It's one of the most toyed-with hypothetical dilemmas known to humanity. Somebody hands you a million dollars; what do you do with it? With money no object, the world is your oyster. It might never happen, but just in case, here are some of the most insane (and insanely expensive) travel experiences to hit up if you do end up with serious cash to burn. All travel experiences are priceless, but there are some only money can buy.
A tour of India's grandest palaces
Luxury tailored-trip travel company Ampersand (ampersandtravel.com) offer well-to-do travelers the opportunity to live like a raj with their Taj Palace tour. With prices starting at $9000 for a 17 night trip, this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity threatens to make only the smallest of dints in your million. Beginning in Mumbai and winding on through Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaipur, and Secunderabad, the tour entails a series of three night stays in actual palaces, as well as visits to temples, deserts, sites of historical interest, and exclusive restaurants. It even includes zip lining and a trip on a spa boat! What's not to like?
A First Class trip across Siberia
The train journey from Moscow to Beijing is one of the most impressive on Earth, both in terms of the distance covered and the views on offer. The journey alone is not so unachievable for the slightly better-off traveller, but to do it luxury with a company like Golden Eagle Luxury Trains (goldeneagleluxurytrains.com) is a whole other experience. Setting you back anything between $24,000 and $45,000, tickets give you access to a single or twin compartment on a modern, luxuriously kitted-out train. The journey lasts 21 days (including time in both Moscow and Beijing at either end), and allows you to explore numerous cities in Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and China.
A private island getaway just off Tanzania
Thanda Island (thandaisland.com) sits in the Indian Ocean, just off the east coast of Tanzania. It's the product of a decade of development and offers a luxurious, totally private island retreat for the impressive price of $10,000 per night (minimum stay of between 3 and 7 nights, depending on the season). The price includes accommodation in the form of an all-inclusive, fully-staffed five-suite villa with an indoor aquarium (of course). The island even has its own recently discovered 'sunken city' which is thought to date back as far as 50AD and, it's not only solar-powered, but also marine-conservation-active. Wow.
A luxurious cruise through the Polar region
These days more and more people can say they've visited the Arctic Circle in the Northern regions of Scandinavia, but how many have actually visited The Arctic or Antarctica? The Luxury Cruise Company (theluxurycruisecompany.com) offers a range of cruise options through the Polar region, offering chances to see rarely-spotted marine wildlife and experience natural phenomena like the Midnight Sun or the Northern Lights (depending when you travel). With prices ranging from $6000 to $20,000, itineraries include locations like Ushuaia (the world's southernmost city), the Falkland Islands, Antarctica, and more. What better way to take in some of the most extreme regions of our planet than from the luxury of a cruise ship?
A live-aboard diving tour of the Galapagos Islands
For around $6000 enjoy life on a vessel with an on-deck hot tub, hammocks, a BBQ area, and en-suite, air-conditioned cabins fitted with TV/DVD players. Regal Dive (regal-diving.co.uk) offer a range of luxury diving trips with accommodation on or off-shore. This trip offers the chance to tour the Galapagos Islands, active volcanic islands 600 miles off Ecuador, home to prehistoric creatures found nowhere else on the planet. Dive with turtles, marine iguanas, seals, penguins, whale sharks and whales, spot unique seabirds, and go inland to spot rarities like the great tortoise and large land iguana. You even get to visit the Charles Darwin research station - what a trip!
A wild getaway with a luxury African Safari
Prove you don't need to go rough to get wild, and witness some of the world's most incredible wildlife up-close up with companies like The Luxury Safari Company (theluxurysafaricompany.com). As packages are tailored to your needs, prices are available on request, but things seem to get started from around $1000 per night. The accommodation is out of this world (think 5* hotel-style four poster beds, beneath the stars, overlooking the plains) and the experiences on offer go beyond the imagination. From walking with lions to sky-diving over a private reserve or even paint balling from a helicopter, a luxury safari is guaranteed to leave you with the memories of a lifetime.
A celebrity-style tour in a private jet
The Four Seasons Private Jet Experience (www.fourseasons.com) offers a range of luxury tours so hot they have a waiting list. The tours are priced at $135,000 per person if you're traveling with a companion, with a $12,000 supplement on top of this for single travelers. Trips run for around 24 days, and one example itinerary includes all of the following destinations: Kona, Bora Bora, Sydney, Bali, Chiang Mai, Taj Mahal, Dubai, Prague, London. Whilst on board the customized Boeing 757, guests receive a personal iPad with Bose noise-cancelling headphones, a custom Ghurka cabin bag, and a flat-bed seat with 2 meters — yes, 2 whole meters — of personal space. There's an exclusive onboard chef and onboard physician, and a ratio of one crew member to every six passengers. Pure luxury at 30,000f t — yes, please.
We might never see the day when somebody just hands us a million dollars. We might never win the lottery. But with all of these unfeasibly luxurious, once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences just a few thousand dollars out of reach, maybe it's nothing a little saving can't see to...