Top Travel Destinations and Honeymoon Locations for the Month of December

If you are planning a vacation or a honeymoon during the month of December, you may be wondering what some popular travel destinations would be for this time of year. In a number of places, December tends to be on the colder side, often encouraging travelers to take their vacations and honeymoons in a more southern location. Knowing some of the top travel destinations and honeymoon locations can help you to plan a successful and exciting trip in advance or spontaneously.

If you are planning your December vacation and leaving from a cold climate to go somewhere warm, keep in mind that the weather in your departure / return airport will likely be colder. Be sure to pack at least one outfit that is suitable for cooler weather and use those garments as your traveling clothes.

Many people love traveling around the Christmas holidays, whether on cruises or simply a vacation getaway that takes advantage of your paid work holidays or at least uses up some of your paid vacation days before the end of the year. Consider the top travel destinations for the month of December as you think about what to do with your leftover vacation days at the end of the year.

A December honeymoon can be a lovely sequel to an elegant December wedding. Honeymoon locations for the month of December can vary widely from the Caribbean to the South Pacific and elsewhere. Talk with your fiancé to determine where you would like to travel for your December honeymoon getaway. You don’t need to plan your December honeymoon trip a full year in advance, but you can start kicking around ideas as soon as you’d like.

To follow are the top 12 travel destinations and honeymoon locations to visit during the month of December. Consider these locations as you plan your December vacation or honeymoon getaway.

Top 12 December Travel Destinations and Honeymoon Locations

1.    Aruba
2.    Australia
3.    Bahamas
4.    Belize
5.    Caribbean Islands
6.    Costa Rica
7.    Curacao
8.    Jamaica
9.    Maldives
10.    Mexico
11.    New Zealand
12.    Thailand

* Destinations suggested by Joyce Scardina Becker, CMP, wedding designer and president of Events of Distinction

Of course, you might also like to do a ski trip during the month of December. In order to have a successful ski trip, you’ll want to plan your December vacation or honeymoon at a destination where you’ll enjoy fresh snowfalls or at least temperatures that are cold enough to sustain manmade snow. If you are more interested in a cold and wintry vacation, you may need to investigate locations in the northern hemisphere and well-known skiing destinations like Killington, Vermont and Aspen, Colorado.

No matter what you decide to do for your December vacation or honeymoon, we hope you have an excellent time!

Top 10 Seniors Travel Getaways for Older Singles and Mature Couples

No matter what your age or what activities you enjoy, you should be able to find the perfect seniors travel getaway to suit you and your friends or your sweetheart without stressing over it. From cruises to secluded retreats, you can match your favorite activities and destinations to a great seniors travel getaway. Plan a trip with your sweetheart and other mature couples or get together with your favorite senior singles for an unforgettable vacation.

Senior travel ideas can be as low key or as exciting and adventurous as you wish. Your seniors travel getaway can include other people or just yourselves, and your mature travel destinations can work within any budget. Consider these top 10 seniors travel getaways for mature singles and older couples:


1.    Cruises – You can enjoy a cruise just about anywhere there’s water, from the Caribbean to New England to the Danube and beyond. You can cruise through Europe or cruise Alaska.  Whether you decide to cruise with your sweetheart only, with special friends, or with some of your family, a cruise can be just the ticket to relaxation and excitement all in one place. Seniors travel getaways via cruise ship can be especially exciting due to multiple ports of call and probability of other single seniors and mature couples.

2.    Disney Vacation with the Grandkids – If your kids will let you take their kids on a vacation getaway with you, a Disney vacation with the grandchildren may be the perfect mature travel destination for you. Walt Disney World and Disneyland both offer countless fun things to do with or without grandkids in tow, so even if you can’t swing a trip with the little ones, a Disney vacation may still be a great seniors’ getaway.

3.    Casino Getaway – A casino themed trip can be an excellent senior singles getaway or mature couples vacation. If you like to take your chances and try your luck, a trip to Las Vegas may be great if you’re all in. For a less extravagant seniors’ vacation getaway, try Atlantic City, Connecticut, or Michigan.

4.    Broadway Escapade – A trip to New York City can be a great way to relax and recharge your batteries as well as a fun place to enjoy a little nightlife and excitement. Visit New York with your closest mature friends – whether singles or couples – or simply your sweetheart for a memorable experience. Stay at a posh hotel and dine out at some of the city’s best hotspots. See a show on Broadway and make it a weekend to remember.

5.    Napa Valley Wine Tour – For a truly indulgent and relaxing senior getaway, consider a week or a weekend of wine, dining, culture, and leisure. If you aren’t able to make it all the way out to California for a true Napa Valley wine tour, consider getting together with some other mature seniors couples and plan your own local wine tour.

6.    Niagara Falls Romance – For a scenic and truly romantic seniors’ getaway idea, consider taking a trip to Niagara Falls. You can visit the American Falls or the Canadian Falls with your sweetheart or a few other mature couples for an unforgettable and romantic escape. If your budget allows, find a hotel room with a great view of the falls. While you’re there, enjoy shopping, dining, wine tasting, sightseeing, and more.

7.    Tropical Relaxation – Book a trip to your favorite tropical destination for some relaxation and respite. On your tropical senior getaway, you can enjoy tropical cocktails, relax on the beach, soak in the sun, and just enjoy the lovely warm weather. Sit hand-in-hand on the beach, gazing off at the horizon across the ocean in the distance.

8.    Mountains Retreat – Sometimes seclusion is the perfect senior getaway idea for any mature couple. Ignite the spark in your relationship at a romantic mountains retreat where you can spend quality time together for hours on end. Enjoy the views, take in some fishing or boating, and simply relax the days away. Meet up with other senior couples if your mature friends would like to enjoy a mountains retreat getaway too.

9.    Grand Canyon Adventure – A Grand Canyon vacation is another exciting, scenic senior getaway to consider. If you don’t mind heights – or even if you do – you can find a plethora of things to do in the Grand Canyon region with your senior sweetheart, other mature couples, and single senior friends. Plan to take a lot of pictures and take in the sights. The Grand Canyon seems like one of those places everyone should visit at least once!

