Wedding guest budgeting tips for travel, gifts, lodging and more

CHICAGO (WLS) — Wedding bells are sounding for 2.5 million Americans this year.

After two years of COVID-related cancellations and rebookings, couples are ready to tie the knot surrounded by their family and friends.

However, being a wedding guest can be expensive when you add up travel, lodging, and getting a gift.

About 4 in 10 Americans said they have skipped or considered skipping a wedding because they could not afford it.

Wedding Guest Budgeting Tips

  • Build wedding guest expenses into your budget: Prepare for the costs upfront by putting money aside now.
  • Plan to spend a little more due to inflation but you can also save by reducing personal spending habits, such as shopping strategically and trimming discretionary spending. You can also cancel subscriptions you aren’t using.
  • If your’e looking to save on a gift, check out the couple’s registry early and find something for them you like within your budget. This way you can avoid the dilemma of how much cash to give.
  • Cash in travel miles, points or redeem credits: When booking wedding travel flights, hotels, or rental cars, don’t forget about any miles or points you’ve earned, especially if you’ve been putting expenses on rewards credit cards.
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    Business, travel, lodging all up in February

    ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – It is no secret that Orlando and Orange County are a top tourist destination. During the pandemic, the industry hit rock bottom, but 2022 is off to a very strong campaign.

    What You Need To Know

    • February 2022 was the third best month ever for Orange County TDT Collections
    • OIA saw 7.1 million travelers i in February
    • Visit Orlando reports hotel occupancy rate for February at 72%

    January of this year, Orange County collected $22.4 million in tourism development tax. In February, the latest report shows it topped January by $5.9 million.

    Not only did February out do January by nearly $6 million dollars, but it did it with three fewer days in the month.

    February’s collection this year was $28.3 million dollars, which is a 173.9% increase from the previous February.

    On a Wednesday evening near Millenia, the Dead Lizard Brewing Company is starting to get busy. Business since the start of the year has really begun to rebound.

    “The first part of 2020, before things started going down, we were on a trajectory to have one of our best years ever,” Dead Lizard Brewing Company Owner Richard Dine explains. “This year we are smashing that. we are at least 30% on top of that.”

    February was a record month for many in the county, topping $28 million in TDT collections.

    “That is the best February in the history of the tourist development tax,” Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond says. “That is also the third best month we have ever had for any month, ever.”

    The buzz at the brewery for February was new faces from far places. 

    “The question is always, hey where you guys from,” Dine details when speaking to new customers in the bar. I have noticed a ton of people not from around here.”  

    Orlando International Airport saw the same.


    In January, there were 3.4 million passengers. For February, the number jumped to 7.1 million. Domestic travel was up over 72% from February The previous year.

    “You never really realize until it starts happening,” Dead Lizard Beerista Brae Chambers says behind the bar. “Then your eyes are opening and you are like man, these tourists are really bailing us out here.”

    With no sign of business slowing down for spring break or the upcoming months, the brewery remains optimistic that business will remain stout.

    Country Comptroller Phil Diamond says March is typically the best month of the year. As for how the hotels did, according to Visit Orlando, the occupancy rate for February averaged about 74%, in January it was just 59%.

    That 74% mark in February was the second highest level since the start of the pandemic.

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    Y-H Spissue: Harvard students navigate new travel, lodging, and cost challenges to attend Yale-Harvard Game

    Since learning that Yalies cannot host Harvard students the night before the Yale-Harvard game, students are navigating a host of considerations to travel to New Haven and take in the sporting event.

    For the 2021 Yale-Harvard football game on Nov. 20, the first since the pandemic, Harvard students will not be permitted to stay in Yale dorms due to COVID-19 restrictions. Harvard students have been encouraged to leave Cambridge for Yale on Saturday morning. For this reason, Harvard’s shuttles that are usually offered on both the Friday and Saturday of the weekend of the game are only being offered on Saturday, and at minimal capacity. Previously, Harvard students would often come to Yale on the Friday before the game and stay in Yale dorms. With restrictions in place, many Harvard students told the News they are searching for alternate lodging. 

    “I think this new plan disadvantages students who cannot afford rides [or] places to stay overnight and people who do not know individuals at Yale especially since students from Ivy League feeder schools have more friends at Yale,” Harvard junior Andrea Liu said.

