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15 Travel Hacks to Help You Through Wedding Season

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Once the RSVPs have been returned, the real budgeting and planning begins. These 15 travel hacks will keep you cool and collected as you train, plane, or automobile to attend this season's nuptials. 

1. SEND WEDDING GIFTS AHEAD OF TIME.

There’s a lot to plan and pack for a wedding weekend away, but sending the happy couple’s gift ahead of time can save suitcase space. Mailing or delivering a large or bulky gift before the big day means you won’t have to lug a package from the car or plane to the wedding reception—and its recipients won’t have to worry about getting the gift home before heading out on a honeymoon. If it’s too close to the wedding to send a gift, wait until the couple returns home to ensure your gift arrives safely. Traditional etiquette allows for sending gifts up to the couple’s first anniversary.

2. MAKE A FULL WEEKEND OF IT.

Many people travel far for one day of wedding events, meaning they shell out big dollars for a short period of time. Planning a small getaway around wedding events can help expand your travel options in terms of flights, hotel accommodations, and rental cars. Besides, why not build in time to explore someplace new or catch up with family and friends back home?

3. SPLIT TRAVEL COSTS WITH FRIENDS.

If you know at least one other person attending the wedding, it’s possible to save money by sharing the cost. Splitting a hotel room or a rental car with friends or other wedding guests can reduce your travel expenses, leaving more budget room for a nice meal, new outfit for the occasion, or sightseeing. But what if you don’t know any other guests? Reach out to the bride or groom for help. They may be able to connect you with another friend in the same predicament.

4. DON'T ASSUME THE GUEST DISCOUNT IS THE BEST OPTION.

Many wedding planners set up hotel blocks to help guests find easy accommodations. While this setup often leads to a discount for guests (and the couple), it isn’t always the best price. Shopping around with that price in mind can help you find the best option at the lowest price—even if it’s another nearby hotel.

5. GIVE YOUR CAR A BREAK.

It may be more cost-efficient to drive to a wedding than fly, but when crunching the numbers, it’s worth factoring in the wear and tear on your vehicle and its current condition. Older cars may be great for your daily commute, but aren’t necessarily up for a multi-hour roadtrip. Instead of adding excessive miles to your vehicle, consider a weekend rental that offers the perks of roadside assistance and unlimited miles. Not only can you get excited about trying out a new car, you’ll be worry free about breakdowns or costly repairs in unfamiliar territory.

6. SKIP THE AIRPORT RENTAL CAR SERVICE.

Renting a car from an airport often costs substantially more because of additional service fees that don’t exist at non-airport locations. Reserving a rental car at an off-airport location can save big, and with apps like Uber and Lyft, it’s easier to get to the rental lot without the hassle of public transportation or shuttles.

7. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF FLIGHT ALERT WEBSITES.

Save the date notices can give you a leg up when it comes to finding plane tickets, so start your search as early as possible. Flight alert websites track sales and potential savings, helping you book earlier with a windfall of cash back in your pocket. Want further savings? Combine flight alert savings with credit card, warehouse, or other rewards programs to drop your ticket price even more.

8. WATERPROOF YOUR SUITCASE.

It’s a known fact that suitcases are heavily abused at airports. While most bags can withstand the occasional fall or drop, rainy days make checked baggage a soggy mess. To keep your best attire looking great, tuck clothing into a plastic bag or dry sack, especially items with sensitive materials such as suede or satin. If you’re part of the wedding party, consider eliminating a potential disaster by packing your day-of wear into a carry-on bag instead of a checked bag. Doing so will prevent water stains or cosmetics gone awry and more importantly, ensures it makes it to the wedding safely in case any checked luggage goes missing.

9. CONSIDER TRAVEL-FRIENDLY FABRICS.

While most hotels have an iron, some materials can be hard to unwrinkle. Plan your wedding attire around pieces that travel well with minimal wrinkles, such as cottons and silks blended with polyester, cashmere, or lyocell. And for an extra wrinkle barrier, wrap apparel in tissue paper before tucking into your suitcase. Just remember that whatever outfit you pack, make sure it adheres to the day-of style—and never white unless specifically requested by the couple.