10.    European Tour – For a cultural experience, a fancy and luxurious European vacation can be a great way to spend a mature couples’ getaway or even a senior singles vacation with your closest friends. From fabulous food to great wines, countless sights to see, shops to visit, and so much more, a European tour may be the perfect senior getaway.

No matter what you decide to do for your seniors’ vacation, remember to take a lot of photos and enjoy each day and each experience fully. Share tales of your mature travel experiences with your friends and family so they may also learn from your tips and enjoy their own fabulous senior vacations.

Healthy Holiday Travel

The holiday season is upon us, which means lots travel, unhealthy food, memorable moments, and our famous excuses such as, ”I’m traveling, there are no healthy options!” and “I’ll work it all off when I get home.” A typical American may gain upwards of 15 pounds during the winter months, including holidays. Why put you and your body through this when there are simple tips and ways around the holiday bulge?

Whether you travel by plane, train, or automobile, the only things moving are the means of transportation.

 

When traveling by car, I suggest the following tips:

– Stop to eat instead of sitting in the car and going through the drive-thru. For the budget conscious, this doesn’t have to be at a restaurant; there are some great sandwich shops that offer healthy and affordable meals!

– Take a break from the long drive and walk around for 10-15 minutes, this short amount of time can be a great benefit to your health.

– For close destinations, pack a picnic. This is a great way to get the family involved and find a great place to pull over and eat on the way.

When traveling by train:

– Get up, walk around and stretch as much as you can.

– Bring snacks to avoid over eating the full, typically, unhealthy foods trains provide. Trail mix and nuts are some of the best options to bring!

– Bring a book! The train is the perfect place to relax and stimulate your mind.

While traveling by plane:

– Power walk in the airport! Don’t worry, you won’t look weird, usually others who are late to their flights are doing the same so you’ll fit right in!

– Make sure you plan ahead. If you are traveling internationally check to see if they offer a vegan menu or bring your own food to eat that you know you’ll enjoy.

– Snack frequently, never allowing yourself to over eat or binge at one sitting.

– Keep alcohol to a minimum while traveling, as well as caffeine, and sodium. All tend to dehydrate the body, and while flying it is important to stay hydrated, plus it helps prevent the dreaded jet lag!

With these simple tips, you can help keep the pounds off while traveling this holiday season! Remember, being prepared is the key to traveling success!

About the Expert:
Shauna Johnson is Culinary Instructor at Wellspring Weight Loss Camps. (www.wellspringweightloss.com) Shauna has a passion for healthy living, including living and cooking a healthy diet. She has been the head instructor for flagship Wellspring Academy of California for four years, and has designed the curriculum for Wellspring Camps around the globe. Shauna earned her Nutrition and Culinary Education degree at Fresno State University. Shauna has also continued taking courses, including a recent “Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives” curriculum developed by Harvard Medical School in association with Culinary Institute of America.

Honeymoon Destinations by Month – Where and When to Travel

With so many honeymoon destinations out there, how will you ever pick where to travel after your wedding day? You can consider honeymoon destinations as a couple or work with a travel agent for some honeymoon advice. One important thing to keep in mind when thinking about honeymoon destinations is what month you will be traveling for your honeymoon. You can find the best time to travel to certain places – or the best honeymoon destinations to visit during certain months to help you make up your mind.

If you would like to plan your honeymoon destination by month, reflect on where and when to travel based on climate and weather considerations first and foremost. While you can visit most honeymoon destinations any time of year, you may find you’ll have a better experience if you pay attention to the best months to visit various honeymoon destinations. Ensuring your safety and warm or temperate weather should be a top priority in choosing your honeymoon destination.

Honeymoon Advice for Choosing a Destination Based on the Month of Your Vacation
Joyce Scardina Becker, CMP, a wedding designer and president of Events of Distinction, a wedding planning and special events management company, offers lots of great honeymoon advice when it comes to choosing a honeymoon destination based on the time of year you’d like to visit. Scardina Becker is also an expert in the travel industry from her time traveling the world as a flight attendant.

“You will first need to figure out how much time you can afford to take off for your honeymoon,” Scardina Becker says. “If you can only spare a week or less, it will limit the distance you can travel because you don’t want to spend the entire honeymoon on an airplane. In fact, you might want to consider just taking a brief break right after the wedding, then saving the real honeymoon for a few months later when you can better afford the time (and expense). On the other hand, if you have two or more weeks available to take off, it opens up a wider range of possibilities.”

Scardina Becker recommends looking at travel magazines and visiting Web sites like lonelyplanet.com, roadandtravel.com and roughguides.com for inspiration on your available honeymoon destinations. She also shares a list of most popular honeymoon destinations as recently published in Modern Bride. This list of top 10 most popular honeymoon destinations includes:

  • Hawaii
  • Jamaica
  • Mexico
  • Tahiti
  • St. Lucia
  • Italy
  • U.S. Virgin Islands
  • Aruba
  • Las Vegas
  • Bermuda

“Next, think about the types of trips you have taken in the past,” Scardina Becker advises. “Do you like to quickly travel to your destination, then just chill by the beach / pool? Or do you prefer to take adventurous excursions and see as many sights as possible while you’re away? If your fiancée answered ‘yes’ to the first question and you voted for the second alternative, you’ve got some negotiating to do. A good compromise might involve a creative mixture of the two – for instance, he could pamper himself in a beachfront cabana while watching you take surfing lessons.”

Scardina Becker stresses that weather is a key consideration when searching through your possible honeymoon destinations.

“Most honeymooners prefer locations where the weather is likely to be warm (but not too hot) and relatively dry,” she says. “The chart to follow shows the best months to visit some of the more popular honeymoon destinations.”

Keep Reading for Chart of the Best Honeymoon Destinations by Month…

Top 10 Things to Pack in Your Carryon Luggage for a Comfortable and Enjoyable Flight

Packing for a flight can be an easy task or quite a difficult one, depending on the kind of packer you are. If you tend to be especially efficient at packing, you may already know what to throw in your carryon before you even start. If you are a last-minute packer, or someone who doesn’t travel often, or even someone who simply struggles with packing for trips, you may benefit from a helpful list of items to pack in your carryon luggage for a comfortable and enjoyable flight.

