Being in the wedding industry, we're all aware of the stress wedding planning can be. But, one phrase we hear often is "Can we just get to the honeymoon?!" The honeymoon is the glimmer of hope that keeps them moving forward and hopeful that the wedding process is soon to be over. Yes, we realize that the best part of the wedding being over is the wonderful life and marriage they're about to begin. BUT, another large positive? The fact that they will be heading to somewhere away from reality; where their worries of guest numbers, centerpieces, and if their aunt will be able to get along with their uncle long enough to make it down the aisle. The honeymoon is a time to connect, relax, eat delicious food, explore and kick off their new life in a positive way.
But, in order to have an incredible honeymoon, one must plan and prepare for it. One thing that is not fun in the middle of wedding planning, is planning a full trip too. That is why we highly recommend using a travel agent to help with the planning and prepping of an upcoming honeymoon.
We've asked our dear friend, and wonderful travel agent, Ali Raymer of Picture This Travel, to give some of her travel tips and knowledge in order to help you with your upcoming travel plans or honeymoon.
Read below to see what she has to say!
Tell us about yourself. Why did you decide to get into the travel industry?
I have always loved travelling ever since I was a kid. My dad always told me, no matter how much money you have in your bank account, every year take a family vacation, even if it's just a weekend getaway or somewhere close to home. Vacations are important times to make memories with your family. I remember that advice and appreciated my parents allowing me to travel abroad for the first time when I was 19. It changed my life. I had the travel bug and I didn't want to stop. I earned my undergraduate degree in journalism and my graduate degree in English education. Teaching at Franklin-SImpson High School allowed me the opportunity to sponsor the Travel Club and I led students on trips around the world including the Mediterranean, Belize, and a WWII trip through England, France, Belgium, Germany, and Austria. My passion for travel allowed me to join forces with my husband's aunt, and local travel agent, Sheri Clarke with Picture This Travel. She has been mentoring me in the travel business over the last year and I have joined her team as a full-time travel agent.
Why should couples use a travel agent?
Couples are busy, busy, busy during the wedding planning process. From dresses, to cakes, to bachelor/bachelorette parties, there are innumerable decisions to be made! Hiring a travel agent during this busy and stressful season of life takes one huge item of your to do list. I will take care of all the details, because honestly, couples already have too many details on their plate. Some people are leery of travel agents, because they feel they may not get the "best deal," but often times it's just the opposite. We have access to tons of vendors at great values as well as charter flights to popular honeymoon destinations not accessible to the public.
What should a couple have prepared when meeting with a travel agent? There are a few questions I have for couples as they are dreaming about their ideal honeymoon. What type of experience do you want to enjoy?
Adventurous, relaxed, party scene, or a mix of it all? What are your priorities on your vacation? Attractions, beach access, accommodations, a high-class spa experience? The last question is the most important: what about your budget? A lot of clients find this question uncomfortable, but just like any major expense, it's important to communicate expectations for a budget. Budgets allow me as your travel agent to give you the best possible experience and value!
What is the average budget for a honeymoon?
Honeymoons can vary. It all depends on the time of year you would like to travel. Off-season honeymoons allow for a better value. Honeymoons can also be really diverse. I've planned domestic honeymoons to the northeast or out west as well as traditional beach honeymoons to Caribbean destinations or even European destinations like Italy or Greece. I would say my average client budgets $3000 to $5000 on their honeymoon.
How far in advance should a couple book their honeymoon?
Again, it all depends on season. If you are wanting to travel in the summer, this is one of the most popular times and could mean higher prices for some destinations. In the travel industry, we have what is called "Wave Season." The best sales and deals happen in January and February for the following year. So if you are planning to get married in the fall of 2019, booking in January or February of 2019 could provide you with some of the best values.
What trends are you seeing in travel?
One of the most popular destinations recently has been Belize. I have planned about 5-6 trips just in the past few months for the beautiful, tropical beach destination. It's a little more exotic and rustic than Mexico and offers the peaceful beach environment, with all the adventures of the jungle and Mayan ruins, yet it's not a cookie cutter trip like a honeymoon cruise or all-inclusive. I personally have travelled to Belize and absolutely loved my experience in the country. If you want a blend of adventure and relaxation, Belize would be a hot destination for your upcoming honeymoon!
What are some necessities to take on a honeymoon?
Passport and other required travel documents, sunscreen, aloe, bug spray, basic first aid kit, backpack or beach tote that doubles as extra storage for souvenirs, and comfortable, broken-in shoes. Many people plan for the fancy date nights out with their little black dresses and wedges, but remember that much of your day is spent on the beach, going on excursions, or exploring. Items like sunscreen, aloe, and bug spray as well as basic first aid items can be extremely expensive in the Caribbean. Don't forget to always pack necessary medications in your personal bag or carry-on and in clearly labeled, original prescription bottles or packaging.
What is a travel no-no?
Do not pack last minute for your honeymoon. Packing 2-3 weeks out, will alleviate a lot of stress. If you are leaving the day after your wedding, delegate a trusted friend to check in to your hotel the night of the wedding and ensure all your travel documents are secure and ready for departure. I highly recommend actually providing yourself a day of rest between your wedding and your honeymoon departure. If you get married on a Saturday, plan a day of rest on Sunday and depart in the afternoon or evening or even on Monday. Your wedding day is a whirlwind, as is travelling, so try to give yourself some time to exhale, hydrate, and enjoy time with your brand new spouse!
Let’s talk travel fashion – what do you suggest couples should pack and how much should they pack?
Lighter is better! I traditionally pack only a carry-on for all my vacations. Choosing a color scheme is important - I typically choose neutrals (black, white, gray) with one pop of color. This allows you some flexibility in your outfits. Packing only a carry-on also keeps you from worrying about lost luggage. I can't imagine packing all your cute dresses and bikinis and then arriving at your destination to find your luggage was lost. If you must pack checked baggage, be sure to swap clothes with your spouse. Pack equal parts of clothing and necessities in your spouse's luggage, just in case one of them goes missing in transit. If you are going to a tropical location, try to pack lots of flowy looks that could double as both beach cover-ups and dresses for nights out!
What’s your favorite place to visit/best trip?
One of my favorite cities in the world is Florence, Italy. My husband, Josh, and I have said if we could do it over and get married again, we'd definitely plan an Italian honeymoon. The country landscape is breathtaking, the food delicious, the sightseeing awe-inspiring, and the experience: unforgettably romantic!