Why Honeymoon in Ireland

When it comes to choosing your honeymoon destination there are so many options it’s mind-boggling, but if you want a destination that’s romantic and makes a couple feel special, book your trip to Ireland.

No, you shouldn’t enjoy your first days as a married couple in Ireland simply because some celebrities did it. It was big news when Kim Kardashian and Kanye West took off to Ireland after they exchanged their vows. Victoria and David Beckham also celebrated their wedding in Ireland.

So what’s the draw to this amazing country? To begin with, let’s talk castles. There are more than 30,000 of them, from the 400-acre Dromoland to The Waterford Castle which sits is on a private 310-acre island on the River Suir. If you’ve ever dreamed of castles and living happily ever after, Ireland has your romantic storyline. Dromoland’s fortress, which is built entirely of dark blue limestone offers the couples a relaxing massage and a romantic boat ride.

If it’s a beautiful view that you and your honey want, then make sure you visit the 394-foot Cliffs of Moher that overlook the Atlantic Ocean. What a selfie that will be! Maybe a horse-drawn carriage ride is what you consider romantic and you’ll find one at the Killarney National Park. Another beautiful view can be found at The Mussenden Temple, built in 1785, which sits on top of a 120-ft cliff top above the Atlantic Ocean. It’s the most photographed scene in Ireland. Another selfie!

Beautiful Irish Ballads are performed in the Ashford Castle’s Dungeon Bar, which was once owned by the Guinness Family. Speaking of Guinness – and when you’re talking Ireland you must – toast your brand new life together at the Guinness Storehouse.

Of course, a honeymoon to Ireland wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the famous Blarney Castle and sharing an upside down kiss on the Blarney Stone.

If you’re more of an active couple, Ireland won’t disappoint. You can mountain bike at Ballyhoura, the largest trail network in Ireland, go cycling or kayaking in Kilkenny, take a cliff walk at the Greystones, hike at Wicklow Mountains or go spelunking at Aillwee Caves.

A honeymoon in Ireland is filled with something for everyone and you won’t be disappointed. If you’re interested in making Ireland your honeymoon destination, contact your travel agent.

Travel Specialist Group

How to Plan an Italy Vacation with Kids

A few months ago, we covered the best way to see Italy in 10 days. Of course, this doesn’t take into account if you’re traveling with children. They bring an entirely new set of challenges to your vacation. Here are some tips to help you navigate Italy with your youngsters because it really is a kid-friendly destination:

Choose kid-friendly sights to see: You might want to see the vineyards of Tuscany, but your kids won’t. Instead, make sure that they have things to do that they are interested in. The Aquarium of Genoa is the largest aquarium in Italy at 33,000-square-feet and a kid fave and so is the Bergamo outdoor zoo in Lombardy. Of course, you can pretty much make any site interesting to see if you tell kids about it on their level. Even historic sites like the Coliseum can hold their attention when you tell them that gladiator battles used to be held there.

Make it a learning experience: Kids want fun, but you can make Italy a learning experience too. There are guide books specifically meant for kids to discover the area. Let them go through the books and pick and choose things they may want to see or do.

Get used to late meals: Kids have a tendency to eat early, but that’s not how they do it in Italy. Lunch is a typical time that it’s served in America, approximately 12:30 to 1:30, but be prepared that dinner time can be around 8 p.m. to as late as 9:30 p.m. In Sicily, it can go even later, so be prepared to keep your young ones fed between meals.

Speaking of meals, kids love pizza so make sure you take them behind the scenes of a real pizzeria. They may even be able to make their own pie!

Build in time outs: Not for being bad. Running from one site to another may sound like the perfect plan to jam in everything you can do in Italy, but you’ll end up with one overtired child if you do. Plan your Italy itinerary differently. Plan on seeing the Leaning Tower of Pisa one day and the Coliseum the next. Once you’re done sightseeing, plan in some down time like a gondola boat ride or a nice quiet meal. Seeing everything in one shot sounds great, but the kids won’t remember jam-packed itineraries. Instead, they’ll remember feeling exhausted and on a whirlwind. Pick and choose. It will capture the vacation in a much better way.

