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Honeymoons offer time for bonding
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- When it comes to honeymoons, a couple's interests and personalities should determine location, preparation and any other details.
Patsilu Reeves, a family life education specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said when couples relax and focus on having fun together, they can develop a stronger emotional bond.
"Many people put a lot of pressure on themselves to make a honeymoon perfect. But nothing in the world is ever perfect -- it may rain on a day you planned to go to the beach," Reeves said. "The important thing is to enjoy each other's company and relax together. If it's raining that day at the beach, have a nice day in with room service."
Couples with shared interests -- such as history, hiking, sunbathing or anything else -- may want to target their honeymoon toward that particular area.
"Mississippi is a diverse state with a wide variety of options available for honeymoons. Our state parks offer quiet, back-to-nature options for camping enthusiasts. Resort areas along the river, the Coast and in central Mississippi have luxury hotels with lovely golf courses and many things to do," Reeves said. "Bed-and-breakfast lodging in towns like Columbus or Natchez is a wonderful honeymoon idea. Love the blues? Pick a location in the Delta."
Couples who plan to honeymoon internationally have some specific issues to consider, including passports, VISAs and occasionally certain immunizations. Reeves suggested contacting the country's embassy for information on requirements for visiting that country.
"The embassy can tell you things you might want to see, what that country is like and any points of interest. They can also tell you what documentation is required to visit the country and any precautions you may need to take," Reeves said. "You'll also need to check with the U.S. Department of State to make sure it's safe for tourists to go there."
Begin preparing at least six months in advance for international travel. This will ensure couples have time to apply for and receive passports and any other needed travel items.
"With so many National Guardsmen being called to duty in Iraq, time may become an issue when it comes to planning a honeymoon. Couples with such time -- or budget -- restraints might consider planning a nice, long weekend close to home immediately after the wedding. Then, they can save and plan for their first major vacation together at a later time."
Another issue that depends on the couple's personalities is whether or not to hire a travel agent. Reeves said if all the details of planning a major vacation seem overwhelming, an agent could be a good idea. Couples also might consider arranging their own honeymoon via the Internet.
Robbie Shears, director of marketing and honeymoon coordinator with Magnolia Travel Agency in Hattiesburg, said popular honeymoon destinations typically are tropical.
"We see a lot of people who choose the Sandals resorts, which are spread around the Caribbean, mainly in Jamaica, the Bahamas and St. Lucia. We also have people who go on cruises in the Caribbean for their honeymoon, and Disney World," Shears said.
Less-popular, and therefore less-crowded, choices include the Gatlinburg, Tenn., area, Hawaii and Europe. Shears said there are advantages and disadvantages to choosing a more popular destination.
"Going to a more popular destination, I find that the benefits are usually that the client is a little more familiar with what to expect, and they know the quality and type of service they're going to receive. One disadvantage is, especially during the honeymoon season, it may be overcrowded," Shears said.
"If bottom-line price is a factor for the couple, I would suggest maybe a romantic trip up to the Tennessee mountains," he said.
Many travel agencies offer gift registries that work the same way as more traditional bridal gift registries. Shears said this option can aid couples with limited honeymoon funds. Visit the Magnolia Travel Agency online at http://www.magnoliatravelagency.com.
Susan Cosgrove, Extension family resource management agent in Newton County, said it is possible for budget-conscious couples to save money and still have a memorable honeymoon.
"Couples could check with visitor's bureaus at their destination of choice for a list of rental agencies that offer private rentals, like a private residence, cabin or condo," Cosgrove said. "You might have to do a little cooking or rely on deli or take-out foods, but the money saved could make a honeymoon reality instead of just a dream."
Contact: Dr. Patsilu Reeves, (662) 325-3080
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