6 Reasons to use a Romance Travel Specialist

DSC_0539Destination weddings, honeymoons, vow renewals, anniversary trips, babymoons, familymoons – these aren’t your typical once-a-year family vacations. These will be the most important trips you may ever take, and also the most important trips you will ever plan. So, why take any chances? Partner with a Romance Travel Specialist like me. You do the travel dreaming while I handle the details behind the dreams!

Not convinced? Here’s a list of the top 6 reasons couples planning a romance vacation should use a Romance Travel Specialist for this special, once-in-a-lifetime trip:

1. I’ll always deliver the best value.

Note, that doesn’t always mean the lowest price! Sometimes, the cheapest online deals aren’t the best choices for many couples. As a romance travel specialist, I’ll present options and help you choose the travel arrangements that best fit your dreams. Do you go to a restaurant and tell the waiter “just bring me the cheapest dish on the menu”? I’ll bet not.

2. I’ll take away the hassles and headaches of travel planning, especially for groups like Destination Weddings.

For many romantic getaways, the booking itself is just the start. That’s when the real work begins – with a Destination Wedding, for example, someone has to communicate travel details to your wedding party and guests, answer questions about passports and departure taxes, track down important guests who are waiting ’til the last minute to book, and take Aunt Nancy’s daily calls about what there is to do in Mexico before the ceremony takes place! As the romance travel specialist, I take all of those phone calls and emails off the bride and groom’s plate!

3. By working with a travel consultant, you get the benefit of my professional expertise and insider industry knowledge.

Many couples feel they can plan this important vacation themselves using info they’ve gathered from the Internet… but that info isn’t always complete, and it’s usually slanted in favor of the suppliers and others who’re sharing that info. For example, a resort may offer an amazing rate for a honeymoon stay at a luxurious Jamaican resort, but the fine print in the “deal” doesn’t mention the fact that the resort will be undergoing renovations during the honeymoon dates. So, you get your dream honeymoon (albeit for a low rate) in the middle of a construction zone. Or, Destination Wedding guests may book a less expensive stay at a hotel next to the resort where the couple will be hosting the wedding, but no one tells those guests that they must pay for daily passes to get onto the resort for the ceremony or any other time they want to hang with the rest of the crew. It’s even entirely possible that the resort hosting the ceremony may hit capacity and stop selling day passes! So those guests get turned away at the gate and miss the wedding they traveled all that way to attend. As the romance travel specialist, I know these things – and I’ll happily share them with my clients. Plus, I have the “backup” of an experienced industry network to consult with if needed.

4. I’ll help you avoid costly misunderstandings and mistakes.

What must couples do to get lawfully married in Mexico? What steps must they take to conduct a ceremony in the Roman Catholic chapel near their chosen resort? What must Destination Wedding guests who are bringing children do if they’re divorced and share custody in order to avoid customs/immigration delays at the airports? What fees must couples pay if they want to use their own officiant or bring in their preferred photographer? As the romance travel specialist, I handle questions like these to help my clients avoid nasty surprises!

5. I’ll step up for you when things go wrong.

When a last-minute hurricane warning appears three days before the Destination Wedding date, or the resort calls to say it’s overbooked the honeymooners who must now be “walked” to an off-the-beach property down the road, I’ll step up for my couples to protect their rights and their trip! The big guys on the internet won’t do that!

6. This is likely the most important vacation you’ll ever take.

Again, why take chances? Making your travel arrangements with me won’t cost you anything extra, and will get you so much more than if you just booked your trip online.

Call or email me to start planning your special romantic vacation.

Houston, we have lift off!

Airplane take-off

(Quick and easy destinations less than 4 hours from Houston, TX)

Extended vacations to far off destinations are exciting, but sometimes all you’ve got time for is a quick getaway closer to home. So, let’s take a look at the sunny international beach destinations accessible from Bush Intercontinental and Houston Hobby within 4 hours or less non-stop.

Jamaica: This island will always be a favorite. Jamaica’s Montego Bay airport provides access to the hotspots throughout the island, and Houston’s airports provide access to Montego Bay. Fly non-stop in around 3 hours from IAH on United and starting in November 2015, use Southwest Airlines out of Hobby.

Mexico: (Cancun, RM, Coz, Cabo, PVR) Houston’s airports provide easy access to destinations throughout our neighbor to the South.

