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Things You Need To Know When Planning a Destination Wedding

Congratulations! You’re getting married and you always dreamed of having a wedding far away from home, perhaps on a remote island or at an adventure park. Wherever you dreamed of saying your ‘I Do’s, there are things you should know when planning for your big day.

 

  1. Start early: Some popular destinations can book up in advance. Plus, you should spare some time to visit the destination of your choice.
  2. It’s not as expensive as you think: According to The Knot magazine, most couples spend an average of $30,000 on a local’ wedding. A destination wedding with a small circle of your closest friends and family can cost a fraction of that total.
  3. Think about your budget: While it can cost less than a traditional local wedding, you still need to have the funds without depleting your bank account. Decide what’s most important to you as a couple.
  4. Keep your guests in mind: Are you having children attend? Then pick a kid-friendly destination. Want your elderly Aunt Lola to attend, but she struggles with walking? Make sure that your destination is accessible for her.
  5. Location, location, location: Your destination wedding really comes down to the location that you picked. Do not pick a destination because Aunt Lola will be happy or because she told you that she always saw you getting married there. Pick a destination that you both want and that means something to you, whether it’s romantic Tuscany, the beautiful Hawaiian islands or the cold Swiss Alps.
  6. Visit your destination: Don’t take someone else’s word for the destination you want. Go visit it yourself, even if you’ve been there before. You should meet with the vendors, including the photographer, and you’ll want to see the venue at least one more time. Make sure you try the food while you are there too.
  7. Check the paperwork: Depending on your location, you may need special permits for your wedding. Some may take time to get, so give yourself plenty of time to get everything you need.
  8. Use a travel agent: A travel agent can help you plan your wedding from far away. They are more familiar with destinations and local customs and can make sure that your big day is just perfect. They can talk to your vendors, help you to book your reservations and make your day less stressful.
  9. Plan the honeymoon: Planning a wedding is great, but make sure you spend just as much time planning the honeymoon.
  10. Relax: It takes a lot to plan a wedding, especially one that is hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away. Make sure you spend time relaxing before the festivities and be sure you’re enjoying what you’re doing.

Travel Specialist Group

Best Destination Wedding Locations and Why


The best location to get married is the one that means the most to you and your loved one. Maybe it’s an island where you first said ‘I love you’. Maybe it’s in a country that’s part of your heritage. Or, maybe it’s just a destination that you always dreamed about because it just seems so romantic. Whatever it is, the destination you choose should be the one where you want to say your vows enjoy your big day. Need a few recommendations?

Portugal: With its crystal clear waters, beautiful landmarks and high-towering cliffs, Portugal is one of the most beautiful places in the world and makes an ideal wedding destination. Its city of Algarve is known for its many beaches and Sintra became the first center of European Romantic architecture in Portugal. Portugal is known for its castles including Castle of the Moors, a hilltop medieval castle where you can say your I Do’s.

Italy: Any part of Italy makes a great destination wedding because marrying in Italy is considered one of the most romantic ways to get married. Singer John Legend tied the knot with his wife Chrissy Teigen in Lake Como, known for its deep-blue waters and rugged, forested foothills of the Alps. Of course, there are the rolling hills of Tuscany where you can get married in Florence or Siena or at any one of the hilltop castles, such as the Sala Rossa of Florence, the Palazzo Pubblico of Siena.

Ireland: Speaking of castles, Ireland also makes a great wedding destination site with its more than 30,000 castles across the country, including the 400-acre Dromoland, where you can take a romantic boat ride before you exchange your vows. St. Patrick’s Cathedral located in Dublin is a holy site is created in 1191. The Botanic Gardens, established in 1828, makes a beautiful backdrop to say your vows and, of course, there’s the romantic famous Blarney Castle and sharing an upside down kiss on the Blarney Stone.

Before you plan your wedding keep in mind that, just like in the United States, you need to complete certain paperwork in each country in order to say your ‘I Do’s’ to be considered legal. Check the country’s embassy website or search “getting married in ‘fill-in-the-country’” to find out exactly what you need to do.

Travel Specialist Group

Kid Friendly destinations


If you’re planning a family trip, there are many places across the globe that are kid-friendly. Of course, the popular Mickey Mouse amusement parks are are the top of the list. Disney’s parks cater to your little ones with kid-friendly accommodations, food and activities. Entire books have been written on bringing your kids to the happiest place on Earth, but what other destinations as fun for kids?

