6 ways to upgrade your travel experience

A traveller at an airport looking at information screens for travel details. Picture: Supplied

A traveller at an airport looking at information screens for travel details. Picture: Supplied

Published Jan 24, 2024


Let’s face it, travelling on a tight budget may not always be the most enjoyable experience, however, while travel is all about new adventures, it’s important to recognise that certain add-ons do come with a price tag.

For some, travelling is their time to unwind and perhaps indulge in some of the finer things in life. If you’re watching your budget, you may wonder if travel upgrades are worth it.

Some upgrades and add-ons definitely are.

Kruger Gate Hotel CEO Anton Gillis offers six ways to upgrade your travel:

Lounge access – international travel

Having lounge access makes a massive difference to your overall journey as waiting around in an airport terminal can be tiring and undeniably unenjoyable.

“The wonderful benefits of having airport lounge access are that in some lounges you’re able to shower and refresh yourself in-between flights – a luxury that I can’t recommend enough – and that there is comfortable seating with space for everyone, so you don’t feel as though you’re in an overcrowded waiting area.

“You can also use the lounge’s wi-fi and power outlets,” said Gillis.

He said there were various ways to gain entry into airport lounges. Travellers could access lounges when flying via business class, some banks offered access if you were a customer using specific cards or credit cards, or you could purchase either a one-off entry or yearly airline lounge pass.

“With there being a few options available to gain entry, you can assess which way suits you best. For example, if you aren’t a frequent flyer, then you wouldn’t need a yearly lounge pass.”

Hotel upgrades

Staying in a hotel room is a treat for most of us but there are some upgrades that can really dial up the enjoyment of your experience.

For example, Gillis said, Kruger Gate Hotel offered guests the opportunity to add services onto their stay, such as shuttles, spa treatments or safaris.

The shuttle service was particularly helpful to guests who were visiting the Kruger National Park from far-flung destinations or even South Africans who were unfamiliar with the region.

“A shuttle service that picks you up from the airport to takes you to your hotel, wherever you may be in the world, gives you such peace of mind and allows you to begin your holiday with ease.

“Landing in a city or town you’re not familiar with and having to find your own means of transport can be stressful, and once you’re situated at your hotel or accommodation, you could rent a car for the duration of your holiday.”

Gillis said that once guests had booked a stay with the hotel, the hotel contacted them to let them know about the upgrade options.

“There will always be guests, in any hotel, who might change their minds and want a bigger room or added spa treatments, and we want to ensure that they have the option to make these upgrades with us before their travels.”

Extra legroom upgrade

The legroom you’re given on a flight varies according to the class you’re flying in. Economy class is usually 81 to 86cm, business class 1.22 to 1.52m and first class 1.75 to 2.18m.

Gillis said that if you were flying in economy class, you might be content with the typical legroom, however, taller individuals would benefit from having more space and many airlines allow you to pay more to upgrade your seats and add extra legroom in economy class.

“The additional space provides a level of comfort that is incomparable to standard seating. When you have access to that extra legroom, you’re able to stretch more, you feel more relaxed and you’re able to avoid the cramped feeling that comes with travelling on a long-haul flight.”

Delaying departure

Purchasing flights later in the evening is not necessarily an upgrade that you can opt for, but it is a decision that can make the last day of your holiday pleasant.

Gillis said it was gratifying to have some time throughout the last day to conclude your holiday on a leisurely note instead of feeling the rush of needing to get to the airport first thing in the morning.

“Imagine waking up on the final day of your trip and squeezing in the last bit of sightseeing, perhaps having a lunch at a local restaurant you loved or purchasing curio gifts for your loved ones at home and then leaving for the airport in the late afternoon.”

Baggage travel insurance

And finally, it’s no secret that over the past few years, flights have become more expensive, and once you’re ready to purchase your ticket, the last thing you might want to do is add another expense.

However, while paying a little extra to secure baggage insurance may feel like a grudge purchase, it’s worse it if your luggage gets lost, is damaged or stolen and you’re not insured.

“Alongside protecting yourself with baggage insurance, my biggest travel hack of the year is to add an Apple AirTag into your bag that will allow you to track the location of your belongings.

“The very first thing I do once an airplane has landed is check where my bags are, and it’s great to feel relaxed and stress-free when you’re able to see that all your bags have made it to the airport,” he said.

Gillis said that if it was not necessary for you to take out a full general travel insurance policy, consider purchasing baggage insurance from your airline. That would ensure that you would be covered for any baggage problems.

“Each person travels differently and has their own set of priorities when it comes to travelling.

“I wouldn’t recommend that each traveller has to opt for every travel upgrade that comes their way, but it does pay to give consideration to upgrades that meet very specific needs, and those that will truly make a difference to your overall travelling experience.”