Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cruise Packing Tips

Packing for a cruise can be quite a daunting task - when else are you expected to show up in everything from a bathing suit to an evening gown, yet are allotted such little closet space? Some things to consider when packing your bags:

At the cruise terminal - or even at the airport if you have an air/sea or a land/sea package - your luggage is taken by the porters to be brought to your room. The cruise line will tell you that it is possible that you won't have your bags until after dinner (it is generally quicker, but there are no guarantees), so you want to be sure to have bathing suits, dinner clothes and your toiletries in your carry-on just in case.

Another thing you want to think about when packing is what type of luggage will work out best. Some cruise lines offer to store your empty bags during the duration of the cruise (call ahead to check), but if they don't, you may want to consider soft-sided luggage - storage in your cabin is at a premium! - and if there are several people sharing the same cabin, it would be even more helpful if your luggage nested inside each other.

Now that we've discussed your actual luggage - and how long it might be before you see it again – perhaps the last item to consider is what you are putting in the bags. There are many things to consider - formal and semi-formal dinners, sporting events, shore excursions, casual days - and because of the whole space issue, you want to be sure to choose wisely. Consider clothing in complementary colors, so that every item matches other things you have brought, think wrinkle-free and low maintenance as much as possible, and cut out excess as much as possible (large shampoo bottles, etc.). If you are traveling with other people - in your cabin or otherwise - see if there is anything that can be shared, such as irons, steamers, hair dryers and similar supplies. Remember, it was no less a person that Sherlock Holmes (even though he’s fictional!) who pointed out that if the walls don’t distend, then only the absolute necessities belong with you, and you need to keep them accessible!

Author : Stephanie Larkin is the editor of

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Top Honeymoon Registry Tips and Ideas

Honeymoon registries are in vogue now and for good reason. Brides and grooms are older than ever. They'll often have most of the items from a traditional registry and are forced to only upgrade. Couples too have always craved a special connection with their guests and, with the proliferation of honeymoon registries, have found that easier than ever. If you want that extra touch of personalization, then maybe the honeymoon registry is right for you. As you get underway, here are a few ideas to keep in mind. Your registry should reflect your personalities. We can't stress enough how much more your guests will appreciate a registry that sounds like you. We've thrown in some tips on respectfully spreading the word about your registry in. For our cruise and all-inclusive honeymooners, we dedicate to you.

1. If you're the outdoorsy types, then don't forget to plan events like horseback riding, snorkeling, boating, parasailing and swimming with the dolphins. Put them on your registry because guests love these. Be specific about them too: "We'll boat to Molokini Crater for an afternoon of snorkeling!" is better than just "Snorkeling".

2. Like to eat? Don't we all, but your honeymoon is a time to really do it up, so let that show. Mention restaurants by name or the type of cuisine in the title: "Dinner by candlelight at Gramercy Tavern" is better than just "Dinner." You probably won't want to plan all your meals in advance, so you'll have to be a little more general with some. Try "We'll Dine on the Beach" and mention the sand between your toes in the description. Or name whose choice it'll be for a dinner on a whim.

3. Nightlife is another big honeymoon expense and your guests who enjoy a bit of nightlife themselves will just love these. Do a little research and find out where you'll go out and what people drink there: Is there a house specialty? Some of these are easier than others. If you're in Cancun, then "Margaritas at Laguna Grill" is a winner rather than "Drinks". You can also specify times, like "A Bottle of Wine at Sunset" will do the trick for a great add-on gift.

4. Airfare may be your biggest expense. It is usually close family members that make a dent in this one, mainly because it's hard to personalize. Rather than "Contribution to Airfare", it's a good idea to break up the trip into time or miles in the air. So "400 Miles in the Air" might cost $125. If you want to get even more personal and you know your guests will like it, try something like "One Inglenook and one in-flight magazine in the sky" as a description (you may not have room in the title.) You probably don't want to have a quantity of 8 or 10 for that, lest your guests picture you arriving at your honeymoon destination loaded. You can also put a Getting to… as an item near the beginning of your registry and a Getting Home… at the end. That way you can break this big expense in half.

5. Your hotel is another big budget category. Usually you'll want to break this down into one-night stays. "A night in our Ocean-Front Villa", followed by a personal description like "We're staying at Nirvana on the Beach in Negril with the ocean nearly at our door! The sun sets directly across the water!" If you're staying in luxury accommodations, then it's ok to break it up into two categories, like the "One night in New York" and an "Upgrade to the Suite" type items, each for half the cost of a night's stay, especially if you're having a relatively small wedding. Expecting to sell out of 14 $400 hotel room items with just 80 guests might mean you haven't put enough meals and activities on your registry.

6. There are plenty of miscellaneous items to remember too. Rather than "Suntan Lotion and other beach stuff", go with "Save our Skin!" and mention sunglasses in the description if you want a cheap pair for out on the sand. If you have to kennel a pooch, then go with a variation of "The B&B for Dino" and upload a photo of Dino for that item. Don't forget gas for the rental, maps and tour guides. Try these under a Necessities type title, and mention, "We don't want to get lost!" What about taking a limousine to the airport and back? It may be a luxury you wouldn't do for yourselves, but you may have a cousin who thinks it's time you were pampered. Don't forget the spa trips. These are usually one of the first items off the registry, so plan on a massage or two. You'll find other suggestions for this category when you're creating your registry.

