Is a Destination Wedding Right for You?
Destination weddings can be more casual, offer a sense of adventure and even prove less expensive than traditional nuptials. Here are some reasons why one might be right for you.
Think about the opportunity for quality time.
With everyone’s busy schedules, filled with work and family obligations, it can be difficult to bring the most important people in your life together. Weddings are one of those happy occasions when people want to make the effort, so make the most out of the opportunity. Having family and friends in the same place over several days helps ensure that you’ll get to spend some quality time with each other, rather than maybe talking for a few minutes at the reception. It also gives family members and friends who may not have seen each other in a while a chance to catch up. Plus, guests on each side of the aisle can really get to know one another, forging a strong bond between the two sets of families and friends.
It’s also a vacation for your guests.
By working with your travel agent to get the best deals on airfare and accommodations, you’ll enable your guests to not only share in your happiness, but also enjoy a getaway. Destination weddings take place in fun, relaxing and romantic spots, places your family and friends may have always wanted to visit. And now you’re giving them the perfect opportunity. Hawaii, Mexico, the Caribbean, even southern Europe, are popular choices. Closer to home, Florida and California also offer great wedding options. By getting away, the wedding becomes more of an event not only for the bride and groom, but for their guests, as well. It’s a chance to take a break from the daily routine. Your travel agent can also help you plan special excursions and activities that your guests can enjoy as a group or on their own.
Planning can be easier and less stressful, and maybe even cheaper.
Resorts catering to destination weddings will usually provide the bride and groom with the services of a professional wedding planner. That individual will put together a package with everything you’ll need for your big day. You won’t have to worry about making multiple phone calls to vendors, and you’ll have fewer stress-inducing decisions to make. You can keep things simple – no need for elaborate decorations when the backdrop to your ceremony is so gorgeous. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t add some touches to make things more personal. And when you add up the cost of a destination wedding versus a traditional ceremony and reception, you may find that you’re saving money. Plus, once the ceremony is over, you’ll already be at your honeymoon spot.
Weddings are an opportunity for friends and family to come together and show their love and support for the happy couple. A destination wedding, by giving all involved the gift of additional time together, can make the occasion even more special.
For help planning a destination wedding, contact your travel agent.
Tips for Choosing the Right Cruise for Your Family
With a wide range of activities for adults and children alike, as well as an opportunity to explore new places while in port, cruises are a great choice for a family vacation.
Here are some tips for picking the right cruise for your family.
Involve the kids in the planning process. Talk to them about the places they’d like to visit and activities they enjoy, both on the ship and during excursions. Go to the library for books about the itineraries you’re considering. Some kids may be excited by Mexico and the Caribbean, and a chance to swim with the dolphins. Others may be thrilled by the prospect of a cruise to Alaska, with a chance to get up close to sled dogs and try whitewater rafting. Perhaps you’ve got some young history buffs in the family who would love a Mediterranean cruise.
And it’s never too soon to start thinking about accommodations. Today’s cruise ships offer families lots of options, from connecting cabins to suites with multiple bathrooms and spacious living and dining areas, to sofas that convert into beds, to room dividers that provide a little privacy for the grownups. On some ships, the family staterooms are located near the pools and clubs for children.
The length of the cruise and the size of the ship are important considerations for families, too. Think about the number of days you’ll be spending at sea versus days in port, as well as the size of the cruise ship. Larger ships are likely to have more options for dining and activities, but you and your family may feel more comfortable finding your way around a smaller ship. If possible, you may want to leave from a port within driving distance of your home.
The major cruise lines all have clubs for children with loads of activities to keep them busy, but look at how they’re set up. For example, check the age groups. You may find that one cruise line would place your children in separate groups and another would keep them together. And while there are activities for toddlers to teens, take a close look at what’s offered onboard. You want to make sure there’s enough to keep your child occupied for the length of the cruise, whether he or she wants to splash around in a water park or climb a rock wall or make art projects or conduct science experiments. You’ll also find plenty of family friendly shore excursions, from visits to nature parks to sightseeing amid ancient ruins to snorkeling. Just make sure there’s something that matches your child’s interests.
And remember, there is a wide variety of food options on cruises, so even your pickiest eaters will be able to find something they enjoy eating. Also, some cruise lines offer expedited dining for younger passengers, letting them eat first and then go off to activities while mom and dad enjoy a leisurely meal.
For help planning a cruise that’s perfect for your family, contact your travel agent.
Road Trips Perfect for Independence Day
The Fourth of July is a great time to celebrate America’s independence by taking a road trip, perhaps to explore a part of the country you haven’t seen before.
Here are some suggestions.
For a celebration with an ocean view, plan a getaway to San Diego. The city’s fireworks display, called the Big Bay Boom, is launched from barges in San Diego Bay, and can be viewed from many spots in the area on July 4th. For a different perspective, book a dinner cruise and take in the fireworks from the water. Earlier in the day, spend some time at Old Town San Diego Historic Park, where a parade, crafts and other activities re-create the Fourth of July as it was celebrated during the city’s frontier days.
Enjoy a Smoky Mountains Independence Day celebration with a trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. For 43 years the town has been the first in the United States to mark the holiday, with a parade of more than a mile long that steps off at 12:01 a.m. on the Fourth. In the early evening, it’s time for Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales, a festival of street performances featuring costumed musicians, storytellers and artisans portraying characters from as far back as the 1800s. Independence Day concludes with a 20-minute fireworks display.
