A destination wedding is a dream come true for many brides. While jetting to a foreign country to marry your true love is exciting, there is a lot to consider to make your big day truly special. Here are 7 things to keep in mind as you start planning:
Destination weddings are a great way to celebrate your big day. Whether your destination is Hawaii, Mexico or some exotic locale, let Luxury Destinations concierge help you with your destination wedding or honeymoon plans. Give us a call at (805) 236-4437.
If you have traveled outside the country recently, you are well aware of the long lines and the time it takes to get through Customs each time you fly. Luckily, there are ways to expedite your travel through border crossings, similar to TSA PreCheck for domestic travel. These are Mobile Passport, Global Entry and CLEAR. Here’s a breakdown how each works.
Mobile Passport. Mobile Passport is an app that allows US (and Canadian) passport holders to submit their passport information and customs declarations to the US Customs and Border Patrol via your smartphone or tablet before you get off the plane. It allows you to go through an expedited lane, by-passing the long lines. The app is free, and initially all you have to do is create a profile consisting of your name, gender, date of birth and country of citizenship. Each time you re-enter the US, you fill out a “New Trip” section, take a selfie and answer some inspection-related questions. Once completed, you’ll get an electronic receipt with a QR code, which you take to a CBP officer, along with your passport, to finalize your re-entry to the US. That’s it. You can download the app through Google Play or the Apple App stores.
Global Entry. Global Entry provides participants expedited entrance at US border crossings for a full five years. Unlike Mobile Passport, Global Entry requires an in-depth background check and in-person interview. Once you “pass” the background check and in-person interview, you get a “Known Traveler Number” and are eligible for expedited security and customs screening and TSA PreCheck when you travel in and out of the US. The cost for the program is $100 and is good for 5 years. Some credit cards, such as Chase Sapphire and American Express Platinum, will provide reimbursement for Global Entry program costs – check with your credit card company for details. To apply for Global Entry you need to visit the Trusted Traveler Program website.
CLEAR. CLEAR is an identity verification service that will help speed you through security checkpoints for domestic flights only. Instead of using your Driver’s License or other ID, CLEAR uses biometrics to identify you – either your fingerprints or iris scans. CLEAR Members have their own security lines, where a CLEAR Ambassador will take care of scanning their fingerprint or iris and comparing it to their boarding pass. They are then escorted to the front of the security screening line. CLEAR does cost $179 per year, and currently has special programs with Delta and United that will reduce that cost for their awards program members. In addition, some credit cards (Chase Sapphire, AMEX Platinum, etc.) offer discounts and/or reimbursements for your CLEAR membership fees – check with your credit card company for eligibility. CLEAR is currently available at 30 airports. In addition, they will shortly introduce the CLEAR Pass app, which is similar to Mobile Passport and will help expedite the process through customs when entering the US.
Need help determining which program is right for you? Give Luxury Destinations Concierge a call at (805) 236-4437. We’re happy to answer all your questions.
If you’re looking for an adventure this year, then Nepal should be at the top of your list. With the breath-taking Himalayas and Mount Everest, beautiful lakes, diverse wildlife and its unique culture, Nepal has a lot to offer. In fact, Nepal’s government has declared this year as Visit Nepal 2020, with festivals and events planned throughout the year. As you make your plans, be sure to indulge in some of these festivities during your journey.
Here are our top must-see stops along your trip to Nepal:
Kathmandu. As one of the main stops along the ancient Silk Road between Europe and China and Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu is most likely your first stop on your journey to Nepal. Kathmandu is known for its medieval temples, public squares, monasteries and monuments. While here, visit Swayambhu, the ancient “Monkey Temple”, where you can climb the steps and see the panoramic views of Kathmandu Valley. an ancient temple that is often called the “Monkey Temple”. You’ll also want to take a stroll around the markets at Thamel to do some shopping. And no trip to Kathmandu is complete without visiting Durbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is one of three royal palaces in the area. Here, you can see home to palaces, temples and courtyards that tell the story of Kathmandu and the surrounding area.
Bhaktapur. A sister city to Kathmandu, Bhaktapur closely resembles what it must have looked like during medieval times. In fact, if you want to see Nepali culture and heritage up close, Bhaktapur is the place to do it. Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, you’ll see hundreds of examples of Newari architecture throughout the city. Make sure to stop by the Nyatapola Temple with its 5-tier roof. Climb to the top and look out over Taumadhi Square and the surrounding hillside.
Boudhanath Stupa. The Boudhanath Stupa is one of the oldest and largest stupas – or dome-shaped Buddhist shrines – in the world. Built in the 14th century, it has become a beacon for Buddhist belief and the center for Tibetan Buddhism, drawing visitors and pilgrims from all over the world.
