Dos and Doníts Tips

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How much should we tip?

Tip it Good

Ok, tip them "well". Either way, whether you're on a business trip in Topeka, a romantic Hawaiian anniversary cruise or a weekend honeymoon in Las Vegas, it's important to tip people who deserve extra thanks for jobs well done. It's even more important to tip those hard workers who depend on tips in order to earn a decent living!

Did you know that in some countries, it's considered rude, uncalled for, or actually illegal to tip?

Did you know that travelers from the U.S. are the world's biggest tippers? (I'll bet you knew, but didn't know you knew.)

For more info on how much of what to offer to whom, when and where, do check out my newsletter on the topic.

   

The Final Honeymoon Stretch!

Just one month until the big wedding day and the honeymoon! Time to get those last-minute tasks accomplished while there's still plenty of time.

∑ Write up a honeymoon packing list. Think about everything you normally need over the period of time you'll be away, and make note. Then figure out what you'll want to have close at hand at your destination (sunscreen, hats, hiking boots, camera, lingerie, bikini...).

∑ Find out the easiest way to use money or credit during your trip. You might consider purchasing Travelers Checks or getting a “Travel Money” card.

∑ Confirm airline information and tickets, plus hotel and resort reservations, with your travel specialist.

∑ If you've decided not to arrange for a house sitter, ask a trusted friend or relative to gather your mail, water your plants, etc.

∑ Contact a kennel or otherwise arrange to have pets fed and exercised (and loved!) while you're away on your romantic vacation.

∑ Don't forget to buy your fiancé a wedding gift! If he or she can enjoy it on your honeymoon getaway (underwater camera, diving gear, golf clubs—whatever!), so much the better.

   
How can honeymoon plans prepare us for marriage?

Planning Your Honeymoon Before the Wedding

Before you exchange vows, find your travel agent or pack your bags, be sure to sit down together to discuss what each of you really wants for your honeymoon. I've known of couples who, without their fiancé's knowledge, each made travel arrangements, hotel reservations, added (and removed!) items from their honeymoon registries, replaced web site pictures and even put down payments on activities that the “other half” of the couple knew nothing about. Surprises are not always good!

These exciting, exhilarating and sometimes exhausting months before your wedding and honeymoon can provide a great opportunity for the two of you to start working as a team. Take advantage of this chance for a “dress rehearsal” for the rest of your lives together by discussing everything ahead of time in order to work out compromises that will satisfy the hopes and requirements of both of you.

Once you've pulled off the perfect wedding and ideal honeymoon as a couple, in spite of every obstacle and surprising twist of luck placed in your way, you'll be that much more confident of a joyous, rewarding life-long partnership.

   
What should we pack for our honeymoon?

Start Packing!

Okay, you've agreed on the ideal honeymoon destination; you've booked the perfect travel package; now all you have to do is arrange for a house sitter and make sure you have proper identification, right? Well, almost. Before you shop for that fabulous trousseau, you'd best do a little research on what (and how) to pack! The last thing you want to do is lug around a bunch of clothes and supplies you don't need, only to find out you'll have to buy duplicates of items you left at home.

Where, when and for how long you're going is the place to start. But even if you're going to the tropics and can expect great weather, you'll need different clothes for sailing than you will in a luxury hotel; you'll also want to know what to expect insofar as availability of laundry facilities and beach towels, and get a heads up regarding occasions that require formal wear. This is the first of three sets of tips on what to take where, plus a few little tricks I've learned over years of packing that will help ensure a carefree time. Let's just cover the basics. Finding out what to take along will not only free your mind for the important stuff (having fun!), it'll probably get you even more energized about taking your special journey.

You can start by asking your travel expert for basic advice. If possible, before you even book your package, find out if he or she has actually stayed in a Fijian bure, visited the Great Barrier Reef in December, taken a bite out of the Big Apple, or whatever applies in your case. For example, if you're going to an all-inclusive resort, you'll want to know what sorts of clothing are commonly worn. If you're going on a Mediterranean cruise, you'll want to know whether or not to bring formal wear, cash for tipping, etc.

