Engaged and dreaming of your perfect honeymoon? Don’t know when to go, where to go, or how long to stay? This article is for you!
I was in the same boat. Hubby and I both LOVE to travel and see new places. We both had ideas of where we wanted to go on our honeymoon. The issues were that our destinations were all over the map (literally), we didn’t know how to get from one country to the next, and we didn’t know how long we needed to be away to really see each of the locations. We spent hours researching and planning, so by the time we were done planning our trip, I was basically more excited for our honeymoon than our actual wedding weekend!
So what are the factors you need to consider when planning the most epic honeymoon?
When to go:
There are several factors when picking the season of your wedding and in turn honeymoon:
- You may love summer/warm months, winter wonderland look/cold months, Fall leave colors, or spring flowers;
- You may want to get married at a specific destination or venue such as on the beach or outdoors, which may only work in certain seasons;
- You may want to pick a very sentimental date such as an anniversary;
- You may want to maximize on “season” versus “off-season” pricing. For example, in NYC the season is May through September. By us picking April, we got as close to warm weather as we could while still saving a bundle;
- Or you could be like me and plan your wedding date based off when your job has a slow season; this way you have the time to take that epic honeymoon.
Duration of the trip:
- Sometimes your list of attractions and must-sees dictate the length of your stay. When we visited London, we determined we needed 3 full days (plus 2 half days for travel) in order to see our top attractions.
- If you are visiting multiple cities or countries, you may pick your travel dates based on the most affordable flights. That would mean you have a finite number of days in that location due to your flight or travel restrictions.
- You can search for itineraries on Google or Pinterest. People love to post their travel itineraries online, and most of the time they see the highlights of that town. They usually publish a post like this after they have already taken the trip, so they can edit the itinerary to reflect the actual time they spent at each attraction. On our honeymoon, I had researched “2 days in Bangkok” and found an awesome itinerary online. We pretty much stuck to it and saw most of what that city had to offer in a very efficient and condensed period of time.
- A honeymoon is the most significant vacation of your life. If you’re lucky, you will only have one honeymoon. Don’t be afraid to ask your boss for a longer time off. This may be the only time they will approve an extended vacation. What’s the worst that can happen, they say no? Initially my hubby was nervous to ask for that time off. When he noticed his colleagues taking extended non-milestone vacations, we felt more comfortable asking for 6 weeks off. Seize the day!
Where to visit:
- Have either of you, or both of you, been dreaming of a destination(s)?
- Are there any locations or activities on your bucket list that you can check off?
- Research the season you have selected for your wedding and make sure the location you pick for honeymoon has your desired weather during that time of year.
- Example: You have a winter wedding in Florida, then go to London for honeymoon. Winter in the north is far different than winter in the south. Plan to pack jackets and leave the bathing suits at home. If you had wanted a poolside trip, then rethink London.
- You may also consider going somewhere based off peak and off-peak hotel season. You could get a great rate on a room if you visit in the off season. Granted, some of the activities may be closed for the season or not as accessible, so do your research and keep that in mind.
- You may have friends or family that offer recommendations of places they have been before, or places they heard were great. Word of mouth is usually a trusted source, although I personally don’t go anywhere without reading a boat load of reviews.
- You may want to pick an adult-only destination such as a Sandal’s.
- If you have pets or children, you may want to pick a destination closer to home. In case there is an emergency, you can rush back.
- Or like us, we had wanted to travel as far away as possible and to places we wouldn’t take young children, so we saw destinations you can see before having kids.
How to get there:
- Length of flights is something to strongly consider. You may not want to travel a day or two to get somewhere, as that is already four days of your vacation gone just by getting there and coming home. Sometimes you may pay a bit more, but the length of travel time could be cut in half. Don’t just search for the cheapest flight. Also run searches and view the shortest travel time.
- Keep in mind layover times when booking. If possible, have shorter layover times to reduce the length of your overall travel day. Especially when traveling to multiple destinations (like we did), you spend multiple days of your trip just in airports and planes. But also make sure that your layover times allow enough time to run from one flight to the next or to re-check your luggage or go through customs before your next flight, if those are necessary. Ask the airline ahead of buying the ticket whether you need to do those types of things between flights.
- If you aren’t already a member, join loyalty programs for the companies you travel with.
- Think outside the plane. Don’t just assume flights are the only way to travel.
- Trains: When in Japan, we took bullet trains from city to city, as that was the fastest way to get from point A to B. They weren’t cheap; they were about the same price as the flights. The check-in time was way shorter though, so we spent less time traveling.
