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Author Archives: Rick Howard


Moments are a very brief period of time or an exact point in time.  There is significance in a moment that can have huge impact on your life. The day you met the love of your life, witnessed the birth of your children, spent time with good friends, you name it!   The moments of your journey are ones you don’t want to forget but collect them and etch them as memories forever.

Must Love Travel Planners seek vacations that will give you opportunity to experience once in a lifetime moments. As a result of many of our clients sending us testimonials and pictures of their special moments,  we have established this awesome hashtag — #MustLoveTravelMoments to capture and collect  of those moments.. We believe as the famous Italian poet, Cesare Pavese once said, “  We do not remember days, but we remember moments”. The first time you stand on the soft sand watching the sunset with your new spouse on your honeymoon or capture the joy of your children as you explore the world, these are moments that need to be shared and remembered.

Here is a moment from one of our family vacations to Dollywood in TN!  We had a great time!

Great ways to capture #MustLoveTravelMoments include anything from quick snaps on your phone, professional pictures from the photographer onboard a ship, travel journals that you write, draw in and sharing them with friends and family on social media. Sharing your moments can be inspiring to others.  We would love to see your moments on our brand new Must Love Travel Group. It is a public group to share and be inspired!

Here is the link:

Are you ready to go to Hawaii?

Planning your trip to Hawaii

It will be hard to choose which of the six islands of Hawaii to visit as you can see from our series on the Hawaiian Islands. This state hosts so many wonderful wonders from breathtaking waterfalls, volcanoes, tropical delights, ocean greatness fit for watching sea life, snorkeling and surfing. It is a destination within reach. No need for passports, great weather throughout the year and plenty to do! It is a destination for families, honeymoons and romance.

So if you are like me, Hawaii is a bucket list destination for you and how are you going to plan for such a trip. You may want to visit all the islands or atleast many of them to get the full experience. Afterall, it may be your only visit to Hawaii right? Although after you visit you this may be your go to destination! As with any vacation, planning is key. You will need to plan your time off, set your budget and make a list of your must do’s. Many visitors to Hawaii set aside 7-14 days depending on how much they want to see. Your budget will need to be a healthy one as you can only arrive by land or sea. Airfare ranges between $880 – $1500 and fluctuates often. Resort costs are fairly typical, but as with any travel to islands food can be a little higher than you are used to at home.

One cost effective way to travel to Hawaii is via cruise. I say cost effective because your vacation is pretty much paid for before you leave home since your food is included in your cruise package. One of my favorite ships to sail is the Pride of America on Norwegian Cruise line. Recently renovated, the Pride of America has been sailing to Hawaii for many years. It has recently been voted the best Hawaii Itinerary. With a variety of Itineraries, you can hit most of the highlights. You can choose packages that include pre cruise land stay or just cruise only.

If you are more adventurous or a little shy of cruising and want to dive into one or more islands on your trip there are packages that will include your flights, accommodations, excursions. This way gives you the flexibility to customize where you want to be and when.

Whatever way you want to go – land or sea, you will want to work with your Must Love Travel Planner to help you create a spectacular vacation. Plan ahead. This bucket list destination is a place you will not want to miss. The history, gorgeous views, culture and volcanic wonders are calling your name! If you missed any of the island articles we have recently published, go back and check them out!


Island of Hawaii – The Island of Inspiration

Nicknamed “The Big Island” the island of Hawaii is the youngest and the largest of all the islands. Host to the Hawaii Volcanoes National park, you will find molten magma flowing as well as snow-capped heights of Maunakea. Many of the world’s climate zones can be experienced on the Big Island. The Island of Hawaii has 6 regions, Hamakua Coast, Hilo, Puna, Kau, Kona and Kohala. There is certainly plenty to explore and do!

Hamakua Coast is located north of Hilo on the northeastern side of the island. Experiencing 84 inches of rainfall a year, this region is filled with tropical rainforests, stunning waterfalls, and tranquil green valleys. Plan a trip to the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden and World Botanical Gardens where you will see the triple-tiered Umauma Falls. The Akaka Falls is 442 foot hight and the Kahuna Falls is 100 feet tall. The Hamakua Coast was the boyhood home of King Kamehameha I and is known as “The Valley of the Kings”. Check out the Waipio Valley Overlook at the end of the Hamakua Heritage Corridor drive. Here you will see the amazing sites of this incredible area.