Traveling on an airplane can be a daunting experience for those who don’t like heights, being out of control of a situation (or fate), or those who don’t like flying in general. Sometimes having comfort items or various distractions from the flying experience can make the flight more pleasant and enjoyable… or at least bearable. Even those who don’t mind flying – or those who love it – can benefit from a quick and easy packing list for their carryon luggage.

Consider these top 10 things to pack in your carryon luggage for a comfortable and enjoyable flight.

1.    Chewing gum – So your ears don’t pop as much! Gum is an essential carryon item for all your flights.

2.    Tissues – In case the altitude affects your sinuses, having tissues on hand is a great idea. You can also dispose of your gum if you lost the wrapper.

3.    Eye drops – Pack these in your little quart-sized Ziploc bag. This way you can treat your eyes if they get dry or if you happen to get something in your eye.

4.    iPod or other MP3 player – The music can soothe you or help you find sleep.

5.    Travel pillow – Sleeping through a flight can be the quickest, easiest, and most comfortable way to get through a flight.

6.    Jacket, sweatshirt, or small blanket – Sometimes the climate on an airplane can be a little chilly, so make sure you stay as warm as you like.

7.    Snacks, candy, etc. – A treat can definitely make your flight more enjoyable. Chocolate or a really tasty snack can also help to take your mind off the flight.

8.    Magazine or book – Reading is a great way to pass the time or help you become tired enough to take a catnap on your flight.

9.    Noise cancellation headphones – One of the modern luxuries of travel, noise cancellation headphones offer an escape from the sounds of flight.

10.     Watch or other timepiece – With a watch or other timepiece, you can keep an eye on your approaching arrival time.

Of course, this is just a partial list on which items you might like to bring in your carryon luggage during a flight. You may find other items or even that some of these items do not apply to your personal preferences. Whatever the case, we wish you a pleasant flight!

Restaurant Review: Mardi Gras Fun at Ralph Brennan’s Red Fish Grill, New Orleans, Louisiana

Tantalizing seafood and a fun, festive atmosphere are just the beginning at Ralph Brennan’s Red Fish Grill in New Orleans, LA. Whether you find yourself in the French Quarter of the Big Easy during the Mardi Gras festivities or any other time during the year, the Red Fish Grill is a must-see restaurant no matter how you spin it.

Bright, bold colors bedeck the walls of this casual seafood eatery and eclectic décor featuring fish and sea life themed works of art hang along the walls above the bar and all around the restaurant. Choices of seating accommodate a cozy table for two to a large group of friends vacationing together and everyone in between.

Tasty libations on the beverage menu get your meal started off on a fun and social note, with such great concoctions as specialty lemonades, Mojitos, and more. The bar begins serving at 11 a.m., just in time for the perfect lunch at a casual seafood restaurant on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter of New Orleans. With lunch entrees at just $7 – $12, you can really enjoy your experience to the fullest, also sampling the savory soups, salads, and appetizers on the menu. (Dinner entrees at Ralph Brennan’s Red Fish Grill range from $13 to $22, a great price for delicious New Orleans seafood!)   Whether you are in the mood for a classic New Orleans bite like the crusty, breaded Shrimp Po Boy or a more involved, yet just as cultural meal, such as the jambalaya (Pasta jambalaya here, with delightful bowtie pasta during our Mardi Gras luncheon), you’re sure to enjoy what the Red Fish Grill has to offer. If you visit the Red Fish Grill during the Carnival season, be prepared that the menu may be scaled back to accommodate the larger than normal crowds the city of New Orleans experiences during this time. Not to worry – the amended menu still offers something for everyone, from fish to sandwiches, salads, and more. Our group visited the Red Fish Grill on our friend’s recommendation. A Louisiana native, Brandy knew the restaurant received much acclaim in Louisiana as being a great seafood restaurant, but also that it had received an award for being the Best Seafood Restaurant four years in a row. The tempting Mardi Gras menu, while condensed from the standard lunch menu at Red Fish, still posed a number of perplexing decisions, with many enticing entrees available for lunch, not to mention soups, salads, and appetizers. I opted for a Louisiana treat of a soup of the day and sandwich, consisting of a delicious crab soup, which I will forever dream of as being the best I’ve ever had, and a Shrimp Po Boy, featuring golden battered, crispy shrimp on a crusty Leidenheimer po-boy loaf. I ordered my meal on recommendation by our Louisiana pals as being one classic New Orleans dish you couldn’t pass up on your vacation, and I was not disappointed. (I’m also quite sure the strong bread component of my meal helped me through the rest of our day of parades and traditional Mardi Gras celebrations.) My husband went for the full Monte in ordering the Jambalaya (with pasta instead of rice: cleverly dubbed “pastalaya”), which boasted “sautéed Gulf shrimp, roasted chicken, and Creole Country andouille sausage tossed in a rich tomato natural reduction sauce with spirali, Creole seasonings and topped with Parmesan cheese.” Thanks to a great first taste, jambalaya fast became his meal of choice for the remainder of our visit to the Big Easy. Although I must admit, he tried jambalaya in two or three other restaurants during our stay, none of which even compared to the dish he enjoyed at the Red Fish Grill. If I am ever fortunate enough to find myself in New Orleans again – whether on business or pleasure – I fully plan to visit Ralph Brennan’s Red Fish Grill again, perhaps for dinner next time. From superb food to excellent service and a great atmosphere to share with your sweetheart or a group of friends, family, or colleagues, this restaurant will forever remain one of my favorite casual seafood dining experiences. I highly recommend visiting the Red Fish Grill on Bourbon Street in New Orleans if you ever find yourself in town.

About the Restaurant: The Red Fish Grill is located at 115 Bourbon St., New Orleans, LA 70130. For more information, call (504) 598-1200 or visit the Red Fish Grill online at www.Red Fishgrill.com.

Tips for Taking Your Dog or Puppy with You in the Car on a Road Trip or a Long Drive

Some dogs love being in the car, others hate it. Getting your dog used to the car when he or she is a puppy can make going on long drives or road trips infinitely easier than if you only take your dog to the vet in the car. Dogs are smart creatures and they often make associations with good and bad experiences. Do your part to make your pet’s traveling experience a good one!