- Cruises: We were considering flying from Northern China to Thailand. We ended up finding a repositioning cruise form Northern China to Hong Kong. Then from Hong Kong we took a short flight to Thailand. The plus side here was that we also had 2 ports to see along the way.
Where to stay once there:
- First, you’ll want to choose what type of accommodation you would like to stay at. Since you’re on your honeymoon, you may want to justify splurging by staying at nicer hotels or all-inclusives, but don’t forget that you can save some money by staying at AirBnBs and bed and breakfasts.
- All-inclusive versus pay-as-you-go – All-inclusives are not cheap, but when you don’t have to carry your wallet around or worry about paying extra for activities, food, or drink, it can be a very relaxing style of vacation.
- You may also want to choose your hotel based on its location within the city. Think of things like its proximity to public transit or the airport (which will increase your accessibility), the daytime attractions and nightlife that you want to see while there, and the safety of the surrounding neighborhood. Consider using Google Maps to plot out every attraction and restaurant that you know you want to visit, then overlay the public transportation lines to see where the “hot spots” show up, then search for accommodations in those hot spots.
- Amenities such as air conditioning, swimming pools, laundry facilities, and included breakfast may sound like basics in America, but they are luxuries in certain parts of the world. If the absence of any of those amenities are deal-breakers for you, then make sure that you include them in your search filters. Trip Advisor is particularly good at listing the amenities offered at each hotel.
What to do when there:
- Consider museums, monuments, landmarks, tours, concerts, shows, shopping, nightlife, nature parks, outdoor activities, water activities, zoos, aquariums, casinos, amusement parks, spas, classes, local events, and day trips.
- Also consider neighborhoods that you may just want to stroll through. Example: In Tokyo, Japan, we walked through an area called Akihabara which is a lively neighborhood full of games, casinos, animal cafes, lights, and photo ops. We had no actual game plan going in but ended up finding a bunch of fun activities to do while there.
- Think about “why” you had wanted to go there. If it’s because you saw a picture of a beautiful cliff overlooking the sea, then make sure you go see that cliff on your trip.
- Do several online searches to help you plan. I always do Trip Advisor and Pinterest searches. Trip Advisor allows you to read reviews of top touristy things to do in each destination. Pinterest allows me to see the pretty pictures, or sometimes things off the beaten path that Trip Advisor wouldn’t have shown because they may be too obscure.
- Are you trying to cross an activity off your bucket list? An item on my bucket list is to see every Disney theme park. On our honeymoon, we visited 3!
Know before you go:
- Do you need visas? When we visited China, we needed to get visas. The process was lengthy and needed to be done before you get to China.
- Do you need vaccinations? We needed several vaccinations before we could travel to Asia. Each country has specific recommendations that most travelers and some travelers receive. We used the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC website: cdc.gov) Travel Health Tool to find the list for each country we were visiting. Print the list and take it to your primary care doctor to receive the vaccinations. Some are injections before you travel, while others are prescription pills you take before you go, while you are there, and after you leave the destination. Keep timing in mind for vaccinations like this. You can’t just book a last-minute doctors visit.
- Is your passport expiring at least 6 months after the end-date of your travels? Some countries will not let you even enter if your passport is expiring within 6 months. Don’t forget to renew your passport well ahead of the trip if that’s the case for you.
- Did you research the culture? Make sure that you learn what gestures and clothing (or lack thereof) are considered offensive. For example, when Hubby and I visited Thailand, it was helpful to know that giving thanks by placing your palms together and lowering your head is very common and sometimes considered rude if done incorrectly or not at all. We also needed to make sure that we were appropriately dressed to show respect at the Buddhist temples (no sleeveless shirts, no exposed knees, and so forth).
- Do you speak the language? If there are only two key phrases that you should always try to learn beforehand, they’re “Hello” and “Thank you.” Even if your pronunciation is horrible, and even if you eventually need to revert to English, usually attempting to speak the language for a few words will show your conversation partner that you had the humility and interest to try to learn about their culture, and that goes a long way toward getting people to welcome you. You may also want to consider learning the phrases “Help!” and “Police!” but I hope that you never need to use those.
And on that note, don’t forget that you can never plan for every externality. Things may happen during your trip that you never knew you needed to account for. Especially when these things were totally outside of your control, my advice is to just not sweat the small stuff. Remember that you’re on your epic honeymoon with your new partner-for-life, so try to look at the bumps along the way as learning opportunities for planning your next vacation together!