Our travels and ideas for planning your next trip!

Posts tagged ‘budget’

Economical Grand Pineapple Beach Antigua

For a whole lot less dollars, experience the brilliant aqua marine water caressing silky white sand, Caribbean charm and the all-inclusive pampering of Sandals resorts at the Grand Pineapple Beach Antigua.  These lesser known resorts, owned by Sandals, and located in both Jamaica and Antigua, are incredible gems for those folks willing to forgo the five-star Sandals or Beaches resort for a more colloquial, homey type of vacation. And I must say, guests at the Grand Pineapple Beach Antigua were more than satisfied.  On my visit in December 2011 to six Sandals resorts, the Grand Pineapple Antigua was the only resort with “no vacancy”!  We met one woman who has been coming to the Grand Pineapple Antigua from Brittain for the month of December for twenty-five years!!

The two-story bungalow style resort is located on its own private little cove for carefree swimming and sun soaking.   Warm, friendly staff greet you with a cool scented towel and refreshing drink as you arrive.  What a “cool” touch.

Take a stroll through the lovely gardens, read a book from your bungalow porch, or sip a frosty drink under a shade tree…. My husband and I would choose this resort in a minute.  Families are welcome though children’s programs are limited.  Make your own family fun on the beach.


Weddings at the Grand Pineapple Beach Antigua are complimentary with a seven night stay in an ocean view room or only $899 with a shorter stay.  This includes the flowers, cake, government fees and ceremony costs.  Select the garden gazebos for your wedding, then family at home can watch the ceremony on a web cam.  Isn’t that great! 

Or choose the hilltop gazebos overlooking the stunning blue waters.  There is a steep walk up to this sweet vista so be prepared.  

Of course, couples may wish to choose the beach for a wedding, after all it is the Caribbean.  Or maybe, just for relaxing on a beach chair.  This is a small resort and cove so expect company on the beach, especially during the sunshine hours.  Speaking of beach, non-motorized water sports are included. Doesn’t that water bike look fun?


See the hilltop gazebos up on the cliff!

Of course, sumptuous food is always a priority on vacation.  And though the dining rooms are more like a summer camp facility than a fine restaurant, the food is wonderful.  There are three restaurants, the pool side grill, the main dining room and the “Outhouse”.   

Hike up that promontory past the hilltop gazebos to discover the “Outhouse” and I promise you will not be sorry.  The ambiance is pure shack!  Grab a stick, write your thoughts or name and hammer it on.  A part of you will always remain in Antigua.  Spend a while savoring those lip smacking ribs and chicken while you are there.  


Two rooms became vacant while we were at the Grand Pineapple Beach Antigua.  After staying at the luxury Sandals resorts, these rooms appeared basic, rather like a typical hotel.  Clean, charming and simple.  The pools are reminiscent of the 1960 era.  But hey, I’m here for the fun, sun, water and affordability.  Throw me in this folksy place anytime!


Scenic, friendly and serene…the Grand Pineapple Beach Antigua is calling me.

If you want affordable, if you enjoy a smaller resort with a 1940’s feel, if less than perfect but funky, lovely, warm and friendly is fine with you perhaps the Grand Pineapple Beach Antigua is calling you too.

See you on the beach,


Weddings at Sea Aboard a Cruise Ship

It is your very special day — let Princess make it truly extraordinary!

Imagine you and your sweetheart holding hands while you affirm your love for one another aboard the original “Love Boat”.  Yes, Princess was the cruise line upon which the “Love Boat” TV series was filmed inspiring “Tie the Knot Wedding at Sea by Princess”.  Traditionally, ship captains were able to marry couples when in international waters.  Yet for more than 100 years, getting married upon the high seas had ceased to exist.  In 1998 Princess Cruise Line introduced their Weddings at Sea.  The very first year, 58 couples were married by Princess captains.  Since then more than 4000 couples have chosen this romantic option.

Three soul-uniting choices are available while cruising aboard Princess.

1) At Sea – Invite your guests to sail with you to extend the fun, then get married At Sea, in the chapel or on the deck.  The captain will marry you once you are in international waters.  82% of couples choose this option.

2) Harborside – Your friends and family may join you aboard ship the morning before you set sail for a Harborside Wedding or Vow Renewal by a local clergy, then you sail away blissfully alone for your honeymoon.  10% of couples choose this option.

3)  Ashore – Sail away to your dream destination, then get married ashore by a local clergy. Choose from ports of call in the USA, Canada, Mexico or Caribbean. All the arrangements for the shore wedding are handled by a wedding planner.  8% of couples choose this option.

Everything is provided for Weddings at Sea including music, bouquet, cake, photos, champagne and a wedding coordinator for only $2250.  A vow renewal ceremony is only $285.  What an incredible deal!  This basic package, of course, may be upgraded to suit your every wish and dream.  Since your honeymoon is the cruise itself, the whole affair is less than a wedding at home!  (Cruise cost is extra.)

Wedding Packages by Princess


  • Wedding Chapel or ideal onboard location
  • Candlelit ceremony
  • Captain to perform ceremony
  • Special vows at sea
  • Wedding coordinator onboard*
  • Ceremony music (pre-recorded)
  • Two fresh floral arrangements to adorn the ceremony location
  • Rose bouquet (one dozen)
  • Boutonniere
  • Photographer**
  • Videographer***
  • One 16×20 canvas wall portrait (unframed)***
  • 9″ Wedding cake
  • Bottle of champagne
  • Two Princess keepsake champagne flutes
  • Keepsake wedding certificate

Tie The Knot At Sea Prices

Package Price:          $1,800

License Fees:             $455

(witness fee may apply)

TOTAL:      $2,255

*Available on “sea” days only.  Details, special requirements and upgrades may add onto the basic price quoted.


