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Pittsburgh Wedding and Event Planners

European Countries You Should Visit Now June 28, 2015

Filed under: Hello Travel — Hello Productions @ 5:37 pm
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map of europe

European countries are favorite travel destinations, but some countries can be quite costly to visit. The popular countries to avoid in peak seasons include Spain, France, Italy, Germany, and Greece. Instead, look into visiting some of the less popular countries such as Portugal, Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, and Lithuania.

 

Here’s a quick overview of these spots and fun one-week itineraries to get your planning started!

 

Portugal
Located between Spain and the Atlantic Ocean.

 

Climate – Similar to California. Peak travel season is summer. Spring and autumn are nice off-peak times to visit.

 

Frommer’s One Week Itinerary: http://www.frommers.com/destinations/portugal/253485
Start in Lisbon (easiest for international travel), don’t miss the town of Sintra, and spend time in Cascais, a fishing village that has turned into a major beach resort.

 

Netherlands and Belgium
The Netherlands are Located north of Belgium and north-west of Germany. Belgium is located just below The Netherlands, on top of France.

 

July and August are most popular times to visit, but their “in season” goes from mid-April to mid-October. Its maritime climate brings fog, mist, and dampness often. Remember your raincoat!

 

Frommer’s One Week Itinerary: http://www.frommers.com/destinations/belgium/252426
The trip may begin and end in Amsterdam, but there are many other places to see, such as Brussels, Ghent, and Antwerp.

 

Ireland
Located off the west coast of the United Kingdom.

 

Because Ireland can be very cool in the winter and hot in the summer, the ideal visiting times are spring and fall.

 

Frommer’s One Week Itinerary: http://www.frommers.com/destinations/ireland/697566
Start your trip in Dublin, the perfect city to explore on foot. Outside the city, you can reach the Wicklow mountains in less than 2 hours. Then finish your trip along the coast, visiting fishing villages and castles.

 

Lithuania
Located in the north eastern part of Europe, Lithuania is just north of Poland and Belarus.

 

Winters are extreme here so visit in late spring/early summer.

 

Rough Guides’ Things Not To Miss: http://www.roughguides.com/destinations/europe/lithuania/things-not-to-miss/#/0
From castles to beaches, Rough Guides offers the top must-see Lithuanian locals.

 

Don’t forget that Hello Productions now helps with travel planning! Find out more at http://www.helloproductions.com!

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Painless Passports – How to Apply for or Renew a Passport April 21, 2015

Filed under: Hello Travel — Hello Productions @ 10:51 am
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Before you travel abroad – whether it is for a honeymoon, destination wedding, or vacation – you will need to make sure you have a current passport.

 

The U.S. Department of State has a very helpful U.S. Passports & International Travel page (http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/passports.html) that will walk you through the process of either applying for a passport or renewing one.

 

Keep in mind that once you submit your application, it can take anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks to receive your passport. Make sure you submit your application well in advance before your trip. If you do need one sooner than that, you can pay to have it expedited (approx. 3 weeks) or have an agency expedite for you (approx. 8 days).

 

Steps to Apply for a Passport

 

All first time applicants must apply in person at a Passport Agency, an authorized Passport Application Acceptance Facility, U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

 

Visit: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/passports.html.

 

Fill out the form: DS-11: Application for a U.S. Passport. You can fill it out online and print it, or you can print a blank form to fill out by hand.

 

Obtain a photo. You can submit your own photo that meets their requirements or have it taken at most drugstores like CVS or Walgreens. Most local courthouses will do it for you also. (Learn about the photo requirements at: http://travel.state.gov/passport/pptphotoreq/pptphotoreq_5333.html)

 

Have your money ready. Figure out what fees you will need to pay ahead of time using their fee calculator: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/passports/information/fees.html.

 

Submit your application at an authorized passport acceptance facility. (locate one here: http://iafdb.travel.state.gov/)
Acceptance facilities may include post offices, libraries, or municipal offices. Note that some passport acceptance facilities see customers by appointment only, and some accept walk-in customers.

 

Renewing a Passport

 

As long as you have your passport (undamaged), you were age 16 or order when it was issued, and it was issued within the last 15 years, you can renew it by mail.

 

Visit: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/passports.html.

 

Fill out and print the form: DS-82: U.S. Passport Renewal Application for Eligible Individuals (By Mail).

 

Put it in an envelope with your current passport, recent photo, and check for fees. (Figure out your fees: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/passports/information/fees.html and your photo requirements: http://travel.state.gov/passport/pptphotoreq/pptphotoreq_5333.html.)

 

Mail to:
National Passport Processing Center
Post Office Box 90155
Philadelphia, PA 19190-0155

 

For expedited Service (an additional fee), mail to:
National Passport Processing Center
Post Office Box 90955
Philadelphia, PA 19190-0955

 

You can check the status here: http://travel.state.gov/passport/status/status_2567.html.

