- Start out by doing your homework. Decide on a location, or
a region, review tapes and travel books from the library or your
travel agent. Ask friends or relative who has traveled; a
personal recommendation is worth more than a brochure.
- Work with a trusted and knowledgeable travel agent. Look for an agency that is a member in good standing with The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA). Again, agents who have visited a particular location are providing a valuable service. Ask lots of questions and shop around. Decide a budget and know what is affordable. Don’t forget anything, such as medical issues or meal packages (what does the trip include?).
- The Caribbean is very popular, as well as the western ski areas,
Mexico, Florida, and Europe.
- All-inclusive’s are just that: everything (that we list here) is included:
one fee covers room, meals, drinks (exact rules vary by resort), tips,activities, entertainment, sports, etc. Many packages include airfare and transfers to and from the resort (ask!). Realistically, you still need some money for tours, gambling, souvenirs, some water sports… All inclusive resorts cover the globe.
- Couples-only all-inclusive’s offer an all-adult atmosphere with moreadult activities, including nightlife. Look for names such as Couples(Jamaica), Sandals and Super Clubs.
- Cruises are similarly all-inclusive, but typically do not include drinksand tips. Entertainment is often first rate, including Las Vegas-typeshows, you get to visit several countries in one week, and the oceanbreeze is irresistible. Again, bring money (or start an on board creditaccount, tied to your credit card) for excursions, massages, casino, portrait photos and shopping.
- Destination weddings: Plan the wedding like a vacation. Decide
what location you want, research it, ask about wedding packages. One couple eloped to marry in Saint Lucia, then had a reception when they returned to Maryland. A Washington, DC couple, now in San Diego, had 26 relatives and friends meet them in Punta Cana,Dominican Republic, for a beachfront ceremony. Everyone had a 3-night vacation, and the newlyweds flew to Hawaii for a honeymoon.
- Get Insurance and pay by Credit Card. Stuff happens, such as illness,weather, world events, and dishonest companies. Protect yourself.
- Plan to get a passport. This is currently required for much internationaltravel, and new regulations will require one for all US citizenstraveling to the Caribbean beginning December 31, 2006. A passport is a legal document that proves US citizenship; it gets stamped everywhere you go, so its like a mini travel log. It costs least to apply at your local Post Office, but you might wait five and up to eight weeks by mail. Look on the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs home page under passport information.
- Pack with your location in mind. Do laundry a few days early so everything will be clean and ready for action. Start your packing list a week before you leave and add items as you think of them.
Bring sun care and after-sun products if you’ll be at the beach.
Pack moisturizer and lip balm if you’re skiing or visiting the dessert. Plan wardrobes to mix and match-some pieces get more than one use on vacation-and bring a few versatile shoes. Do not bring your entire shoe rack, because you’ll either, bust your zippers, bust your luggage’s zippers, or pay extra for overweight baggage (check your airline’s weight limit per bag). Opt for wrinkle-resistant fibers, pack items inside of each other to save space, roll clothing to avoid wrinkles,and double-bag any loose bottles or tubes of liquids.