  • Priority check-in and boarding for couple and guests
  • Wedding Chapel or onboard location
  • Non-denominational officiant
  • Wedding coordinator onboard
  • Ceremony music (pre-recorded)
  • Romantic vows
  • Two silk floral arrangements atop two pillars
  • Rose bouquet (one half dozen)
  • Boutonniere
  • Photographer
  • Videographer
  • 9″ wedding cake
  • Bottle of champagne
  • Keepsake wedding certificate


  • Beautiful beach or garden ceremony location
  • Non-denominational officiant
  • Wedding coordinator
  • Exotic island vows
  • Bridal bouquet
  • Boutonniere
  • Photographer
  • Transportation for bridal couple
  • Specialty cake for two
  • Bottle of champagne
  • Keepsake wedding certificate
  • Additional roundtrip transportation service for guests from $20 per person
  • Cake and champagne service for guests from $15 per guest

Prices for Tie the Know Harborside and Ashore vary by destination.  For price information, work with your travel agent or wedding coordinator.


Many additional features are available.  If you can dream it, Princess will be happy to make it come true.

-Fresh custom flowers                       -Conch shell                   -Custom cakes                       -Dining receptions                      -Hor d’oeuvres bar                        – Ice sculpture                  -Wine packages                      -Champagne waterfall                     -Live musician                   -Spa and Salon services                         -Tuxedo rental                 -Bridal party dinner                      -Bachelor and Bachelorette Parties


What do you think?  A Cruise Ship Wedding is a wonderful possibility.  If this fulfills your dream, I would be delighted to assist you.  Just give me a call or email me at (208) 964-3578 or 4anne@dreamalongtravel.com.  Princess pays me, so I cost you nothing at all.

Enjoy Dreaming,

Deception Pass State Park, Washington

He was turning two, so we wanted to celebrate by going camping with our grandson and daughter somewhere near Seattle.  I googled “great camping with a toddler near Seattle”.  Deception Pass State Park came up the winner due to the beaches and toddler friendly trails.  We headed out with our 1965 Chevy wagon and 1965 tent trailer (we are into vintage).  The park was two hours north of Seattle on Hwy I5 then west on Hwy 20 to Whidby Island.  Our first glimpse of Deception Pass came when we crossed the bridge high above the water spanning the cliffs.  It was spectacular with fall color just beginning to burst forth.  The recommendations suggested not walking across the bridge with a toddler but in the future we will definitely want to catch that vista on foot.


The campsites are a walk from the beach but most everyone is excellent (I did a lot of walking about the campground with a stroller.) My favorite was #170 which was up a little hill and no RV connections but felt as if you were in hobbit land.  From the campground you can walk to Cranberry Lake on one side of the inlet, then walk a dozen yards to the beach on the bay.  Two parks in one!  Cranberry Lake has a protected sandy beach open in the summer with life guards and a snack shack.

Liam, being just two, enjoys throwing things so “No, don’t throw,” is a frequently heard phrase.  Deception Pass was the perfect place for him as he found throwing rocks into the water was a grandparent approved activity.  Plenty of rocks and hours to do it until a worn little boy was ready for nap. (Scroll over the pictures to see the narrative.)


On Sunday, we took a ride to the little artist town of LaConner on the mainland a few minutes south of Hwy 20.  We visited two delightful art galleries.  “Cattails and Dragonflies” run by Gil and “The Artist Remarque” run by Gil’s wife, Rebecca.  They are both warm and friendly folks with many works of art to feast your eyes on.  If you get to LaConner, stop in for a chat.  After a wine tasting and a snack, we headed back to camp for Liam’s first campfire.

  We decided to return to Tacoma by driving south through Whidby Island and take the Port Townsen Ferry.  I would not recommend this with a toddler.  Though the scenery was pleasant rural hills and small towns, the traffic was stop and go.  The ferry ride was short and cost us $46.  The price is determined by measuring the length of the car plus tent trailer.  Liam did not want to return to his car seat after the ferry boat ride and was cranky the rest of the way.  Instead of the two and a half hour trip we had coming in, going back to Tacoma took us five hours.

As many of you know, I specialize in water, sun and sand to Mexico, the Caribbean, Hawaii and Costa Rica.  Deception Pass has now made my list of exceptional water, sun and sand places to go.  Yes, I know, it was September and rain was predicted yet we had many glorious moments of brilliant sunshine.  When not traveling to hot sunny sandy places or on cruise ship, you just can’t beat camping along the entire west coast, my home.

See you on the beach,


Safe to play in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

      At the tip of Baha California, the pristine beaches of Cabo San Lucas are still a welcoming, safe place for American to indulge in a luxury sun and sand vacation.  Separate and distant from the turmoils of Mexico, Cabo offers affordable pricing for west coast travelers with hotels ranging from basic to extreme luxury, plus plenty of adventure from snorkeling to zip lining.  The resort location of Los Cabos, Mexico was voted as the #3 Best Destination in the Caribbean and Mexico for the TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice Awards.

     On our last trip to Cabo San Lucas, my husband, Gene and I just hung out at the harbor and cantina.    We were in the mood to just relax and stroll.  For those bursting with energy, stop into one of the tourist shops along the walk into town to arrange an ATV trek or check out www.bajaoutback.com .  World class sport fishing awaits those with the lure of the sea.  My Dad, years ago, had the fishing trip of his lifetime here when a great upwelling of fish occured just as he and Uncle Owen set their poles.  Try www.picesssportfishing.com or www.pincantesportfishing.com to charter a boat. 

