May the 4th Be With You

Happy Star Wars Day to all you fans out there. Did you know that you will soon be able to enjoy a brand new experience at Walt Disney World? It’s true! Disney is not only creating a new Star Wars themed land inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios, there are also rumors of a new, interactive hotel in the works. Don’t just take my word for it, though. Check out this article that recently appeared in The Telegraph. To view the current construction, check out this video, and keep up to date with all of the progress by following Disney’s blog.

Want to learn more about everything Star Wars currently inside the park? Then click here.

With construction recently completed on Pandora, the World of Avatar, in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, it seems that Disney will be moving along quickly with the Hollywood Studios expansion (for both Star Wars and Toy Story). Both are set to be complete in 2019.

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Star Tours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

 

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Coffee? On Vacation?

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As I was sitting here, dreaming up my next blog topic–enjoying a delicious cup of coffee–I stated thinking about the hassles of coffee on vacation. I don’t know about you, but I like to start my day with a wonderful cup of coffee (okay, sometimes 2 or 3). And, every once in a while, I want to have a cup in the afternoon as well. This is all good and fine when I am at home, with my trusty Keurig and Cafe Verona by my side–or when I travel to Gatlinburg WITH my Keurig and Cafe Verona. But when I travel elsewhere, I find myself struggling with coffee issues.

Yes, I can make that sad packet of coffee provided in the room and put in the powdered cream packet–or I could head down to the hotel/resort restaurant and order a cup or watered-down brew. I certainly don’t want to head out to the nearest Starbucks, so I usually take what I can get. This got me thinking, though, about the best coffee that I have had while traveling–and I have narrowed it down to 2 places.

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Room Service at Sandals Negril with 2 pots of Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee

The first: all Sandals and Beaches Resorts simply because they offer Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee. I can have it delivered via room service (in certain room categories) or enjoy it at any of the restaurants. This is, by far, the best and most consistent coffee that I have had throughout the Caribbean. Very little is required to make it taste amazing.

 

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Cappuccino at Secrets Maroma Preferred Club Lounge

 

The second: Secrets Maroma Preferred Club Lounge in Rivera Maya, Mexico. Not available in my room–so I do have to venture down to the Preferred Club–the cappuccino in the lounge is simply amazing. Full of flavor and a little added spice, this is a perfect way to start the day. The Preferred Club rooms do offers Nespresso makers, which are a nice touch. For those of you, like me, whose coffee requires some doctoring, you won’t have much option but to drink it plain. Better than most, but still not as appealing as that cappuccino.

 

What about you? Do you have a favorite place to get your coffee while vacationing?

The Importance of a Name

AHHH! The honeymoon. A wonderful week in a beautiful destination. Before you get here, though, you need to first make sure that you have all of your travel requirements in order–beginning with your name.slide-06

Now that honeymoon planning season is in full swing, I often get asked a number of questions about names and how they should appear for international honeymoon travel. See some of the most common questions (and their answers) below.

  • How should I list my name for my honeymoon? If you are traveling internationally, the name on your travel documents must match the name on your passport.
  • Can I get a passport in my married name before the honeymoon? If you are honeymooning immediately after (within 2-3 days) of your wedding, you will need to get a passport in your maiden name. If you have more time between your wedding and your honeymoon, you may opt to apply for a passport in your married name (and have it expedited, if necessary). In this case, you will need to list your name on all travel documents as you will list it on your passport.
  • What if I accidentally list my name incorrectly for the travel documents? Although this will not be a deal breaker for the resort or hotel, it can cause a lot of issues with air travel. Funjet Vacations explains, “Most air carriers consider a name change to be a cancellation; to avoid penalties for name changes, full and complete names are required at time of booking.” If you notice any name discrepancies, be sure to notify your travel agent immediately.
  • Should I include my middle name on my passport? This is totally up to you. I usually suggest listing your name as it appears on your birth certificate to avoid any confusion.
  • What documents do I need to change my maiden name to my married name on my passport? If you already have a passport that you want to renew, you will need to send the following documents in with your completed application:
    • Current photo (must be a passport photo–you can get these at Walgreens)
    • Current, undamaged passport
    • Passport fee ($110.00)
    • Certified copy of your marriage certificate
  • How should I list my name if I am applying for a passport for the first time?
    • If you are applying for a passport in your maiden name, I encourage you to list your name as it appears on your birth certificate.
    • If you are applying for a passport in your married name, I suggest the following:
      • List your First Name as it appears on your birth certificate and/or marriage license
      • If applicable, list your Middle Name as it appears on your birth certificate
      • List your Last Name as it appears on your marriage certificate

For more information on what documentation you need in order to travel, please visit my previous article “Passports and Other Necessary Travel ID.” To find out more about applying for or renewing your passport, please visit the U.S. Department of State Bureau of of Consular Affairs. Happy Honeymooning!

