Traveling changed a lot in the last two years. Now that things are opening up and seemingly going back to normal, people are planning their destination weddings and honeymoons. We talked to The Travel Team’s destination planner Toni McConnaughey and Cruise Planners’ expert Deborah Welsch, who have over four decades of travel planning experience, collectively. We asked the experts for their best tips for destination weddings and honeymoons are always a good idea. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that it’s the perfect photo opportunity. The pictures all come out fire. Traveling can get messy real quick. It’s important to be ready when the time comes so traveling goes as smoothly as possible.
Q: How has COVID-19 affected travel for couples?
Deborah: The travel restrictions, unfortunately, left many couples with no choice but to make puzzling decisions on whether to keep their original wedding date, with a limited guest list or postpone the special occasion to include every special guest on their big day. These unlucky circumstances left many with a delay on their new life together as partners.
Q: What are the restrictions for traveling domestically and internationally?
Toni: There are not as many restrictions for traveling in the United States at this moment, but internationally it’s very complicated. Every country outside of the U.S. has its own entry requirements & protocols during COVID. In addition, the U.S. also has re-entry requirements & protocols in place [for travelers.] Many clients who don’t want to deal with all these requirements are choosing to postpone travel to 2022.
Q: Can couples still have destination weddings?
Deborah: Yes! Couples can still have an awesome honeymoon and are more excited than ever! The wait is over, resorts and cruise lines are ready! Many have renovated and refurbished [their spaces] to be better suited for current times. There are many new ships that are ready to sail. It’s helping couples make more unforgettable memories. Although, due to the ongoing pandemic, it’s crucial to have an agent that’s up-to-date with daily changing restrictions and regulations.
Toni: Yes, many areas are booking destination weddings. The most popular are Caribbean destinations. Each country & hotel has its own requirements & protocols.
Q: What are travel tips for destination weddings and honeymoons with couples who are struggling to plan?
Deborah: Travel restrictions are changing daily. Some state, local, and territorial governments have restrictions such as quarantine requirements and stay-at-home orders. Some airlines are requiring health information such as a health survey, vaccine documentation, and COVID testing results. As of late, domestic restrictions have lessened, and there [are a lot of] conversations around vaccination passports. Additionally, it’s important to remember that wearing a mask is still a requirement on any airline flight, at all times. Internationally, many airlines, resorts and destinations require a series of COVID-19 testing. Some resorts require a mandatory quarantine until cleared and some destinations are still not allowing entry. The best way to properly plan for a honeymoon is to have an experienced travel agent assist with the daily changes of the CDC. Currently, the safest travel measures are to only travel if you are fully vaccinated. Travel suppliers are working hard to provide the traveler with the safest experience possible.
Toni: Some travel tips for destination weddings and honeymoons are that we strongly encourage clients to purchase travel insurance and opt for a company that offers cancel-for-any-reason travel insurance. It provides them [couples] peace of mind to allow changes right up to departure for any reason. We try to [tell] clients if they want to travel in 2021, to anticipate possible last-minute changes to country entry requirements and protocols.
Q: Any other ideas or creative solutions for couples?
Deborah: Take as few flights as possible and try to avoid major airports. The same goes for resorts, it’s important to make sure there are many outdoor options when booking and the volume of guests isn’t as high as it would be in a pre-pandemic world. This goes hand-in-hand with making sure airlines and resorts are keeping up with COVID guidelines and sanitation protocol. This is something your agent will monitor at all times, and make sure that you’re given the much-needed peace of mind to enjoy your travels.
Toni: There are plenty of wonderful U.S. destinations, like the national parks that are very popular right now.
Q: How should couples prepare when planning a honeymoon? Should they look up where they want to go first or contact you first and go from there?
Toni: It is always a good idea for couples to have some idea of where they want to plan a destination wedding. Most couples do their own research prior to coming to us and have multiple destinations they are interested in. Then, we assist them by qualifying their interests, just as we would for an individual client traveling. Many times they decide on a destination due to airfare cost, hotel cost and difficulty of flights offered to a destination.
Q: Do you help plan excursions?
Deborah: Excursions are definitely something the agent can look into and reserve for clients. It helps take the pressure off of the couple and make sure the trip is as worry-free as possible. A good travel agent can make sure their guests still enjoy all the fun excursions before they are all sold out.
Q: What must-haves should couples bring with them when traveling during COVID?
Deborah: Some of the biggest must-haves for couples traveling in today’s pandemic world are definitely a mask at all times. An N-95 mask is the safest option, especially on planes. It’s also a good idea to bring hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes. Remember to carry proof of vaccination, as well as a negative COVID result, if required.
Toni: Passports are required for all international travel. Many countries require visitors to complete online registration/health attestation forms.
Q: If cruises are canceled or postponed do they receive credit with you for a later time?
Deborah: Thankfully, many cruise lines are offering a full refund or a future credit with a bonus of up to 25% of the cruise cost towards a future cruise.
Toni: We discuss the current change & cancellation policies, and if something new occurs, we do the best we can working with all our suppliers to assist our clients.
Special thanks to Lydia Maybee Photography