Your guests have all gone home. The caterers have been paid. Your carry-on is packed and ready. Annnndd....your passport is set to expire in a week, unrealized by you.
Sorry. That Parisian honeymoon you planned in careful, exquisite detail? It's a no-go, as you'll only find out once you arrive at the airport.
...And on that note, welcome to wedded bliss!
This scenario is the antithesis of how a honeymoon is supposed to be, but it's frightening how frequently some version plays out in real life. A myriad of little planning mistakes or quirks of fortune can lead to a downer—or a non-starter—of a honeymoon.
In the intense flurry leading up to the actual wedding, a bride is prone to overlook everything that comes after. Which is why, with the help of wedding planner Amy Vargas and Carol Mueller, vice-president of Travel Guard North America, we've come up with a list of 9 common honeymoon destroyers and how you can make sure they don't spoil your happy getaway.
Passport woes: You forgot your passport./ Passport's expired. / Stolen passport.
Believe it or not, this is one of the easiest ways a honeymoon can go wrong—particularly since many countries will deny you entry if your passport is within 3-6 months of its expiration date. Rules are constantly changing, but Israel, Fiji, the UK, Thailand and Galapagos were just a few of the countries known to turn away travelers whose passports are within six months of expiration.
Also, keep in mind that some countries—including Brazil, Chile, St. Barths and China--require a special visa in addition to a passport. So no matter how busy you are before your honeymoon, it's crucial to make sure your travel documents are current and complete at the time you book your tickets.
While travel insurance can't help you get a visa or extend your passport's expiry date, it can help with problems that occur while traveling, especially lost, stolen, or irreparably damaged passports. (Note to those who keep stuff in their pockets: Taking a passport for a swim may cause the latter mini-disaster. Lamination does not equal waterproof.)
"Comprehensive travel insurance typically includes the replacement of lost or stolen travel documents, including a honeymooner’s passport," says Carol Mueller of Travel Guard. "Our customers have access to a 24-hour hotline for emergencies like replacing lost or stolen travel documents while traveling."
Identification crisis: “The Mrs.” booked tickets in her married name but hasn't legally changed it.
Even if your passport is valid and your visa is in hand, you may fall prey to a common honeymooner pitfall: booking airline tickets in your "married" name before changing it legally.
"Ladies, I know how exciting it can be and how much you want to use your new name ASAP, but whatever you do, don't book your travel in your married name. You won't be able to change your name legally until after you receive your marriage license, and if you get a grumpy TSA agent, you won't be able to travel," warns Amy Vargas.
But what if you've already made the honest mistake?
"If it's too late and you already showed up to the airport, flash a smile and your shiny rings, ask for a manager, and show identification that shows your maiden name to see if they will make an exception," suggests Vargas. As a last resort... blame "Bride Brain."
Security Humiliation: “Ma'am, what's that noise coming from your carry-on?”
"It’s one of those things that you see in movies. You slip your bag through the security x-ray and something starts buzzing. No, it’s not your cell phone, it's something that you brought for a little post-wedding fun with your new spouse,"
This is Amy Vargas dishing about an all-too-common embarrassment that lovebirds on getaway need to face. Few situations will make you blush more than the one where you're staring down three police officers, 10 TSA agents and a line of passengers as a bunch of "erotic toys," furry handcuffs and lingerie come spilling from your carry-on.
"Just own it! It's your honeymoon!!!" says Vargas. "Chances are you'll get a high five, slight smile or nod from the agent who wishes they were about to have as much fun as you."
And if they've got no sense of humor, wind up with that instant-classic line: "I'm ready for my patdown, officer."
Too Much Fun! Triple tequila shots, dancing till sunrise, and...oops where's my handbag?
"While getting married symbolizes a step toward growing up, lots of times couples let loose on the honeymoon to celebrate the new marriage. If you do end up having a little too much fun, make sure you take a licensed cab or resort transportation back to your hotel," says Amy Vargas.
This is logical and intuitive, but she has a few preemptive steps you should take if you even think you're going to have a wild night: "Carry the business card of the hotel with you so that you can direct someone where to drive you to. Don't take all of your cash with you and ALWAYS keep your travel documents and an emergency credit card in the safe in your room."
You may be tempted to take your passport for identification or your debit card for easy ATM access, but...don't. These are two of the easiest items to lose, the easiest for strangers to pick up... and the loss of either will put a major damper on your honeymoon.