Travel Specialist Group

The Best of Ireland

One of the most popular sayings in Ireland is, ‘May the road rise up to meet you.’ If you have decided to travel to the country known for its music, landscapes, castles and craft beer, here are a few things you should do:

Visit a castle: There are more than 30,000 castles and castle ruins of all shapes and sizes to see, including Dromoland, which sits on 400 acres and was for the Kings of Thomond or Waterford Castle, which is located on a private 310-acre island on the River Suir. You can enjoy a meal in the Castle’s Munster Room and visit the Fitzgerald Bar which houses the finest Irish whiskey collection. Stop at the Ballynahinch Castle, which overlooks the famous Ballynahinch River or the Cabra Castle Hotel, which dates back to 1760 and has 80 bedrooms, impressive hallways and stairwells.

Throw one back: When in Ireland, do as the Irish do and drink the ale. You can also tour Metalman Brewing, and Blacks of Kinsale or, if you prefer a little Irish whiskey, visit the Irish Whiskey Museum, an interactive, modern experience. You can sample Irish whiskey, Irish Coffee or whiskey cocktails.

Explore the countryside: Get on the bike and explore that gorgeous Ireland mountainside at Ballyhoura or go cliff walking at the Greystones. If you’re a hiker, check out Wicklow Mountains or the remote and rugged Cliffs of Moher. Spelunkers can also explore Aillwee Caves and see the frozen waterfalls. You definitely don’t want to miss Killarney National Park near the town of Killarney, County Kerry. It was the first national park in Ireland, and is home to another popular castle, Lakeside Ross Castle, which dates back to the 15th century as well as Torc Waterfall, a 20m-high waterfall which cascades down a series of rock steps. If you’re so inclined, check out Newgrange, an Irish passage tomb that dates to c.3,200BC or the beautiful National Botanical Gardens. There’s free entry to the gardens.

Share some smooches: Bring your lovebird to the famous Blarney Castle and share an upside down kiss on the Blarney Stone. You can also visit the beautiful Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, a medieval paradise created in 1191.

If you’re interested in a trip to Ireland, contact your travel agent to put together the perfect itinerary for you.

Travel Specialist Group

Grand Canyon Honeymoon Ideas

When it’s time to think about a honeymoon destination, most couples think of getting away to an exotic location, a warm Caribbean beach or a couples-only private resort around the world. What you might be missing is one location that is absolutely breathtaking and a perfect honeymoon destination.

Located in Arizona, the Grand Canyon is one of the most beautiful wonders of the world. The depth of sound, the vibrant colors, the rock formations make it a stunning site to see. For couples looking for a way to spend their honeymoon in the great outdoors enjoying one of this country’s most magnificent marvels, the Grand Canyon is a great honeymoon vacation spot. 

While you’re enjoying your first days as a married couple, you can also explore the Grand Canyon on foot by taking one of their many hikes throughout the park. If you’d rather take a ride around the canyon, you can do so on mule or horseback as well. It’s an experience of a lifetime to make your way throughout the deep ravines. There are so many other outdoor adventures you and your loved one can have, including camping and rafting. Don’t miss The Grand Canyon Skywalk, a horseshoe-shaped cantilever bridge with a glass walkway where you will see the Canyon from a very interesting viewpoint.

There’s also the Havasu Falls waterfalls, scenic daily train trips to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim and so much more. For the romantic side of your honeymoon, visit the Grand Canyon in the evening and the two of you can experience one of the most beautiful and most romantic sunsets in the world.

A great place to stay when you’re done touring is the 100-plus year old El Tovar Hotel which has 78 rooms and 12 hotel suites, each one with a unique name, identity and decor. Many famous people, including Theodore Roosevelt and Albert Einstein, have stayed as guests in this lodge.

