Contrary to popular belief, not all billionaires travel the same way. For example, not all of them own a yacht or are driven around in a $325,000 Maybach. And many of them don't necessarily opt for the largest and most expensive hotel suite--even if they could afford to buy the hotel many times over.
But what they do is travel better. When was the last time anyone saw Bill Gates or Warren Buffett taking his shoes off going through airport security? Has Larry Ellison recently missed a flight because he was stuck in traffic? Do any of the Waltons lose their luggage? Does Indian steel king Lakshmi Mittal worry that he can't get a reservation at his favorite London restaurant?
Not at all.
That's because in many ways the greatest luxury of all, both on and off the road, is ease. Being ultra-wealthy not only enables billionaires to travel, stay and eat anywhere they please--within reason, of course--but more important, it allows them to do so with minimal hassles or discomfort. Theirs is a life full of limousines purring at the front door, helicopters ready to go on a moment's notice, private planes waiting on the tarmac, hotel managers rubbing their hands in anticipation and maitre d's hovering by the door.
Yet there is a lot of effort that goes into creating the illusion of trouble-free travel. Behind the scenes, flight crews, florists, concierges and cooks are constantly scrambling to make sure that everything works seamlessly. The secret is for billionaires or, more likely, one of the many people who work for them, to have the right tools.
Topping the list is a private plane--the luxury that actually becomes a necessity when one is a billionaire. Bought, leased or fractional, jet or prop, because they are safer, faster and more reliable, private planes keep everyone happy--from family to clients and even shareholders.
Almost as useful is a little black card, weighing less than an ounce, that lets billionaires do just about anything. Cardholders must be invited to apply for the Centurion Card from American Express (nyse: AXP - news - people ), and the company won't say how many cardholders there are or how they are chosen.
"Centurion cardholders travel an average of 25 times per year," says Desiree Fish, an American Express spokeswoman. "They must have an annual spend-level of $250,000 to be considered." Once signed up, subscribers pay an annual fee of $2,500 and have access to a dedicated personal concierge as well as a travel agent, private-jet charter program, chauffeured limo service and international emergency health care. They can also get tickets to "By Invitation Only" events, like seats onstage at a recent Rolling Stones concert, which cost $5,800 per pair.
Are any of these things impossible to achieve through other means? Of course not. The card's real appeal is its exclusivity; it is one of the few amenities that the very wealthy cannot simply buy.
Not to fear. Our list has plenty of services to which buying-power alone guarantees access. Take Fischer Travel, a New York-based luxury-travel firm, which charges clients a $50,000 initiation fee and a $10,000 annual charge. Fischer may be expensive, but he delivers: He has planned vacations for one-time Citigroup (nyse: C - news - people ) Chairman Sanford Weil and can arrange once-in-a-lifetime experiences, like meals cooked personally by celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten or golf lessons with pros like Tiger Woods.
Fischer is well-connected to say the least, so he can get last-minute reservations at resorts like the Four Seasons (nyse: FS - news - people ) Punta Mita, one of his clients' favorite destinations. The hitch? Fischer's number is unlisted--but if you don't have at least one friend you can get it from, you probably couldn't afford him anyway.
It's not all beach resorts and celebrity chefs in the life of the world's richest travelers, however. Billionaires often carry highly sensitive information with them on the road, and unfortunately, they also make particularly tempting kidnapping targets. For this reason, we've included some basic safety services on our list, like U.K.-based Executive Group Holdings, whose founder, Mike Faux, has kept everyone from Michael Jackson to The Duchess of York safe. For a few thousand dollars, he'll do the same for you.
We've also included gadgets to keep your electronic data and phone conversations secure, like the BioCert Odyssey ClipBio Biometric Flash Drive, which is a long way of saying that no one can access your computer without your unique biometric information (your fingerprint). At $299, it's a small price to pay for that kind of security. For another $3,000, you can get the CT 8000 from Boston-based Granite Island Group, a pocket PC which encrypts phone conversations. "Financial CEOs are buying these up five and six at a time and passing them out to their teams," says James Atkinson, president and senior engineer of the company.
Technically speaking, not everyone is a billionaire. But with Fischer in your Rolodex, a Centurion card in your wallet and the CT 8000 at your ear, you'll certainly look like one. And that's the fun part.