    Liu said she has friends who attend Yale, and has friends from Harvard who live in New Haven. She plans to come to Yale on Friday afternoon and stay at her Harvard friend’s New Haven house. Liu believes going on Friday is a “better plan” than taking one of the Harvard shuttles on Saturday; she was worried about not arriving at The Game on time. 

    Liu says many other students at Harvard are also coming on the Friday before The Game. Some are planning to rent AirBnBs, and others are looking to stay with off-campus students, she said. 

    “[We] are not sure about the consequences and are not worried about them, but rather our larger fear is, what if Yale doesn’t let us in [to dorms],” Liu said in regards to her decision to avoid staying with friends on campus at Yale. 

    Kalyan Palepu, a Harvard junior, has a similar plan. He plans to come on Friday and stay with the family of a friend who lives in New Haven. 

    “I have to believe that Yale won’t force Harvard students who come on Friday hoping to sleep at Yale to not have a place to sleep for the night,” Palepu wrote in an email to the News.

    This is especially worrisome for students on financial aid, Harvard junior Diana Meza said. Meza is a student on financial aid and is planning to stay with friends at Yale. She said Harvard offered free round-trip transportation on Saturday to students eligible through the Harvard Student Events Fund––a program at Harvard that offers qualifying students free tickets to student events, according to Harvard’s website––but those tickets were sold out by the time Meza tried to purchase them. 

    Tickets for the Yale-Harvard game were available for pickup at various athletic events throughout the past week and at Payne Whitney Gym.

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    Here are some of the best deals on Alaska airfares, lodging, cruises and adventures this summer

    There’s a pile of good news on the travel front, with the promise of more cruises and international travel at the very top of the heap.

    Details are scarce, but the European Union wants more Americans to visit this summer, as long as they’re vaccinated. Some countries, including Greece and Croatia, already are open to Americans willing to get a COVID-19 test prior to travel. Delta and United are adding flights to Athens and Dubrovnik.

    Within the state, travel bargains are popping up all over. Airfares, lodges, cruises and adventures are on sale.

    If you’re looking for a good deal on an airline ticket, look north to Fairbanks. The Golden Heart City still boasts the best deals for out-of-state tickets. From Fairbanks to Seattle or Salt Lake City, it’s $59 one-way on Delta. From Fairbanks to Fort Myers, Florida, it’s $107 one-way on Delta. From Fairbanks to almost anywhere, it’s super-cheap right now.

    If you live in Anchorage, it’s a long drive to the Fairbanks airport. Or, you can fly up for as little as $39 one-way on United. On Alaska Airlines, it’s a little more: $49 one-way. The cheap fares to Fairbanks start on June 3, when United starts daily flights. Up until then, Alaska Airlines charges $158 one-way.

    Alaska Airlines, though, is trying to get you to see the state. Through its Club 49 program, the airline is giving away a couple of adventures each week. This week, it’s offering a package to both Haines and King Salmon. Last week, Alaska Air awarded a trip for two to the Kodiak Brown Bear Center and Lodge, plus a fishing and sightseeing package to Petersburg. Next week, entrants could win trips to either Juneau or Sitka.

    The city of Kodiak, photographed on Jan. 24, 2019. (Loren Holmes / ADN)

    Speaking of Kodiak, the Kodiak Brown Bear Center and Lodge, located in the southwestern part of Kodiak Island, is offering a 20% discount for those who book directly with the lodge. The lodge only accepts eight guests at a time for bear viewing, kayaking and hiking adventures.

    Ravn Alaska is having an early-summer sale to all of its destinations from Anchorage, including Homer, Kodiak, Valdez, Sand Point, Cold Bay, King Salmon and Dillingham. Tickets to Homer are $109 each way, or $199 each way to either King Salmon or Dillingham. Travel must be completed by June 23.

    If you want to go to Cordova later this month, the Alaska Marine Highway is offering a 20% discount (passengers and vehicles) from Whittier on two sailings: May 27 and May 30. Also, kids under age 12 sail free. According to the ferry’s website, there will be special fares all summer long to select destinations.

