The brand-new Annie’s Escapes web site is finally live!  You can check it out at www.AnniesEscapes.com

All the existing blog posts from this site have been incorporated into the new blog-style web site, and all future posts will be found there.

Leave me your thoughts and feedback below…

One of the most-commonly-asked questions about cruises involves shore excursions:  “Should I book them through the ship, or do it on my own?”

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, but this column  from online resource ConsumerTraveler.com most closely echos what I tell my clients.

The cruise line sponsored excursions will most likely be the most expensive and the most crowded options available.  BUT, depending on the specific port, your ship’s arrival and departure times, and your tolerance for risk, they are probably also your safest option, because the ship is least likely to leave without you if you’re on one of their excursions.

That being said, as long as you’re comfortable with a little bit of independence, you can often find some really different (and much more reasonably priced) options through private companies like Shoretrips.com and other local vendors. 

Be sure to ask your travel consultant to help you explore the shore excursion 0ptions that best suit your needs.

It’s that time of year…shiny new engagement rings are popping up all over the place and giddy couples are starting to think about 2010 and 2011 weddings.

What does that mean for Annie’s Escapes? It means that honeymoon season is not that far behind!  Of course, the honeymoon is often the very last thing the couple thinks about, but I like to get out there ahead of the curve and at least plant the seed that I’m here, ready and waiting to help whenever they get to that point in their plans.

To that end, I’ll be taking part in La Bella Bride Magazine’s Newport Wedding Showcase next weekend (Sunday, January 10th)  It’s an intimate little boutique-style show at the Hotel Viking in Newport, and it showcases some of the best wedding vendors in southern New England.

If you want to come and check it out, just let me know — I have a limited number of free passes that I’m happy to share.  And I’m very excited about my booth! I’m working with some of my friends in the Rhode Island Wedding Group, and will have beautiful linens from The Perfect Setting at Felicia’s and gorgeous tropical flowers from Conceptual Image Designs.

I’ll be sure to post some photos after the fact!

Popular travel guide book series Lonely Planet has released their lists of “Top Ten Countries” and “Top Ten Cities” for the coming year.

Some of these “hot” destinations will be out of reach for most of us (Malaysia, Nepal, Bosnia-Herzegovina, etc.) but some are surprisingly accessible. According to the experts, this just might be the year to visit Germany, Greece, Portugal, Charleston (South Carolina), or Cork (Ireland).

I’m especially pleased to see two of my planned 2010 destinations on the list — I’ll be visiting Cuenca, Ecuador in May and Vancouver, Canada in July!

And, if you’re interested in the “Best Value Destinations” for 2010, Lonely Planet has a list for that too. It includes such popular spots as Mexico, London and Las Vegas. I absolutely concur that there are bargains to be found in all three of those destinations, so give me a call and we’ll have you on your way!

If you’re flying somewhere over the next few weeks, the single most important thing to bring with you is a good attitude (and maybe a sense of humor).

You should go into the trip assuming there will be crowds, hassles and delays…and just prepare yourself as best you can to cope with the headaches that come with holiday air travel.

Once you’ve assumed this “zen” mindset, there are a few more concrete things you can do to prepare. An article in today’s NY Times  offers some great advice, including: have a “plan B”, make sure you have all necessary emergency numbers on hand, pack smart, and more. For the full list, click here.

If you have your own tips for making holiday travel smoother and more pleasant, please add them below!

I freely admit that the allure of skiing escapes me.

I used to ski, when I was in high school and college, but it was definitely more about the apres-ski activities and less about the slopes themselves. And now, older and wiser, I just prefer to skip the whole thing altogether and vacation somewhere warmer.

But I do certainly work with clients on ski vacations, and have seen my share of families in conflict over what to do about the nonskiers (or the “not-fully-committed, might ski if it’s really nice and sunny out” skiers), so I was interested to see this article  in USA Today about the best ski resorts for nonskiers.

I’ve only been to one of them personally (Stowe, VT), but I do agree with that choice. What do you think about the others?

As a follow-up to my recent post about some of the best travel gadgets of the year, here’s a link to an interesting article about some of the wierdest.

I’m not sure anyone on my gift list really needs a self-propelled suitcase or metal-detecting sandals, but maybe you have some more “unique” and hard-to-buy-for folks on your list!

The short answer is this: you’ll end up with a better, more enjoyable, and MUCH less stressful vacation.

For the full explanation of why it’s important to use a professional to help plan your honeymoon, check out my post on the Rhode Island Wedding Group blog.

Not familiar with the Rhode Island Wedding Group? It’s a collaboration of some of Rhode Island’s best, most experienced and most highly-regarded wedding vendors  —  all working together to benefit you, the bride and groom. All of our vendors are committed to high professional and ethical standards, and all strive to work together to create a seamless and stress-free experience for the bridal couple.

To learn more, visit us online at www.RhodeIslandWeddingGroup.com

 

 

Just posted a travelogue about my trip to San Francisco and Monterey.

My family had a great time exploring Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz, Muir Woods, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and more. We packed a lot into four short days (including cross-country flights) and it left me wanting more!

For the full story click here. For just the photos click here.

Travel columnist Chris Elliott has a great article today that illustrates exactly what can happen when you trust your all-important vacation to a discount online booking service.

I feel bad for the person involved (especially since they made her cry!) but I hear SO many stories like this, and I just wonder what the people were thinking?

“Cheapo Air”?  Seriously?!

Without a travel agent, you’re on your own.

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