Today’s travel agents are specialized. The nice lady who books your boss’ sales training in Cleveland may not be outfitted to help you plan your honeymoon. The same could be true of the folks whoorganized your nephew’s 4th grade field trip to Mt. Rushmore.
In a profession overrun with job titles, Beth Miller Augerinos at Perfect Honeymoons & Holidays is known throughout Greater Washington, D.C., as “The Honeymoon Lady.” With more than 20 years specializing in honeymoons, Augerinos minces no words about what it takes to plan your honeymoon properly.
And she only works by appointment.
“A honeymoon can’t be planned in 15 minutes by running into a place or by doing it on the phone. So if the agency won’t make an appointment, that’s not the place for you to go. You need at least one hour,” Augerinos said.
Use the time to iron out IMPORTANT details your agent will need.
“Between six months and a year,” Beverly McIntyre of Travel Trends in Los Angeles said. “A lot of times, prices aren’t even out within the year, so sometimes you have to wait a little bit, but it’s a good starting point to find out what you want. I’d say at least nine months. You’ll be getting the economy prices on the plane rather than the more expensive ones. If you want to take a cruise, you’ll have your pick of cabins and categories, not just whatever’s available at the last minute.”
Once you’ve set your appointment, use the time between now and then to iron out several important details your agent will need.
You need to decide what day you want to leave, what airport you want to leave from and what day you want to return.
“You’d be surprised how many couples haven’t even discussed that. You can’t begin to price or talk. If they can only have four days, you’re not going to send them to Tahiti no matter what they want,” Augerinos said.
Next, you’ll need to clarify what activities you want to include. Do you want seaside peace and quiet, shopping and night life, group massage therapy, Keno?
“Couples will come in and say ‘Maybe Paris and maybe Tahiti.’ You can’t have that wide a variance and expect to get anything accomplished,” Augerinos said.
It is equally important to know what you don’t want.
“The wants don’t always tell you the absolute no’s. Some couples don’t want to see poverty or have natives always around selling things. Believe it or not. I had somebody that didn’t want lots of bugs,” Augerinos said.
Finally, each of you should specify the one thing most important to you individually. Don’t be surprised if your answers are not the same. Who would have believed she could live without a golf course or he without a nail salon?
All of this information is essential to an experienced agent. If you haven’t done your homework, the agent will have to walk you through it during your appointment.
Honeymoon and Preparation Honeymoon Preparation How To PlanI have to qualify my clients. I can’t suggest anything until I know a little bit about them. I spend a lot of time qualifying. We talk about destination, where they want to go, what type of honeymoon they want. I try and find a place where neither one of them has been, so that it’s something new and exciting for both of them,” McIntyre said.
Then there is the issue of money. Before you visit your travel agent, understand that purchasing travel has nothing in common with purchasing an automobile. Agents to not mark up the prices they receive from airlines and hotels. It is a waste of time and an insult to an agent’s intelligence to march into his or her office with some inappropriately low budget and then ask for a 10-day trip to Mars.
“I had a man here on Saturday who told me he had $2000 or less to spend. So I suggested Nassau, a shorter trip to Bermuda or a trip to Cancun, and he goes, ‘I wouldn’t be caught dead in those places and I want at least a week to 10 days.’ I said, ‘Sir, you can’t do that with this budget.’” Augerinos said.
“Then I asked the lady, ‘Where would you really like to go?’ She said Hawaii. I said, ‘It just can’t be done for $2,000.’ She said, ‘Forget what he has to say. Tell me a decent trip to Hawaii.’ So I told her – it was $4,600. He says, ‘I can afford it. I thought this was like buying a car. If I told you I really had about $4,000 or so, you’d jack the price up and I’d be buying a $2,000 trip for $4,000.’”
It is equally foolish not to allocate sufficient funds within your overall wedding budget to cover the cost of your honeymoon.
“I find that when couples, especially young adults, are planning their wedding, they tend to budget for everything else and the honeymoon is whatever’s left over. They don’t think of it as part of the wedding, when in actuality it’s one of the most important parts. A lot of them want more than what they can afford,” McIntyre said.
One of the best remedies for a lack of funding, which McIntyre and Augerinos both offer, is a bridal registry for your honeymoon, like the one for your housewares at a department store. Augerinos also has pioneered a program particularly well suited to younger couples – a layaway program in which couples contribute smaller sums over a period of several months prior to their wedding.
Once you have finished planning with your travel agent, there are still several details to wrap up before your departure.
Be sure someone like a parent or close friend knows where and how to contact you if necessary. “Getting away from it all” is no excuse for cluelessness in an emergency.
Notify your local post office and newspaper to stop deliveries. Nothing signals your absence to a burglar better than a pile of mail and newspapers.
Who’s going to feed your pets? Contact your veterinarian about overnight accommodations. Alternatively, check into a local pet feeding/visitation service. For a few dollars per day, they will visit your house daily, feeding and spending a few minutes with your pets.
Make arrangements for someone to visit your house two or three times just to make sure everything is OK.
If your trip will take you out of the country, make sure you have appropriate visas, passports and so forth. You will need a passport photo. Make sure your birth certificate is available.
If the local currency is different, talk to your banker about travelers’ checks, ATM availability, conversion rates and sibling banks within that country.
If there is a language barrier, memorize a few catch phrases, particularly “Do you speak English?” You should also pick up and carry a translation dictionary. Even if you can’t pronounce the words, you can open the book and point them out to whomever you are speaking to.
Make a list of the things you both want to pack, particularly medications. Now, reduce that list by at least half, particularly if you’re traveling.