10. LOOK FOR AIRLINE GROUP DISCOUNTS.

The wedding hotel group rate is a commonly known money saver, but its possible to get a group discount on flights, too. In the case of destination weddings or locations where a large number of guests will fly in, many airlines offer group discounts; in most cases, these are available for groups of 10 or more travelers. If the wedding planner or couple hasn’t arranged a group rate, it’s worth inquiring with an airline to see what discount they’ll offer. And, don’t forget the digital trick of clearing your browser cookies or using a private browser (like Chrome's incognito mode) when searching for flights to find lower prices.

11. PREP YOUR OWN TRAVEL SNACKS.

Food is usually one of the largest costs associated with traveling, and the cost of eating out in airport cafes and restaurants can quickly add up. To save some money and keep fueled up for a busy weekend, pack your own snacks (like granola bars or baggies of carrots or nuts) and an empty, reusable water bottle. For the day of, plan to eat a small meal before the ceremony, and pack a light snack just in case time between the ceremony and reception runs longer than expected.

12. PACK YOUR OWN BOOZE.

Plane or train travel can be exhausting, but with the right supplies, it can also be a personal party. Mini bottles of alcohol can make it through TSA checkpoints so long as they fit in the allowed quart-sized plastic bag. While FAA regulations prohibit drinking on board the flight, you'll be thankful you can avoid paying in-room mini-bar prices once you reach your destination. If you travel by Amtrak, drinking on the rails is permitted and many café cars even have happy hour drink specials. Just remember to take it easy on the alcohol on the day of to prevent any embarrassing social faux pas.

13. CONSIDER YOUR CHARGING SITUATION.

Layovers, congestion, and delays can put a hamper on your travel plans as well as your phone battery. Packing a small extension cord in your carry-on can help you snag a precious terminal outlet, but remember to power down, or at least tuck your phone away, during the ceremony itself. Constantly snapping photos on your phone can make a photographer’s job more difficult and keep you from enjoying the moment. Plus, you'll have plenty of charge left for the reception afterward.

14. SAVE YOUR ITINERARY TO THE CLOUD.

Traveling can be stressful, especially when it comes to leaving the country for a destination wedding or trying to hit multiple events during a wedding weekend. Digitize your schedule by saving screenshots to your phone—a smart move for areas that have limited phone or Internet access. If a destination wedding has you crossing international waters, consider snapping photos of your passport, prescriptions, and other important documents in case of loss or theft. This quick step can help speed up the replacement process.

15. PUT MONEY TOWARD A GIFT INSTEAD.

Brides and grooms aren’t the only ones emptying their wallets for a wedding. The average guest spends $703 between wedding related events, gifts, travel, and accommodations. If you’re encountering a wedding-heavy season, these added costs can really eat at your budget. In some cases, the best wedding season hack is determining whether or not to go. While attending weddings of close friends and family is a no-brainer, declining an invite to distant friend’s or destination wedding can help save the stress (and cash) associated with traveling. You can float the savings to a nice gift instead and stretch your remaining budget to other pressing events.

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St. Helena, the Remote Island Where Napoleon Died, Is Finally Accessible by Plane
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For the first time ever, travelers can book a flight to St. Helena, the remote British island territory where Napoleon Bonaparte spent his final years in exile, Travel + Leisure reports.

St. Helena's new airport recently welcomed its first scheduled commercial passenger flight, a plane from Johannesburg, South Africa, that touched down on October 14. From here on out, South African airline SA Airlink Ltd. will provide weekly flights to and from Johannesburg and St. Helena.

Located in the South Atlantic, the rugged volcanic island was previously accessible only by lengthy boat excursion. While officials had discussed building an airport there since the 1930s, the ideal site—one of the island’s few flat expanses—was near a breeding ground for the endangered wirebird.

In recent years, the island decided to fill a valley with 8 million cubic meters of rock, according to Reuters, and construct the travel hub there. A runway and terminal were finally completed in 2016, but gusty crosswinds made it unsafe for pilots to attempt test flights with large aircrafts. The travel hub was deemed "the world’s most useless airport" by the British press, who also condemned the project’s steep overhead costs. Now, St. Helena officials are finally getting the last laugh.

St. Helena is home to Jonathan, an ancient 185-year-old giant tortoise that might be the world’s oldest living land creature, and Longwood House, the lodging where Napoleon lived after he was exiled from France following his loss at the Battle of Waterloo. (The military leader died on St. Helena in 1821, at the age of 61.) But while the island has historic attractions, unusual features, and natural beauty to spare, officials aren’t anticipating a huge tourism boom now that the far-flung outpost finally has an airport (each weekly flight ferries fewer than 100 passengers due to weight restrictions).

