Chestnut & Vine’s “Neighborly Chat” Featuring Total Experience Travel Owner, Chris Rakes

On many a summer evening, my Grandpa Clifford would sit in his lawn chair on the corner of Chestnut & Vine waving to all who drove by.  Rarely a person would pass that my Grandpa didn’t know, and it wasn’t uncommon for the drivers to stop to discuss the latest happenings of their small, rural town.  In tribute to his “Neighborly Chats,” each month I will introduce a friend that I have made in The Triangle Wedding Industry to tell us about their business and offer advice to engaged couples.

This month it is with great pleasure that I introduce you to Chris Rakes, owner of Total Experience Travel, who I like to describe as the “Fairy Godmother of Honeymoon Travel.”  Tell Chris where you want to go, and she’ll make it happen!

Chris Rakes Photo

Chris Rakes – Owner of Total Experience Travel and a Honeymoon Travel Specialist

Welcome, Chris.  Tell us about your business and the job you do.  

I am a professional travel planner, and honeymoon & group travel specialist.  Luxury Cruises, Adventure Tours and Premium All Inclusive Resorts are my forte.  Most traveled and favorite destinations include, Alaska, Caribbean, Europe, Hawaii, Mexico and the U.S. East & West Coasts.  I work with you 1:1 from research through returning home from your bucket list trips, at No Extra Cost over booking direct – saving you lots of time, worry and hassle.  

Who is your target audience?

My professional travel planning services are best for those seeking convenience, value and a personalized experience.  My target audience is anyone looking to celebrate their milestone event with travel; Honeymoons, Destination Weddings, Big Anniversaries or Birthdays. Another big part of my business is Groups planning special interest trips or family and friend reunions!

What makes you stand-out in your industry among your peers/competition?

I care if my clients have the time of their lives on their hard earned vacation!  I know planning the perfect trip takes considerable time and is commonly our biggest expense of the year.  It deserves professional personal attention.  I treat each trip like it is my own!  For the same cost as doing it yourself, I will save you time and worry, validate things you already knew, offer reminders of things you forgot, present options you never knew about, and improve your overall satisfaction!  As an independent contractor my only vested interest is in your best interest.  Visit  or our WeddingWire storefront for our  Client ReviewsTotal Experience Travel Logo

What was the motivation behind starting your business?

I believe in the benefits of travel and want to share in the joy it brings others!  My best and most lasting memories growing up are all centered on our family vacations.  I know a great travel experience strengthens relationships and creates lasting memories.  Statistics show that couples who continue to travel together, stay together.  My mission is to increase happiness through ensuring incredible travel experiences.

Please tell us the #1 piece of advice that you give to your engaged clients.

The advice I have for engaged couples is to think about what you will remember most and prioritize your budget accordingly.  Don’t leave the honeymoon planning until last and use a travel professional to help you decipher your best options.  In addition to saving you time, collaborating with a travel expert who trains daily on the various travel suppliers and options allows you to make a more informed and unbiased decision.  An independent travel planner works for YOU not any one supplier.

What’s your favorite memory from your own wedding?

As a young bride, the honeymoon was the most important part of the wedding tradition, for me.  Travel is still my passion and when I recently re-tied the knot, we chose a destination wedding because we wanted to make it a worthwhile and memorable event for everyone; especially for those traveling big distances to attend!  We have many incredible memories but, my favorite is that of a pre-wedding group dinner held under a million stars with transportation to and from dinner provided in a horse drawn carriage.  Amazing!

Thanks, Chris, for chatting with us about Total Experience Travel and how you can assist our readers with their vacation plans.  I am eager to plan my next getaway with my husband!  Whether you are planning your honeymoon, baby-moon, friend reunion or a much needed getaway, please contact Chris to see how she can help you plan the perfect vacation without the stress.  Visit her site at