   Here kitty, kitty, give me a kiss.  A highlight for Gene and I was having our pictures taken with these lion cubs.  The local animal preserve uses this photo opportunity as a fund raiser.  These cuties were about 2 months old and obviously very accustomed to being handled.  The jaguar was not so friendly and gave Gene a nasty nip.

Love being seranaded by the Mariochis! Great fresh seafood for lunch!

   Remember the Eagles’ song, “Hotel California”?  Take a tour or rent a car for a 45 minute jaunt to the quaint town of Todos Santas.  This is the location of the namesake of the song.   Or better yet, rent a utility vehicle such as a Mitsubishi Outlander Sport for a back -country trip down the old road to La Paz.  You may be greeted by burros, cows, pigs, Mexican hawks along the dirt roads.  Stop in the tiny village of La Calenderia to visit the historic church and pause under the plumeria trees. 

     Into the party scene, Cabo is ready for you.  Clubs to visit starting about 11:00 pm include Cabo Wabo and Mandala.  For daytime party fun, try the Passion Club at the ME Cabo hotel on Medano Beach.

     Don’t forget to take a water taxi to get a close up view of the famous rock formations of Cabo. 

    As long as we are relaxing, the ultimate is worth investing in so stay at the  4 1/2 star Zoetry Casa Del Mar Los Cabos.     www.zoetryresorts.com   For romance, attention to your every need, stunning vistas, superb spa and a quiet setting, Zoetry Casa Del Mar is unsurpassed.  Better yet, plan to hold your wedding at Zoetry for exquisite beauty and grace. 

    Dreams Los Cabos Suites is another favorite of mine. www.dreamsresorts.com  Such a beautiful place to plan your wedding or honeymoon.  With their branded “Unlimited Luxury” you will be well pampered.  Just look at the honeymoon package they offer: 

This package is complimentary when booking a Honeymoon Suiteor higher for a minimum of 7 nights.

  • Champagne on arrival
  • Fresh flowers and exotic fruit platter in room upon arrival
  • Champagne breakfast in bed the first morning after arrival
  • Tension Release Massage for two in our couples massage suite (25 minutes)
  • Choice of either a European Facial or a Salt Glow Scrub body treatment for two (25 minutes)
  • Private beachfront dinner one evening- upon return from dinner you will find a romantic candlelit rose petal bath (includes bottle of wine)
  • Private petit fours each evening at turn down service
  • Earn Free Nights towards a first anniversary return stay

Both of these resorts are all-inclusive so every bit of food, drink and activities are INCLUDED!  You may find that you never want to venture away from the resort, there is so much to do and we mustn’t forget lying on the beach with a good book.

Next winter, when snow is on the ground, you will love being in Cabo San Lucas where near perfect weather is an everyday occurance.  For a getaway, honeymoon, destination wedding or romance rekindling…how about Cabo?





California Wine Country Backroads Getaway

      Heading north from San Francisco for a few days in the California Wine Country, I was eagar to relive my very favorite backroads wine country outing.  Even though I spent eleven years leading groups on this same exact route (and would do it again in a minute if any of my readers want to put together a group), I am thrilled to return again (especially now that I live in Idaho) with my cousins in tow. 

     From Petaluma, take Bodega Ave (get yourself a map) to Valley Ford Road, destination the village of Freestone. You will wind through gently rolling hills and emerald meadows reminecent of the English countryside resplendent with flocks of sheep and spring lambs.  Stop for a few few minutes in Freestone a blink-and-you-missed it rustic little town.  Save some tummy room for a sticky bun at the Wild Flour Bakery.  Spa enthusiasts must not miss an osmosis enzyme bath at the Osmosis world class spa hidden away in this tiny town. 

     Having totally indulged yourself, drift north again through wooded lanes to the quaint welcoming town of Occidental.  Lost in time with no expansion for decades, I always envision ladies of the 1920’s coming by train from San Francisco with broods of kids for their summer lodgings.  My mother, in fact was one of those children who learned to swim on the Russian River during summers in a cabin named “Don’t Worry”.  Her Dad came up for weekends while Grandma and six little ones played away the summer at Camp Meeker just down the road from Occidental. 

   Enjoy an Italian meal family style at Negris.   Walk around the town visiting the little shops for folk art.  Rest for the night in Occidental at The Inn At Occidental.  This is an exquisite bed and breakfast with all the romance , ambiance and delight to the eyes of a country home.  I personally recommend selecting The Inn at Occidental if you are celebrating a special occasion.  

     Next, we meandered up the redwood line roads towards Camp Meeker.  Just beyond we swerved left into the Alliance Redwoods.  My children went to school in the lodge here for three years long ago.  Now it is a bussling center for nature study classes and retreats.  More exciting, today though is the “Canopy Tours!  ZIP THE REDWOODS!!  7 adrenaline-pumping zip lines-one over 800′ long.”  My cousins purchased a gift certificate for their son’s anniversary package.   www.sonomacanopytours.com

     Still having a grand time, we continued past Alliance Redwoods to Monte Rio and Guerneville to Armstrong Redwoods.  I always feel as if hobbits are watching me from under dewy ferns in this enchanted forest of giant redwoods.  Cool and peaceful for an afternoon walk, my heart is filled with joy at the beauty of God’s creation.    Another way to tour Armstrong Redwoods is on a segway.  To set that up contact http://segwayofhealdsburg.com/.  Ask for my son, Michael Del Vecchio, to be your guide!