Your travel expert can advise you about the probable weather conditions to expect during your trip. You can also check out Weather Underground's great websites or take a look at my newsletter , Honeymoon Weather, of April 2, 2004. Some very warm locales can get cool in the evenings. Some dry spots can become suddenly quite damp. You'll want to plan ahead, if possible, so we'll work on what clothes to take along over the next weeks. But there's more to smart packing than clothes!

Find out whether or not your accommodations will include an iron and ironing board. If not, you'll want to take along a bottle of wrinkle releaser (Downy makes a good one) that you can just spray onto creased or rumpled clothes.

Another question might be whether or not your rooms have a coffee maker. If you're like me, you may want a cup of java before even heading out to breakfast. When traveling in North America, I take along a small (one-pint) electric water kettle, ground coffee, a two-cup coffee cone and filters. Also, your rooms may contain a hair dryer, Internet portal, or outlets that will charge your laptop, electric shaver or cell phone--maybe not. If you're traveling abroad for the first time, be advised that our standard a/c appliances are generally incompatible with foreign outlets, so you'll need an adaptor. No point in carrying useless gadgets!

Here are a few (probably obvious) non-clothing items to consider packing, no matter where you're going:

A small clothing brush/lint remover
Manicure set and miniature sewing kit (not in your carry-on bags)
Sun block and appropriate hats
Extra glasses, contact solution, sunglasses
Birth control (?), plus any prescription medications, all packed in your purse or carry-on luggage in their original containers.
Flip-flops
Razors, brushes, toothpaste and floss, lotion, cotton swabs, makeup and small versions of all the stuff you simply can't live without at home. Even in paradise, you'll want to condition your hair, wax your mustache, or whatever.
A small first aid kit, including over-the-counter painkiller.
Gum and breath mints
Batteries and film for your camera
Travel alarm clock (check with the hotel)
If possible and/or necessary, some small-denomination cash from the country you'll visit (for tips, cab fare, incidentals).

I'm packing for a short trip right now, and my best advice, again, is to pay attention to what you use every day, find out if it will be available where you're going and, if not, pack it!

   

Six Months Till Your Honeymoon!

The most important choices have been made—you have, after all, each found the love of your life! But you still need to take care of a few loose ends before you get to relax after the wedding and enjoy your perfectly romantic honeymoon. If you have yet to choose your destination, there's still time, but the sooner you make a decision the better! Assuming you have, here are a few do-ahead tips to make sure everything about your trip goes smoothly:

∑ If you haven't done so already, now is the time to contact a honeymoon travel specialist. She or he will book your airline travel, make reservations at your resort, book your hotel suite or the stateroom for your cruise.

∑ Traveling to a foreign port? Ask your travel agent if any immunizations are required and see about getting them in a timely manner.

∑ Book rental cars, if you'll need them. You just might want to leave even the most glorious rooms at some point! Also, the reserved rental car can be waiting for you at the airport when you arrive.

∑ Just to be on the safe side, consider purchasing some travel insurance.

∑ Find out about local restaurants and happenings at your honeymoon destination and make reservations in advance. And be sure to add those items to your honeymoon registry.

∑ Consider arranging for a reputable house sitter if you're planning a long honeymoon trip (lucky you!).

   

Honeymoon Checklist--Right Now!

If your wedding is awhile off, you can still get busy planning and preparing for your honeymoon--even if it's still just in the "dream" stages. Here's how:

∑ No doubt you'll be purchasing quite a few items for the big day, so use (or apply for) a credit card that offers “frequent flyer” points. These can add up quickly, and will start you on your way on your trip to paradise.

∑ If you're not sure where you'd like to spend the most romantic vacation of your life, do some research! Hit the library, type various destinations (and possible travel packages) into your computer browser, and don't forget to ask your married friends about their honeymoon trips.