Combine a Fourth of July celebration with culture and the great outdoors on a trip to Denver. On July 3 at Civic Center Park, there’s a concert of patriotic music and a light show, capped by a fireworks display. Spend some time browsing through the city’s many excellent museums – visitors have a rare chance to see the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Museum of Nature & Science. Or, take a day trip. Denver offers quick and easy access to the Rocky Mountains. Be back in time for the Cherry Creek Arts Festival, a free outdoor celebration of visual, performing and culinary arts, which takes place July 6-8.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is known for its miles of beaches, boardwalk, resorts and celebrity-designed golf courses. But it’s also a fun place for an Independence Day getaway. In the morning, Pawleys Island holds its annual Fourth of July parade, with visitors and locals taking part. Later in the afternoon, the community of Murrells Inlet is the site of a festive parade of boats. In the evening, Broadway at the Beach, a popular spot for dining, shopping and nightlife, offers a Fourth of July fireworks show.
While it’s mainly known for ski slopes, Stowe, Vermont, is a great choice for a New England Independence Day. The village holds its daylong Old-Fashioned Fourth of July celebration on Main Street. It’s fun for the whole family, with music, food, a pie-eating contest, art sale and a parade. The day ends with a concert, carnival games and fireworks at nearby Mayo Field. Stay through the weekend and you can take in Stowe’s annual Hot Air Balloon Festival, July 6-8.
For help planning a Fourth of July vacation, contact your travel agent.
Safari: Experience the Natural Beauty of Africa
For many travelers going on a safari is a dream trip, an opportunity to see Africa’s unspoiled natural beauty and to view wildlife like lions, elephants and rhinos in their natural habitat.
If a safari is on your bucket list, here are some tips as you plan your trip.
The East African nations of Kenya and Tanzania are among the most popular safari destinations, with travelers drawn to one of the world’s most remarkable sights – the Great Migration. Hundreds of thousands of wildebeest, gazelles and zebras make the trek from the plains of the Serengeti in Tanzania to the grasslands of Kenya’s Masai Mara in search of food and water. While the Great Migration usually peaks in July and August, going in October will let you avoid the crowds, and you’ll still see plenty of action.
You’ll hear the words “tent” and “camp” used when it comes to accommodations. While the level of comfort on a safari can range from rustic to ultra-luxury, remember that most will have running water, full bathrooms, electricity and modern conveniences, including Wi-Fi. Just keep in mind that some remote camps may run on generators that are turned off at night and during the day, when you’re out on a game drive.
Try to plan as much of your trip ahead of time as possible, including arranging transportation between the airport and your hotel. It’ll be one less thing to think about when you arrive after a long flight. And don’t leave the required paperwork for the last minute. In addition to a passport, some countries, including Kenya and Tanzania, will require a visa. Also, check with your doctor well in advance of your departure to make sure you have all the recommended vaccinations and immunizations. Follow the advice of the State Department and register your plans with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. Enrollment will make it easier to contact you if there’s an emergency, as well as alert you to important information about your destination.
When packing, remember to keep things light, both in your suitcase and wardrobe. Bring casual, comfortable clothes that are easy to wash. Don’t forget essential toiletries, like tissues or rolls of toilet paper. To prevent bug bites, avoid wearing dark clothing. Pack light-colored pants and long-sleeved shirts. In some areas, your access to ATMs will be limited, so bring some cash. And don’t forget an adaptor for your phone and other electronic devices.
A safari can be a great family vacation or group trip, but travel experts recommend that parents bring children in their teens or older. So if you’re thinking about including the kids, consider whether they’re old enough to handle the experience.
Finally, remember that nature doesn’t always operate on a schedule. When you’re looking for wildlife, be patient. Have your camera ready at all times, and while you’re waiting, take in the gorgeous scenery as you anticipate those jaw-dropping moments that will stay with you forever.
For help planning a safari, contact your travel agent.
Business Travel: Making Safety a Priority
When you’re on a business trip, it’s natural to be preoccupied with making sure your work goes well. But staying safe on the road, domestically and internationally, is also key, for both men and women.
Your business travel may take you to places you’ve never been before, so it’s important to stay alert and be aware of your surroundings. Research your destination before you leave home to learn about the area around your hotel. Whether you’re going out for a run in the morning or to a restaurant in the evening, consider carrying a personal alarm keychain, regardless of how safe you feel the area is. Your hotel concierge is also a good source of information on where to go and where to avoid.
Speaking of hotels, when you make your reservation, ask if the front desk is staffed 24 hours a day and whether you need a key card to use the elevator. Request a room on a higher floor, where there’s less risk of a break-in. Make sure your hotel room has deadbolt locks, an eyehole and evacuation procedures. Check that all locks are in working order. For extra protection, consider bringing a portable doorstop with an alarm that will sound if someone tries to enter your room. When you first enter the room, prop your luggage up against the door and do a quick scan to make sure no one is inside.
To avoid having to ask strangers for assistance, bring a suitcase that you can carry yourself, especially up and down stairs if you’ll be taking public transportation. And be sure to shield any contact information on your luggage so that it’s out of view. While you’ll likely be dressing conservatively for your business meetings, think about your casual wardrobe, too. Dress like a local, and leave expensive accessories at home.
While your physical safety is, of course, paramount, it’s also important to protect your personal and business information. Take some security precautions with your smartphone and laptop. Using public Wi-Fi can make it easy for thieves to hack into your devices. Think about getting a portable router to set up your own Wi-Fi hotspot. Password-protect your smartphone and install location tracking. And keep your smartphone fully charged.
Also, keep a record of personal documents. Write down the information from your credit and debit cards, driver’s license and medical insurance to make it easier to replace anything that gets lost or stolen. If you’re traveling abroad, make a copy of your passport. Carry the copy and leave the original in the hotel safe.
Finally, know your comfort level. Talk to your company’s travel manager about what you need to feel safe on the road. If you don’t feel like venturing out in an unfamiliar location after a long day of meetings, order in room service. If it’s late at night, ask a security officer to walk you to your car. Remember to go with your gut instincts.
For help planning a business trip, contact your travel agent.