     Do you like champagne?  We are in the wine country so you must visit the Korbel Champagne Cellars.  Tasting and tours are free.  My favorite is the “Natural”.  Here is our darling wine server and my grinning husband.  The tour includes a facinating story about the Korbell family history so be sure to catch it. 

   Of course, a stop in Sebastopol at the Fosters Freeze for a soft-serve icecream is a must.  This was my husband’s restaurant for 22 years and boy do I miss my daily dipped cone.  Thanks for coming along on my favorite Sonoma County tour.  We didn’t visit many wineries or take a side trip to the coast but you can on your trip. 

Have fun travel dreaming,


Affordable Luxury – Robin to Jamaica

Couples Resort Jamaica, May 2011

Couples Swept Away

     Robin Hawkey and I have been in the travel business together from the outset.  She is the owner of Bridal Honeymoons, HoneymoonsbyRobin.com, Wine Country Connections, and Personal Wine Tours.  She is one fantastic travel agent knowlegable in all the exotic sand and sun locations.  As a life long resident in the California wine country, her expertise is invaluable for those wanting a destination wedding in Sonoma or Napa County.

Now that I have introduced Robin, let’s go to Jamaica!  Robin just spent eight days with her husband Randy at the Couples Resort in Jamaica and boy did she have fun!  Couples is for….well who do you think?….COUPLES.  No kids allowed.  So if you and your honeybunch want a trip just for two this is a place we highly recommend. They have several locations and one of them is just right for you.   Three of my brides are headed to luxury, pampering and PARTY at Couples this summer and I don’t know how many Robin is sending also.  Couples is big on sales so we can grab you a great price PLUS EVERYTHING, I MEAN EVERYTHING IS INCLUDED!  Robin told me she was planning on taking some tours but there was so much to do at the resort along with just laying on the beach, she just never had time to leave.  Oh my, what a problem…anyone want to go there soon?

Check it out!

                                                  Good Morning from Jamaica!         

We chose a garden view room, which was quite nice as we could still see the ocean.    At Couples the water sports are included free.


We just loved this Jamaican man singing on the beach!

Can’t wait to get into the pool.  Randy, the catamaran cruise is a must do!  Hey, do you want to make a hat?


There are so  many fun things to do.  Not only did we learn about Jamaican cooking we enjoyed it.  The food was fabulous!


We took the Couples transport to a sister resort Couples Negril.  This is the famous massage tree house at Couples Negril. The Rock House of Negril is just the place for Pirates of the Caribbean….Whooo.

A couple was getting married while we were there and even though it rained shortly before the wedding, it was so beautiful.  Later the bride trashed the dress in the surf.  (Robin caught it on video and promised to send it to me for this blog.)

Love checking out resorts for my honeymooners!
Tough Job, but someone has to do it! lol
Honeymoons by Robin

     That’s it for today.  Would love to do a blog about your travels.  Just email me at 4anne@dreamalongtravel.com your pictures and your story.  Happy Dreaming,  Anne Marie

Packing Light to Save Luggage Costs

      Packing to go traveling?  Let me tell you a story…Several years ago, I took a bus tour of Spain.  The literature informed me to pack light as we would be carrying our luggage up 3 to 5 flights of stairs each night.  So I did, pack light, that is.  Everything for three weeks travel went into my daughters rolling school backpack plus a day pack over my shoulders.  When the other women arrived from various locations around the USA, I began to cringe.  They had large suitcases with matching small cases and luggage size purses.  Boy, was I going to be underdressed.  Not so!  My careful planning and packing decked me out appropriately at every instance.  I even had room to take home gifts for everyone.  Bonus… hiking up those stairs was a cinch for me… no effort at all!  Plus absolutely no extra fees for luggage!!!

   Secrets of Packing Light: 

  1. Get the right luggage.  Light, rolling, fits easily in the overhead bin.  Use a day pack or shoulder bag as a purse.
  2. Create a personalized brightly colored tag for your luggage.  Tie a colored ribbon on it as well. 
  3. Plan every detail far in advance of packing day according to the guidelines below.
  4. Choose 3 or 4 colors.  Keep every clothing item in that color scheme to mix and match.
  5. Layer up from suntop to long sleeve shirt and wrap.  On cold days wear several layers.
  6. Accessorize carefully.  Accessories are small but are the details that make you look classy.
  7. But clothes that do not need ironing.  (Crush them in your hand to see how much they wrinkle.)
  8. Pack tiny cosmetics and personal care items in 2 quart size ziplock bags (no more than that or you will need to check your luggage).  Buy larger sizes or replenish items which you reach your destination.
  9. Buy beach towels when you get there and leave them when you leave.
  10. Wear your heaviest items on the airplane there and home again.
  11. Use large ziploc bags as compression bags to pack your clothes in.
  12. Carry a string and clothes pins to hang up hand washed clothes.  Hotel soap will do in a pinch.
  13. Consider packing thrift store-bought clothes, then discarding them when no longer needed to make room for gifts.
  14. Buy tiny gifts that will tuck in among your clothes.