Luxury Bahia Principe Fantasia Playa Bávaro: Located in the Dominican Republic, this is an all-inclusive family resort that caters to guests of every age. Kids will enjoy the Candyman at check-in as well as games and magic tricks. There’s a Kidsclub and a Teens Club. Bahia Scouts is an entire area designed just for kids, including a nature club and their very own water park.

National Parks: Yellowstone is just one example of a national park in the United States that is perfect for children to see. The National Parks Passport Program also offers a great way for children and families to learn more about each destination and fill their National Parks Passport with stamps. The National Park Service website has a map where you can select the state you live in or want to visit and see a list of parks that are available. For example, in New York you can visit an African Burial Ground, the homes of Eleanor Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, and Franklin Roosevelt as well as the home of Martin Van Buren the Statue of Liberty. These are all designated national parks.

Hard Rock Cancun: Mexican city really is kid-friendly, and so is the Hard Rock Cancun. They offer several packages that parents can choose, depending on the age of the child up to 12 years old. In the Ultimate Playtime Packages, parents of babies up to 18 months old will receive a complimentary toy kit, an in-room crib and highchair, and an electric sterilization machine. The resort also provides Gerber food and cereal as well as 36 diapers and wipes per child. Older children receive a complimentary toy kit and a child-sized robe and slippers. The Hard Rock Cancun offers a Little Big Club, an interactive experience where children are dancing, singing and playing with their favorite characters Barney™, Angelina Ballerina™, Bob the Builder™ and Thomas The Tank Engine™.

Travel Specialist Group

Best Couples Only All Inclusive Destinations

Choosing to vacation at an all-inclusive resort means that your room, food, some of your drinks and some of your activities are all included in your price. All you need to do is sit back, relax and soak in the sun. But not every all-inclusive destination is couples only. You’ll often find children and families hanging around. If you’re looking for a real couple’s only getaway, here are some of your best options:

The Grand Palladium Jamaica Resort & Spa takes care of pampering you and creating a home away from home cozy feel for the lovebirds. In your room, you can enjoy a hydromassage bathtub, sofa bed, satellite television, iPod station, and a balcony or terrace. Get a massage at the Spa & Wellness Center with Jacuzzi, Vapor bath, and Solarium services.

You won’t be feeling ‘blue’ at Turquoize, the new adults-only experience at The Hyatt Ziva in Cancun. Wake up to sipping a wonderful cup of coffee on your own private balcony while you look out at the ocean, or take a dip in the adults-only rooftop pool. Indulge in your rainfall showers or relax at the Mayan-inspired sanctuary with 13 treatment rooms and 6 palapas on the beach.

The Rendezvous resort is all about falling in love. Enjoy the lazy river, private hideaway, garden and spa while you reconnect with your loved one. No kids allowed.

The elegant Sandals Regency La Toc is a 210-acre estate set on a half-mile, crescent-shaped beach. When the day is done, you can relax at the Sunset Oceanview Bluff Millionaire Butler Villa Suite, 150 feet above sea level atop a bluff. Pull back the retractable glass walls and enjoy the view.

Another option is the ultra-modern Breathless Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa, an adult’s-only oasis where your drinks at the lounges are included, as well as unlimited gourmet meals, 24-hour room service and more. Make sure you party hearty at the xhale club and the xcelerate Party Zone.

Last, but definitely not least, is the Papillon by Rex Resorts, which is located on the Reduit Beach. Can you hear the Reggae Night music or do you prefer karaoke, volleyball, bingo, cricket or something else. Gokayaking and paddleboarding too. It’s all about a massage here too, so make sure you get in some ‘us’ time at the spa while you’re there.

Travel Specialist Group

Family Beach Day Packing Tips

It’s time for some fun in the sun with the kids, but what should you pack?

Toys: While swimming in the beach or lounging on the sand are fun in their own right, sometimes it’s nice to change things up on your trip to the beach. Bringing toys and activities such as a volleyball, Frisbee, or limbo can help add a new fun element to your beach vacation. While these aren’t essential, they can help to upgrade your beach vacation from a quick swim to a memorable day.

First aid kit: As much fun as the beach can be, accidents can still happen. One of the little ones could get cut on a sharp rock and need some fast bandaging. There’s no harm in making sure you have a first aid kit on you to heal yourself and your loved ones in case something goes awry. Band-Aids, Aloe gel, and rubbing alcohol are some things you might want to consider bringing if you don’t want to bring the entire kit.