Road trips, vacations on the road, and long drives can be a lot of fun with your dog or puppy if you take the right approach to getting your dog accustomed to the car and providing a safe and pleasant environment while in the car. To make every car traveling experience as pleasant as possible for both you and your pet dog or puppy on a long drive or road trip, consider the following tips.

Testing the Waters – Make Sure Your Pup Likes the Car
“Before embarking on a long road trip, make sure your pup is okay with the car,” says Lisa Epstein, PETCO spokesperson. “It’s best to start as a puppy and slowly acclimate her to the car with treats so she associates it with a good place. Try taking short trips around the block, in her crate for some, to make sure your dog is ready for a longer trip and to make sure she doesn’t get car sick. Be sure to give lots of praise and treats when she’s being a good passenger.”

Prepare Your Vehicle for Your Pet before Leaving Home
“Avoid a permanent reminder of your car trip with your pet by dog-proofing your car,” advises Lisa Epstein, PETCO spokesperson. “Placing a plastic tablecloth on the backseat can save your upholstery, but the best method is usually to use his crate if he is not potty trained.”

“Make sure tags are up to date with your contact information,” Epstein adds. “For additional security, step into a local PETCO and have a temporary tag made with your destination like your camp site or sister’s address. At all times, the tag should be attached to your dog’s collar.”

Epstein also recommends familiarizing the puppy with its carrier or kennel to avoid any unnecessary drama when the pup is in it for a few hours at a time.

Pack Any Necessary Items for Your Dog, Including Food, Water, Etc.
Depending on the length of your road trip or car ride, you might be able to pack your dog’s food in a medium or large size Ziploc bag. Epstein also recommends creating a check list of items to pack for your dog, which should typically include food, treats, toys, plastic bags, flea and tick repellant, brushes and combs, and any medicines the pup might need. You might also pack bottled water to prevent an upset tummy if the water is very different from what your pet is used to drinking.

Ensure the Safety of Your Pet While in the Car and During Pit Stops
The safety of your dog or puppy should be your top priority whenever traveling with your pet in a car or during a road trip. Consider the following tips to help you keep your dog safe and secure in the car while you are driving.

Choose a safe collar. PETCO recommends a car-friendly dog collar for traveling in the car. Experts at PETCO advise against using a choke collar, pinch collar, training collar, or any other kind of dog collar that could hurt or choke your dog during the trip. Velcro collars and other breakaway collars tend to be best and safest for car travel.

Make sure your pooch is secure. Whether in a carrier, with a car safety harness, or on a favorite blanket, PETCO recommends keeping your dog securely fastened in case of an accident or abrupt slamming of the breaks.

“Forget those picturesque moments of dogs with their heads out the windows – it is dangerous,” says Epstein. “Loose objects, dust, and debris can harm your dog.”

Don’t leave your dog or puppy unattended in the car. Leaving a pet in the car is dangerous, especially in very hot or very cold weather. If you must leave your pup for a very brief errand, PETCO recommends cracking the windows enough to let some air in but not enough that your pet could snap at passersby.

Stopping every four to six hours should be sufficient so your dog can stretch and relieve him or herself. For puppies and dogs that are not potty trained, you may want to stop a little more often. Epstein recommends keeping your pet on the leash at all times to avoid getting near to traffic or getting lost.

You can also keep your pet on the usual feeding schedule, Epstein notes, but you can feed a bit less food than usual since your dog will probably spend most of the time in the car sleeping.

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With these tips on traveling in cars with your dog or puppy, you should be able to have a pleasant driving and traveling experience, whether on a long drive or a road trip. Your dog also should have a more enjoyable ride, which ultimately makes your life easier. And remember, safety first!

Travel on the Cheap – 10 Ways to Save on Vacation Costs

In a tough economy, people’s travel plans often suffer. Luckily, despite the waddling economy, folks can still take advantage of travel deals to enjoy fabulous vacations at a fraction of the cost. If you want to travel on the cheap but you’re concerned about financing a vacation, you can still make things happen with some careful planning. Simply get creative and find some great ways to save on your vacation costs!

First things first – decide on the necessary factors of your vacation. Make a list of your prerequisites – such as land or sea, domestic or international, luxury-ish or roughing it. Once you’ve determined your travel preferences, you can start planning a great vacation on the cheap. Finding travel deals might even be easier than you think. In fact, many hotels are discounting rooms way lower than ever before in hopes of luring in some would-be travelers. You can also take advantage of a number of deals available through memberships like AAA and the Entertainment Book.

1.    Go on vacation during off-peak times. If you can still have decent weather, why pay top dollar for prime time?

2.    Use a credit card with air miles or hotel stay rewards. If you spend all year long earning air miles or hotel dollars, you can offset your vacation costs with the rewards you reap from your credit card.

3.    Get a copy of the money-saving Entertainment Book. In case you aren’t familiar, the Entertainment Book is a comprehensive volume of coupons, deals, and discounts at countless locations around the United States. You can buy a book for your local area or even get an Entertainment book for your destination, such as Buffalo, NY for a Niagara Falls vacation or Orlando, FL for a Disney vacation.

4.    Arrange your trip so you can make your own meals sometimes. If you stay in an efficiency or even a tent with a fire ring, you can cook some of your own meals to offset the cost of your vacation.

5.    Share expenses with a friend or group of friends. If you plan a road trip where you can carpool or all stay together in the same accommodations, you and your friends can split the costs as many ways.

6.    Take a more rugged trip, like camping, backpacking, or even a road trip. Save money by staying at hostels, cheap motels, or even under the stars in a tent. If you are set on a vacation with modern conveniences, look for a vacation house that you can rent from the owner.

7.    Become a member of AAA. Countless hotels and travel related companies offer discounts only to AAA members. The membership costs less than $50 a year and could save you lots more.

8.    If you’re seeking a tropical vacation, consider a cruise or an all-inclusive deal. A cruise offers the opportunity to see several wonderful destinations on the same vacation – totally more bang for your buck. Also, Mexico is known for having affordable prices and great vacation packages.

