Destination I Do Destination Wedding Advice – Part Two

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 {Photo: Left: andBeyond Dulini Lodge, All Others: Jen Stein}

We’re back with part two of our visit with Jennifer Stein, editor-in-chief of Destination I Do Magazine.  She’s sharing her ideas to help you plan your destination wedding with ease!

JF: How can couples go about finding local activities for their guests and/or honeymoon without falling into costly tourist traps?

JS: Tapping into the locals is one of the best resources around. True story – the first time I went to New Orleans, I thought, “why on earth would anyone come here?!” Reason being – I visited on business with a group who only enjoyed hurricanes in go-cups, the debauchery of Bourbon Street and the cliché experience that would fall under the title of “tourist trap.” We spent too much, drank too much and left feeling a little flat (and a little sick to our stomachs). The second time I went, I decided not to fall into that same trap, so I figured I’d ask the locals where we should go. I experienced some of the best food I’ve ever eaten in my life, mixed with a culture that was warm and charming – very indicative of the South. We rode beach cruisers through the Garden District, stopped at The Napoleon House for a Pimms Cup and Muffaletta, partied it up at Snug Harbor (a favorite local watering hole), listened to some of the best Jazz music I’ve ever heard and ate our way out of a Café Du Monde (touristy but in a good way). After that experience, NOLA is now officially my favorite city in the U.S.

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JF: If on a limited amount of time, are tourist traps a bad thing?  How can the couple get the most out of their limited time in the location?

JS: A tourist trap can be a total bummer if a couple is on a limited amount of time. Reason being, the last thing a couple is going to want is to participate in an expensive, overcrowded, mediocre activity when they could be doing something really interesting. I think the thing to avoid is the “trap” part and I’ve got a couple of red flags to help with that.

Guided tours can be a red flag. If you’re on limited time, you’ll want to ask a few questions to avoid getting sucked into participating in something which should take an hour and ends up taking three because a large group slows things down. A good example of this – we decided to bike down Haleakala in Maui. There were two types of morning bike groups – guided and unguided. We opted for the unguided one which dropped us off at the top with our bikes, helmets and maps. Man, were we glad we opted for that one! We rode down 10X faster than the guided tour. In the time it took the guided groups to get down, we had stopped for brunch, visited a winery and shopped for souvenirs! Just by simply asking how many people are on the tour or about how long it should take on your own or with the group can help you decide on doing a guided or unguided tour.

The other major red flag – “drinking the Kool-Aid” while on cruises or packaged honeymoons. It’s tempting, I know – but buying the packaged photo opp in front of the boat, the 30-minute cruddy massage or the 5 star (which ends up being more like 2.5 star) themed dinner can add expense but not add to the experience. Many times they over charge and under deliver in these situations. Picture an excursion package that reads – Exhilarating Zip Lining! $100/per person for 1 hour (includes lunch). How much zip lining are you really going to get in an hour if they also serve lunch? Not much. Use common sense here and ask questions to make sure you know what you’re getting.  My suggestion is to talk to your friends or family who have already experienced the destination (make sure you talk to people who are like-minded and enjoy similar things). They will tell you what is worth experiencing and worth your time if it is limited.

One other red flag is the stranger in the street who approaches you with some sort of offer – an excursion or other activity. This can actually be dangerous. Never go with a person you don’t know in a foreign country if you’ve not already pre-arranged it.

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JF:  As a world traveler yourself, what is one place you still want to visit most that makes for a great honeymoon or destination wedding location?

JS: I’d love to visit South Africa. It looks like such a fantastic place that offers something you could never get here in the U.S. – SAFARIS!!! What can I say, I’m a sucker for big animals.  But there are countless places I’d love to adventure to – so many I could never list them all here.

Thanks again to Jennifer Stein from Destination I Do Magazine for stopping by!  Be sure to check out their new website and latest issue on stands this week!