Sunscreen, bug spray, etc.: These may seem obvious, but they are also the most overlooked or forgotten things to pack. Sunscreen is essential if you’re spending all day in the sun so as to prevent dangerous sunburns. Bug spray is also a good way to avoid bug bites. Make sure to pack them in a way that they won’t spill. You can do this by packing them in individual baggies.

Road trip essentials: The trip to the beach is just as important as when you are actually at the beach. Arguing or lack of snacks can put a damper on the rest of the vacation. To avoid this, make sure thing to pack drinks and snacks to keep everyone fed, and games for the kids to keep them entertained. You can avoid the dreaded “Are we there yet?” question. Make sure you also have your directions!

Speakers. Another fun way to upgrade your beach vacation is to add some waterproof speakers to your packing list. This can keep the fun going wherever you are, whether you’re playing volleyball or taking a dip in the waters. Having some upbeat tunes playing while you’re all together can help keep the energy up even if you’re all getting tired.

Travel Specialist Group

Getting A Passport Quickly

travel-specialist-groupFinally heading out of the country on a much-needed island vacation? Going overseas for a European river tour? Flying to Japan for a really important business meeting? You’ll need a passport if you want to leave the country and do any of these things. If you don’t already have one and apply for a brand new or renewed passport now you’ll probably have it, on average, in just a few weeks.

All you need to do is go to your nearest passport application office and pick up an application. Fill it out and make an appointment to bring the application back and pay your fees. Passport application offices include the post office, local libraries, and designated passport agencies.

However, sometimes you have to leave the country quickly because of a meeting or a family emergency.  Aunt Marie who lives in Spain might have suddenly taken a turn for the worse or your son might have gotten sick during his time abroad. If you need your passport in less than two weeks or even immediately, it is possible.

First, go the U.S. Passports & International Travel website and read everything you need to know about the proof of identification that you will need to bring with you. Then, you can make an appointment at your local state passport agency. You will also need to bring proof of whatever international travel it is that you need to do, so a letter from your business partner or perhaps a doctor’s note explaining your son’s situation.

If your situation is life-or-death – for example, you believe that Aunt Marie isn’t going to pull through and you need to see her immediately – you can call the passport agency and make an appointment for an emergency passport. What falls into the category of life or death emergencies are serious illnesses, injuries, or deaths in your immediate family that require you to travel outside the United States within 48 hours.

There is no charge for the appointment itself, so if you someone is trying to tell you otherwise, it’s a con and don’t believe them. There are, however, application fees for the passport. Bring your appointment confirmation number, proof of international travel, completed forms and all supporting identification documents. A major credit card, debit/check card (not ATM cards), check, exact cash or a money order are all acceptable to cover the application and expedited fees.

Travel Specialist Group

Planning a Destination Wedding With Children

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Having a destination wedding comes with its own unique set of challenges, but children can add even more challenges to that list. Whether they are in your wedding party, children of the guests or both, you need to think about their needs while you are planning your wedding. Here are five tips to help make your day easier, so you can worry about what’s really important — saying your I Do’s:

    1. Pick a family-friendly destination: There are many resorts around the world that cater to families, with accommodations, dining and activities for all ages. This takes the pressure off of you to keep the kids entertained and provide proper amenities for them. The staff is also familiar with taking care of families.
    2. Have children-friendly activities: Provide activities that are just for adults, some that are just for the kiddies, some that are just for the teens and tweens and some that are for everyone. It takes some planning, but make sure you keep everyone entertained. During the wedding reception, while the adults (and some kids) are dancing the night away, others can be playing with puzzles, coloring or building with Legos at the table.
    3. Children’s menu: Not all children enjoy fancy, schmancy h’or derves, or chicken cordon bleu or roast beef for dinner, so make sure that you have some children’s menu options available. Macaroni, macaroni and cheese, and chicken nuggets are some perennial kids’ favorites. Remember them for the dessert too. Kids love cake, so the wedding cake might not be a problem, but have some cookies and milk on hand as well.
    4. Peace and quiet: Some kids get overexcited and overtired at big events and need a place to chill out for a little while. If you have any new moms who need a place to breastfeed, they may want a place that’s private and quiet. Even some adults just need to get away from all the noise and celebration for awhile, so make sure you have a spot that’s just meant for quiet time.
    5. Teens: The older kids like to be treated like the adults and do what the adults do, so let them participate in the festivities. They can dance, enjoy the grown-up appetizers and menu options, but if there are several teens on hand, consider letting them have their own table, so they can chat with guests their own age.
    6. Time it right: If you have a lot of children attending your wedding or in your wedding party, consider holding some of the events earlier in the day.

