Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Wedding Honeymoon

My problem with Travel Agents:
I would not suggest using a travel agents. At one time, it was hard to find information about hotels and packages so they were your best option. Now, even the smallest hotels have web pages so contacting them or finding package deals is easy for the average Joe. Also, they don't always book on your timeline. We asked to fly out Sunday afternoon so we could hang out with out of town family who were down for the weekend. Our agent didn't listen but booked us a 5:30 am flight. That means we had to be at the airport at 3:30 am the day after our wedding. We were exhausted and arrived 3 hours before we could check in. We sat by the pool in normal clothes unable to enjoy our time yet.

How a travel agent works:
You do not pay them. They find out your interests and suggest their favorite hotel based on those suggestions. Since the hotel pays them commision for booking you through them, they will want to suggest the hotel that pays them the most. Travel is also something they get commission on. I don't know if they get more for pushing certain flights over others but I have to imagine that is the reason we had to take such an early flight.

How to book your own vacation:
Look on orbits, cheaptickets, kayak, and other places for the best airline ticket. Google the location you want to visit for the best reviews. Look at honeymoon magazines at grocery stores and bookstores to find which ones are featured. Finally, contact the hotel via email and let them know you want more information. Ask about specials and packages you saw on their website and ask if there are any unpublished deals going on.

Don't worry about travel. The thing about public transportation is that it is for the most part easy to use. Tourist locations thrive on tourist traffic so you don't need to book that in the US. If it wasn't for our search, we never would have found the second hotel with such a rich history. Something important to note is that some hotels will pay for travel from the airport to their hotel if you stay with them 3-4 days or more.

How to pay for things there:
Be prepared to spend more money. There will be thing you decide to do while you are there. If you choose to go on some tour or ride a dolphin, expect to spend about $100 per a person.

The nice thing about VISA or Mastercard is that it is accepted anywhere. Also, you can use your card at ATM's to get the local currency. There is typically no markup on the exchange rate therefore the only hit you take is the transaction fee.

Don't forget to contact your bank and let them know the exact time you will be out of the country. Tourist locations attract a lot of identity theft so they will know to put your card on hold if they spot any shady transactions. If you don't let them know, you also risk having your card put on hold while you are there leaving you with out an money source.

It is a good idea to get some local currency. Street vendors will not take plastic so cash is king. Banks offer true exchange rates with the smallest fees for the exchange. If you take too much, you can always exchange it back to USD once you get back. Don't forget foreign ATMs take US Visa cards. Also, some places like Mexico actually prefer US dollars so that is another option.

Cashiers check:
This is probably your safest option. It can't be duplicated like plastic but unlike cash, they will replace any check that is stolen from you. It is the same as cash so you can use this about anywhere. We didn't worry about this as we were pretty careful about where we hid our money. We kept it on us a lot or put it in books or our room safe. We were in a pretty safe area so that wasn't a big concern anyways but you may be different.

How to spend your time:
You will not have sex the whole time you are there. I don't think that would even be possible. Plan a few things to do aside from relax by the beach. We decided to add a little adventure to our vacation which ended up being a great idea. Marcie couldn't get enough R&R with me but I was getting a bit restless. I need to do something so the couple of days we spent at the Mayan ruins were perfect. I would suggest however you schedule adventure first so you are relaxed by the end of the vacation. You want to come back as relaxed as possible since you will likely come back to a messy house and a job that has work piling up. The crazy bus ride on the way back and all the walking didn't put us back in Raleigh as rejuvenated as we could have been.

Also, if you can, try to return with at least 1 full day of nothing to do but adjust to living with your new spouse. You've likely never had to share a bed before and that takes some getting used to.

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