The Hilo region is a perfect mix of open markets, shopping, gardens, and beautiful state parks.
In downtown Hilo you will find the Hilo’s Farmers Market. You will find, locally grown and roasted coffee, tropical fruit and sweet treats like butter mochi. The market also feature beautiful plants, outside crafts, local souvenirs. It is open year round every Wednesday and Saturday with some vendors open every day.

One area of Hilo you will not want to miss is the world’s largest authentic ornamental Japanese garden outside of Japan itself. It is open 24 hours a day and you can experience this for free. The Liliuokalani Gardens, named after the last reigning monarch, Queen Liliuokalani is location on 24.67 acres and was dedicated in 1917. It is truly an amazing and tranquil place. Don’t miss the amazing falls in Hilo as well. Wailuku River state park is best know for the Waianuenue (Rainbow Falls) and Akaa Falls State Park features the Akaka Falls and Kahuna Falls.

Looking for some Lava? The region of Puna just south of Hilo in the town of Pahoa you can experience the designs of Pele, the volcano goddess who continually creates and recreates the land. This area features, black-sand beaches and lava features as well as more natural wonders forged by the power of volcanos. What could be more relaxing that to experience one of Puna’s coastal geothermal baths heated below the earth by Kilauea’s steam. A don’t miss spot on Puna is Lava Trees State Park. in the 1700’s, lava flow swept through the areac coating the trunks of ohia trees leaving tall lava molds of the tree trunks in their wake, frozen in time.

Kau is host to the world’s most active volcano, Kilauea. The eastern slopes of Kau host macadamia nut orchards, coffee farms and cattle. 45 miles south of Hilo, is the Hawaii Volcano National Park. It is 333,000 acres from the summit of Maunaloa to the sea. Manualoa last erupted in 1984 and Kilauea has been erupting since Jan. 3, 1983. Check out this area to learn more about the amazing dynamics of volcanoes. Learn more about these volcano’s click

The West side of the island is Kona. If you are a coffee lover, Kona has some of the best coffee as it hosts many coffee farms. Kona’s calm and clear waters make it perfect for snorkeling, diving, sailing and spotting dolphins and honu ( Hawaiian green sea turtles). During the month of August, Kona hosts the International Billfish Tournament. Located in south Kona, is Honaunau Bay where there is a 180 acre national historic park.


This historic park was once the home of royal grounds and a place of refuge for ancient Hawaiian lawbreakers. Kapu, or sacred laws, were of utmost importance to Hawaiian culture and the breaking of kapu had its consequences, including death. If one were to break kapu, their only chance for survival was to evade his pursuers and make it to a puuhonua, or a sacred place of refuge. Once there, a ceremony of absolution would take place and the one who broke kapu would be able to return to society. Puuhonua o Hanaunau remains one of the most sacred historic places. Visit the Historic Kailua Village and Hulihee Palace where you will be transported back to the days of Hawaiian monarchy.

Finally, Kohala. This is the area of some of the best resorts and as you travel this area you will find amazing lava fields. In north Kohala, there is a small town called Kapaau. Her stands the original King Kamehameha I Statue which is not far from where the famous King was born. Historians believe he was born in 1758, the year Halley’s Comet passed over Hawaii. Kamehameha stands for The Lonely One. His story is amazing so you will have to visit to receive the full appreciation of this amazing sense of history. Pololu Valley Lookout and Hapuna Beach offer breathtaking views and amazing beaches.

The Big Island has a lot to offer tourist and you will want time to explore! #MustLoveTravelHawaii

Molokai the Friendly Isle

Molokai, known as the Friendly Isle, is the 5th largest Island and home to the longest continuous fringing reef, at 28 miles long. This is a perfect place for scuba diving and snorkeling where you will see natural “finger” coral. The adventure traveler will love this island as it is absent of attractions and commercial activity.

At 38 Miles long and 10 miles wide, this island makes it easy to discover the jungles, and some of the most remote parts of Hawaii. Visit Halawa Valley on the east end and you will not be disappointed by the breathtaking vistas and cascading waterfalls including Mooula Falls.

