Monthly Archives: October 2016

Amazing Destination Weddings

Congratulations! You’re getting married! Over the next year you will be making a million decisions about your wedding and honeymoon, and hopefully the process will be as enjoyable and stress-free as possible. One choice that many couples are making nowadays is foregoing the traditional idea of a wedding – a local ceremony in front of 300 family, friends and random strangers – for an intimate destination wedding.

HoneymoonA destination wedding, labeled by some as a “wedding moon,” combines the wedding, reception and honeymoon together in one location. The destination wedding is held at a desirable site, sometimes tropical, other times exotic, allowing the guests to enjoy a relaxing, activity-filled vacation while spending more quality time with the wedding couple. The couple invites only their nearest and dearest to celebrate the union. All events occur over a long weekend, along with other wedding activities designed to bring the revelers together.

If it’s hard to imagine what a destination wedding is like, picture this: you and your partner are in a warm, tropical setting, surrounded by friends and family toasting your success. The sounds of music and ocean waves peacefully blend together in the background, and a feast is prepared in your honor in the local traditions. Every single detail, from the setting of the service to the flowers, has been effortlessly arranged to suit your taste. And after the ceremony, you won’t have to leave this breathtaking locale, for you’ll have your honeymoon there as well.

To discover if a destination wedding is right for you, check out this advice from ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents). Some of the most travel-wise people in the world, ASTA travel agent members know that a special destination can make a special occasion extra special.

Reasons to Say, “I Do” to Destination Weddings

HoneymoonThe Beauty of Package Deals – Tourism organizations, resorts and cruise lines offer wedding packages to keep a destination wedding stress-free and simple. Some offer the complimentary services of their on-site wedding consultant to help coordinate the essentials, like your marriage license and an officiant. All you have to do is show up. Your travel agent can sometimes expand these package deals to include fun activities for you and your special guests, such as sightseeing excursions, snorkeling adventures or shopping trips.

Avoiding the Awkward Invites – Because destination weddings are generally intimate affairs attended by only your closest friends and dearest family members, you can avoid being forced into inviting cousin Matt with halitosis or your best friend Jenny’s little brother you met once 10 years ago. You get to choose the level of intimacy you want for the ceremony and invite accordingly, or you can invite no one at all for a very romantic trip down the aisle.

No Reception with 250 People to Pay For – You do the math: 250 people, including co-workers and business contacts, at $75 a head equals too much money! A luxurious wedding weekend at a fabulous destination oftentimes costs less than a seated dinner at the local country club. Proper etiquette of a destination wedding calls for invited guests to pay their own airfare, while you’ll pick up the tab for the lodging, food and beverages. You can add a few perks for your guests if feeling generous, such as gift certificates to nearby spas.
It’s smart for a couple planning a destination wedding to contact a travel agent to negotiate a discounted rate for booking multiple rooms and group rates with airlines or cruise ships. If money is an issue, your travel agent can steer you toward domestic locations or countries with a favorable exchange rate.

No Extra Traveling Necessary – Destination weddings are perfect for couples with families and friends scattered around the country or even the world. If a good majority of your guests would have to travel to your hometown anyway, then getting married in a desirable vacation spot will make many of your guests happy.

Reasons to Think, “Maybe Not”

Long Distance Planning and Legal Red Tape
For those not getting married at a resort with a complimentary wedding consultant, you’ll have to juggle all the small details yourself long distance. You might experience complications when trying to get a marriage license in a foreign country or even another state. Many places require marriage fees and residency requirements.

It’s wise to hire a coordinator who specializes in destination weddings to help you navigate the twists and turns. A good wedding planner, like a good travel agent, can help keep costs in check by bargaining with vendors or utilizing professional relationships to obtain special discounts. The more exotic the locale, the more necessary the wedding planner becomes. If at all possible, hire a local wedding planner who specializes in destination weddings, and let him or her work with an onsite planner. This usually does not translate into double fees, for the services of the local wedding planner are generally included in the overall price.

HoneymoonWhere’s Granny? – While exotic locales are a great way to keep undesirables from attending your special event, it may also have the reverse effect with loved ones who may not be able to attend due to the expense, physical limitations or getting enough time off of work. Think about all the guests who are truly essential before deciding on the location. If money is an issue for your guests, simply tell them that their presence is the only wedding gift you need.

No Room for Impetuousness – With a destination wedding, advance warning and save-the-date cards are crucial. Send them off as early as possible, preferably at least eight months in advance, for your guests will need to work the trip into their budget and work schedules. Also, many guests, since they’re suddenly planning to visit an exciting corner of the world, take vacations before or after the wedding. Fair warning gives them time to contact a travel agent and plan the perfect trip.

Crowded Honeymoon? – With your family around, will you be able to enjoy a private honeymoon with romantic alone time? If you want alone time, you’ll have to schedule it. Arrive a few days before everyone else, which you may need to do anyway for marriage license requirements, or enjoy your honeymoon nearby on a different island or neighboring resort. If neither of these options is possible, plan fun activities, preferably of the all-day kind, to occupy your friends and family while you and your new spouse sneak away to a private beach or special restaurant.

I, Travel Agent, Take Thee (State Your Name) Anywhere You Want to Go
Once you decide a destination wedding is right for you, then say “I do” to a travel agent. Travel agents excel at making plans for multiple people from multiple locations, oftentimes at special, discounted group rates. Planning for the most important day of your life will be a wonderfully crazy time for you, so finding someone you trust to aid in your decision making will be a welcomed relief.