Tulum Mayan Site
Tulum Mayan Site

-Mexican Caribbean: The always popular Cancun is just a 2 hour flight from IAH on United…and they operate flights daily. Southwest is beginning non-stop daily service to Cancun from Hobby starting mid-October. Cancun airport provides access to the entire Mayan Riviera, stretching from Playa Mujeres, just North of Cancun all the way down to the chill Southern beach town of Tulum, famous for its cliff-top Mayan site. If you don’t want to bother with the ferry from Playa del Carmen, take the non-stop flight on United down to Cozumel. This island off the coast of Mexico offers world-class scuba diving.

-Mexican Pacific: For fantastic vistas and true Mexican charm, check out the Pacific Coastal cities of Cabo San Lucas/San Jose del Cabo and Puerto Vallarta. United flies non-stop from IAH to Cabo in just under 3 hours. Southwest offers the itinerary from Hobby. Cabo, at the very tip of the Baja California peninsula, is famous for the popular Lands End Arch and some of the best whale watching (in season). Puerto Vallarta is accessible from IAH in just under 2 hrs 30 minutes via United and the non-stop is also offered on Southwest out of Hobby. It’s a charming colonial town with a rich history…and you can’t beat the spectacular “Mountains meet the Sea” views.

Beach Paradise in the Bahamas
Beach Paradise in the Bahamas

The Bahamas: Crystal clear water and white sand beaches await in the Bahamas. Plus, with easy flights from IAH on United to the capital city of Nassau, it’s doesn’t take long to find yourself on a pristine beach! As an added perk, you’ll clear US Customs at the airport in Nassau before your return flight saving an extra step (and time) when you touch back down in Houston.

Costa Rica: While I wouldn’t typically suggest Costa Rica for a short getaway, it is now in spectacularly easy reach from our Houston airports in under 4 hours! There’s so much more to the destination than a typical beach vacation that I don’t recommend anything less than a week. However, I felt it important to mention that in addition to United’s non-stop service to both San Jose and Liberia, Southwest is beginning service to these airport in the fall! San Jose, the capital, offers access to the central rainforests, volcanoes, and central coastal regions of this fascinating country. Liberia offers easy access to the Northern Pacific coast, a popular area for beach goers and surfing enthusiasts who are still looking to experience all the nature and wildlife that Costa Rica has to offer.

Vacation Designer- A new job title for the changing times…

Romantic Jamaican Sunset

Vacation Designer is really a much more accurate representation of what I do when compared to the out-dated Travel Agent job title. Yes, I’ll admit it’s true… you don’t need a travel agent in order to book your flights and hotel. Anyone with internet access can go online, enter credit card information, and come away with a travel reservation, but how do you know that the vacation you booked online is the right one for you?

Will that online booking engine take the time to get to know you and your likes/dislikes? Will the online booking engine sort through all the possible destinations and hotels for you, narrowing down the thousands of options to just the few that fit your desires exactly? If you just book online, who is going to warn you that the particular big-name all-inclusive resort that you’ve chosen routinely waters down their beverages? Is the online booking engine going to let you know that the waterfall you want to see is over 6 hours from where you’re staying? Is that online booking engine willing to go the extra mile for you, lend a personal touch, plan your daily activities or coordinate a special request with the resort? Nope, the online booking engine won’t do any of those things. This is where my role, as a Vacation Designer, comes in.

When we’re talking about an activity that is as emotionally precious as travel, the lowest price doesn’t necessarily equal the best value for you. The online booking engine can give you a super cheap vacation (btw I can usually match or even beat their prices). However, can you tell me the last time you heard a friend return from a vacation and say “Man, that was the worst, oldest, dirtiest hotel I’ve ever been to with the most disgusting food I’ve ever eaten! But hey, at least I saved a couple hundred bucks!” I sure haven’t heard anyone say that! When you travel, the experience you have while you’re on vacation is so much more important than the amount you pay. Sure, you’ll want to budget wisely, but at the end of the day, you’re really looking for an awesome vacation experience above all other factors.

Next time you’re thinking about taking a vacation, I hope you’ll steer away from the online booking engine and opt to work with a Vacation Designer like me instead. It won’t cost you anything extra. It will ensure that your entire travel experience is the best it can be.