Beaches on Molokai are beautiful but not necessarily the best place for swimming. Despite their wonderful views, the current can be strong and most beaches do not have lifeguards. The beaches welcome picnics which can provide for a great afternoon.

Home to a historic coconut grove in Kaunakakai is a must see on this island. It was planted in the 1860’s during the reign of King Kamehameha V. Watch out for falling coconuts!

You may want to just take a peek at the island by taking a helicopter from Maui for a fly over this island full of nature. Even though this is a great option you may miss the opportunity to immerse yourself in historic, beautiful natural locations of this great island.

Lanai- “Hawaii’s Most Enticing Island”

Lanai is just 9 short miles away from Maui, but don’t let that fool you as Lanai has its own charm and personality and happens to be the smallest of the Hawaiian Islands. If you are one of those travelers that likes a little bit of being away from it all, here is where you want to be. There are no stoplights and only two hotels.

The accommodations are nothing short of spectacular. On the south side, you can stay at the Four Seasons Resort Lanai which overlooks Hulopoe Bay. This oceanside paradise is full of colorful reef fish and hosts protected species such as green sea turtles and spinner dolphins. Of course this is the perfect place for golfing at one of the two world-ranked courses. The second Hotel is the Hotel Lanai, Hawaii’s Best Little Inn. As a historic landmark in Lanai City, it was best known as the hotel for the Dole Plantation Executives. All the rooms in this laid back hotel, feature original art by local artist Mike Carroll. It is small, with only 11 guest rooms, but very special for visitors wanting to step back in time.

There are some great activities besides golfing visitors can do on Lanai. You can visit the Lanai Adventure Center near- by the Four Seasons Hotel where you can explore. Guided UTV tours are available as well as horseback riding. At the Lanai Ocean Sports you can depart from Manele Small Boat Harbor and snorkel, whale watch, watch the sunset and dive. This makes for a great activity day if you are going to even just spend the day at Lanai.

Beaches, and dining are not forgotten on this tiny island. You will find the local mom and pop shops as well as your luxury dining at the resorts. Polihua Beach is very secluded and off the beaten path on the North Shore. From this advantage point you can see Diamond Head on Oahu island. Hulopoe Bay is named on of America’s best beaches. This is perfect for beach goers as you have a picnic area with grills and restrooms with showers.

You can plan your stay on Lanai or if you are staying on Maui head over on the Maui-Lanai Ferry which crosses over 5 times a day every day.

They Valley Isle — Maui

Maui is Hawaii’s second largest island. I don’t think any traveler has not had Maui on their bucket list. We often hear of its beautiful beaches, watching the sunrise from Haleakala, wonderful food, and amazing scenery. Maui has 5 distinct regions, Central Maui, East Maui, South Maui, West Maui and the Upcountry.

The Upcountry is a not to miss hot spot! Haleakala National Park, known as the “house of the sun” is amazing. It’s name comes from an old legend that says there was once a demigod who lassoed the sun from its journey across the sky as he stood on the volcano’s summit, slowing its descent to make the day last longer. The Haleakala Crater is 10,023 feet above sea level, which hails visitors to trek to this spot to watch the most spectacular sunrise on the earth. For more hints on viewing the sunrise talk to your Must Love Travel Planner. To view this you will need to make reservations!

Central Maui, at the Kahului Airport, is where you will land when arriving to this wonderful island. As with most of Hawaii’s islands, this is where you can view a variety of the culture and get a feel for the locals. Wailuku hosts wonderful charming wooden storefronts around the Market Street area. The first Friday of every month celebrated the local arts and culture. This street party is held from 6-9PM..

Grab your surfboard and head to west Maui, Honolua Bay! During the winter is the best time to find those big and powerful waves. This is for the pros – but exciting to watch from the bluffs above the bay. If you are not a pro and want to take advantage of learning how to surf or do some diving, you can come in the summer months when things are a big calmer.

In the mood for a refreshing swim? East Maui is home to the Pools of Oheo, also called the Seven Sacred Pools. They are located in the Oheo Gulch area of the Haleakala National Park and will cost $10.00 for a car to enter the park or you can get a 3 day pass for $15. Take a drive toward Hana and stop along the way to experience fresh local seafood, gardens, beaches and more.

