Let’s face it, between the wedding planning and everything that goes with it (the shower, the engagement parties, the rehearsal dinner, and more) you’re probably strapped for time to plan yet another thing. But of course, you want to cap off your wedding with a special trip, and that’s where travel agents come in. While the internet has come a long way in making travel planning easier, there’s something to be said for calling on the experts to aid in making your honeymoon something unforgettable. Here’s why you need a travel agent to ensure you’re getting the most out of your trip and understand any and all COVID protocol.
TIPS ON TRAVELING POST-COVID
It’s no surprise that travel has been altered greatly since the pandemic began, and things change every day. This is why you need a travel agent more than ever — to help guide you in varying requirements to enter countries, discover where it’s safe to travel, and what protocols you need to take prior to leaving and before coming back. Ketti Menne of Paradise Weddings and Travel says business is picking up quickly so it’s helpful if you “Do your initial research as the landscape of travel has changed. Policies are constantly changing in all the destinations. More than ever, travel agents are being called upon to assist with future travel,” she says. Rest assured, you will be able to have a memorable and romantic honeymoon, just with a few modifications!
Even if you have the time to research your honeymoon, “there is so much information to weed through. What is really a good destination for the time of year you are traveling? What is a ‘good’ resort? What is there to see and do? What kind of budget do we need to look at? All of those things can be made easy by the assistance of a good travel advisor,” says Linda Snyder, VP of Travel and Retail Services at AAA Minneapolis.
EXPERTISE AND ADVICE
When you shop for a gown, you often use the help of a salesperson. And honeymoons are no different. Travel agents know to assess the couple, get to know them, and figure out which locales are a good fit. If you’re having trouble narrowing down your destination(s), an agent can help pare down the list based on the couples’ interests and budget. (And if you don’t know where to start when it comes to a budget, that’s one of the things agents can help with as well.)
Some example questions an agent might ask, Snyder says, are: “Do you envision sitting on the beach and relaxing, or are you adventurous?” By answering these questions your agent will better be able to suggest the perfect honeymoon destination for you and your fiancé. Lenea Beissler, a personal travel concierge for Island Getaways, has couples fill out a questionnaire of sorts to fully understand her clients’ needs. Beissler’s expertise comes in when knowing what questions to ask. “People don’t think of important things to consider such as, ‘does the rainy season/hurricane season coincide with my travel dates?’ or ‘how far is the resort from the airport?’ ” By knowing all of this and more, a travel agent can best help a couple choose the right destination.
Hillary Ogle, Travel Designer at Paradise Weddings and Travel, mentions that experts see first-hand what resorts are like before recommending them to clients, “We visit these resorts, eat the food, sleep in the beds and check out the vibe on the property so we are working from firsthand knowledge. It’s a custom planning experience based on their must-haves.” Additionally, Ogle explains how the experts can save you money, in ways you might not have expected, “Resorts and airliners change their rates constantly based on tons of factors. We can suggest a travel window that could save you hundreds, in some cases thousands of dollars, on the exact same property! We also have personal contacts on property. This often turns into upgrades or special amenities for my clients.” Now who wouldn’t want that?
Bring a list of your top choices of where you want to go, but be realistic. Be prepared to be flexible, based on budget and any potential travel restrictions. One more reason why you need a travel agent is their expertise for other suggestions when a dream location might be out of budget. They can steer you towards places with similar vibes, but maybe without such a large price tag attached. For example, Snyder tells us, “Often people will think ‘Tahiti! Looks beautiful!’ but they don’t realize how long (and expensive) the flight is, or that there are other beautiful beach destinations that offer more things to do that may fit their needs at a lower cost.”
Also remember to bring the dates you want to travel, as this might dictate where you go, and your budget as well.
Some of the best advice can be applicable to almost every aspect of wedding planning, and that is, to be open-minded. As Snyder explains, “If you have your heart set on something and find it is well over your budget (or you don’t have the time to spend traveling a long way), be open to other suggestions. There may be something out there that you did not know about, or there may be a way to travel that you were not aware of. We find more couples take small group guided vacations that can be adventure travel-focused. They have plenty of free time but also have the ability to join a group for some spectacular activities. Be flexible and you may find that your dream honeymoon can be a reality!”
WHEN TO BEGIN
As with much in the wedding planning process, giving yourself time is helpful to finding the best deals and the best availability. Most travel agents recommend starting to plan anywhere from a year in advance of your trip to between 6-9 months prior to your vacation. Keep in mind though, cautions Ogle, that “flights first come available about 10 months before a departure date. You may also get an edge on early bird pricing and availability. By waiting, you run the risk that Honeymoon Suite you wanted so badly is sold out.”
WHERE TO BEGIN
Ogle had some great ideas for where to get started, “Ask for a recommendation on social media. I get tagged by friends all the time! Attend one of The Wedding Guys shows so you can talk to an agent in person. I’ve met so many wonderful wedding couples at the shows. It really helps you narrow down and ask those questions you need to get the process started.”
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