Many of the lodges, including El Toval, offer honeymoon packages, so be sure to check out your options before booking. If you want to maximize your adventures at the Grand Canyon, a 5- to 7-day trip is a great place to start. This gives you plenty of time to see the Canyon and also take some down time and relax. Your travel agent can put together this unique honeymoon and all of its details. 

Travel Specialist Group

Visiting Jamaica

The Caribbean island nation of Jamaica is one of the most beautiful places to spend your vacation. With its blue waters, lush rainforests and landscapes, waterfalls, reggae music, gorgeous white beaches, including Seven Miles Beach and Cosmos Beach, and diversified wildlife, there’s so much to see and do. Jamaica is also all about the rum and there’s delicious food all over the island to try.

If you and your honey are planning a romantic getaway, then be sure to visit Jamaica’s Blue Lagoon, near Port Antonio, which was used in filming the Brooke Shields’ movie Blue Lagoon back in the 1980s. It is legend that the water – which changes from blue to green – is an aphrodisiac. Speaking of interesting waters, you can’t miss the Glistening Waters’ Luminous Lagoon where the organisms, when disturbed, create an eerie, glistening light. How cool is that?

You also can’t go to Jamaica and not enjoy some time actually in the beautiful blue waters. Enjoy the island’s Montego Bay on Doctor’s Cave Beach or Walter Fletcher Beach. Jump in and go snorkeling or diving. There’s also Treasure Beach, a six-mile stretch of coral-colored and black sands, private coves and rocky shores. You can also explore Seven Mile Beach in Negril, Jamaica’s, especially if you’re interested in some clothing optional adventures. If you’re in the mood for some romance, a sunset cruise is the most romantic thing you can do or visit Dunn’s River Falls.

Jamaica is also home to the Royal Botanical Gardens, also called the Hope Gardens, where there are many beautiful species of tropical plants for you to enjoy. You can also enjoy an excursion of bamboo rafting down the Great River or the Martha Brae River.

Finally, Jamaica is the home of the famed musician Bob Marley, who was born in 1945, so when you’re on the island, make sure to enjoy some reggae and take in The Bob Marley Museum. He lived in the property that he purchased in 1975 and lived in for six years until his death in 1981 from melanoma. His wife, Rita, converted the home to a museum.

Foodies will love the island too. Be sure to try some of Jamaica’s finest, including Jerk chicken, curry goat, fried dumplings, fried plantain, and steamed cabbage.

Travel Specialist Group

4 Basic Mistakes Made When Planning a Honeymoon

Planning a honeymoon is supposed to be an exciting time in your life, but with so much going on around you, it’s easy to make some basic mistakes. Here are four of them that you should be careful of when planning:

Bad timing: You want a quiet time on the beach with your honey now that the festivities are over, but unfortunately you’ve planned your honeymoon smack in the middle of spring break season. Maybe your hotel is hosting a children’s dance show and the pool is busy with youngsters. Timing is everything and knowing the right and the wrong time to travel is important when planning a honeymoon. Don’t think it matters? Try planning a honeymoon right in the middle of hurricane season.

Leaving the next day: Traditionally, the wedding is held, the rice is thrown and the happy couple leaves the next day for the perfect honeymoon. It doesn’t have to be that way. You’re probably exhausted from all the planning and the partying and might even be a little cranky. If you plan your honeymoon for a few days later or even a week later, you’ll have some time to relax, pack accordingly and get ready for some fun. It’s okay to break from tradition. This is your honeymoon and you don’t want to be so tired that you won’t enjoy it.

Doing too much: Trying to jam too much into a short honeymoon can leave you even more exhausted when you get home. Instead, try to pick a few things you know you want to see or do while you’re on your trip and balance it with some much deserve rest and relaxation. If you really like the destination, you can always make a return trip for your first anniversary.

