next Top Model, to Las Vegas like a high roller, or to Los Angeles like a Hollywood hotshot, there are a number of simple tips and tricks you can use to travel like a VIP.

Look the part

Dress well. Nothing says tacky tourist like flip-flops and a tattered T-shirt. A little effort goes a long way, and when you look good, you feel good. Get a tan. The rich and famous almost always look like they’ve just spent a week on the bow of a yacht moored in Saint-Tropez. Put a lounge chair in your backyard, grab a bottle of water (the best celeb skin is always well-hydrated), and listen to your French phrase audio book.

Don’t be afraid to accessorize. For women, a Pashmina scarf will not only keep you warm in a drafty airplane but will jazz you up you up like a ’50s starlet. Also, sunglasses are a must. Not only will they hide dark circles from sleepless nights on red-eye flights, but they also give you an air of mystery. Who’s that behind those Foster Grants?

Traveling like a celebrity

Pack well

You can’t achieve celebrity status if you’re schlepping bags like a Sherpa scaling Mt. Everest. The most seasoned travelers can pack enough stylish garb for two weeks of travel in a 21-inch carry-on. Pack your own first class amenity bag to include: noise-canceling headphones, an eye mask, moisturizer, a toothbrush, toothpaste, lip balm, and socks. Even if you’re stuck in the back of the plane, you’ll have what they have up front and everything you need to spruce up before exiting the aircraft.


Use points to upgrade from coach to business class or a standard room to a luxury suite. With business and first class travel comes access to the airline’s executive clubs—a fabulous benefit for long international layovers. You can freshen up and fill up on food and libations. Many airlines offer day-of upgrades for a reduced fee. When you check in for your flight at the airport, ask if there are any first class upgrades available for purchase. You never know when you’ll hit the luxury lottery and score a coveted seat for a fraction of the price. Book your hotel room on the Club Level whenever possible for added value such as a dedicated concierge, and food and beverage offerings throughout the day.

How to get there

Prearrange a car service to meet you at the airport. It’s often no more expensive than a taxi and nothing screams “I’m fab” like a man in a suit holding a sign with your name on it at the luggage carousel. He’ll whisk you away to his waiting sedan. On a recent trip to Paris, I booked a car on and the driver was ready and waiting on my red-eye arrival.

Viewfinder Tip: Apply for TSA precheck and Global Entry to breeze through airport lines.

Decide where and when to go

The key here is to look for deals. If you’re not tethered to a schedule, last minute deals can save you a ton of money and land you in the destination of your dreams. On the opposing end, planning in advance can also save you a bundle. Speaking of bundles, bundle your airfare, hotel, and car for additional savings. Research where you want to visit and go in the off-season. It will be less expensive and with fewer crowds.

Destination inspiration

Las Vegas: Las Vegas has all the makings of a superstar weekend away. If you like to gamble, or even if you don’t, there are plenty of things to do that won’t break the bank—from skipping the line at Tao to snapping a selfie in the Pawn Stars shop.

Mexico: Go south of the border for a five-star beach vacation. There are resorts galore that will have you feeling like Hollywood royalty in no time. Check out the Royal Playa del Carmen, Sandos Caracol Eco Resort, and Valentin Imperial for all-inclusive fun in the sun.

New York City: Manhattan (or the city, as we native New Yorkers call it) is a hub for celebrities. It has everything you would ever want to see, do and eat from Broadway plays, movie premieres, world-class dining, and shopping all within walking distance. Public transportation in NYC is incredible and makes getting around easy and affordable. But the best way to see the city is to walk, and more than likely you’ll rub shoulders with celebrities, many of which call the city home. Hotel stays can cost you a pretty penny depending on the time of year, but you’ll find savings during the winter months and often summer weekends when locals flock to Eastern Long Island.

Celebrity haunts

If you really want to feel like a celebrity, go where they go. If you’re in Los Angeles, peruse the shops at the Malibu Country Mart and lunch on the patio at the Ivy. In Manhattan, enjoy a post-Broadway show nosh at Joe Allen. Attend a film festival. There are hundreds held annually around the world like Cannes and Sundance, but unless you’re an actual “celebrity,” there is little chance you’ll be able to afford or even get a ticket. So why not attend a film festival in cities like Sarasota, Florida; Austin, Texas; or Cape Cod, Massachusetts; and hobnob with up-and-coming moviemakers.

Document it or it didn’t happen

Finally, it wouldn’t be an elite retreat if you didn’t share it. Everyone from the Kardashians to Leonardo DiCaprio is Snapchatting, tweeting, and posting Instagram and Facebook updates at record speed. Who needs a publicist when you can tweet to your own fans? And, while you’re at it, hire your own paparazzi. In select cities around the world, you can hire a Flytogropher, a professional photographer to capture every memorable moment of your vacation. With just a little thought and creative planning, you’ll be the star of your very own blockbuster holiday.

What’s your favorite tip to vacation like a VIP?