9.    Look for free and cheap things to do in addition to your planned itinerary. If you plan to do a more expensive activity, fill some of your other free time with lesser expensive or even free events. Also, seek out discount coupons and vouchers.

10.    Be willing to get bumped from a flight for airfare vouchers. Also, consider booking your flights in advance for better pricing if you notice costs beginning to climb.

While it won’t actually save you money, you can also begin saving for vacation before you even know you’re planning one. If you have a bit of a reserve of cash set aside for a trip, you won’t feel as guilty doing the things you really want to do on vacation!

Financing Your Summer Vacation in Style

Summer vacations often become the coveted gem glistening ahead after a year’s worth of grueling workweeks. Everything about a summer getaway gives us a happy-go-lucky feeling inside…except maybe the funding necessary to make it fly. Cost effectively getting the most out of your summer vacation can be quite easy with a little bit of careful planning and some credit-conscious choices.

Sometimes the best way to get what you want is to flat-out ask for it. When reserving lodging accommodations by phone, be sure to tell the hotel clerk that you desire the best rate they can offer you. Disclose how many nights you wish to stay, bearing in mind that a weeklong stay often warrants a better rate than a few nights alone. If you hold a discount card such as AAA or AARP, be sure to mention that after you receive a quote for your lodging. Finally, do your best to verify that you have received the best rate by checking out the online reservations.

Different credit card programs may help you save money or earn special rewards such as free nights at various hotels, Frequent Flyer miles and more.

If you plan to drive to your vacation destination, get fuel savings savvy with a credit card specially designed to save you bucks at the pump. Listed below are just a few credit cards currently on the market with fuel savings benefits.

Save money on fuel:
+ AAA Platinum Plus® Visa® Card
– allows cardholders to earn up to five percent cash back on all fuel purchases as well as a one percent rebate on all AAA Travel purchases such as cruises and tours when booked through AAA Travel.

+ The Chase PerfectCard™ – offers six percent rebate on gas for the first 90 days, three percent after introductory period and one percent on all purchases where major credit cards are accepted.

+ The Chase Ultimate Cash Award(sm) MasterCard® – offers earnings of up to five percent on gasoline and groceries, drug stores and home improvement stores, as well as up to two percent anywhere else MasterCard® is accepted.

+ Citi® Dividend Platinum Select® Card – offers up to five percent cash back at gas stations, supermarkets and drugstores, as well as one percent back on all other purchases.

+ The Discover® Platinum Gas Card – allows cardholders to save up to five percent cash back on gasoline purchases and up to one percent cash back on other purchases.

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Flying is often the quickest and most convenient way to get from A to B, so travelers who may opt to take flight from home to paradise should look into using a frequent flyer rewards card long before the vacation even creeps up.

Earn free airline miles:
+ Chase Travel Rewards® Platinum MasterCard®
– offers consumers a chance to earn one point for every dollar spent, and the option to redeem points for auto rentals, cruises, flights and hotel stays.

+ Citi® Bronze® AAdvantage® MasterCard® – allows cardholders to earn one AAdvantage® mile for every $2 spent, redeemable on more than 25 popular international airlines. Consumers also earn 5,000 bonus miles after their first purchase.

+ Continental Airlines World MasterCard® from Chase® – offers cardholders the chance to earn one OnePass® mile for every dollar spent and double OnePass® miles for shopping at select stores, among other bonuses and benefits. An $85 annual fee is applicable.

+ Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card – gives consumers the chance to earn airline miles in a variety of ways through normal spending habits. Though there is no annual fee for the first year, an $85 fee will be charged thereafter.


+ Value Platinum Visa® Card from Chase
– offers cardholders a chance to earn one Value Mile for each dollar spent, to be redeemed on major airlines with no blackout dates.

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Countless options await in terms of your sleeping accommodations. If you and your travel companions do not intend to set up at a campground or crash at a relative’s or friend’s place, hotel accommodations make great living quarters for the duration of your stay. Save yourselves some money either now or in the future by earning free hotel stays with specially designed credit cards. Here are just a few that might be of interest.

Earn free hotel accommodations:
+ Bank of America Choice Privileges – allows cardholders to earn 15 points when charging nights at participating Choice Privileges hotels and two points on other purchases. Points may be applied to free nights at participating hotels, including Clarion®, Comfort Inn®, Comfort Suites®, MainStay Suites®, Quality® and Sleep Inn®.

+ Hilton HHonors Platinum Credit Card (American Express) – allows consumers to earn 5 HHonors bonus points for every dollar you spent at Hilton HHonors Hotels and 3 HHonors bonus points for every other eligible dollar spent.

+ Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card (American Express) – offers cardholders a chance to earn free hotel stays at places such as Westin® Hotels & Resorts, Sheraton® Hotels & Resorts, Four Points® by Sheraton and more. The card requires no annual fee during the first year, but subsequent years will result in a $30 annual charge.

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Additional savings tips:
+ Contact a local AAA agency prior to your departure and order your free “TripTik” for wherever your vacation destination might be. You will gain valuable maps and information to help you plan your vacation transportation via automobile from departure to the return trip home. Also ask for Tour Books®, CampBooks® and AAA Road Maps.

+ Use coupons whenever applicable. Shop for what’s on sale in terms of groceries and if at all possible, make attempts to combine coupons with sale items.

+ Always inquire about a traveler’s discount with your AAA membership card or AARP membership.

+ Prior to your departure, save up spending money for your vacation so that you don’t have to put every single purchase on plastic. Earning rewards points really works well for saving money, but be careful to avoid burning too big a hole in your pocket with the ease of credit card shopping.

* * *

With some careful planning and a few spending and saving strategies, you and your travel companions can have the times of your lives without paying for it for years to come. Just exercise some discipline when swiping the credit card on vacation, for a few martinis too many may loosen up the wallet more than you’d prefer once you return to the daily grind!

Steps for a Carefree Vacation: Escaping Your Bills the Right Way

Far away, carefree and relaxed at a stress-free vacation destination – when you finally manage to escape the everyday grind, paying off bills and credit card debt is perhaps one of the last things on your mind.

Consider the following tips to prevent late fees, finance charges and higher interest rates.