    In Fairbanks, sail on the Chena River aboard the Riverboat Discovery. For Alaska residents, there’s a 40% discount on cruises, and you can pick your date later on. After leaving the dock on the Chena River, you’ll sail to the Chena Indian Village Living Museum for a walking tour of an Athabascan village. There’s also a bush pilot demonstration and a visit to the Trail Breaker Kennel.

    Catch gold fever in Fairbanks at Gold Dredge 8. Located in the Goldstream Valley, this giant dredge operated for more than 30 years shoveling giant buckets of “paydirt” onto the belts and sifters of the dredge. In addition to the dredge itself, there’s a mining museum and a narrow gauge railroad that goes around the complex. Plus, you get to pan for gold. Tickets for Alaska residents are 40% off online. (Disclosure: The Riverboat Discovery and Gold Dredge 8 are owned by the Binkley family, which also owns the Anchorage Daily News.)

    Get an up-close look at Alaska’s many Indigenous cultures. The Alaska Native Heritage Center is offering a 50% discount to Alaska residents. Explore the unique art exhibits in the Hall of Cultures. The village sites, though, are my favorite part of a visit to the Heritage Center: Right outside the main building, you’ll see Lake Tiulana, and around the lake are life-sized dwellings representing specific cultures from around the state.

    The Alaska Native Heritage Center. (Sarah Bell / ADN archive)

    For a longer cruise, Sitka-based Alaska Dream Cruises is offering a last-minute discount on its May 30 “Glacier Bay and Island Adventure” sailing. Everything’s included (room, meals, adventures) on this cruise through Southeast Alaska, including Glacier Bay. This eight-day/seven-night small ship cruise itinerary usually costs $5,195 per person. For Alaska residents, the May 30 sailing starts at $1,595 per person. You cannot book this trip online. Call 855-747-8100 for reservations. Tip: Use your Alaska Airlines miles for the last-minute flight to Sitka.

    Up near Denali National Park and Preserve, the Crow’s Nest Cabins are offering three nights for the price of two. On the dates I checked, the cabins were listed at about $208 per night (for up to four people). Use the code “STAY3” when you call 907-683-2723. The code doesn’t work for online bookings.

    Not every attraction, lodge or activity is on sale. But there are quite a few outfits offering special deals. After all, without the big cruise ships, there are more than 1 million visitors who won’t make it this year — and that means there’s more room for Alaskans to explore.

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    Online Travel Update: Texas seeks to impose new lodging tax on hotel bookings; Expedia launches rebrand pushing for post-pandemic travel; DayAway specializes in “Beyond Bed” ancillaries | Foster Garvey PC

    This week’s Update features a number of stories on the largest online distributors as well as a story on an interesting new player that focuses exclusively on hoteliers’ “beyond bed” ancillaries and experiences. Enjoy.

    Proposed Texas Tax on Travel Services Likely to be Passed on to Hoteliers
    (“ASTA blasts proposed Texas hotel tax,” April 19, 2021 via Travel Weekly US)
    As part of the state and local government revenue grab that traditionally occurs during any economic downturn, Texas is seeking to enact legislation that will impose a new 6 percent lodging tax on hotel bookings in its state. Like other occupancy or sales taxes, the new tax is calculated on the price paid for guest rooms or meeting space, but unlike other traditional lodging taxes, the “price” also includes all associated booking fees and charges. Although the new tax is purportedly intended to target online travel agency (OTA) service fees and charges, traditional brick and mortar travel agents who charge their clients trip planning or advisory fees will also be targets of the new tax. So, if this new tax is intended to target the service fees and charges often imposed by OTAs, why should hotels care? For years now, OTAs of all shapes and sizes have routinely required hoteliers to pay taxes on the commissions, compensation or other fees or charges paid the OTAs. While these provisions have largely sat dormant – except for the occasional VAT withholding squabble – these contract provisions may become far more relevant as more states inevitably consider a similar travel service tax (particularly those spurned in previous litigation seeking to impose traditional occupancy taxes on OTA service charges).