Despite its reputation as a boondoggle, St. Helena’s airport has already facilitated multiple emergency medical evacuations since it was completed last year, including one case that involved a newborn baby, according to The Independent.

"I've seen the headlines about the world's most useless airport, but for St. Helena, this has already been the most useful airport," governor Lisa Phillips told reporters. "It's priceless."

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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5 Cemetery Road Trips for the Ultimate Taphophile
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Autumn is the best time of year for a road trip. The weather is cooling down, the leaves are turning, and fewer people are on the roads. With Halloween on the horizon, cemeteries are natural destinations. These five journeys are a great way to explore America’s rich and varied history as recorded on its tombstones—and truly dedicated taphophiles (from the Greek for tomb) can combine them into one itinerary covering 22 states and more than 10,000 miles. Tombstone tourists, rejoice.

1. NORTHEAST

A stylized map of the United States showing a route map for a Northeast cemetery road trip
Lucy Quintanilla/iStock

A. Hope Cemetery
201 Maple Avenue, Barre, Vermont
44.2107° N, 72.4994° W

Barre’s Hope Cemetery is a jaw-dropping open-air sculpture garden, featuring locally quarried granite carved into everything from angels to sports cars to life-sized portraits. The cemetery is especially gorgeous when the leaves turn in autumn.

B. Mount Auburn Cemetery
580 Mount Auburn Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts
42.3752° N, 71.1450° W

Designed by Dr. Jacob Bigelow, the foremost botanist of his day, this breathtaking place may be the most important cemetery in America. Its opening in 1831 signaled a shift from austere churchyards to park-like cemeteries full of trees and flowers. One of the most striking grave monuments remembers Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science.

C. Touro Jewish Cemetery
Touro Street, Newport, Rhode Island
41.48793° N, 71.30936° W

Open only one day a year, the Touro Cemetery is the second-oldest Jewish cemetery in the U.S. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote a beautiful poem about the place. Nearby Touro Synagogue offers a brochure to explain the significance of the cemetery to visitors who come to gaze through its gates.

D. Green-Wood Cemetery
500 25th Street, Brooklyn, New York
40.6590° N, 73.9956° W

Lovely Green-Wood Cemetery is the forefather of city parks in America. Full of famous names and one-of-a-kind monuments, the cemetery rewards repeat visits. Among those buried here are Jean-Michel Basquiat, FAO Schwarz, and conductor Leonard Bernstein.

E. Soldiers’ National Cemetery
Gettysburg National Military Park
1195 Baltimore Pike, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
39.82177° N, 77.23256° W

A Gettysburg postcard from pre-1930
Author's collection

President Lincoln’s Gettysburg address announced the system of national cemeteries for casualties of federal battles. In Soldiers’ National Cemetery, granite stones marked with the tally of unknown soldiers provide a sobering reminder of the costs of war.

F. Congressional Cemetery
1801 E. Street SE, Washington, D.C.
38.8811° N, 76.9780° W

Originally designed as a graveyard for congressmen who died in office, the Congressional Cemetery became the final resting place for a wide assortment of public servants. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, Civil War photographer Mathew Brady, and march king John Philip Sousa—as well as pioneers in the fights for Native American rights, women’s rights, and gay rights—are all buried here.

2. SOUTH

A stylized map of the United States showing a route map for a Southern cemetery road trip
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A. The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change
449 Auburn Avenue NE, Atlanta, Georgia
33.7563° N, 84.3734° W

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. rests on the grounds of the Center for Nonviolent Social Change, founded in his name by his widow Coretta Scott King in 1968. After her death in 2006, Mrs. King joined him in a matching sarcophagus. The King Center is undergoing renovation in advance of the 50th anniversary of his assassination, so call before you visit.

B. Bonaventure Cemetery
330 Bonaventure Road, Savannah, Georgia
32.0444° N, 81.0467° W

Oaks draped with Spanish moss surround museum-worthy statuary in Bonaventure Cemetery. When John Muir camped there in September 1867, he wrote that the cemetery was "so beautiful that almost any sensible person would choose to dwell here with the dead” [PDF]. More than a century later, the cemetery still makes all the lists of most beautiful graveyards.