Tip #1: Pay your bills before you leave.
Bills are generally due on the same day of the month each time you build a balance. Keep a ledger with the bills you have paid to date for each month and in the margin next to the company, write the date the bill is due. This will help you to keep track of which bills you have already paid and the dates when the others must be submitted. By paying any bills early that you have received prior to leaving for vacation, you reduce the chances of receiving a late fee or other financial penalty.

Tip #2: Begin using automatic payment options.
Many companies offer automatic payment options that can take place regularly as the bill is due each month, or you can opt for a one-time payment while you are on vacation. Phone and the Internet payments have also become popular payment alternatives to the traditional sending of bills. Whatever the case, knowing the bills are paid before you embark on your trip will give you the peace of mind that you anticipate.

Tip #3: Bring them along and write out your bills while relaxing by the pool.
If you do not have the time or the funds to pay your bills before leaving home, bring them along and send them in while you are away. Find a few spare moments to write them out and drop them off at the nearest mailbox or post office and take a load off your mind.

Tip #4: Secure a last resort payment alternative – get a friend, neighbor or family member to pay your bill while you are away.
If it proves impossible for you to pay your bill prior to leaving or while on vacation, ask someone whom you trust to settle the balance while you are unable to do so for yourself. Leave a pre-signed check or ask your friend or relative to pay with a check that has your name printed and a memo of “for deposit to [company name]”.

Tip #5: Make arrangements with the billing companies prior to leaving for vacation.
Find out if they offer automatic payment options or if you can at least get a ballpark figure of what you owe. See if it is possible to put down at least a partial payment so you will not have to stress over payments while you are away.

By attempting these five easy tips, you can set off on vacation with a light heart and an open mind. Adventures await, not late fees. Relax, have fun and realize that life only gets easier when you do not have to worry about credit card debt and finance charges, thanks to your responsible credit planning.

Swine Flu Travel Safety – Honeymoon and Vacation Tips to Prevent and Avoid Catching Swine Flu

When it comes to travel safety, a number of factors come into play, from transportation to street smarts and everything in between. But, up until recently, Montezuma’s Revenge held the top spot for travel health concerns when visiting Mexico or other vacation destinations. Now this year we are worrying about Swine Flu travel safety, learning about Swine Flu symptoms and signs of infection, searching for tips on preventing Swine Flu, and ensuring a cure is readily available if we should come in contact with the disease. With so many travel concerns, many travelers are canceling their vacations – even honeymoons – to help protect themselves and avoid catching Swine Flu.

According to doctors, the signs and symptoms of Swine Flu are very similar to the signs and symptoms of flu in general – fever, chills, sweats, rigors, body aches, headaches, watery eyes, runny nose, cough, sore throat, nausea, diarrhea, and even weakness to move. If you experience a number of these signs and symptoms of Swine Flu, you would do yourself a favor to get to your doctor’s office stat.

To further illustrate the Swine Flu pandemic and tips for preventing and avoiding Swine Flu, read on for specific suggestions and explanations from two knowledgeable doctors – Dr. Maurice Ramirez, an ER physician and expert in Pandemic preparation based in Florida, and Dr. Michael Zimring, Director, The Center for Wilderness and Travel Medicine at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, MD.

Q. – Life Love Beauty: What are some safety precautions or other ways travelers can prevent contracting Swine Flu?

A. – Dr. Ramirez: “Everything you need to know about preventing the spread of pandemic flu you learned in kindergarten:

•    Wash your hands.
•    Sneeze (and cough) into your sleeve; it directs the droplets and germs downward.
•    Stay in your seat, respect other’s space (stay out or their sneeze fallout zone), six feet if possible.
•    Don’t share food, drinks, cups, glasses or silverware (don’t double dip the chip in the salsa).
•    Take a nap (get plenty of rest to keep your immune system at optimal functioning).
•    Stay active (exercise actually improves your flu fighting ability).”

A. – Dr. Zimring: “Avoid people who are coughing. If you plan to travel in close quarters like a plane, it won’t hurt to carry n95 face masks with you and use them if you feel in danger from people coughing around you.”

Q. – Life Love Beauty: Is the current spread of Swine Flu a reason to cancel your vacation or honeymoon?

A. – Dr. Zimring: “Depends on where you are going and the status of the situation. If we are in a middle of a pandemic, it might be a good idea to stay close to home in case you need medical care.”

A. – Dr. Ramirez: “Travel should be guided by travel advisories from the World Health Organization (WHO) www.who.int and Centers of Disease Control (CDC) www.CDC.gov Web sites.”

Q. – Life Love Beauty: What are the known symptoms of Swine Flu?

A. – Dr. Ramirez:
“Same as any flu season:”
•    Fever
•    Chills
•    Body Aches
•    Watery Eyes
•    Runny Nose
•    Cough
•    Nausea
•    Diarrhea

A. – Dr. Zimring: “Fever, chills, sweats, and rigors, weakness where you have trouble getting your head off the pillow, sore throat, and then headache….”

Q. – Life Love Beauty: If brides and grooms are considering a honeymoon to Mexico in the near future, should they reconsider due to the current concerns with Swine Flu?

A. – Dr. Ramirez: “Travel should be guided by travel advisories from the World Health Organization (WHO) www.who.int and Centers of Disease Control (CDC) www.CDC.gov websites.”

A. – Dr. Zimring: “At this point, yes.”

Q. – Life Love Beauty: How long do you think it will be till the Swine Flu subsides and it is completely safe to travel to Mexico again? How many months do you think the concerns will linger?

A. – Dr. Ramirez: “A Pandemic can last as long as 12 to 24 months, but since it is present on all populated continents and will soon be present in all countries, the issue of safe travel to Mexico becomes moot.”

A. – Dr. Zimring: “I think we are going to have a lull over the summer and it might come back more widespread this fall and winter.”

Q. – Life Love Beauty: How is Swine Flu spread? What are the ways in which people catch Swine Flu?

A. – Dr. Ramirez: “The flu is spread by ‘droplet contamination,’ which means someone who is infected sneezes or coughs on you; hence the recommendation to stay outside the sneeze fallout zone (six feet).”