Planning In Advance:

Outline each day of your trip and what you need to wear for that day.  For example:

  • Airplane – comfortable, cold to hot, pants, walking shoes, wrap, snacks, socks for cold feet, book.
  • Day on the beach – shorts, suntop, overshirt, swimsuit, towel, flipflops, hat, sunscreen, beach bag.
  • Night out – skirt, light wrap, sandals,  top, small hand bag.
  • Cold day -short sleeve shirt under long sleeve shirt, blue jeans, socks, wrap, umbrella.
  • Hiking – cargo pants or cargo shorts, short sleeve shirt plus overshirt, walking shoes or sandals.
  • Elegant night – basic solid color skirt or pants, top, jewelry, wrap, heels.
  • Wedding – Worth an extra suitcase to you?  Yes or No.  If no, then… buy a light weight, crushable, slimline dress.  Add a veil or flowers for your hair.  Dress your look up with special jewelry and heels.  Add some color to this dress later with a change of accessories, and voila, you have your evening look as well.

Packing List

Mix and Match Clothing:

  • 4 solid bottoms – cargo pants, skirt or dressier pants, sun shorts or capris, cargo shorts.  If room plan one more light weight bottom.  Note: blue jeans, though a favorite, are heavy to pack and to carry.  Consider a lighter alternative.
  • 4-5 tops for layering up – sun top, short sleeve, short sleeve, dressy, long sleeve
  • swim suit, crushable hat, sarong
  • wraps – light weight crushable to go over everything, plus a warm weight wrap if needed to layer up.  Note: sweatshirts are too bulky to pack light.  Use thinner layers and pile them on if the weather is cold.
  • shoes – walking shoes, flipflops, sandals, heels if needed.
  • 3-4 pair undies (wash them out at night)
  • 2 bras
  • sleepwear
  • jewelry and accessories

Wear on the plane from the list above: long pants, short sleeve shirt, long sleeve shirt, heavy wrap, walking shoes.  You can take clothes off and put them on as the climate changes, tucking them into your day pack.

Personal Care Items

TSA Quart-size ziploc bag of liquids:

  • shampoo and conditioner (tiny size)
  • sunscreen and lotion (tiny size)
  • skin care product (buy tiny, tiny containers and put in just the amount you would need for the trip or see if you can get sample items for the product line).
  • deodorant
  • toothpaste
  • lip balm
  • make-up (again go for tiny sizes, just enough for the trip)
  • insect repellant (Did I say tiny size before?)

2nd ziploc bag

  • vitamins,
  • motion sickness remedy
  • band-aids
  • medicines
  • pain reliever/sleep aid if necessary

Also pack

  • wash cloth & microfiber towel (or no towel)
  • laundry line and 4 clothes pins
  • emery board
  • disposable razor
  • umbrella foldable to 6 inches (or consider buying a raincoat & hat that fold into a pocket)
  • night light
  • addresses of family and friends at home
  • spare glasses or contacts
  • sewing repair kit, 2 safety pins
  • for frequent travelers consider carrying a small portable water filter from a camping store

In day pack/tote (be sure everything zippers closed)

  • empty water bottle (fill up after you go through inspection)
  • inflatable pillow
  • hairbrush/comb
  • cell phone/camera/alarm clock
  • micro flashlight
  • phone charger
  • tiny notebook and pen
  • sunglasses
  • lip balm, lip stick
  • gum
  • snacks
  • books/entertainment (pocket-size)
  • empty space for layers of clothing you take on and off as the climate changes
  • foldable tote bag for extras and beach trips (wallmart has a foldable bag that crushes into a 4″ pocket).

Security wallet or small flat purse within the day pack/tote

  • passport/drivers license
  • airline tickets
  • hotel reservations
  • 1- 2 credit cards (If possible it is much better to use a credit card than a debit/credit combination card.  You can get reimbursed from fraudulent transactions with a credit card; you can not get reimbursed with a debit/credit card.)
  • Photos of traveling companions
  • Copies of all documents
  • currency

That’s all.  If you truly mix and match, you will be able to look and feel great the whole trip.  For men, just apply the principles and pack light accordingly.

17 Honeymoons Under $2500 Including Airfare-Summer 2011

Romance, pampering, luxury with a pinch of adventure is the woven silk of a honeymoon tapestry. Come, dream along with me as we explore some options where our honeymoon tapestry still glows with golden threads, while the green stuff flying out of our pocket doesn’t devastate us.

When researching these resorts, I did not look for the very cheapest, because after all this is your honeymoon.  The Super 8 lodgings can wait for future budget trips.  My criteria required an element of luxury, beautiful surroundings, pampering and activities to enjoy.  The resorts are all at least 3 star and known by me to be reputable, reliable properties.  Prices are estimates based on mid-summer rates and usually include airfare.  Deals come along every day which may give you an even better rate.

After you dream shop, call or email me if you want information about specific dates and places.  I would love to book any of these honeymoons/vacations for you.  Though you could go online now that I have done all the work for you, why bother when I guarantee the best price, provide payment plans, a fee honeymoon registry and wedding website and a free photo card account.  Doesn’t it just make sense to get more service for the same or better price?   www.honeymoonsbyannemarie.com anne@dreamalongtravel.com (208) 964-3578)

A special note – Every trip can be more economical if you are willing to do the following:

a)      Book the lowest price room in the resort or ship, forgoing the view.  Most of your time will be spent outside the room.  As a honeymooners, you may qualify for an upgrade when you arrive if space is available, but if not, this is a big area to save money.

b)      Take a carry-on suitcase and a day pack only.  Tips on packing will be in a future blog.

c)       Pack a special picnic for airplane travel.  Take an empty water bottle and fill it up after you go through inspections.  Shop for breakfast and lunch foods you can make in your room.  Pick up an insulated bag or Styrofoam ice chest at a local store.  Share a dinner with an add-on of an extra soup or salad at the restaurants.

d)      Look for activities which are free or inexpensive when you arrive at the resort.  Expensive tours are not required for a good time.  Choose one that appeals to you most.

e)      Adults Only resorts are often more expensive so consider how important this is to you.

f)       A few days less to be at a wonderful resort can be a good trade-off.

g)      Plan your flights so you arrive early in the day and leave to go home late in the day.  You will gain a whole extra day that way.