A good travel agent can save you money as well as time – two enormous factors for a couple planning their life together. Through their love of travel and reliable relationships with suppliers around the globe, travel agents specialize in providing personalized suggestions to suit both your dreams and your budget. Some travel agents can even set up a layaway plan, so you can make monthly payments for your special trip.

Gorgeous cities you should visit

Georgia’s leafy capital is due its time in the spotlight. Dynamic, progressive and home to one of the country’s most exciting food scenes, Atlanta is the new star of the South. Whether you stay for a week or stop by on a layover, you’ll soon discover why it’s one of our top 10 cities to visit this year.

Where do I start?

Atlanta is a city of distinct neighbourhoods, each with their own vibe. The best place to start is on the Eastside, where you’ll find rock ‘n’ roll Little Five Points, bohemian Virginia-Highland and laidback Inman Park, once Atlanta’s first suburb.

The Westside is more spread out, but home to some of the city’s coolest areas, studded by galleries, hip loft apartments and factory conversions. The Westside Provisions District is one of the easiest to wander on foot. Once a meat-packing plant, its red-brick industrial buildings have been tastefully renovated and are now packed with cool boutiques and upscale restaurants.

 

To understand the city’s history, dedicate a day to exploring historic Sweet Auburn, birthplace of Martin Luther King, Jr. The district was designated a National Historic Sitein 1976, recognizing the achievements of the African-American community which has thrived here.

You can learn more about Dr. King’s life on a free tour of his Birth Home, in the visitor centre, or at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he was once pastor. To get a feel for the area today, drop by the much-lauded Sweet Auburn Curb Market for lunch.

 

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For a different taste of Atlanta life, head for quirky Cabbagetown, with its clapboard houses and narrow streets, or drive north to glitzy Buckhead for high-end malls and mansions (yes, this is where residents once protested against Justin Bieber). Downtown and Midtown, while essential to visit for the city’s big sights, can feel a little soulless.

 

What’s new?

Regeneration initiatives have transformed Atlanta in recent years. The highest profile development is the BeltLine, one of the most ambitious public projects in the country. Tracing an old railway line, it will cover 22 miles when fully complete; follow the trail on foot or by bike, and keep an eye out for the latest art installations along the way.

Foodies will love the enormous Ponce City Market, a superb multi-million dollar conversion of the derelict Sears, Roebuck & Co. building. It’s a slick development from the team behind NYC’s Chelsea Market, with shops including Williams-Sonoma and Anthropologie, and food hall residents ranging from award-winning burger purveyors H&F to smart bar-restaurants like The Mercury. Nearby Krog St Market is smaller and more convivial; try the bao at Suzy Siu’s or the excellent Tex-Mex tacos at Superica.

 

The city has also hit the big screen again this year, thanks to FX’s new show Atlanta. Movie tours can take you behind the scenes, as well as to filming locations from the likes of The Hunger Games, Anchorman 2, Stranger Things and The Walking Dead, parts of which were all shot here.

Simple Tips For Women Trip Alone

Now more than ever, women are traveling by themselves for business or pleasure. And although their reasons for traveling are similar to their male counterparts, women traveling alone have very different concerns. From safety issues to cultural variations, women travelers encounter a variety of difficulties that can be avoided if the necessary precautions are taken.

woman with computer at airport gateTo learn how you can travel safer, read these tips from ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents). Some of the most travel-wise people in the world, ASTA members understand that while it pays for both men and women to be educated travelers, it is imperative for women to plan every step of their trip – from packing a suitcase to choosing a hotel room – to ensure a safe return.

Know Before You Go
Learn as much about the destination as possible, especially when traveling to a foreign country. An area’s religious or cultural beliefs can directly impact you, compelling you to adapt your dress and demeanor to comply with local customs. Also, what is regarded as sexual harassment in one country is part of the social fabric of another, so avoid form-fitting or revealing clothing to prevent unwanted attention.

Welcome to Hotel Safety
Get to know the staff, who will be familiar with guests and are able to more effectively monitor who enters and exits the building. Ask beforehand if a member of the staff will be available to escort you to your room if you arrive late at night. Ask for a room on a higher floor near the elevator but away from emergency exits, stairwells, and any renovation work. Never accept a room if the clerk loudly calls out your name and room number.

While at the front desk, grab a card from the counter with the hotel’s name, address and phone number on it, and keep this card on you at all times. Once inside your room, make sure the door has a peephole and a deadbolt. If it doesn’t, make sure you don’t open the door to someone you don’t know.

Travel Documents
Make two copies of important travel documents – one set for the trip, and one for friends or family to keep at home.

Packing Smart
Pack light so you won’t be weighed down and look weighed down, both of which would make you an ideal target for pickpockets. Avoid expensive looking baggage and clothing, lock all suitcases and only use covered luggage woman writing in journaltags with your office address written on it rather than your home. Carry only one credit card, and don’t keep all your money in one place.

Transportation
Explore transportation options available at your destination ahead of time, especially if you will be arriving late in the evening. Travel agents can help determine the safest choice and make the necessary arrangements. If renting a car, carefully examine maps, write out directions in advance and bring along a cellular phone.

Know Your Surroundings
Study a map of the area you will be visiting. Learn as much as possible about getting around the streets to avoid looking like a lost tourist. Ask the concierge about where – and, more importantly, where not – to go.

The Best Vacation Memories are Good Vacation Memories
There may be safety in numbers, but there is also safety in knowledge. With some advance planning and the advice of a professional travel agent, your vacation or business trip can be safe, hassle free and memorable.