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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

 

 

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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.

I’m really not that much of a “gadget girl” (my kids can attest to this…they make fun of me all the time), but there are some exciting new “toys” out there this year that have even caught my attention.

Travel and Leisure magazine just ran a great article about some of the best new travel gadgets, from smart phones to netbooks and more, and it got me thinking about my own Christmas wish list. I’m definitely in the market for a new phone, so I’ll be asking Santa to give me one with some nifty available travel apps.

And, for my birthday a few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to receive a new Flip video camcorder. I gave it a tryout on my recent trip to San Francisco, and it was really cool! Lightweight, simple to operate (a key consideration for me!), great image quality, tons of memory, and it comes with built-in You Tube software that makes it super easy to upload video to the web. It’s perfect for someone who wants to be able to capture those memorable sights and sounds from vacation and share them with friends and family.

So, what’s on your travel gadget wish list this year?

Some honeymoon advice is really self-evident. Do you really need someone to tell you to bring fewer clothes and more spending money than you had planned?

But it’s not all just common sense.  Those of us who have planned a few honeymoons in our time do have some wisdom worth sharing — and it just might get your marriage off on the right foot!

Since I just updated my “Annie’s Top Ten Honeymoon Tips” flier, I’ll share one of the tips here:

#7: Save the Best for Last

If you plan on mixing things up with some different types of acommodations, be sure to save the best for last. It’s much better to start out in a basic room or an average resort and then “trade up” to something much more special and memorable for the last few nights. Do it the other way around and you’ll only be left disappointed.

If you’d like to benefit from all TEN tips, shoot me a quick email at annp@AnniesEscapes.com and I’ll send you the whole thing.

As a follow-up to my earlier post about Southwest’s “Early Bird Check-in“, I can report that I have now tried it, and I think it has its benefits.

On a recent trip to California, I had the opportunity to compare the traditional online (24 hours pre-departure) check-in on the way there, and the new Early Bird check-in (up to 25 hours pre-departure) on the way home.

I chose the Early Bird check-in for my return flight because I did not want to be tied to a computer on my last day of vacation. It was much easier to just pay the $10 per person fee and let Southwest check me in automatically.

So, for my $40 fee (for four people), what did I get? Basically, a little less stress. It did not get me any further ahead in the boarding order (in both cases — traditional and early bird — we were in the A group, in about the 35-45 range), but it did free me from having to rush back to my computer in the middle of the day to check in.

It will be interesting to see if this new service catches on. If a lot of people start using Early Bird, and the regular travellers can no longer get into the “A” boarding group when checking themselves in online, we may see some backlash.

For now, I’ll probably continue to use it for the return leg of a vacation as a convenience. Air travel is stressful enough these days!

If you saw my earlier blog post, here’s the answer to that geography quizEcuador.

In a country roughly the size of Colorado — and known mostly for its offshore treasures, the Galapagos Islands — you can also find ancient Incan ruins, beautiful colonial cities, unspoiled Pacific beaches, thriving Indian markets, dry mountain highlands, misty cloud forests, and steamy Amazon jungle.

While US tourists represent about 25% of all visitors to Ecuador, many of those (sadly) see only the international airport in Quito or Guayaquil, before setting off on a Galapagos cruise. They’re missing some of the country’s best-kept secrets!

galapagos-islands

The Pacific coast offers world-class surfing, whale-watching, and the remnants of pre-Colombian cultures.

In addition to the capitol city of Quito (a UNESCO World Heritage Site filled with churches, convents and plazas), the Andean highlands offer the world’s highest active volcano in tropical latitudes, high-altitude wellness spas and hot springs, native craft markets, Incan ruins, and outdoor adventure like ziplines, rafting, hiking and horseback riding.

Ecuadorean cloud forest

Further to the east, Ecuador includes a large area of Amazon rainforest, where visitors can stay in jungle lodges or on river cruise boats, and enjoy tours by naturalists or indigenous guides.

Ecuadorean Amazon

The country is easy to navigate, with a good road system and four national airlines (the longest flight between any two points in the country is just 45 minutes), and it is a year-round destination, with a fairly steady climate and twelve full hours of daylight every day.

Ecuador is clean and safe, it is in the same time zone as the eastern United States, it uses the US dollar as its official currency, and the city of Cuenca (the “Florence of South America”) was recently named the “Best Place in the World to Retire” by International Living Magazine.

So what are you waiting for? I know I am making plans to visit Ecuador next year, and will definitely be combining some time on the mainland with my Galapagos cruise.

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