Let’s go dreaming…  All prices are quoted from Spokane, WA airport (cause that’s my airport now).  Prices are always subject to change.

Hawaii – Aloha

Waikiki, Oahu is your very best bet for an economical Hawaiian vacation.  Deals abound every day of the year.  If you enjoy city life, lots of activity and people, and cooking for yourself in a condo, this is a great choice for you.  My husband and I have had a fabulous time in Waikiki without a car (the bus system is great).  Special to Waikiki is the Kehoe Marine Reserve for snorkeling, and the Arizona Memorial. The Polynesian Culture Center is worth the extra time and expense for a tour, or you can rent a car for the day or do it the hard way on the bus for less than $3.00 per person plus the entrance fee.   My Picks:

1) WAIKIKI SUNSET Four Nights for $1900 Includes Airfare and 2 for 1 luau.
The Aston Waikiki Sunset offers relaxed island-style living in large 1 and 2 Bedroom suites, all with full kitchenette, in a quiet residential neighborhood only 2 blocks from Waikiki Beach. Most rooms offer views of the ocean, the mountains, or Diamond Head.   (We stayed here for a family vacation.  It is a bit of a hike to the beach – the blocks are long- but was very nice.)

2) CASTLE WAIKIKI SHORE Four Nights for $2011 Includes airfare.
Waikiki Shore is the only beachfront condominium in Waikiki. This exquisite condominium is located on Waikiki Beach just next door to Fort DeRussy Park and one block from bustling Kalakaua Avenue. Most spacious condominiums feature incredible panoramic ocean views. Each studio, one- and two- bedroom suite features kitchenette or full kitchen and in-room washer/ dryer. This resort has a two-night minimum stay requirement, and all rooms are non-smoking.   (Can’t beat this price for beachfront.)

Maui is the island of choice for honeymooners in Hawaii.  Sun, beaches, relaxing is the draw.  You will need to rent a car to get around. I recommend a condo because restaurants are expensive. However, I did include a favorite beach hotel.   A drive to Hana is a beautiful  day long outing.

3) KA’ANAPALI BEACH HOTEL 3 nights for $2300 Includes airfare and car. Located in the heart of Maui’s premier resort fronting a flawless stretch of world-famous Kaanapali Beach. With 432 rooms, two restaurants and a poolside bar and grill, this is the ideal setting to turn your Hawaiian dreams into lifelong memories. Serenades by singing employees, Hawaii regional cuisine, complimentary nightly hula show, signature interactive Hawaiian cultural activities, free year ’round children’s program, weekly arts and crafts fair, welcome breakfast and farewell lei ceremony add to the value. Enjoy Hawaiian ho’okipa (hospitality), aloha at its best!

4) CASTLE KAMAOLE SANDS 4 Nights $2349 Includes airfare and car.  3 Nights $2143.
At Kamaole Sands, the three ‘Rs’ are ‘relax’, ‘refresh’ and ‘rejuvenate’. You choose how, starting with a choice of Maui condo rentals ranging from a 1 to 3 bedroom suite. Each condo rental comes with a fully-equipped kitchen, private lanai, high-speed internet, color cable TV and air conditioning. Will it be a garden view or partial ocean view condo? Either way, you’ll get your fill of both with 15 acres of mesmerizing tropical gardens and a magical white sand beach outside your door. (This is the absolute favorite of my cousins who go to Maui every year.)


Mexico is still an option!  If there is trouble in Los Angeles, CA you would still be safe to visit North Idaho.  They are hundreds and hundreds of miles apart.  So with Mexico.  Feel free to visit Cancun and Los Cabos, even Puerto Vallarta if you stay at the resorts.  At this point, these locations are still fine.  And Mexico has the best bargain all-inclusive resorts to be found for those of us on the west coast.  Here’s my picks…

5)  Dreams Puerto Vallarta Resort        4 Nights $2024 including airfare.All-Inclusive Meals and Activities. (This is one of my all-time favorite properties.  You do not need to spend a penny extra if you do not want to.) In a lush tropical paradise, Dreams Peurto Vallarta Resort and Spa offers Unlimited Luxury in a secluded, private beach cove.  Luxurious accommodations include spacious ocean-view rooms and suites overlooking the hypnotic blue-green water and large private beach.  To unwind there are three pools, four gourmet restaurants and friendly bars plus lounges.  Dreams Puerto Vallarta has also received special recognition by the prestigious readers of Conde Nast Traveler magazine.  All guest rooms have 24-hour room service, a satellite TV, mini-bar refreshed daily and superior amenities.  Activities abound – you’ll find unique daytime activities and entertainment, water sports and fitness center, as well as a number of excellent a la carte restaurants and lounges with live entertainment.