A. – Dr. Zimring: “Droplets, coughing droplets in the area around you. The disease is spread by the droplets that you cough up. If you cover your cough with your hand, then touch a door knob, the next person who touches the door knob will now pick up the disease.”

Q. – Life Love Beauty: Does traveling on an airplane to your honeymoon or vacation destination make you more susceptible to catching Swine Flu, since they use the recycled air?

A. – Dr. Ramirez: “The one and only study of recycled air on an aircraft found that travelers were slightly more likely to catch the common cold on an aircraft with recycled air than on an older aircraft with non-recycled air. Unfortunately, there are no non-recycled air aircraft left in the modern commercial fleet.
Of greater concern is that in coach, 8 seats are within the sneeze fallout zone of a middle row seat.”

A. – Dr. Zimring: “The airplane may have some recycled air but a lot of fresh air is brought in. If you are sitting next to someone who has swine flu, your chances are pretty good you will get it. If you are sitting 10 rows back and it is a short flight, probably not. But if it is a long flight, you will have a chance at it.”

Q. – Life Love Beauty: Do we know how long it takes the Swine Flu to show up in your system after first exposure?

A. – Dr. Ramirez: “2 to 4 days, but you are contagious in 2 to 3 days so you can spread disease 1 to 2 days before you show symptoms of disease.”

A. – Dr. Zimring: “1 to 4 days or possibly a little longer, up to a week.”

Q. – Life Love Beauty: What are some fun things couples on their honeymoon can do without worrying about the Swine Flu?

A. – Dr. Ramirez: “An intimate couple already has exposed each other to virtually every disease they each carry, thus the activities they both enjoy are not an issue for flu transmission. Staying in their room or finding a remote hideaway does provide more safety.”

A. – Dr. Zimring: “Isolation, and keeping to yourself – need I say more?”

Q. – Life Love Beauty: Are there any vacation or honeymoon locations that are currently safe from Swine Flu?

A. – Dr. Ramirez: “No, by definition, pandemic means worldwide, virtually at the same time.”

A. – Dr. Zimring: “I would stay away from Mexico, but I would consider any place safe. Remember, thousands of people die from the flu each yea.”

Q. – Life Love Beauty: Anything else you would like to add about Swine Flu symptoms, preve
nting Swine Flu, or treatments for Swine Flu?

A. – Dr. Ramirez: “Remember, everything you need to know about preventing the spread of pandemic flu you learned in kindergarten:

•    Wash your hands.
•    Sneeze (and cough) into your sleeve; it directs the droplets and germs downward.
•    Stay in your seat, respect other’s space (stay out or their sneeze fallout zone), six feet if possible.
•    Don’t share food, drinks, cups, glasses or silverware (don’t double dip the chip in the salsa).
•    Take a nap (get plenty of rest to keep your immune system at optimal functioning).
•    Stay active (exercise actually improves your flu fighting ability).”

A. – Dr. Zimring: “When traveling, get travel insurance; it is essential – see www.travelmedicineMD.com
and then go to the travel insurance button and follow the instructions.”

About the Experts:

Dr. Maurice A. Ramirez is a professional speaker and founder of the consulting firm High Alert, LLC. He assists companies to align business continuity plans with personnel and customer behavior during adversity. Board certified in multiple specialties, Dr. Ramirez serves on expert panels for pandemic preparedness and healthcare surge planning. He is Founding Chairperson of the American Board of Disaster Medicine and a Senior Physician-Federal Medical Officer. Dr. Ramirez has a new book: “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Disaster Preparedness,” which is now available on Amazon (with free Super Saver Shipping). For more information, please visit www.mauricearamirez.com.

Dr. Michael Zimring oversees The Center for Wilderness and Travel Medicine at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, MD, which offers immunizations for travel, pre- and post-travel consultations, treatment for travel-related medical conditions, and even coordination of emergency medical care and evacuations. A graduate of the University of Maryland Medical School, Dr. Zimring joined Mercy Medical Center in 1973. In 2007, Dr. Zimring successfully completed the International Society of Travel Medicine (ISTM)’s Certificate of Knowledge Examination and has been awarded the Certificate in Travel Health. For more information, please visit www.travelmedicineMD.com.

Top 10 2009 Honeymoon Destinations

Brides and grooms seem to be a little more daring with their honeymoon destination choices for 2009. Some of the tried-and-true honeymoon locations still find favor in the eyes of today’s brides and grooms, Enjoy a romantic honeymoon in 2009 at any fabulous destination.and many are taking the more adventurous and more exotic route to an unforgettable 2009 honeymoon.

No matter what you want to do on your honeymoon – relax, sightsee, ride horses, explore, etc. – you’re sure to find that many honeymoon destinations can cater to your every whim and your every need. Your honeymoon is the perfect time to celebrate your new life with your spouse and it is the one chance you have to enjoy a luxurious, unforgettable vacation that is like no other in your lifetime.

As you consider where you’d like to go for your 2009 honeymoon, consider the following popular honeymoon destinations for this year. Toward the end of the article, we also unveil Life Love Beauty’s top 10 honeymoon destinations for 2009. Read on for tips and suggestions for the perfect, romantic honeymoon. You might find a perfect match for your budgets and your needs!

Hawaii as a 2009 Honeymoon Destination
Hawaii still comes in as a popular honeymoon destination for 2009, with a bride and groom visiting both Oahu and Maui this coming September. Another 2009 bride and groom would like to visit Hawaii for their honeymoon but they are reconsidering due to costs. They’re hoping to find another beach to visit for a lower expense.

May 24 bride Michaela Baltasar and her soon-to-be husband are heading to Kauai for their honeymoon.

“Our honeymoon budget isn’t huge — we’re not staying at any fancy resorts in Kauai or anything like that,” Baltasar says. “Instead, I used Hotwire to book two nights on the south end of the island — we scored a room at the Sheraton Kauai Resort for $127 a night. And then we went through Vacation Rentals By Owner (VRBO) to book a little studio cottage with a kitchen on the north end of the island (Haena — gorgeous) for the remaining five nights at $135 per night, plus a $150 refundable security deposit.”