Just (All of) Us: A Destination Wedding for Two…and Their Entourage

wedding-1246897_1920Recently I posted about a couple getting away, just the two of them, to wed or to renew their vows. But what about the people that want everyone they know to share this special day? That, too, can be done. In fact, the more people that attend a destination wedding, the more group perks and the more bride and groom perks available.

Let’s look at the same resorts that I previously focused on, starting with Sandals (Adults Only, Couples Only) and Beaches Resorts (Family-friendly, for Everyone). Here, groups start with 5 rooms–and the more rooms you have within your group, the more amenities you get (promotions are subject to change based on time of year and availability):

 

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Caribbean Honeymoon Beachfront Two Story One Bedroom Butler Loft Suite w/Tranquility Soaking Tub at Sandals Negril

  • For groups of 5-9 rooms, the wedding couple will receive a complimentary room upgrade (based upon availability at check in), a private group check in, and a complimentary 1-hour reception
  • For groups of 10-19 rooms, all of the above as well as a pedicure for the bride and a private, pre-wedding celebration for the attendees and the wedding couple
  • For groups of 20+ rooms, all of the above as well as a complimentary 2-hour dinner reception following the wedding ceremony and a shared catamaran cruise for the entire party

Not too shabby considering that the bride and groom can, essentially, have their wedding and honeymoon entirely for free! Because with 6 or 12 rooms booked (depending on time of year)  the bride and groom get a FREE honeymoon room (based on guests’ length of stay and room categories booked).

For brides- and grooms-to-be with hearts set on Jamaica, Couples Resorts offers every 6th room free. This can also be paired with current specials (like the $500 resort credit). Keep in mind, though, that all Couples Resorts are adults only and cater to couples–all rooms will have King beds. Couples is one of those resorts that may offer a bit more than meets the eye in regard to inclusions. Sometimes, you just need to know who to ask. 😉

Secrets (Adults Only) and Dreams (Family-friendly) Resorts are another solid option for wedding groups. At these resorts, wedding parties can get a number of amenities as well (promotions are subject to change based on time of year and availability):

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    Preferred Club Junior Suite at Secrets Silversands

    Groups of 6 rooms will receive the 6th room FREE (based on guests’ length of stay and room categories booked)

  • Groups of 10 will receive one FREE room and one room category upgrade (based upon availability at check in) and private check in

 

 

With all of these amazing offers, it is easy to see why so many couples are choosing an exotic destination to say, “I do.” What about you? Are you dreaming of a destination wedding? If so, leave a comment below as to where your ideal location would be!

Destination Wedding Resort Spotlight: Sandals Negril

Hands down one of my favorite beaches is 7-mile beach in Negril, Jamaica. Crystal clear water, great weather year round, and one of the most picturesque locations for a wedding. Don’t take my word for it; see for yourself:

 

Sandals Negril is located directly on this magnificent beach–with some of the most opulent accommodations (from 2-story loft suites to swim out suites). For the utmost pampering, be sure to choose a room with butler service. And did I mention that the Beautiful Beginnings wedding package is completely complimentary to all guests?

 

What do you think? Could you spend a week being pampered in paradise?

Just Us: A Destination Wedding for Two

wedding-1246897_1920A new trend in destination weddings includes a very limited guest list: the bride and groom. More and more couples are deciding to share their special day alone, either getting married in an exotic location or renewing their vows soon after their wedding (sometimes only a few weeks!). Because of this, a number of resorts have started offering more intimate options–for Lovebirds only!

One of the leaders in destination weddings, Sandals and Beaches Resorts provide a FREE Beautiful Beginnings wedding to all guests wanting to get married on property. This package includes at least the bride and groom and up to 6 guests. What do you get for free?