∑ Start a honeymoon registry. This is one of the best—and most fun—ways to achieve that dream trip, especially if, between the two of you, you already own all the toasters and vases and knick knacks you'll ever need. With a honeymoon registry, you customize your honeymoon expenses into gift-sized portions—say, 500 miles of airfare, a romantic dinner, one night's stay in your honeymoon hotel suite—and receive cash gifts to pay for those items! It's a win/win for you and your guests, because it makes purchasing wedding gifts a breeze, plus you two get what you really want. Of course, don't forget to let the friends and family know where you're registered!

∑ If you've decided on a destination outside of the country, be sure to get your passports and visas in order well in advance. Also, as the big day approaches, you might buy some of the local currency of your destination. Even if you're going on a cruise or have decided on an all-inclusive resort, you may need a little cash for cab fare or souvenirs.

∑ Don't forget to add luggage, camera, sunscreen—whatever!—to your honeymoon registry wish list. It all adds up!

∑ Go online or ask your honeymoon travel specialist about the weather you can expect when you get to your destination. You'll want to pack accordingly. If you've chosen a trip to Tahiti, Hawaii or the Caribbean (or any other tropical island), you can be fairly certain the weather will be fabulous!

   
How do we start planning our honeymoon?

Honeymoon Chat

When it comes to travel--especially honeymoon travel--there's one thing we just can't stress enough: planning! Before you make even one fun choice, there are a few decisions you'll need to make together.

1. Sure, it sounds peaceful, glamorous and romantic, but are you sure you even want a honeymoon?

2. Assuming you have the wedding date pinned down, how soon afterward do you plan to take your honeymoon?

3. For how long can you get away, considering work schedules and other time constraints?

4. How much can you afford to spend on your honeymoon?

5. Would you rather stay close to home or go abroad?

6. Do you prefer city or beach? Mountains or desert? Maybe a cruise?

7. Will you need a travel agent or do most of the planning yourselves?

8. What sorts of sports and activities do you both enjoy?

9. What is your idea of perfect nightlife--camping under the stars, Paris bistros, Vegas strip?

10.Do you like roughing it, traveling "by the seats of your pants" or a resort vacation, knowing that meals, airfare, hotel, activities--everything--will be taken care of.

   
How do we make sure the honeymoon runs smoothly?

One Week Until Your Honeymoon!

Well, you've almost made it to the nuptials, the wedding celebrations and the Honeymoon! Here's one last checklist for the final one-week countdown to the big day:

∑ Contact the post office and ask them to hold your mail.

∑ Discontinue newspaper delivery until you return.

∑ Call any stores you are registered with, and ask them to hold any gifts.

∑ Leave copies of house keys with a friendly neighbor or relative.

∑ Set your house timers.

∑ If friends will be looking after your pets, be sure to give them keys, and pick up an ample supply of pet food and kitty litter.

∑ Change your voicemail message at home and at work, if necessary.

∑ To avoid nasty post-paradise surprises, clean out your fridge and don't forget to take out the trash!

∑ Have your prescriptions filled. To avoid hassles, keep them in their original bottles and pack them in your carry-on luggage (or purse).

∑ Lay out your fabulous vacation clothes for packing (and pick up your dry cleaning).

∑ Be sure your bags are well labeled. For security reasons, be sure to pack manicure sets, sewing kits, etc., in your checked baggage.

∑ Make a few photocopies each of any important papers, including passports, Travelers Check numbers, insurance documents, itinerary—anything that might be helpful in a pinch.

∑ Call airlines to double-check departure times of domestic flights.

∑ Put all your travel documents together. If you're leaving right after your reception, give these all-important items to a trusted, sure-to-remain-sober, member of the bridal party.

∑ Have your luggage packed and, if possible, loaded into the vehicle that will be taking you to your hotel or airport.

∑ All you have to do now is make your getaway, soak up the memories, and have the most romantic trip of your lives!

   
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Guru Spotlight
Sheri Ann Richerson