When you upgrade your ticket to first class or a book a night in a four- or five-star hotel, you’ll notice that luxury experiences are made up of a series of small touches. As lovely as these touches are—think a complimentary cocktail or fancy bath salts by the side of the tub—they’re also pretty inexpensive and easy to get yourself.
Skip the markup of an expensive vacation upgrade by packing the small touches with you.
If your hotel bathroom has a tub, treat yourself to a little bit of luxury by bringing along your own bath bombs. These compact balls of Epsom salt are easy to pack, and a great alternative to splurging at the hotel spa. Just throw a couple in your toiletry bag and you’ll be ready to draw yourself a relaxing, good-smelling, and fun-colored bath whenever you want.
With everything economy passengers have to put up with, I’d argue they deserve a cocktail more than anyone sitting in first class. And with a kit like the Carry-on Cocktail Kit, there’s no more settling for makeshift plane mixers. These kits include all the ingredients you need (except the liquor) to make your own cocktail on your next flight, whether you’re in the mood for an Old Fashioned or a Margarita. Because these kits don’t include alcohol, they’re fine to bring on the plane with you. Just order the liquor from your flight attendant, and you’re ready to go.
With crying babies, chatty neighbors, and all the other kinds of sounds the average traveler has to listen to on a flight, foam earplugs aren’t going to cut it. Upgrade your flight by bringing your own set of noise-cancelling headphones. In first class they lend these out, but you can invest in your own pair that will last way beyond the plane. Start by checking out these Linner Active Noise Cancelling Headphones, which are lightweight and effective, to find the best pair of headphones for your taste.
If your trip needs an upgrade but you don’t have the budget for first class, go ahead and treat yourself to some high-class snacking. You can get indulgent at the Duty Free Shop with some Toblerone chocolate, or maybe pack high-quality cookies like Petit Ecolier chocolate-dipped shortbread. Air travel can be pretty grueling, so don’t be afraid to pamper yourself with some treats.
A Good Travel Pillow
For this vacation upgrade, you’re going to have to invest in a proper travel pillow—i.e. no more last-minute purchases from the hotel gift shop. For real neck support, check out the Trtl Pillow, which is designed to provide maximum support and prevent the uncomfortable head bob. It’s not quite first class, but it is much more comfortable than a cheap inflatable pillow.
Satin Pillowcase Cover
If your hotel’s bed sheets are scratchy and uncomfortable, it’s not likely the front desk will work with you on replacing them. Save yourself the hassle and the argument by packing along a high-quality pillowcase like the Grace Eleyae Charmeuse Satin Pillowcase. A silky-soft pillowcase like this can make a world of difference on your next night sleep and they’re so easy to pack, you’ll wonder why you don’t go everywhere without your pillowcase.
Some luxury hotels offer bottles of “sleep spray” on the nightstand. This lightly-fragranced spray is meant to help freshen up the sheets before you get into bed and provide a calming aromatherapy to help you fall asleep. There are tons of different sleep spray formulas out there, so you can shop around until you find the scent that works best for you. Just spray a few spritzes on your pillow, close your eyes, and fall asleep to the smell of luxury.
After a long flight, skin is often left feeling dehydrated and worn out. Pack a couple of moisturizing sheet masks so you can freshen up your face on the go. I love traveling with a couple of one-use disposable sheets masks—not just as a way to stay fresh, but also as easy and relaxing last-minute treat.
Travel Coffee Press
There’s nothing wrong with being particular about your coffee, especially since our patience levels tend to be depleted after long travel days. If you cringe at the idea of drinking burnt or instant coffee at any point on your trip, you can pack your own portable coffee press. The thermos-shaped Bodum Travel Press is the perfect travel companion for coffee lovers with specific tastes, because it’s lightweight, easy to use, and ready to go when you are.
Silk Eye Mask
Eye masks are usually the last thing you remember to pack, but it doesn’t cost a lot to invest in a quality eye mask. Check out a silky option like this PrettyCare 3D Sleep Mask to help you get some shut eye and block out excessive light. Silk masks with contouring will feel much more comfortable and make it much easier to fall asleep wherever you are.
More from SmarterTravel:
- Where to Find Premium Airfare Deals on First Class and Business Class
- 9 Podcasts You Need to Listen to on Your Next Trip
- 30 Essential Non-Travel Apps for Travelers
Jamie Ditaranto is a writer and photographer always looking for her next adventure. Follow her on Instagram @jamieditaranto.
We hand-pick everything we recommend and select items through testing and reviews. Some products are sent to us free of charge with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions and do not accept compensation to review products. All items are in stock and prices are accurate at the time of publication. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.