 

BONUS: Traveler’s Checklist

A trip requires careful planning.  Here is a great checklist (http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/go/checklist.html) to review before you travel outside the United States. In addition, you can search for your destination to view more specific information about that country or area.

 

House or Hotel? Hello Travel Helps You Pick For Your Group January 31, 2015

Filed under: Hello Travel — Hello Productions @ 4:32 pm
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house vs hotel
 

Perhaps you’re planning an upcoming group trip or looking for rooms for your wedding guests. You may have asked yourself if you should reserve hotel rooms or a large house. While there isn’t a wrong answer, one option may be more suitable for your specific group. Hotels often provide amenities that house rentals don’t have, but you can often score more of a deal by renting a home.

 

Location – Some locations have a variety of hotels, while others have more home rentals. Is the house located in town while the hotel is outside of town? Do an initial search to find your options for both.

 

Amenities – If you’re traveling for leisure, bringing sheets may not deter you with a house and the idea of a refrigerator and kitchen may be perfect for an extended stay. If you’re traveling for a wedding, packing sheets and towels may be the last thing you want to worry about.

 

Purpose – A quick stay makes sense for a hotel, but a house rental can be great for an extended stay with more gathering areas (porch, living room, kitchen, etc.). A bridal party that wants to have hair/makeup professionals onsite may want to reserve a house to have the room to get ready.

 

Value – A hotel can bring value in the way of amenities and services, where a house can bring value in the way of space. With each type of accommodation, it’s important to do your research to make sure you the space is right for you.

 

Popular resources that may help in your search include: VRBO, Home Away, AirBnB, Hotels.com and TripAdvisor.

 

Looking for more guidance? Let Hello Productions help you plan your trip!

 

Ski Trip Planning Tips For Any Resort And Any Budget November 3, 2014

skier

As the weather gets colder, many people start dreaming about the beach; but for those snow bunnies out there, we have some tips to help you plan your next ski trip! Ski resorts have something for everyone, from ski sports to shopping, and from great restaurants to spas, perfect for a couples weekend away or family trip.

 

Ski trips can get costly, so consider going during off-peak times, such as the post-holiday, pre-spring-break month of January. Many resorts offer deals on lodging and lift tickets during these low season times. Another tip is to plan your trip during the week, as weekend prices are often higher. Avoid holidays since many resorts will charge extra holiday rates.

 

Before you pack up all your equipment, look online for deals that include lift tickets and rentals. These may be less expensive than buying your tickets and renting your equipment separately; and may end up being a good value, even if you own your own equipment. Sometimes renting equipment can save you the hassle and cost of packing and checking it on the airline. If you do decide to bring your equipment, pack as much as you can in your boot and ski bags, limited the number of additional suitcases you have to take.

 

When picking your accommodations, decide if you want the convenient (but sometimes more expensive) option of lodging on the slopes or if you want to save your money and stay off the mountain. If you decide to stay outside of the resort, be sure to research transportation options (is there a shuttle to take you to the resort each day or will you need to hire a taxi or rent a car?). The transportation options should figure into your budget for accommodations. If you have a large group, it may make sense to rent a van instead of having to call two taxis to travel together.

 

Another tip to save money during your trip is to eat in meals and pack lunches. You may want to make a grocery store trip the first day for breakfast items you can eat before you leave and things to pack for lunch. You can leave your lunch in a locker, saving money on buying lunch each day. You can then feel guilt-free when you splurge for dinner out one or two nights. Another option is to have everyone take turns making dinner. Give each person a budget and they can use it for groceries or take-out, as long as they stick to it! Be prepared to be exhausted after a fun day of skiing and snowboarding, so a quiet dinner in by the fireplace might be exactly what you want.

 

Bonus Tips from Hello Travel

vail village

Thinking Colorado? While Breckenridge’s newest expansion has recently been completed (additional 543 acres of skiable terrain) and may be tempting, remember it will be tempting to many and receive a lot of press – and crowds – this season! Instead, opt for a trip to Vail (pictured at right), which will have reduced lines due to its new six-passenger chairlift.

 

In the market for new equipment? Most of the major brands are releasing upgraded ski boots, with for comfort for hiking as well as functionality for skiing. Look for pre-season and after-Christmas deals.

 

Looking for a new resort to visit? Check out the 50 Best Ski Resorts 2013-2014 from The Active Times. While the western half of the country has some amazing resorts, for those looking to stay on the east coast, Stowe and Killington Resorts in Vermont made the top 30.

 

Still not sure where to start?

Let Hello handle it! Hello Productions can help you with all aspects of your trip, from booking the lodging and flights, to arranging transportation and restaurant recommendations. Give us a call today!