Logistical Woes: Missed flight / delayed flight / missed connection
There are many scenarios that can lead to missing a flight. Some can be placed squarely with the airlines (a delayed connecting flight), sometimes a traffic accident on a major highway can be a legitimate reason for rebooking, and sometimes it's just one of those things where honeymooners...shall we say, lose track of time.
The absolute first step toward remedying the situation is calling the airline--"even before you get to the airport if you know you won't make the flight," says Vargas.
This is also one of the situations where travel insurance might be the best investment you ever made. "If the couple is running behind schedule due to an accident en route to the departure location, or if the common carrier has delayed a connection due to inclement weather, Travel Guard’s most popular plans cover additional transportation expenses to join the departed trip or reimburse for pre-paid, non-refundable trip payments of the unused portion of the trip," says Mueller.
And for those of you who just can't be bothered to watch the clock, "Travel Guard also offers optional Cancel for Any Reason coverage, which provides travelers additional flexibility and confidence," she continues.
So you can say, confidently, "Let's have another margarita. We can always catch a later flight."
Just Bad Friggin' Luck: Your trip's a bust due to natural disaster, airport strike, military coup or other unforeseen circumstances.
Given the topsy-turvy state of the world the last few years, there's no reason to assume a tornado, volcano, military coup or virulent flu outbreak won't randomly impact your honeymoon. That is precisely why services like Travel Guard have gone from why-bother to must-have. In all of the above-mentioned situations and more, travel insurance may be the only thing you can count on to get you out of a bad situation 2000 miles from home.
"Travel insurance includes coverage for trip cancellation, interruption and delays. Coverage reimburses for forfeited, nonrefundable, unused payments or deposits if the traveler must cancel or interrupt their trip due to a covered reason. Most of our plans cover disasters that are due to natural causes like fires, floods, hurricanes and earthquakes," explains Mueller. She then recalls one recent disaster that seemed to have half the world camping out in airports:
"During the [Iceland] volcanic ash disturbance that affected travel across Europe last April, Travel Guard helped U.S. travelers navigate ash-related flight delays and cancellations. If their plan was purchased before April 13, 2010, we offered emergency travel assistance services including flight rebooking, hotel booking, message relay, emergency travel arrangements and more."
What's In Your Gift Card? Going through wedding gift checks in transit can make you Target Numero Uno for petty criminals.
You're in a rush to the airport, you need spending money for the trip, you don't want to lose all your lovely gift cards/checks—why not go through them on the plane, right?
WRONG! Best case scenario, you'll spend your wedding loot on $12 umbrella cocktails and duty free Colombian emeralds. Worst case, some ne'er-do-well will see you all lovestruck, tipsy and rolling in the wedding dough, and decide to relieve you of your stash.
"Whatever you do, DO NOT take all of the lovely sealed envelopes you received at your wedding on your honeymoon. If you are expecting lots of cash to be inside, open the envelopes the morning after your wedding and deposit the cash into an account you can access on your travels," preaches Amy Vargas.
Oh, and leave the rest of the unwrapping till you get home. Seriously, what are you going to do with a hand-painted Japanese tea set on an all-inclusive resort in Mexico?
Bank Card--DENIED! Unexpected charges, you're over the limit, or your card's turned off by the bank because you're out of your normal area.
All three of these issues are quite commonplace, and the latter two can strike whether you're actually maxed out or not. Your primary card can go "over the limit" simply due to the holds many hotels place to cover incidentals. In luxe places, this can easily be as much as $250 a day—one hotel in China places an instant $2000 hold on the credit card of all guests upon check-in. Be ready for it. If you have any questions, call ahead of time and ask. And don't worry; if you don't spend the money, the credit will go back to your card a week after you checkout. In a way, the hotels are looking after your money.
As for the security freeze: "If you travel internationally," says Amy Vargas, "you should alert your financial institutions of where you are traveling to and for how long so that service is not interrupted." And back to our common theme of planning ahead..."Make sure that you have travelers checks on-hand" in case of all card-related emergencies.
This Is Not My Beautiful Honeymoon: You booked the wrong hotel, at the wrong time.
"So you booked your honeymoon during seniors week or gay pride. Oops!" says Amy Vargas, who's seen all variations on this theme, including one memorable time when a couple nearly honeymooned at a hotel that was hosting a Pokemon convention.
The key word is NEARLY.
"This could easily have been avoided by asking the hotel/travel agent what else would be going on at the property during your stay," she says. "Booking agents can't volunteer the information, but can give it to you if you ask."
So get out of your cloud and do that research, Mr. & Mrs. Soon-to-be-Newlywed... or check out some of the vetted, best-rated and uber-romantic properties featured here on Celebrations.
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