Winding out your stay on Maui, you may want to hit the golf course in Wailea. This amazing luxury resort area is located in the sunniest area of Maui and spans over 1,500 acres of land.
Five luxury hotels, including the Four Seasons Resort Maui give way to staying in style while enjoying the beautiful beaches, or great afternoon at the pool or spa visit. Wailea is home to events such as the Maui Film Festival and February’s Whale Week.

#MustLoveTravelHawaii #MustLoveTravelPlanners

The Garden Island – Kauai

There are 5 regions to the island of Kauai. It is one of the oldest and northmost island in Hawaii. This island is known for tropical rainforest, wonderful cliffs and rivers with amazing waterfalls. If you want to have more of an adventurous vacation you will not want to miss the many outdoor activites Kauai has to offer. There are trails in Kokee State Park, kayaking on Wailua river and dive into the ocean for great snorkeling on Poipu Beach. The average temp year round is 69-84 degrees and the water temp is 71-81 degrees, so it is comfortable year round.

The North Shore Kauai, is rich with the beauty of all things natural. Mountains, beaches, cliffs will transport you into breathtaking views. Lumahai Beach for some will take you back to the famous film, “South Pacific” while Kee Beach is great for sunbathing. Ready for a hike or boat tour? You can venture to the Napali Coast which is a 17 mile stretch of coastline filled with cliffs, valleys and cascading waterfalls. If you want the best views take a helicopter or boat tour. The North shore is also famous for the upscale resort area of Princeville.

The East Side or the Coconut coast best suite its name with groves of coconut palms. This area too is great for hiking and a nice Kayak ride down the Wailua River. The beaches in this area are some of the best for families. There are two lava rock enclosed ocean pools that make it great for swimming and snorkeling. Opaekaa Falls is a 151 fool tall, 40 foot wide waterfall and makes for an incredible place to stop.

Lihue is where you will land at the Lihue airport when you venture to explore Kauai. It is the main commercial center of the island featuring culture and history. Kilohana, is a historic plantation estate and hosts a famous iconic luau. There is also a 100 acre sugar plantation founded in 1864. Tours are available by reservation Monday, Wednesday and Thursday and last 2 hours.

The South Shore is most known for its beaches around Poipu and Spouting Horn. For a day of history, visit Old Koloa Town just 20 mins from Lihue. You are welcomed into the town by a Tree Tunnel, a stretch of Maluhia Road lined with Eucalyptus trees. In 1835 this town opened its first sugar mill and opened the opportunity for many immigrants to make there way to Hawaii. You can check out the plantation buildings and discover great food and treats as you stroll through the town.

Finally, the West Side. Home of Kokee State Park, Waimea Canyon, and the valleys of the Napali Coast, the west side transports you to a whole different experience in Hawaii. This is where the locals don’t find too many tourist. Two great little towns to explore are Waimea and Hanapepe. Waimea Bay is where Captain James Cook first landed in 1778. The town celebrates this historic event. Seven Miles south is Hanapepe, the island’s art capital. There too are many shops and dining locations you won’t want to miss.

Explore, Immerse and Let Hawaii Happen!

The Heart of Hawaii

There are six islands that make up this wonderful state and each island has its own personality and desired experience. Besides the wonderful year round weather, tropical yumminess, Hawaii is full of wonderful places to visit.

In this post, I want to take you to the Heart of Hawaii –Oahu. There are 5 regions of Oahu which include, Honolulu, Central Oahu, Leeward Coast, North Shore and the Windward Coast. The island is a perfect mix of the ancient and the modern infused with the Hawaiian culture and experiences.

I plan to travel to Hawaii this fall, and Central Oahu has been on my bucket list for years! Pearl Harbor has its draw that any American would be proud to stand foot on. A moment in time that changed the course of history. Walking the harbor, hearing the stories from survivors, and taking it all in would be a moment no one could ever forget. Planning your day there will require reservations and great walking shoes! The Passport to Pearl Harbor will allow you to see it all.