    Expedia’s Push for Post-Pandemic Travel
    (“Expedia unveils rebrand in major push to capture travel demand,” April 19, 2021 via Phocus Wire)
    Much of the online travel press last week was dedicated to Expedia’s recently announced rebrand. On April 19, millions of Expedia users received emails introducing them to the “new” Expedia. So what is new? Other than a new logo and tag line, noticeable changes to the Expedia website and mobile application include new home screen layouts (including notably a prominent tab at the top of the website for owners interested in listing their vacation properties with Expedia); use of a single uniform platform for the booking of hotels, flights, cars and experiences; new itinerary building functionality; side-by-side comparisons of accommodations based on available amenities; the display of activities near travelers’ chosen accommodations; and, of course, improved functionality for enrolling new members of Expedia’s loyalty program. As part of its overall rebrand effort, Expedia is planning a new creative campaign supported by the largest marketing spend the brand has seen in the past five years.

    DayAway Specializes in “Beyond Bed” Ancillaries
    (“DayAway may be built in Covid times but founder Martha Waslen says it will last long beyond pandemic,” April 21, 2021 via WIT)
    Six-month old distributor, DayAway, hopes to disrupt and forever change the “beyond bed” experience. Seeking to leverage the largely unused gyms, spas, pools and other amenities often found at luxury hotels (particularly over the past 12 months), Singapore-based DayAway hopes to offer guests a curated inventory of activities and experiences that can be done in a day’s time and around hotels. While aggregators of similar experiences and activities may exist, DayAway doesn’t intend to compete with these volume-based discount aggregators. Instead, DayAway hopes to establish relationships with each of its supplier partners, by among other things, moving away from volume-based fees and co-owning the customer data that it collects from users with its suppliers.

    Other News:

    Four Key Takeaways From Skift’s Loyalty and Subscription Summit
    April 22, 2021 via Skift Travel News (subscription may be required)
    The pandemic forced travel brands to get smarter by using their loyalty programs to engage with consumers even when those customers aren’t traveling. That new skillset will have a lasting impact even after the pandemic eventually fades.

    Booking Adds Tours and Activities From Viator in Their First Partnership
    April 21, 2021 via Skift Travel News (subscription may be required)
    Following its partnership with TUI’s Musement brand last year, added a major tours and activities partner, Tripadvisor’s Viator, to its growing attractions business. In their first partnership in the sector, Booking and Viator announced Wednesday (April 21) that thousands of Viator’s attractions, tours and activities would soon be available for travelers on

    How the Pandemic Is Reshaping Hotel Distribution Strategies and Onboarding
    April 22, 2021 via Phocus Wire
    In March of this year, hotel consultant Thibault Catala posted on LinkedIn about his frustration in trying to help a new hotel in Greece become listed on Expedia Group websites. Catala shared the response he received from Expedia Group, which said that “due to the reduced demand for your market, we will not be able to effectively support your business.”

    Tripadvisor Bets Subscriptions Will Foster Resilience in the Travel Industry
    April 21, 2021 via Skift Travel News (subscription may be required)
    Tripadvisor believes its new subscription product could become a new business line generating more than $1 billion a year. But that will likely only happen if the company can make the program about more than just a mechanism for consumers to get discounts on hotels, experiences and other travel offerings.

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    AIG adds Covid lodging coverage: Travel Weekly

    AIG Travel has introduced optional lodging coverage for travelers who are barred from boarding a commercial aircraft to return to the U.S. due to a positive Covid-19 test.

    Currently, international travelers heading to the U.S. must provide proof of a negative Covid test taken within three days prior to entering the country.

    AIG’s Lodging Expense Bundle may cover up to $500 per person for additional lodging expenses if a traveler has tested positive and is forced to remain in a destination. The bundle is an add-on to AIG Travel’s Preferred or Deluxe travel plans.

    • Related: Allianz Partners formalizes Covid travel insurance

    A custom version of the bundle that covers $2,000 per person in additional lodging expenses will be available to residents of U.S. states and Washington, D.C., who are headed to Costa Rica, to satisfy entry requirements in place in that country. The Costa Rica-specific bundle is also an add-on to Preferred or Deluxe plans.

    AIG Travel offers three base plans: Travel Guard Essential, Travel Guard Preferred and Travel Guard Deluxe. It also offers annual plans, last-minute travel plans, the Travel Guard Plus plan that carries things like cancel-for-any-reason coverage, medical evacuation plans, accident insurance for flying on commercial airlines and rental vehicle damage coverage.