Splurging: Spending a lot of money on your honeymoon sounds logical, because after all your honeymoon is supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime trip. So many couples will often blow their budgets on the trip for that very reason. Not the best thing to do. If your finances will take a hit, or if you’ll put a dent into your budget that doesn’t leave you room for other things you want to do as a couple or plans you have, then consider a smaller version of your honeymoon. If you’ve always dreamed of a two-week honeymoon to Fiji, then consider one-week instead and save the rest of the money for other day-to-day expenses if you need them.

Travel Specialist Group

Fun things to pack on your honeymoon

Packing for your honeymoon might seem easy – pack a bunch of clothes and you’re ready to go. Not quite. Before you close that suitcase, consider packing a few fun things just for the special occasion:

Travel games: Traveling can take a lot of time and there can be a lot of down time, so bring some fun mini versions of games to do on the plane or in the car. Scrabble, hangman, trivia games and even a deck of cards can help to pass the time away and fit in your travel bag very easily.

A surprise gift: What a great way to start your honeymoon than with a surprise giftyou’re your loved one (or more if you are feeling generous). One couple continues this tradition each time they go away and they’ve been married for more than 25 years. A little waterproof GoPro-style camera would be fun for the beach or for taking photos of activities you are participating in. Young couples use them on cruises and while they are sailing, snorkeling and on water slides, etc.

Sporty fun: If you and your honey are going to take any excursions or lessons, such as scuba diving or tennis, make sure to pack what you need for the fun. Before you leave for your trip, make sure that your resort or tour operator doesn’t provide your equipment before you fill your suitcase. If however, you need to bring extra gear – even sneakers or special hiking boots – be sure to pack them to you can get in on the fun.

Passion play: Let’s get right to it. Your honeymoon is all about fun in the sun (or snow depending on where you go), but it’s also about passion and sex. So why not bring some fun adult toys to get the fun going? Make sure you bring lubricant and condoms if you are not looking to get pregnant on your honeymoon. Then you can also bring some fun sexy card games or other accessories to enhance your bedroom excitement. Think about packing some sexy lingerie or underwear too. You never know where the night will take you!

Travel Specialist Group

Best Way to See Italy in 10 Days

Heading to Italy and only have 10 days to visit the beautiful country? Don’t worry. There is still so much that you can do, but it takes a little organization.

First, decide what’s important for you to see. Is the Amalfi coast a must? Can you skip Rome, but you must see Tuscany? Anyone can give you tips on the best way to see Italy in 10 days, but if the places aren’t ones you want to see, it won’t matter.

However, if you are still looking to see the most popular sites in Italy, be sure to include Florence, Rome, Tuscany, Venice and Naples on your list.

Next, what’s your budget? A 10-day vacation Italy can put a dent in any budget, so you may need to choose your locations based on your finances.

Once you have a budget, a list of places to see and a timeline, you can start to put together your itinerary. If you still need a suggested 10-day itinerary for a trip to Italy, then here are a few ideas:

  1. Start your trip in Rome: Spend a couple of days visiting the country’s capital and make sure you see the Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, and the Colosseum.
  2. Head over to Vatican City: Here you should take a couple of days to see St. Peter’s Basilica and the Cupola di San Pietro as well as the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel.
  3. Tour Tuscany: A trip to Italy wouldn’t be complete without a tour of Tuscany, which is known for its rolling hills landscape, sunflower fields and cypress trees. You can many natural parks where you can hike and bike through the region.
  4. Football in Florence: We call it soccer in the United States, but here you can see Italy’s favorite pastime up close. Fiorentina plays here, so make sure you snag some tickets. While you’re in Florence, spend a few days also looking at the Uffizi Gallery, one of the most famous museums in the world with collections of paintings of the fourteenth century and especially from Leonardo, Raphael, and Michelangelo.

There you go, a few days in each and before you know it, your 10-day vacation will be over and you’ll be planning your return trip to see more!