Mount Everest Base Camp. For the adventurer, no trip to Nepal would be complete without glimpsing Mount Everest. While trekking to the summit may be a stretch, many can hike to its base camp to get a glimpse of the peak. If you want to see Mount Everest but don’t want to hike, consider taking a helicopter tour or even a driving tour up to Nagarkot View Tower or Chandragiri Hill. Both options aren’t quite as close as the base camp, but the early morning tours should give you a clear view of the mountain.
Lumbini. A little off the beaten path, but well worth the trip is Lumbini, the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama, the historic Buddha, known as Buddha Shakyamuni. Visit the Maya Devi Temple (believed to be where Buddha was born), the Lumbini Monastic Site, the Myanmar Golden Temple, and the World Peace Pagoda. And don’t miss the Ashokan Pillar, built in 249 BC by Emperor Ashoka of India to commemorate not only his visit but also the birthplace of Buddha.
Chitwan National Park. Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Chitwan National Park is situated at the base of the Himalayas and is home to the single-horned Asiatic rhinoceros as well as the Bengal tiger. You can go on a walking safari through the park, or if you are less adventurous, take a jeep safari to see the unique flora and fauna that the park has to offer.
Nepal is the place to visit whether you want an adventure or to indulge in the culture and history of the region, and Luxury Destinations Concierge is ready to help you plan your trip. Give us a call at (805) 236-4437 to get started.
Sri Lanka has truly earned its nickname of Pearl of the Indian Ocean. While a little off the beaten path, Sri Lanka offers visitors an opportunity to see exquisite beaches, beautiful forests tea plantations and more, while also enjoying its rich cultural heritage. Its tropical environment makes it a great destination all year long.
Here are our top must-see sights in Sri Lanka:
Colombo. Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital, used to be known as “the garden of the East”. Today, it is usually the first stop on visits to Sri Lanka. Originally a seaport town, Colombo has changed significantly over the years and now is a mix of a bustling, modern city combined with historical sites from ancient times through British, Portuguese and Dutch colonization. Take some time to explore the National Museum to learn about ancient Sri Lanka, and then stroll around the Fort area to see remnants of British and Dutch colonization, including the Old Dutch Hospital and the Old Galle Buck Lighthouse. For a bit of shopping and people-watching, head over to the Pettah district to experience the markets and the Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque. And if you get tired of walking around, don’t forget to take a Tuk-Tuk ride!
Nuwara Eliya and Tea Plantations. Sri Lanka is known for its tea, so no trip is complete without a trip to the tea plantations. And there is no better place to go than Nuwara Eliya, known as the Little England of Sri Lanka. Enjoy the colonial architecture of the post office as you explore the city. Then, head over to the Pedro Tea Estate to participate in the tea tasting ritual, roam the plantation, and see the intricacies of the tea-making process. You can also explore the beautiful Hakgala Botanical Gardens, take a boat out on Gregory Lake or visit the waterfalls at St. Clairs Fall.
Galle. About 130 kilometers south of Colombo is the coastal city of Galle. This seaside city is the home of the Galle Dutch Fort, a Unesco World Heritage site. This unique walled fort is surrounded on three sides by ocean. The Dutch East India Company used the fort as a major spice trading port for nearly 200 years. You can explore the fort and still see much of the Dutch influence in the area architecture. While in Galle, visit the beautiful sandy beaches of Unawatuna. Go surfing, relax on the beach, go scuba diving or visit the Japanese Peace Pagoda.
Yala National Park. A visit to Sri Lanka wouldn’t be complete without spending time exploring the wildlife reserves. At Yala National Park, take a safari to see buffalo, elephants, monkeys, and, most importantly, the leopards!
Sigiriya Rock Fortress. Another Unesco World Heritage site, Sigiriya, or Lion’s Rock is an ancient palace and fortress complex built into the rock formation designed to resemble a lion. It’s a remarkable fete of architecture, featuring extensive networks of fortifications, canals, gardens and fountains. It is one of the best-preserved examples of urban planning, and is not to be missed. Make sure that you take one of the guided tours to understand the full impact of what locals call “The Eighth Wonder of the World”.
Anuradhapura. For a bit more history and culture, take a trip to Anuradhapura, one of the most ancient cities in Sri Lanka. Home to the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi, a fig tree purported to be the oldest tree planted by a human about 2,300 years ago. It’s the center of the Sinhalese Buddhist civilization, and the monasteries and ruins are well worth the trip.
Kandy. Last, but not least, is the city of Kandy. It is the home to the country’s most holy relic – a tooth of Buddha, which can be seen at Sri Dalada Maligawa. If you are their during the time of puja, you may be able to see the golden casket that holds this sacred relic. You also might want to visit the Giragama Tea Plantation, where you can tour the plantation and see a variety of teas in the making – from green tea to Earl Grey. While you are in Kandy, don’t miss a trek up to see Bahiravokanda Vihara, the giant Buddha statue overlooking the city.
It’s time to start planning your trip to Sri Lanka. Let Luxury Destinations Concierge take care of all the details. Give them a call at (805) 236-4437 to get started.
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