Passport to Pearl Harbor Tours Include:

Kids (4-12)

USS Arizona Memorial
Narrated Tour

USS Bowfin Submarine and Park*

Pacific Aviation Museum
Pearl Harbor*

USS Battleship Missouri Memorial*

* Prices are subject to change

If you are more adventurous, the North Shore will transport you into the world of the surfer. You will want to go between November and February for the big waves, but don’t plan on riding those as they should be left for the professionals! During the rest of the year you will see a more calm ocean. Haliewi is a perfect little surfing town where you can shop, eat and enjoy! Not far down the road you can visit the Polynesian Cultural Center and the old plantation town of Kahuku.

Whale watching is another favorite among tourist. December to May you will find these beautiful Humpback Whales, however February is peak season. These whales are considered native to Hawaii as this is where the vast majority are born. For the Hawaiians these animals are treated with great respect.

ONO! A word you will use often. It means delicious. When you look at the culinary journey you will take on a visit to Hawaii you will be in heaven. Not only is Hawaii rich with their own flavors, but it is a melting pot for many of the worlds wonderful culinary treats. Don’t miss out on the local out of the way places and make sure you don’t pass on all of the street foods!

Rounding out a perfect stay on Oahu is to dive into Honolulu. With cultural arts, food and shopping you can explore for hours! Staying on the famous Waikiki Beach where with Luau’s and beautiful views will take you back in time, perhaps staying at the Moana Surfrider, Waikiki’s first hotel will offer the nostagia you might be looking for.

Stay tuned for more on Hawaii. More islands, in depth look at its culture and more!


Traveling with Friends or Family

Let’s go on a vacation together! Sounds great when you are all sitting around dreaming of nice sandy beaches, or the romance of Europe, but what happens when you start diving into the planning and organizing, second thoughts? I hope not! Traveling with family and friends can be just as much fun as it sounds like from the get go. The key is to go into it with realistic expectations. Traveling alone can eliminate some of the tension maybe, but traveling with a group can add great memories and perspective to the trip.

When you are dreaming about the trip with your friends or family, start off with some key “need to know” items.

  1. Time of year and Length of stay. It is important before you talk to your travel planner to have your group decide on 3 dates that will work for everyone. Decide how long you can be gone and be assured everyone can get off work for that time frame. If you are just traveling as couples and leaving the children with babysitters, check to make sure the babysitters are available those dates as well.
  2. Budget: Talk about what everyone is willing to spend for the trip. Consider, location, airfare, tours or excursions and misc. Costs. If you need help with a budget range you can discuss this with your travel planner.
  3. Location: Have an idea of where you would like to go or even a set of choices. This way your planner can give you direction on resorts, cruises or activities that would best fit your group.
  4. Discuss expectations on the trip: Take time to layout the “ground rules” so to speak. Do you plan on doing everything together? Have just dinners together or excursions? Do some want to do excursions while others want to just relax? It is always best to have a variety of together time and alone time so that everyone can be on vacation. We all vacation differently and with busy lives and vacation expectations can vary. Your travel planner can help plan a variety of schedules. The worst thing to hear is, “where do you want to eat?” “I don’t know where do you want to eat?” Have a general plan.
  5. Be flexible. Best laid plans may encounter some bumps. Be willing to talk through it and come to a quick consensus.

Friends and Family can travel together just about anywhere in the world! There are great locations near to home and even abroad that will give you experiences of a lifetime. Lean on your travel planner for the best ideas and the voice of organization when planning these types of trips. They have navigated through all aspects and will be the neutral voice throughout the entire process.

What happens when everything is just not perfect on your vacation?

Traveling can be fun, but it also can have hiccups along the way. The first thing you should remember is that unfortunate hiccups don’t have to ruin a trip if you don’t let them. There are things in life that we just sometimes cannot control, but approaching it with solutions can help ease any disappointment.

Before you go, be prepared. Your travel planner will help you to know what documents you need and general expectations of your trip. Make copies of the documents, and keep them with relatives or friends that can be easily contacted should you need them. Call credit card companies if you are traveling out of the country so you won’t get caught not being able to use your credit card. Always purchase a good trip insurance policy.

Travel delays and cancellations. They are bound to happen at some point in your life time of travel. Travel Insurance is your savior in this situation. By purchasing travel insurance many of the policies have trip delay or even cancellation. Often this includes loss of excursions or tours you may have booked during the time you are now not going to be there. Depending on your policy, you may recover this loss.