Travel Specialist Group

Best Luggage Brands

Looking for new carry-on luggage or need a new suitcase? Just a few weeks ago, the Consumer Reports National Research Center released their survey of nearly 65,000 Consumer Reports subscribers on the best carry-on and midsize and large suitcases. What was the best suitcase of the survey? It was Briggs & Riley, a luggage company that offers a no-strings-attached lifetime guarantee. According to the survey, Briggs & Riley scored higher than most for its ease of carrying, wheelability, ease of packing, and durability. Readers also liked that the brand was easy to stow.

According to Forbes.com, the Briggs and Riley’s Baseline models have a built in compression system that allows you to slightly overpack in expanded mode, then reduce the footprint of your items back to the case’s original size.

Overall, Eagle Creek and L.L. Bean also ranked highly among Consumer Reports surveyors. A whopping 76 percent of respondents were highly satisfied with their midsize or large suitcases.

If you’re looking for new luggage, Consumer Reports also suggests looking at wheelability and durability. Luggage comes with wheels, which makes it easily transportable, but take it for a whirl, or a spin, because the wheels need to stay on and if the ones on your luggage seem wimpy, consider another brand.

Next it’s time to look at the zippers. Imagine closing your suitcase and the zipper comes flying off. You can’t get it closed or open and you’re heading to the airport to catch a flight. You need a reliable zipper. According to this article in Consumer Reports, zippers come in two types: chain and coil. The chain zipper has two sets of interlocking teeth, usually made of metal. Chain is better and stronger than the coil zipper, which slides on two parallel coils usually made of polyester. Chain zippers are much more difficult to break into. Coil zippers can be pulled apart with a ballpoint pen.

Just recently, Damon Darlin, Ask the Wirecutter of The New York Times, put some luggage through its testing, and came out with some favorites. When it came to luggage with great handles, his favorites were the Travelpro Platinum Magna 2 22-inch Expandable Rollaboard Suiter for carry-ons and the Travelpro Platinum Magna 2 25-Inch Expandable Spinner Suiter for checked bags.

Before you buy, make sure that the luggage suits your needs. Are you traveling frequently or occasionally? Are you traveling internationally where your luggage will need to be bigger or will you be traveling shorter jaunts where you won’t need as much space? Your needs and, of course, your budget, will also help you to decide your final luggage purchase.

Travel Specialist Group

Best Disney World Resorts for a Family of 5

If you’re a family of four heading to Walt Disney World in Florida, it’s pretty easy to find a place to stay that accommodates all of you. Disney resorts definitely come with two queen-sized beds or a king and a queen, which is perfect for two adults and two children. However, if you have a third child, finding accommodations often becomes more difficult. Sure you can ask for a rollaway bed for the third child, but that can take away valuable walking space in the room. Of course, a simple solution is to book two rooms so there’s ample space for everyone, but that can be a budget buster.

There are Disney resorts that can accommodate your family, so be sure to check these out when searching for the right place to stay.

Contemporary Resort: The name says it all. It’s an ultra-modern hotel with rooms that offer two queen beds and one day bed, so you and the kiddies can all stay together. The resort’s suites include one king bed and queen-sofa as well as one day bed. If your family needs even more space, their Bay Lake view two-bedroom suite includes four queen beds and one queen sofa or two queen beds and one king bed and one queen-size sleeper sofa. In walking distance to the Magic Kingdom, this resort is perfect for families with little ones, who may need a nap break in the middle of the afternoon.

Board Walk Inn: This property also offers two queen beds and one queen-size sleeper sofa and is located within walking distance to both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The best part of staying on Disney property is the ability to use their free monorail to travel between parks. Resort amenities include childcare facilities and laundry facilities, which are just as important to vacationing parents as that extra sleeping space.

Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa Views: For the most part, Saratoga Springs offers the perfect accommodations for the family of four, but if you have a bigger brood, you might enjoy staying in their treehouse villa. It comes to two queen beds and one bunk bed and one twin-size sleeper chair and one queen-size sleeper sofa. This resort’s look is inspired by the historic Saratoga Springs racetrack in New York.

Finding the right accommodations for your family takes time and research. Work with your travel agent to put together the right Disney vacation for you.

Travel Specialist Group