6) MELIA CABO REAL, Los Cabos   4 Nights $1943 Includes airfareAll-Inclusive: Meals and activities Melia Cabo Real is ideally located between the desert and the Sea of Cortes with the only swimable beach of the Tourist Corridor, 10 minutes from San Jose del Cabo, 25 minutes from the airport and 20 minutes from Cabo San Lucas. The hotel features 305 rooms and suites completely redecorated with modern-day touches and a warmer palette, four culinary experiences and three energetic bars. The all-inclusive service provides the freedom of a worry free vacation and lets guests enjoy gourmet, a la carte dining, buffet option, unlimited snacks, select premium brand beverages and cocktails, professional entertainment for all ages, a daily program of activities and one of a kind leisure fun. Guests may partake in non-motorized water sports, snorkeling, tennis and such adrenaline rush adventures as climbing wall and zip line. The resort is surrounded by the 18 hole world-class signature championship golf course Cabo Real, designed by golf architect Robert Trent Jones II.

Tucson, Arizona

Still want sun, fun and pampering but Mexico is too far?  Take a trip to Arizona.  Tuscon is in the mountains so the heat is not as intense in the summer.  Tucson is a place worth considering for the budget wise, especially if your time is limited.  I have loved Tucson since first visiting it as a nine year old.

7) HILTON TUCSON EL CONQUISTADOR Three Nights $1275 Including airfare.The Hilton Tuscon El Conquistador Golf & Tennis Resort is located on 500 acres of serene, colorful high Sonoran Desert terrain in the foothills of the majestic Santa Catalina Mountains. The magnificent granite cliffs of Pusch Ridge rise directly behind the resort. This AAA 4-Diamond resort offers 45 holes of championship golf on 3 courses, 31 lighted tennis courts, wellness center, 4 outdoor swimming pools and 5 whirlpools. It includes indoor racquetball, volleyball and basketball courts at.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas is the capital of hot deals.  If you enjoy gambling, city life, glitz, or want a tour of the grand canyon this is a great place for you.  I have also included locations if you want to relax in the sun away from the gambling scene.  Take a look…

8) Trump Hotel Las Vegas                 3 nights $953 Includes airfare.
(What a deal – relax in a quiet atmosphere but quick access to the sizzling stuff.  No car needed.)  Soaring high above the Strip the new Trump International Hotel and Tower Las Vegas rises 64 stories to offer captivating views of the city against a majestic backdrop of surrounding mountains.  The building houses extensive spa and fitness center, exceptional dining and well-appointed amenities.  The resort is adjacent to some of the city’s best shopping, shows, and resort casinos and mere steps to the exhilaration of the strip.  This is a non-gaming and non-smoking luxury property.

9) Hard Rock Hotel and Casino       3 Nights $846 includes airfare.(We have stayed here numerous times.  It is a fun place.)  Premier resort offering a unique entertainment and gaming experience.  Our 30,000 square foot casino includes the infamous Center Bar, Race and Sportsbook, High Limit gaming, slots, table games, Rockstar Club and a new Poker Lounge.  The Tahitian-style beach swimming pool includes the Beach Club, swim-up gaming, cabanas, Friday Night Live summer concerts and REHAB Sunday Summer Pool Parties.  Nightlife includes, celebrity packed Bod English nightclub, The Joint concert venue and the new Wasted Space rock club.  Five restaurants, including world-famous Nobu Sushi, Robert De Niro’s AGO Northern Italian, Pink Taco Mexican, AJ’s Steakhouse; Mr. Lucky’s 24/7 Diner, Starbucks and plus and 8,000 square foot spa, salon and fitness center.

10) Aston Montelago Village Resort                               3 Nights $731 Includes airfare.The Aston MonteLago Village Resort offers the perfect mix of deluxe accommodations on a spectacular lakefront setting near the action of Las Vegas, yet a relaxed departure from the hustle and bustle of the Strip.  This uniquely themed resort offers a total vacation experience with its Mediterranean-style setting and diverse activities.  Each suite offers a private patio and a kitchen.  Amenities include three pools, two spas, two fitness rooms, a game room and business services.  Located in Henderson on the south shore of Lake Las Vegas, approximately 17 miles east of the Strip.

Seattle, Washington

Seattle vistas on a sunny day is picture perfect.  Give me a stroll through Pikes Market followed by a cup of tea at the Crumpet shop and I’m content.  Take a ferry ride to Bainbridge island and walk into town for a pastry, then hop on back for dinner.  Seattle is a wonderful place for a honeymoon. Keep the trip short so you will have plenty of money for eating out. Skip the rental car because once you are downtown the bus is free.  Catch a cab or the local bus to the hotel.  T

11) THE EDGEWATER               3 Nights $1025 Includes airfare.Nestled on Seattle’s waterfront at Pier 67, The Edgewater is Seattle’s original and only waterfront hotel. We’re surrounded by beauty: the majestic Olympic Mountains; the sparkling waters of Elliott Bay and the Velvety-pink sunsets of the Northwest sky. Relax in an overstuffed chair in our lobby, admiring the Olympic Mountains beside a river rock fireplace. Dine on the outdoor patio at Six Seven, watching sailboats drift by and keeping an eye out for jumping salmon. Or enjoy indoor pleasures-browsing our boutique and using our fitness center. We’re in the heart of downtown, so you’ll be within walking distance to the city’s favorite sites. But you just might decide to relax right here, soaking up the view beside a river-rock fireplace. If you are looking for unbeatable views, the scenic views you’ll get from Seattle’s only waterfront hotel are just outside your window.

San Francisco, California

My home city for all of my life until 2 years ago when I moved to North Idaho.  I left my heart in San Francisco.  You may leave yours as well.  It is a wonderful place to visit.  We would stay at a hotel in the city for anniversaries even though we only lived an hour away, just to enjoy.  No need to have a car once you are there if you are willing to walk a bit.  The buses go everywhere and of course there is the cable car.  Take the hop on-hop off bus option to make all the famous stops.