C. Tolomato Cemetery
14 Cordova Street, Saint Augustine, Florida
29.8970° N, 81.3151° W

American citizens of Saint Augustine started using this acre of land as a cemetery in 1777, although the Spanish used it as a graveyard even earlier. As such, it may be the oldest European-founded cemetery in the U.S. Although Hurricane Irma did significant damage in September, Tolomato Cemetery remains open to visitors one day a month as its Preservation Society repairs it.

D. St. Louis Cemetery #1
425 Basin Street, New Orleans, Louisiana
29.9608° N, 90.0754° W

A vintage postcard of St. Louis No. 1
Author's collection

New Orleans’s tropical heat and humidity gave rise to the so-called oven tomb, which can reduce a corpse to bones in less than a year. In the back of each of these tombs stands a receptacle called a caveau, which contains the bones of all its occupants mixed together through the generations.

The most famous tomb in the oldest surviving cemetery in New Orleans may belong to Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen. The death date on the tomb is closer to her daughter Marie’s, but since the bones of all the tomb’s occupants lie jumbled together in its central caveau, it’s believed the original Marie rests there as well. After vandalism of the tomb spiraled out of control, the cemetery now opens only to tour groups. Luckily, there are many tours from which to choose.

3. WEST

A stylized map of the United States showing a route map for a Western cemetery road trip
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A. Texas State Cemetery
909 Navasota Street, Austin, Texas
30.15994° N, 97.43553° W

Conceived as a pantheon to the famous sons of Texas, the Texas State Cemetery is the final home of Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, as well as Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, who helped impeach Richard Nixon. Also buried here are Governor Ann Richards, Chris Kyle (author of American Sniper), and Stephen Austin himself, all of whom lie beneath remarkable statuary.

B. Apache Prisoners-of-War Cemetery
The East Ridge at Fort Sill, Lawton, Oklahoma
34.6960° N, 98.3710° W

After his capture by the U.S. Cavalry, Apache chief Geronimo remained a prisoner of war at Fort Sill until his death in 1909. His grave remained unmarked for many years, but early in World War II, the 501st Airborne took his name as their motto. With the permission of Geronimo’s descendants, paratroopers built the pyramid of stones that now marks Geronimo’s grave. Around him lie men proud to be remembered as his warriors.

C. Riverside Cemetery
5201 Brighton Boulevard, Denver, Colorado
39.4739° N, 104.5733° W

Dating to 1876, the year Colorado attained statehood, Riverside Cemetery embraced African-American pioneers, the first native New Mexican elected to Congress, and the first doctor to theorize that cholera was contagious. The cemetery has struggled since it was closed to new burials, but the Friends of Historic Riverside Cemetery are working to rescue it.

D. Fort Yellowstone Army Cemetery
Grand Loop Road, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
44.9646° N, 110.7002° W

Before the formation of the National Park Service, the U.S. Army guarded Yellowstone from poachers and souvenir hunters. Their sober little cemetery underlines the dangers lurking in one of the most stunning places in America. As reported in Lee H. Whittlesey’s Death in Yellowstone, causes of death in this cemetery included drowning, avalanche, being struck by lightning, runaway horses, and grizzly bear attack.

E. Custer National Cemetery
Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, Crow Agency, Montana
45.5714° N, 107.4332° W

When gold was discovered in the Black Hills, the federal government demanded access across land it had set aside for the Lakota Sioux. As many as 10,000 Native Americans refused to renegotiate the treaty. In June 1876, Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer led the 7th Cavalry to attack, only to be wiped out by the Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho. It took more than a century for the Native warriors to be commemorated here.

4. WEST COAST

A stylized map of the United States showing a route map for a West Coast cemetery road trip
Lucy Quintanilla/iStock

A. Lake View Cemetery
1554 15th Avenue E, Seattle, Washington
47.6341° N, 122.3153° W

High on a hill overlooking the city, Lake View's most famous residents are Bruce Lee and his son Brandon. Also buried here are Princess Angeline, daughter of Chief Sealth (who gave his name to Seattle), as well as madams, lumber barons, and politicians—a who’s who of Seattle’s historical figures.