Travel Specialist Group

Planning Tips For Your Destination Wedding

travel-specialist-groupCongratulations on your wedding! If you want to leave your hometown and have a wedding at a destination far away from home, here are some tips to make your big day just perfect:

Location, location, location: Having a successful destination wedding first depends on picking the right destination. Pick a destination that you want to have your wedding at, not because your mom or your aunt always wanted to get married there. Most couples pick a destination that means something to them. For example, perhaps you were proposed to in Hawaii and want to return there to tie the knot, or you met in Aruba and an island wedding would mean so much. Some couples choose a destination that honors a passion they have in their life. For example, maybe you are both wine aficionados and want a wedding at a wine region in Tuscany or you are both adventure junkies and want to exchange vows on the White Cliffs of Dover. It’s your day, so pick the right destination for you.

Details, details: You have the right destination for you, but will you be able to pull off the wedding of your dreams? Logistically, can you have a wedding there? Is there enough room for your guests? Can your guests come to your wedding without spending a fortune? It may be out of reach financially for some guests, so you need to be okay with that. What time of the year do you want the wedding? Is it available or do you need to wait for a year or two? Will the wedding be off-season where there are fewer crowds, or during the busy season when the destination may be more expensive? Think about all of your details and if this destination is a fit.

Show me the money: What is your budget? Do you have champagne wishes and caviar dreams, but are on a beer and burger budget? Think about what you can really afford before booking anything. Your wedding should fit into your budget, not bust it. However, The Knot magazine does say that traditional at-home weddings cost couples an average of $30,000, but a destination wedding can be done for a fraction of the cost.

Work with a planner: If you’re definitely set on the destination then work with a destination wedding planner who can help you with all of these fine details. They know the area, so while you are home planning, they can be your eyes and ears at the venue, while working with your budget. They can also work with all of the vendors.

Take a Trip: Even if you have been there before, it’s important to take at least one trip during your wedding planning just to check everything out. You’ll want to see the venue again, talk to the caterers and the photographer and make sure the site is what you remember.

Travel Specialist Group, Inc

Pros and cons of going to an all-inclusive resort

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There are many decisions to make when you are booking your vacation. For example, where do you want to go? How long do you want to stay? What do you want to do while you are there? What can you afford?

One important question that you need to ask is whether or not you want to stay at an all-inclusive resort. Before you answer it through, you need to weigh the pros and cons of staying at one:

Pros:

  • All-inclusive includes almost everything. An all-inclusive plan includes three meals a day, soft drinks and, typically, beer, wine, and liquor, plus your accommodations and some activities.
  • Your budget is set. Stick to what they are including and your budget is set. No unexpected expenses to derail your budget.
  • No decisions to make. If you’re bringing a larger group on vacation, an all-inclusive has a range of activities to participate in, so there’s no need for everybody to make a decision.
  • Convenience: It’s one-stop shopping or vacationing. Everything you need is here to enjoy. There are dining options, accommodations, nightclubs, activities, babysitting and so much more, so you can sit back and relax knowing that all is taken care of.

Cons

  • All-inclusive doesn’t include fancy drinks. Prepare to pay for the Dom Perignon because most plans don’t include high-priced drinks.
  • Mealtimes are limited. Even if there are multiple restaurants on a resort, it doesn’t mean each restaurant is included in your all-inclusive price. You’re forced to dine where they tell you to go. Anything else and you’ll have to open your wallet.
  • Activities aren’t always available. Sure, you can play tennis or enjoy yoga or a dip in the pool as part of your all-inclusive price. But if you want to participate in other activities, such as scuba diving, snorkeling or whale watching, prepare to pay extra. Most water sports aren’t included.
  • Not everything about kids is free. Some all-inclusive resorts charge for child care services and kids programs, while others include programs, but not babysitting. Check the resort brochure so you know what to expect.
  • Show me the money. While some resorts include spa treatments, others consider this an extra luxury that will add to your bottom line.

So what do you choose? It depends on your financial situation. Do you have extra money to splurge on things when you’re on vacation? If not, an all-inclusive might suit you better, so you have a fixed budget.

Travel Specialist Group