12)  PLACE $1978             4 Nights Includes airfare & transport to hotel Campton Place is in the premiere central location in San Francisco at Union Square and in the heart of the business district, the City’s best shopping, dining, art galleries, theatre and nightlife; it is very easy to get to/from the hotel from anywhere in the City or Greater San Francisco Bay Area by foot or via public transportation at reasonable cost. The hotel offers superior services and amenities with state-of-the-art electronics throughout, fine dining restaurant, bistro/bar & 24 hours full menu room service, complimentary fitness centre and complimentary hotel town car service. The hotel has been named the number one San Francisco hotel for the last 3 years by Travel + Leisure and for the same period on Conde Nast’s Gold list of Best Places in the World to Stay, both as a result of the Hotel’s exemplary service and attention to detail.

13) OMNI SAN FRANCISCO 4 Nights $1713 Includes airfare & transport to hotel The Omni San Francisco Hotel provides luxury accommodations in the heart of downtown San Francisco – the jewel of California. This beautiful Nob Hill hotel is close to everything and is located right on the cable car line. The hotel is only a short walk to Union Square, the San Francisco neighborhood that has become a mecca for high-end shopping and art galleries. Ideal for a romantic getaway, the Omni San Francisco Hotel offers modern amenities in a boutique ambiance due to its Florentine Renaissance architecture. Built as a bank in 1926, the lobby is adorned with Italian marble, rich fabrics and Austrian crystal chandeliers. This classic elegance makes the hotel the perfect location for a memorable wedding reception. Our on site restaurant, Bob’s Steak and Chop House, has carved out a reputation as one of America’s great steak houses. From great food to the attentive and seasoned wait staff, Bob’s offers an unmatched dining experience in the heart of San Francisco. The Omni San Francisco Hotel is elegant, comfortable and close to everything.

14) KENSINGTON PARK HOTEL 4 Nights $1436  Includes airfare & transport to hotel Kensington Park Hotel is the best address in Union Square for both business and leisure travel. In 2008, all rooms were renovated to reflect a sophisticated, stylish, yet comfortable decor. The hotel is centrally located in Union Square, just half a block away from the famous Cable Car line. Shopping, restaurants, art galleries and the Theatre District are all within an easy walk from the front door. Walk to the Moscone Convention Centre and Chinatown. Complimentary tea and sherry served each evening in the grand lobby. Spectacular Nob Hill and Union Square views from many guest rooms.

Cruises My husband likes nothing better than to sit on the stern of a ship with a coffee watching the water, helping the captain navigate.  Cruises are all about being aboard the ship with sumptuous food, scintillating nightly shows, and pool side lounging.  Of course, on shore you can explore or take an excursion or just relax at a café.  A few things to know about cruising – the food is included as are the shows and activities aboard ship, the drinks including soda are not and can cost quite a bit.  The shore excursions (trips sightseeing or activities) are extra, costing from $35 to $300.  At the end of the cruise, you will be automatically charged about $10 per day per person for tips.  Airfare is not included in these quotes so plan that extra cost into your figuring. You will also need a hotel the night before the cruise.  Carnival is the fun ship, primary colors and young focus.  Norwegian is one step up with more subdued colors and quieter focus.  These prices were for prime summer cruise time.  Off season prices are less expensive.

**NOTE:  If you book a cruise with me, I can make payments once a month for up to a year including your gratuities, so it isn’t a big financial burden all at once.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Alaska is sensational beauty.  Cruising Alaska, my mom and I saw two whales jump out of the water in gracious arcs early one dawn.  We took not one excursion but wandered each town enjoying the ambience.

15)  7-Day Sawyer Glacier Roundtrip Seattle

Ship: Norwegian Star

Embarkation port: Seattle

Embarkation: Sep 3, 2011

Disembarkation: Sep 10, 2011

Ports of call: Seattle; Ketchikan; Juneau; Skagway; Prince Rupert

Total Price: $1,781.60 Not including airfare or tips.  Plan about $400 for Southwest flights plus $100 for overnight in a hotel.  $140 for gratuities.  This doesn’t leave you much from our $2500 budget for drinks and excursions but you can have fun just looking and walking.  There are lots to see and you are getting a 7 day trip.

CARNIVAL Cruise Line (We go to Catalina Island almost every summer. It feels as if you are on a Caribbean island even though it is right off the California coast.  The town is quaint and small.  The dancing casino is worth a visit.  The glass bottom boat is fun.  Take a ride up to the park and you may see some buffalo.  Or just take your swim suit and lay on the beach.  If you walk past the casino you will find a wonderful beach resort where you can rent a cabana for the day or sit and sip a marquerita.)

16)      3 Day to Baja Mexico – Los Angeles, Catalina Island, Ensenada Mexico, Los Angeles.  Total Price $1036 Not including airfare. Plan about $600 additional for air and hotel the night before the cruise.  $60 for gratuities.  Plan about $300 for drinks and excursions.  This brings you in under $2000.

17)      5 Day Western Caribbean – Tampa, Florida, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, Cozumel, Mexico.  $1333 not including airfare.  Plan about $1100 for air and hotel.  $100 for gratuities leaving you about $100 for drinks and excursions.   Again, this doesn’t leave you much for drinks or excursions but you can window shop on shore and sip a Corona in a café.

THERE IT IS…17 TRIPS UNDER $2500!  One of these should work for you.  Of course there are a lot more options if you have a bit more money in your budget.  Would love to work with you.   Have fun planning,   Anne

www.honeymoonsbyannemarie.com anne@dreamalongtravel.com (208) 964-3578