Many of us will notch up several iconic Wonders of the World on our travels over a lifetime, if we are lucky.
We might get to see the Taj Mahal in India, or perhaps Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef or the Andean citadel of Machu Picchu. But how about ticking off all these — and more — in one gilt-edged, Pol Roger-fuelled swoop?
And on a luxury trip, with private jets, an executive chef, an on-call doctor, lecturers, flunkies — oh, and access to a mobile lavatory.
Well, now you can. Just as the upper classes had their Grand Tours in the 17th and 18th centuries, today the moneyed classes are jetting off to criss-cross the globe in the shortest possible time, and the greatest possible comfort.
On a TCS World Travel tour, the jet waits for you, rather than you waiting for the jet.
On landing, a chauffeur takes you from a private terminal to your next five-star hotel. Perish the thought of enduring endless security checks at inhospitable airports.
Your cases will be waiting for you, courtesy of the luggage concierge who oversees its hotel transfer. You will also find an envelope containing local currency — what the company calls ‘walking around money’.
You will take in ten destinations, starting and ending in Orlando, Florida, and spend 86 hours flying. You get a toiletry bag full of L’Occitane goodies and, on flights longer than five hours, a three-course meal.
Curious about your fellow passengers? There will be up to 80 — mainly Americans of a certain age and net value. You’ll fly in a converted Boeing 757 with reclining seats in Italian leather, and Bose noise-cancelling headphones. Flights are westbound (said to reduce jet lag) and take place during the day, so ‘red-eye’ shouldn’t be much of a problem.
There’s no form-filling for immigration and customs. It’s all done for you — just sign.
Forgetting which country you’re in, or, which UNESCO World Heritage Site you’ve just visited, is all part of what travel company TCS World Travel, founded in Seattle in 1991, calls ‘a journey of a lifetime’.
The next available trip is in January 2019 and comes in at £134,000 per couple.
But first you have to get yourself to Orlando, where you spend a night at the Four Seasons Resort (included in the price), and meet your fellow travellers.
Flying first class from London Heathrow to Orlando can add up to £12,255 per person, or £3,619 if you’re prepared to slum it in business class. So the total cost of the trip could be nearly £160,000 per couple.
So what else do you get for your money?
On your marks, get set, and you’re off — first to Peru. Most people would go to this bewitching country for two weeks, but you’re here for just two full days.
It means a six-hour flight from Orlando to Lima, followed by a private charter to Cusco, which takes one hour and 20 minutes.
Then hop on board the Hiram Bingham train (so named after the American explorer who brought the site to world attention in 1911) through the Sacred Valley of the Incas to Machu Picchu.
Cusco, where your hotel is located, is nearly 12,000ft above sea level, but you’ll be comfortable at the Belmond Palacio Nazarenas hotel, where the 55 suites have oxygen piped into them.
Some 2,500 people visit Machu Picchu every day, but worry not — you will get VIP entry before dividing into small groups of six to ten per guide.
The flight from Lima to Easter Island, one of the world’s most remote civilisations, is five hours and 20 minutes.
If you were going on a commercial airline you would need 13 hours to fly via Santiago de Chile.
But there’s no time to lose on arrival as you are only here for two nights, staying at the Hangaroa Eco Village and Spa, designed in homage to Orongo, a ceremonial Rapa Nui National Park site.
Rooms are made from cypress logs, clay and volcanic rock. Get up close and personal with the extraordinary Moai statues carved between the 12th to 17th centuries, with heads weighing up to 82 tons.
You’ll be given a miniature statue as your ‘pillow present’.
You are now on your way to Australia (and should be developing good packing and unpacking skills), stopping for a night (after a, deep breath, nearly ten-hour flight) on this South Pacific island, crossing the international date line and so losing a day in the process.
You check in at the Sheraton Samoa Beach Resort and then visit the former estate of Treasure Island author Robert Louis Stevenson in Vailima.
In the evening you head to a ‘fia-fia’ feast rooted in Polynesian culture, and are presented with a handmade silk sarong.
Your bucket list is filling up nicely — indeed, there must be a danger of it overflowing. But, hold tight, here comes yet another UNESCO World Heritage site.
Samoa to Cairns in Queensland, Australia, is a flight of six hours and 25 minutes.
Next you are transferred to the Great Barrier Reef, the planet’s largest coral reef system, comprising nearly 3,000 reefs and 900 islands stretching for more than 1,600 miles.
Stay two nights at the five-star Pullman Port Douglas Sea Temple Resort and Spa (on a four-mile beach).
Marine experts will take you to the northern reaches of the Great Barrier Reef so you can snorkel among an amazing array of tropical fish. A gift of a boomerang will be waiting in your room, naturally.
IF you can no longer abide the person sitting next to you (including, presumably, your other half), this is when everyone has the chance to change seat as part of some sort of aviation musical chairs.
You get three nights in Siem Reap, near Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument in the world, built in the 12th century.
After the seven-and-a-half hour flight from Cairns, the Raffles Grand Hotel should help iron out any stiffness.
Your group will be treated to a private gala dinner in one of the temples after the hordes have departed, plus a performance of a classical Apsara dance.
A relatively short hop of under five hours brings you to Agra in Rajasthan, where you land at a military airport, five minutes from the white marble mausoleum commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to house the body of his favourite wife. It took 20,000 people 22 years to build it.
Stay two nights at the Oberoi Amarvilas, the only hotel with uninterrupted views of India’s greatest treasure.
A guide will also take you to the Red Fort and Emperor Akbar’s tomb. Crowds are an issue at the Taj Mahal (especially if you want a selfie on the ‘Princess Diana’ bench, where she sat solo during a Royal tour in the dying days of her marriage), but special guides know how to circumnavigate the hoi polloi.
Africa is calling — although it requires a flight of almost eight hours before you get there. You are taken to the Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti for three nights.
Its five-star luxury is your base for Big Five spotting on two game drives each day.
One morning you can enjoy a sunrise hot air balloon ride, and your last dinner will be eaten in the bush, following sundowners and a traditional Majuto dance.
Look out for bone-handled salad tongs as your pillow prezzie — and then steel yourself for boarding that plane once again.
You might be suffering from too much of a good thing — but keep some enthusiasm in reserve for Petra, which is on most people’s wishlist.
It’s (only) five hours away from the Serengeti, and the last bit of the journey requires a mule and cart as you move along the mile-long gorge called the Siq.
The Rose City (called this because of its pinkish hue) was possibly first settled as early as 9,000 BC, and combines traditional Nabataean rock-cut buildings with Hellenistic facades.
Another outing takes you by 4×4 to Wadi Rum, with its lunar-like landscape which was much loved by T.E. Lawrence.
Your room for two nights at the Movenpick will have commanding views of the Great Rift Valley.
Sir Winston Churchill loved this crazy city (the flight from Petra is six hours and 40 minutes), saying it was ‘simply the nicest place on Earth to spend an afternoon’.
You’ve got just 48 hours to be entertained by snake charmers and bamboozled into buying stuff you don’t need from persistent traders.
Hopefully, you haven’t fallen out with too many in your group and you’ll be nicely cocooned in La Mamounia, one of the most famous hotels in the world. If you tire of the souks, go trekking in the foothills of the Atlas mountains.
On Day 22 you fly back to Florida — or enjoy a cheese and ham toastie on a £29 Easyjet flight from Marrakech to Luton as a welcome back to the real world.