B. Lone Fir Cemetery
SE 26th Avenue, Portland, Oregon
45.5173° N, 122.6446° W

Portland’s pioneer cemetery is glorious in springtime, when its rhododendrons bloom. Full of pioneers, prostitutes, shanghai captains, mayors, and governors, the cemetery also features some unusual modern grave monuments. Vandalism and the weather have been hard on Lone Fir, but its Friends group offers tours to raise money for repair.

C. Fort Ross State Historic Park
19005 Coast Highway 1, Jenner, California
38.5143° N, 123.2485° W

A vintage postcard from Fort Ross cemetery
Author's collection

In 1812, Russia invaded Northern California. Russian pioneers built a fort, married local women, and hunted sea otters along the coast. By 1839, they no longer needed to provision Russian settlements in Alaska, so the fort was abandoned, leaving behind a little graveyard. The California Historical Landmarks Committee took control of it in 1906.

D. Hollywood Forever
6000 Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood, California
34.0904° N, 118.3206° W

Once the swankest cemetery in Old Hollywood, Hollywood Forever is now the final resting place of Johnny and Dee Dee Ramone, Mel Blanc, Darren McGavin, Rozz Williams, John Huston, Cecil B. DeMille, and many more. Judy Garland joined them earlier this year.

E. Manzanar Cemetery
Manzanar National Historic Site, Inyo County, California
36.7255° N, 118.1626° W

The Manzanar War Relocation Center was the first American concentration camp to open during World War II. At its height, Manzanar imprisoned 10,000 men, women, and children of Japanese descent, most of whom were American citizens. Although the bulk of the camp was demolished, the cemetery’s Soul Consoling Tower continues to mark the graves of people who died while interned there.

F. Silver Terrace Cemeteries
381 Cemetery Road, Virginia City, Nevada
39.3165° N, 119.6451° W

A vintage postcard from the Silver Terrace cemetery in Virginia City
Author's collection

After the 1859 discovery of one of the richest lodes of gold in history, Virginia City became the largest town between Denver and San Francisco. Of course, this necessitated the largest cemetery district as well. The 22 adjacent graveyards making up Virginia City’s Silver Terrace Cemeteries are now part of one of the largest National Historic Landmark Districts in the country.

5. MIDWEST

A stylized map of the United States showing a route map for a Midwest cemetery road trip
Lucy Quintanilla/iStock

A. Lakewood Cemetery
3600 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota
44.5659° N, 93.1734° W

Modeled on Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia, Lakewood’s Mortuary Chapel is a spectacular example of Byzantine Revival architecture. Mosaic tiles, some as small as a fingernail, adorn its interior. At Lakewood, politicians with modernist monuments are buried beside names familiar from the grocery store: Charles Pillsbury and Franklin Mars, who founded the candy company that bears his name.

B. Oakland Cemetery
1000 Brown Street, Iowa City, Iowa
41.6697° N, 91.5222° W

Urban legends surround the Black Angel of Oakland Cemetery: if you kiss the statue, you’ll be struck dead; if a pregnant woman crosses its shadow, she will miscarry; if ever a virgin is kissed in front of the statue, it will resume its normal bronze color and the curse will be broken. Strangely enough, this is not the only black angel in Iowa—and the other has legends swirling around it as well. Daniel Chester French’s monument to spiritualist Ruth Ann Dodge stands in the Fairview Cemetery in Council Bluffs.

C. Graceland Cemetery
4001 North Clark Street, Chicago, Illinois
41.9548° N, 87.6619° W

Known as the Cemetery of the Architects, Chicago’s Graceland Cemetery holds the Carrie Eliza Getty mausoleum, considered one of the first examples of modern architecture. Graceland Cemetery also contains a wealth of magnificent statuary, including Lorado Taft’s Eternal Silence and Daniel Chester French’s Memory.

D. Elmwood Cemetery
1200 Elmwood Avenue, Detroit, Michigan
42.3466° N, 83.0179° W

A vintage postcard from Elmwood cemetery
Author's collection

Practically in the shadow of Detroit’s Renaissance Center, this dramatic garden cemetery stands on ground fought over during the French and Indian War. Elmwood Cemetery is the final resting place of Canadian Club whiskey founder Hiram Walker, guitarist Fred “Sonic” Smith of the MC5, and Detroit’s legendary mayor Coleman Young, who was a Tuskegee Airman.

Cemeteries are lenses, revealing what their local communities choose to celebrate alongside things that must not be forgotten. This list merely skims the surface—go see what you can discover.

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