Kimberly B. Hamelburg celebrates her wedding in Boston, MA on June 6, 2009. She and her groom plan to travel to Hawaii to visit Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island for 13 nights. They’ve planned their honeymoon budget at $11K and used a travel agent to book their flights and hotels in early April.

Mexico Offers Many 2009 Honeymoon Destinations
Prior to the Swine Flu epidemic, Mexico came in as an extremely popular honeymoon destination for 2009. Now after news of the spreading disease hit the newsstands, Mexico clings to its spot in the top 10 honeymoon destinations for 2009, but it seems a number couples are changing their minds and canceling their Mexican honeymoons for fear of contracting Swine Flu. Meanwhile, other couples are braving the storm and willing to take their chances for the experience of a lifetime.

A May 2009 bride and her fiancé are planning on a Cancun honeymoon, but may opt for a tropical cruise instead due to the recent breakout of Swine Flu. Several brides and grooms are still considering Cancun despite the recent health concerns, although a number of them won’t visit until later in the fall.

Enjoy a romantic honeymoon in 2009 at any fabulous destination.Laura Arloszynski celebrates her wedding on May 23rd with the honeymoon immediately
following. She and her new husband will be visiting Cabo San Lucas for their 2009 honeymoon.

“We chose Cabo for a few reasons,” Arloszynski says. “1. We had both never been there, 2. We have never been to that side of Mexico, 3. I have stayed at the same chain of resports in a different location and thought it was awesome, 4. We have heard that it is a beautiful and up and coming destination in Mexico, 5. We didn’t want to go to Europe because we wanted to relax on the beach!”

“For the two of us for the week at the Dreams Los Cabos Suites Golf Resort & Spa (a 4 or 5 star hotel, depending on the site) it is ending up around $4,000 with travel insurance,” she adds. “So, not a budget breaker, but not something that is saving anyone money! And honestly, what we did was book about nine months in advance, and we committed to a higher price and since the trip ended up dropping in price, they just didn’t charge us the difference when we went to pay it off this month. I suggest booking early if you know that you can get the price adjustment if it drops in price.”

Other popular Mexican vacation destinations include Excellence Playa Mujeres and Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, where Meghann Klein and her fiancé plan to visit for their 2009 honeymoon.

“We are staying for a full week, and our budget was between $3000 – $4500,” says Klein. “We’re pretty much all booked, save for any extra activities we want to do while down there.”

Caribbean / Atlantic Ocean Honeymoon Destinations in 2009
Caribbean honeymoon destinations continue to be popular for 2009 as well. For many couples, the Caribbean is a reasonable distance from home and an easy flight for inexperienced fliers. Many beautiful islands await in the Caribbean, from the Bahamas to Costa Rica, US Virgin Islands, and so many more exotic choices.A Caribbean Cruise may create just the perfect honeymoon if you are looking to explore and visit more than one island. On a Caribbean cruise, you will get to see many amazing islands and tropical destinations on the same vacation, and typically for an all-inclusive price.

The only main consideration when planning a honeymoon to the Caribbean is to keep hurricane season in mind as you make your 2009 honeymoon plans.

A bride on TheKnot.com is excited to be going to Ocho Rios, Jamaica with her soon-to-be hubby. Another bride, tying the knot in December 2009, is looking forward to her honeymoon in St. Barts and yet another, getting hitched in October 2009, is trekking to St. Lucia for the honeymoon.

Europe Offers 2009 Honeymoon Destinations
For another unforgettable 2009 honeymoon destination, many couples are considering trips to Europe for their post-wedding vacation plans. Cruises through Europe offer an extensive tour of many countries in a week, 10 days, or two-week vacation setting. Some couples may also plan their European honeymoons to involve ground transportation so they can visit several cities or countries during their honeymoons.

“My fiancé and I are going on a two-week honeymoon trip to Greece and Italy after our September wedding,” says Kathleen Coyne, of Chicago, IL. “We bought our plane tickets a few months ago (when we thought the economy wouldn’t impact us) and now are having to just deal with it. I think if we hadn’t booked the tickets, I would strongly suggest a cheaper trip to Mexico even if it is hurricane season.”

Coyne is still figuring out the budget, but anticipates that she and her soon-to-be husband will spend around $8K on their honeymoon.

Other Honeymoon Destinations for 2009
While Hawaii, Mexico, Europe, and the Caribbean tend to be popular honeymoon destinations on many occasions, some couples are still finding other exciting, relaxing, and exotic 2009 honeymoon destinations. An August 2009 couple selected Disney World for
their honeymoon destination. Several other 2009 brides and grooms are leading toward an exotic honeymoon destination in Thailand later this year, or even South Asia – including Thailand, Bali, and Singapore.

Top 10 Honeymoon Destinations for 2009Based on our research, here are Life Love Beauty’s Top 10 Honeymoon Destinations for 2009:

Life Love Beauty’s Top 10 Honeymoon Destinations for 2009
1.    Maui, Hawaii
2.    Oahu, Hawaii
3.    Kauai, Hawaii
4.    Cancun, Mexico
5.    Excellence Playa Mujeres, Mexico
6.    Italy
7.    Europe (in general)
8.    Thailand
9.    Caribbean
10.    Disney World

Expedia.co.uk Top 10 Honeymoon Destinations for 2009
1.    Bahamas
2.    Barbados
3.    Mauritius
4.    St. Lucia
5.    Sardinia
6.    Reykjavik
7.    Paris
8.    Venice
9.    Seychelles
10.    New York

***

After consulting numerous brides and grooms and various travel agents, the general consensus is that brides and grooms are planning their 2009 honeymoons across the globe – from the United States, to the Caribbean, to Europe, the South Pacific, Asia, and beyond. Despite the suffering economy, many couples are still putting out as much money as they can muster to experience a great honeymoon experience. Even brides and grooms on a budget are still finding exceptional honeymoon plans for much less than one might spend in a better economy.

One theme runs true for 2009 honeymoons – if you’re willing to look for the travel deals, you can bet you’ll be able to find romantic and exciting honeymoon destinations and accommodations that are well worth your while.

Resources:
http://www.expedia.co.uk/daily/inspiration/top10/honeymoon-trips/default.aspx