Resort/ Hotel issues. Your travel planner can advise you here, but your first line of defense is discussing your issues with the Front Desk Manager or Hotel Manager. There are few things that happen that can’t be resolved. Approach the situation to bring resolution, not to just get something for free. Things happen, rooms are not made up on time, a maid forgot to leave more water, room service was running slow, etc. Always keep the details with you; names of who you spoke to, times and dates. Your travel planner can sometimes advocate for you when you have this information, but it always easiest to resolve in person.

Weather. Well none of us can predict the weather when planning a trip. Be prepared by checking the forecast as your date approaches. You can make some adjustments to excursions, and tours, but for the most part I would stick with your plans. If you should encounter a major weather issue your travel planner can help you navigate through it. Keep their number close at hand.

Travel well, be prepared, and don’t let any issues get you down.

Establishing a 5 Year Vacation Plan. Really?

We all have plans or at least we should. When we are young and finishing High School, we set out our plans for college, and getting the right degree so we can start an awesome career. Then we thinking about getting married, and go through the planning and we think about our lives together with our spouse. We ask questions like, when do we want to purchase a home, start a family, retire? We get awesome jobs and we set goals for success. Then we have children and set goals for their lives – milestones that will help them become independent. Let’s face it – our lives are a series of planning and setting goals then striving to meet them.

So, why not establish a vacation plan? How many times have you turned the corner of another year and said, “I wish I had the budget to take a cruise” or “ I wish I would have thought of this sooner so there was availability where I wanted to go.” A vacation plan can help eliminate the stress of last minute planning. It is even more important these days to plan out your time of disconnecting from the everyday, relaxing, reconnecting with your family or friends, and going to places that will help your accomplish just that.

Here are some steps that you can share with your travel planner that will help you establish your 5 year vacation plan.

  1. Share with your travel planner some of your favorite things you and your family like to do on vacation. Do you like to swim, hike, visit historic locations, fish, etc.?
  2. Think about the best time for you to travel during the year. Some vacations may require to travel during months you might not think of and may need to do some creative scheduling.
  3. Make a list of places that you may consider” Bucket List” travel. Going on a cruise, visiting an island, visit your favorite Disney Destination, or going to another country.
  4. Establish a 3 – 5 year vacation budget and share it with your travel planner so they can begin to research the best packages. Many times certain vacations can be planned in advance which will help with the budget.
  5. Lay out a Vacation Calendar with your Travel Planner and beginning dreaming of awesome vacations!

Establishing your vacation goals relieves the stress of last minute decisions, not having enough money to go where you want to go, and just settling for another visit to the same old location you go every year.

Must Love Travel Group specializes in planning awesome vacations across the globe! Contact your Travel Planner and start your 5 Year Vacation Plan today!

Destination — Cancun, Mexico

As one of the most popular tourist destinations in Mexico, Cancun attracts about four million visitors each year to its pristine white beaches, its top-notch resort and hotel scene and its crystal blue water. The city is home to hundreds of hotels that line the beaches in an area called the hotel zone, attracting all types of guests, from traveling business people to timeshare owners to families. The city is probably most famous for its Mayan ruins, which dot the landscape around this southern region of Mexico. From El Rey to Tulum, the ancient stone remains are unique archaeological attractions that tell the original story of the now bustling modern city. Many people also visit the area for its great dive sites. Colorful coral reefs and diverse sea life are located right offshore, and a variety of inland cenotes (deep natural wells) attract diving enthusiasts to explore the rich underwater worlds of Cancun.

Couples looking for a luxury wedding or a spicy celebration bursting with entertainment will find what they want in Cancun. Convenient to travel to from origins throughout the U.S., Cancun was designed with the needs of a tourist in mind, which makes it easy to design a dream wedding experience. Including a traditional Mariachi trio during the destination wedding cocktail hour adds a beautiful and soulful soundtrack to make sure guests never forget their incredible experience. Or hosting the reception at sunset on a catamaran allows guests to enjoy the wedding and a breathtaking Mexican sunset at the same time.


Destination Quick Facts:

  • U.S. travelers: Valid passport needed for entry
  • Official language: Spanish (English is widely spoken)
  • Official currency: Mexican peso (American dollars are widely accepted)
  • Climate: From October to March, average temperature is 68-86° F and from April to September, average temperature is 75-91° F
  • Currency converter
  • STEP Program
  • Mexico entry requirements

Now is the time to plan your Holiday 2018 Vacation!

