Careful planning and packing help ease a couples getaway

After all the wedding preparations, most newlyweds want to drop everything and completely relax on the honeymoon. Here are some travel tips to help your private getaway run smoothly:

*Advance planning pays off. Choose a reputable travel agent with whom you have worked before, or get a trusted recommendation. Most travel agents don't charge a fee, so take advantage of their services and spare yourself the research. Meet the agent in person, with a firm budget range in mind and some preferred destinations in hand.

If you will be traveling outside the United States, find out immediately whether or not a passport, special visa or medical clearance are required — these things take time to acquire.

*Evaluate all-inclusive packages or cruises. Generally, such vacations can offer good value for honeymooners, but be sure to determine exactly what is included in the price, and then compare it to an "a la carte" vacation.

One of the best things about all-inclusives is that they allow couples to know in advance exactly how much they will spend; another benefit is the chance to try snorkeling, horseback riding or other new experiences without worrying about extra cost.

*Pack well. Write up a packing list long before the wedding, so that you don't have to waste time worrying at the last minute.

Check to see if your hotel provides hair dryers, irons and robes so that you don't have to lug your own. Stock up on basic sundries such as Band-Aids, aspirin, sunscreen and toothpaste — these items often are expensive at a resort shop.

Put a contact name and address on the inside and outside of each piece of luggage, and carry on your person such essentials as your itinerary with emergency contacts, your travel agent's phone number, hotel and car-rental confirmation numbers.

*Travel safely. It's easy to get caught up in the fun and romance of a honeymoon — to the point where basic caution is forgotten. Be realistic about security: Keep a close eye on your luggage en route; use travelers' checks or credit cards instead of flashing cash; ask your car-rental agency about emergency assistance or request a car phone (you're often only charged for it if you use it). Store valuables and airline tickets in your hotel's safe.

The National Safety Council has brochures on safe vacationing; call (800) 621-7615.