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    Missoula travel organizations support measure modernizing lodging tax collections

    MISSOULA — The Montana Lodging and Hospitality Association with Destination Missoula is pushing back against opposition to a bill intended to apply the same rules on tax collections for all travel partners, including national platforms like Airbnb and Expedia.

    The Travel Technology Association last week voiced opposition to Senate Bill 52, saying it would introduce “new taxes” on online travel agents, including Orbitz, Expedia, Priceline and Travelocity.

    But Whitney Bergmann, board chair of the Missoula Tourism Business Improvement District and a representative of Destination Missoula and the Montana Lodging and Hospitality Association, said the technology association was mispresenting the bill.

    It isn’t a new tax but rather, an update of language initially written before the digital age, she said.

    “It requires an update of the lodging tax language that makes it clear that it’s applicable to anyone selling lodging rooms in Montana, where the large platforms have been able to occasionally skirt that at times by virtue of language that was written in the 90s without them in mind,” Bergmann said. “It’s really just a clarification of language, that the existing lodging tax applies to everyone, from hotels to large hosting platforms like Airbnb.”

    The bill sailed through its respective House and Senate committees this month and is set for final preparation. Once signed into law, the measure will revise the state’s lodging facility use tax and Montana’s sales tax on lodging and car rentals.

    It will also require all travel agent platforms to collect and remit those taxes to the state, including digital travel agents.

    “They will be responsible for the collection and remittance rather than having that fall on the local property owner,” said Bergmann. “Because their platform didn’t have that built in, necessarily, you have a lot of onus on the property owner on how that’s managed and applied. This makes it so that’s uniformly applied to the platform rather than the property owner.”

    Many travelers book trips through online agents like Travelocity and Expedia, making them responsible for hundreds of thousands of bookings in Montana each year.

    The Travel Technology Association believes the measure will tax those agents fees, thus making Montana more expensive as a destination. For the state’s hotels, bed and breakfasts, and lodging establishments that partner with those agents, the tax could make distribution more costly, the lobby group contends.

    “New taxes that increase travel costs will deter visitors and make Montana residents travel to other states, forcing the state to miss out on recovering some of the $4.9 billion spent by tourists in Montana,” Shur said.

    “This new tax will also put Montana’s recovery behind other states, and the state will not realize the tax windfall of travel demand when our nation turns the corner on the pandemic and begins to see economic spending approach pre-pandemic levels.”

    Bergmann disagreed, saying the association’s description of the measure as a “new tax” is misleading. The tax has been in place for decades, she said, and the new bill just modernizes the language and applies it evenly to all travel groups.

    “It’s intended to create uniformity for the Department of Revenue,” she said. “It has language that’s not clear in terms of how they can enforce and how collections and remittance should look. That language update is intended to provide DOR clarity.”

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    ECPAT: Mandatory Lodging Signage, Training on Human Trafficking Prevention Increasing

    January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and Jan. 11 is recognized as National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. In connection with the designations, ECPAT-USA, an organization seeking to end the commercial and sexual exploitation of children, released an update of its Unpacking Human Trafficking report, first released in May 2019, that highlights progress on that initiative related to the U.S. lodging industry.

    The report details trafficking laws in all 50 states, including those that have required lodging facilities to display signage calling attention to the problem of human trafficking and those that have enacted legislation mandating training on the issue for hospitality workers. Additionally, some states have enacted laws addressing the criminal and civil liability of lodging facilities for incidents of human trafficking that occur on their properties. 

    Since the May 2019 release, two additional states—Florida and Illinois—now mandate signage in lodging facilities without exception, bringing the total to 11, including California, Connecticut, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, South Carolina and West Virginia. Five states mandate signage, but with caveats, such as only for those facilities that hold a liquor license, up from four in 2019.

    Florida and Illinois also added mandatory human-trafficking-awareness training for certain lodging employees. They join California, Connecticut, New Jersey and Minnesota from the May 2019 report.

    The current report includes research completed in October 2020 and is available for download on the ECPAT-USA website. The American Hotel & Lodging Association Foundation provided funding.

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