Eight once-in-a-lifetime experiences to save for
Living the dream ... you can stay over water on an island like Bora Bora.
Backpacking, by its nature, is a bit of a slog. The idea is that you stay out there for as long as possible on what's probably a fairly piddling amount of money, so that means a whole lot of thriftiness.
That's a good thing. That gets you out seeing the world, meeting people and seeing the sights.
But still, we're missing out. There are some pretty amazing experiences out there that don't exactly fall into the typical backpackers' price bracket, that are seen as being out of reach of the budget traveller.
And if you're away for a long time, they probably are. But if you're smart with your money, or you slave away at that second job for a few more weeks, there are some expensive, lavish experiences that you really should break the bank to try.
It's going to take some serious saving. But this is once-in-a-lifetime stuff. It'll be worth every penny.
Do a five-star safari
There are two ways to safari in Africa - on a tight budget, or in ridiculous opulence. There's rarely any middle ground. I've tried both now, and while pitching your own tent and cooking your own dinner is a blast, it's hard to compare it to being driven around a private game reserve by guides who know absolutely every speck of dirt on the property, then returning to a bungalow overlooking the veldt for a quick G&T before your chef-prepared dinner. I did it at Phinda Game Reserve*, and it was nothing short of amazing.
Take a cruise to Antarctica
If nothing else, you'll never lose another game of travel one-upmanship for the rest of your life. Antarctica! One of the most inhospitable places of earth. Barely touched by humans. A land of icebergs and mountains and hundreds of thousands of penguins. It costs a bomb to get there (upwards of $10,000 per person), and there's every chance you'll be hit by a howling blizzard, but I'd do it tomorrow.
Have dinner in a top-10 restaurant
If you like art, you go to the Louvre. If you like football, you see the point below. If you like food, then you too want to try the best of the best. And in that case, you head to one of the world's top 10 restaurants. Marvel at the molecular gastronomy, shake your head at the pure opulence, gaze at art on a plate, feast on the amazing food, and weep as you pay the bill.
See a Liverpool game at Anfield
It can be done - probably for far too much money, given you'll have to go through an agency to get your hands on the precious tickets, but it can be done. And if you're into sport, then this is the holy grail, and you'll never regret the expense. Once the Kop breaks into You'll Never Walk Alone, all that cash will seem like a pittance.
Stay in Venice
Loads of people have been to Venice, but if you're like me and you did it on a budget, then you would have stayed at one of the campgrounds or budget hotels that are off the actual island. Those places are party central, but surely it can't compare to being in the city of an evening, when the few locals that are left there come out to play. And if you have to get a vaporetto to your front door, all the better.
Party like an oligarch in Moscow
Moscow's expensive. The hotels are ridiculously expensive, the food is expensive, and the drinks are expensive. But if, for one night, you really want to let loose and pretend you're rich and famous, then this is the place to do it. Dress fancy, rock up to a nightclub, order a whole bottle of vodka (Vladimir Putin's, of course), and see how the night unfolds.
There's no way to do Bhutan on a budget, since tourism is so strictly controlled that you're forced into buying a package deal, meaning you're looking at about $250 per day, all inclusive. And you have to get there in the first place. Still, this is a relatively untouched mountain kingdom with an amazing culture and great scenery. And you've got to love a place that measures "Gross National Happiness".
Stay over-water on an island
This is living the dream. Step onto your wooden balcony, and what do you see? The pale blue ocean, everywhere. Jump over the railing and you're in it, swimming around with all the little fishies. Or just sit there with a cocktail and stare. You can do this in the Cook Islands, in the Maldives, or in Tahiti. It's going to cost you, of course, but that's the last thing you'll be thinking about.
Have you ever splashed out on an expensive experience? What's the best "luxury" thing you've ever done?
Hope you're enjoying the Backpacker blog - there will be a new one published every Tuesday and Wednesday on the Fairfax Media websites. To contact me with any topic suggestions or personal abuse, visit my website, follow me on Twitter, or email me at email@example.com.
*As a guest of South Africa Tourism