7. Pricing is important. Make sure there is a full range of prices for your items. Make sure you have enough small items on your registry that can accommodate all budgets, but also so that your guests can put together a group of items as well. You'll have guests who will give you a night stay and a bottle of wine at sunset, to be helpful and personal at the same time. But don't shy away from the big-ticket items too. Think of what you're spending per head for the wedding. Some guests may try to match this as a guideline. You may have some close friends who really want to shower you as well, and will find a way.

8. For a cruise and all-inclusive resorts where nearly everything is paid for, don't just put two items – airfare and hotel (or cruise.) Most importantly, remember that those meals and drinks aren't free; you're paying for them with the cost of the hotel. Price your hotel item like you would if you weren't staying at an all-inclusive. This is especially easy if you're lucky enough that the resort gives you the option of going all-inclusive or not. If they don't, then look at the cost of neighboring resorts and their restaurants. It's a little more work but you want to get it as close as you can. Then check the prices for a snorkeling trip from a non-all-inclusive and include that as an item. Then you can put in the extras like you would normally as in the "miscellaneous" listed above. If you've included enough dinners and drinks, then you'll find that the total is larger than what you're spending for your all-inclusive, that it's inflating your registry. That's because you're getting a discount for your all-inclusive dollar. You can then reduce your hotel item by that amount so that it matches what you're actually paying, or you can reduce each item's cost to reflect your discount (if you're saving 10%, then reduce each item that's included by 10% in your registry.) Even at nearly all "pay as you go" resorts, you can charge everything to your room. At the end, it's "all-included" in your bill. You're just buying a little freedom to have lunch at the great spot at the other end of the beach and not feel guilty about the free lunch you just missed. No reason to feel like you can't break out those included items for your all-inclusive registry. Same goes for a cruise. Your guests will usually want to connect with a particular memory, so break out particular days or ports-of-call. If you're familiar with the cruise ship, you might try breaking out a particular restaurant or lounge where you'll spend some time. "We'll live it up in the Palladium Lounge!" is more personal than "Cruise Donation" any day.

9. Upload your own photos. We've included plenty for you to find what you need for most items, but a few of your own will really help. The web is an endless source of photos, but don't forget ones you've taken yourself. You can upload your own photos after you've saved your registry.

10. Getting the word out gracefully is a challenge. If you have a wedding website, you can link straight to your registry from there. After you create a registry, we'll send you the link to your registry to include in emails if you want to let close friends and family know. They can help spread the word. We'll also send you the code for a "Smart Button" that you can put into your own website that will take your guests to your registry when they click on it! If you don't have a website, another great way to tactfully get the word out is to mention it on Facebook or MySpace. Think about setting up a wedding Facebook and MySpace too! You can then upload honeymoon photos so your guests who shared in your wedding and honeymoon can follow along.

To sum up: Personalize, personalize, personalize!!! Let your humor through too. Being a little tongue-in-cheek is great, if it's you. That goes for being a little risque too, so long as you have your guests in mind. If they expect it from you, great! They'll want to see it.

Good luck and happy registering!

Author : John Schnatterly is founder of the leading honeymoon registry service.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Holiday Travel With Family Fun

Family holidays can be fun and exciting for all ages. Here are some pointers for finding the best holiday for your family.

First you need to determine the common interests of the family. Ask your children what they would like to see and what they’re studying in school. If you have very young children then usually you will know better than them but try to get them involved. Think of you and your spouse as well; what may be great fun for the kids may be boring and annoying for the adults. Pick somewhere that all of you will enjoy or a destination that gives you the opportunity for quiet time. While kids tend to be unrealistic, you can usually accommodate their interest. For example, if they want to take an African safari you could visit the immense animal park in San Diego, California.

Theme parks are fun for the kids and offer entertainment for adults as well. Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida includes the Magic Kingdom, Epcot Center, Universal Studios and MGM Studios. There are luxury hotels located right inside the park and a monorail takes visitors to different parts of the park so there’s no need to drive. The park is not the only attraction; there are other nearby attractions including the Kennedy Space Center, Coco Beach and Sea World.

A trip through the historic east coast is another fun holiday that the kids and adults are sure to enjoy. The east coast has beautiful mountains and beaches and contains most of the United States’ history. Attractions are close to each other compared to the rest of the U.S. so a road trip is the best way to travel with the family to this part of the country. Historic sights include George Washington’s home in Virginia and the Arlington Cemetery. The Smithsonian Museums in Washington, D.C. are free and there is something to interest everyone. There is the Space and Aeronautics Museum that children really enjoy with life size replicas and actual aircraft showing the history of flight. Washington also contains the U.S. political buildings such as the White House and the Pentagon.

Southern California offers many sights and is especially warm and pleasant in the late fall and early spring when most of the country is cold. Los Angeles is the film industry capitol of the world. You can visit Universal Studios theme park and Disneyland. You may even be able to catch the taping of a television show. San Diego which is just about two hours south of Los Angeles is a beautiful mid size city and has many tourist options. The San Diego Zoo is world renowned and Sea World is a must see for wildlife enthusiast. If you have young children then be sure to visit Legoland which has rides and even replicas of famous sights made entirely out of Legos.

Family holidays can be fun for the entire family. It’s important to find a holiday that will interest the kids as well as the adults.

Author : Jerry Blackburn is publishing mainly for