As most of you read this today, you are in the the middle of the busiest holiday season of the year! Christmas and New Years. If you aren’t one of those people that like to vacation for the holiday’s I would like to propose the idea for 2018! You may be in the heat of the holiday and are asking yourself why I would suggest that vacation during the holiday next year. That is a great question! Let me see if I could shed some light for you weary of the thought.

A holiday vacation can relieve stress. Yes, I said relieve stress! Your planning is done in advance and it won’t be necessary for any last minute decisions. Your travel planner will help select the best location and you block the time and set it up and that easily your holiday plans are in motion!

Your Holiday budget! Your can budget more effectively as the expense on your trip can spread throughout the year by making payments along the way. Then your trip is paid off and with the exception of a few incidentals, you are paid up and ready to enjoy! You may even eliminate a few of those extra last minute expenses we find ourselves with close to the holidays.

Spending more quality time together is a great family advantage. Whether you choose to travel with your immediate family or extended family not worrying about all the preparation at home and who is hosting this year – you can all enjoy the relaxation and no one will have to do dishes!

Discover cultural traditions. Is your family heritage from Germany? Wouldn’t it be great to head to Munich and walk through the Marienplatz and drink mulled wine and check out the Christmas Market place, or are the kids young and dream of seeing Mickey and Minnie? Try the Very Merrytime Disney Cruise. This is great trip for Multi-generational travel. Or maybe you just want to check out holiday in the sun! Travel to the islands or Mexico and soak it all in!

Christmas is everywhere, from Finland, to Mexico, Orlando to England. You can go cold or warm, the traditions of Christmas can be yours to explore, while you create new memories and possibly a tradition or two of your own!

Packing Tips for the Carefree Romantic Getaway

The hardest part about a trip for me is the packing and the pre planning! Especially for a destination or resort I have never been before. So I wanted to share just a few things with you today to assist you in your packing for your romantic getaway!

Destinations such as All- Inclusive Resorts and Cruises are great for romantic getaways and require a similar packing list. You are headed to warmer climate, will spend a lot of time relaxing and sunning, and then have dining to plan for. Pretty simple right? Well, then there is the question – how dressy?

Below are just a few things to take in consideration when preparing and packing for your trip.

Luggage: Don’t try to cram everything for the both of you in one large suitcase! I have see far too many couples stuck with baggage weight over charges that far exceed the cost of paying for one checked bag per person. Generally this cost is approx. $25.00 per bag each way. I have seen overcharges one way exceed $150- $200. 50lbs is your usual weight limit so invest in luggage scale that you can find just about anywhere to weigh your luggage prior to travel. Never fill it the 50 lbs on your scale just incase it is off a few pounds. Most airlines allow you to bring one personal item and 1 carry on with you on the plane. Make use of this for some extras and especially for the items you will be purchasing at your destination.

Tote Bags: Bring a medium sized tote bag in your luggage to handle items you will be carrying to the pool, beach or on excursions. These totes should be ones that are lightweight and lay flat in your luggage. They also come in handy if you indeed have too many things to carry back home and need just a little more space.

Purses: For women this may be a tough choice. We have cell phones, identification and personal items that you need to bring with you, but not necessarily always carry with you. A cross body purse is your best option. It may not look the best with your dress, but will come in handy when you want to go to dinner and dance afterwards or if you are on an excursion and want your hands free. Clutch purses or satchel styles leave you open to forget them and are cumbersome to carry.

Clothes: Most days you will be in Swimwear during the day. So bring a few bathing suites and a nice cover up for ladies and t-shirt for men when you want to walk around the resort or ship. Cover-ups and t-shirts are required at any dining location as well. A few short outfits for walking, non-water excursions and daytime dining. Evening Dining can range from resort casual to dressy. So for men, always check with your travel agent if any of the locations require a jacket and tie. There are some ships and resorts that do require this. Ladies, simple cocktail dresses or that famous little black dress with great jewelry will be perfect. Long formal gowns are not typical, but always double check with our travel agent to be sure. Appropriate footwear for the outfit is required – but don’t over do it. You don’t need a pair of shoes for every outfit, so consider a nice dress sandal for ladies that will go with everything and nice dress loafer for men. Bring sandals for the daytime and tennis shoes if you want for walking and time at the gym. Don’t over due the variety of clothes you need and bring things such as bottoms that can be worn again with another top/shirt.