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Gazebo at Beaches Turks & Caicos

  • a Personal Wedding Planner
  • long stem bouquet for bride; boutonniere for groom
  • choice of wedding location
  • music during the ceremony
  • witnesses, if necessary
  • 30-minute reception with cold hors d’oeuvres and champagne
  • wedding cake
  • decorated table and centerpiece
  • preparation of marriage documents

Set on getting married in Jamaica? Consider Couples Resorts and their One Love wedding package. Complimentary inclusions for the bride, groom, and 4 guests:

  • a Personal Wedding Planner
  • long stem bouquet for bride; boutonniere for groom
  • choice of wedding location
  • use of sound system (provide own music)
  • professional photographer (one 8X10 photo included)
  • champagne
  • wedding cake
  • wedding certificates
  • celebratory t-shirts

Want to renew vows in Mexico? Look no further than Secrets Maroma’s Wedding in Paradise, complimentary with a Preferred Club Junior Suite Ocean View room. This package allows up to 10 guests and includes:

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Beach at Secrets Maroma

  • a Personal Wedding Planner
  • bouquet for bride; boutonniere for groom
  • choice of wedding location
  • preparation of wedding day attire
  • symbolic ceremony
  • champagne
  • wedding cake

 

 

 

Did you have an amazing Destination Wedding? If so, I’d love to read about it! Comment below about your location, your resort, and the favorite part of your special day!

Passports and Other Necessary Travel ID

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Are you certain that you know what forms of identification you need for your next trip? If not, don’t worry. I’ve got all of the information you need right here.

Domestic Air Travel

  • Adult passengers 18+–travel to any US territory by plane (including Puerto Rico and the USVI), will require a valid government-issued photo ID. The most common form of ID used for domestic air travel is a driver’s license. Please note that driver’s licenses from certain states may no longer be a valid form of identification for domestic air travel. To find out if you state’s license meets the requirements, visit Homeland Security.
  • Children under 14–technically, no identification is required, but it is always a good idea to take a birth certificate, just in case.
  • Children 14-17–some type of identification may be required (student ID, driver’s license, birth certificate, etc).
  • Anyone under the age of 18 traveling alone–be sure to check with the airline regarding their minor policy and what identification is required, as this can vary.

International Travel by Land or Sea (by car or ship)

  • Adult passengers 15+–a valid passport card, passport book, or other WHTI-compliant document is required.
    • Passport Card–less expensive than a passport book (see below), this card will only allow you to enter the US, Mexico, and Canada. It is not valid for ANY air travel, even to these destinations.
    • Passport Book–more expensive than a passport card (see above), this card will allow you to travel internationally throughout the world.
  • Children 15 and younger–a birth certificate or any of the above mentioned documents will permit travel.

International Travel by Air

  • All passengers traveling internationally by air will require a valid passport book. Some countries may even require that the passport book be valid 6 months past your trip return date, so be sure to read all of the fine print and be aware of all local laws.

Closed-Loop Cruises (cruises that begin and end in the SAME U.S. port)

  • Adults passengers 16+–a birth certificate and a valid photo ID are required to board the cruise ship.
  • Children 15 and younger–a birth certificate is required to board the cruise ship.
  • *Please note that some countries may require a valid passport book to enter–this means that, without a valid passport book, you will not be able to get off at certain ports of call. Be sure to check with each country visited on the cruise regarding this policy.
  • *Please note that a passport book is strongly recommended for ANY cruise that visits a non-US territory or island. If something were to happen during the cruise, passengers would not be able to fly home from an international port without a valid passport book.

Open-Loop Cruises (cruises that begin and end in different ports, even if they are both within the US)

  • All passengers on open-loop cruises that stop in a foreign port are required to travel with a valid passport book.

*International Travel with Children Without Both Parents

  • Any child 18 and younger traveling abroad without BOTH parents–this includes with one parent (even if parents are still married), grandparents, older siblings, friends, etc–must travel with a notarized Parental Consent form.
  • If only one parent has legal claims, information describing this detail (death certificate, only name listed on birth certificate, court order, etc) will need to be provided.
  • For more detailed information regarding this issues, please visit U.S. Customs and Boarder Protection.

TiP: One last piece of information to help you with your passport application or renewal: be sure to follow the new guidelines for passport book photos to avoid processing delays.

Happy Travels!