Personal care: Most resorts/ships will have blow dryers, shampoo and conditioner so you don’t need to stuff those things in the bag. Ladies, you can limit your cosmetics to a few of the must have items. Remember to bring small sizes 3 oz or under for all liquids. Sunscreen is a must!

Medications: All medications that you bring should be in the original container clearly marked with what it is. It is also good if you are on regularly required medication to get an extra prescription from your doctor to carry just in case.

Lastly, you are on vacation right? Well if you are scheduled to arrive early to your destination through in your bathing suite or a change of clothes as your room may not be ready yet and you will be sure to what to start drenching yourself in all the fabulous sunshine!

So you want a romantic getaway

The ocean is quietly rumbling toward the shore as the sun rises over the Gulf of Mexico. The birds are talking their language to one another as they show off their bright colorful coats. The workers are quietly getting the pool area and all the gardens with precise detail. Perfection! Is there such a place? Yes! A true romantic getaway!

This week I have been staying at the El Dorado Casitas Royale in Mexico. Our room, the Infinity Pool Swim up suite the perfect indulgence for a quiet time away from the everyday life. Staying in this section of the resort your room is in a U shaped section that has its own swim up pool and bar. This section also hosts a small cafe for sandwiches and various shakes. Your room has its own pool with access to the lazy river that will take you to the main pool and bar and not to mention just short steps away from the beach where you can relax in a cabana or beach lounger. You Beach/Pool Butler will be attending to whatever you need.

The Karisma resorts are award winning Gourmet Inclusive resorts. From excellent gourmet food, premium drinks, activities and especially the personalized service you can expect when staying at any of their resorts. Fresh vegetable and spices are grown in their own 70,000 square foot greenhouse located at the El Dorado Royale. There is a variety of 15 dining locations and 24 room service so you are sure to never go hungry. Two of our favorites were Kampai and D’Italia. They also feature Fuentes which is a culinary theater. Activities and entertainment are also available if you want to mix and mingle about.

So here is the question……You want to go on a romantic getaway, but how do you choose? There are so many different resorts and destinations that it does make it difficult to choose. I look at the brand first. What do the brands offer? Are there hidden fees? What level of service do you receive? You typically have consistency throughout a brand. Like Disney Destinations, something we are all familiar with, you can see that whether you go to Disneyland or Walt Disney World you will have some consistency in the level of service and what the brand has to offer. There may be some differences just because of location, but overall they are similar. The same is for the various all inclusive or in Karisma’s case, gourmet inclusive brands. You will see similarities in all Sandals, Excellence Resorts, Palace Resorts, Secrets, and so on. Also, look for adult only resorts for romantic getaways. When planning romance – adult only is the way to go!

Budget is usually pretty high on the list when picking out a resort and destination. Be willing to pay a little more to receive more. You can save on such things as room category or go during low season such as Oct., Nov. and early Dec. Nothing can be worse than spending money on something and the experience doesn’t match up. Plan ahead! There is a time and place for last minute getaways, but when you are planning your honeymoon, anniversary or just that special getaway plan early! This will allow you to deposit your trip and pay a little bit along the way. Planning ahead allows you to stretch the budget a bit to get what you want. Destinations such as Mexico, Punta Cana and Jamaica are usually the most cost effective when looking at airfare and resort packages.

Consider going with a group. You may receive a discount when traveling with a group. Talk it up with your friends or family! It takes 5 – 10 rooms to create a typical group. You can check with your travel planner about those possibilities. Groups make it fun and yet you still have alone time .

When you are away, you will know what it means to relax and enjoy! All- Inclusive is a no worries vacation. Don’t just search the internet though. Work with a travel professional so you will be sure to get the perfect resort and destination. They are there to guide you, answer questions and be your advocate.

If you haven’t experienced an “adult” time away you need to! Destination Weddings, Honeymoons, Anniversary or just because ….you choose the reason and let us help make it happen!