Honeymoons Made Easy
With the stress of wedding planning and the overall rigor of the day, the honeymoon is the light at the end of the tunnel for most couples. But planning a honeymoon can involve just as much time and decision-making as planning your wedding, especially with a budget.
Jessica Hunt, a manager for clothier Brooks Brothers in Kansas City, Mo., married in July and jetsetted to an all-inclusive resort in the Dominican Republic for her honeymoon with her husband Michael. Their criteria: a tropical destination and new cultural experiences to fit in their budget of $3,000. But after discovering that the resort was located in a poor rural area and that the food was unappetizing,Hunt says there are things that she would do differently.
Howard Green, CEO of MoonRings, a Chicago-based travel company that specializes in honeymoons, says that honeymoons are different from most vacations because there are many details to consider. “It’s arguably the biggest trip in this point of their life,” Green says. “It’s the first time that a couple travels as husband and wife.” Here are some tips from Green and our other experts on how to have a great honeymoon on any budget.
1. Plan Ahead
The earlier the better and the most likely you are to save. Green recommends planning a honeymoon six to eight months in advance, but it ultimately depends on where you want to go. “Most frequent flier miles need to be booked a full year in advance because there are so few frequent-flyer seats,” Green says. “The minute you’re engaged … start thinking of joining frequent-flyer programs, credit-cards points, anything that can help reduce or manage costs.”
Leslie Nelson, a travel agent and honeymoon specialist for WingGate Travel in Overland Park, Kan., advises couples to know their budget first. “Start by thinking of your dream honeymoon and what you would like to do most and what is most important to you,” Nelson says. “If money is an issue, you can work back from that.”
2. Consider a Travel Agent
While using a travel company will cost extra money, the money could be worth its value. Hunt, who did not use a travel company because her husband traveled a lot for work, says if she could do it all again, she probably would use a travel company. “If we had gone through a travel agent and spent an extra amount money, we might have known more about where we were going,” Hunt says.
Nelson says that an agent can also make your experience smoother. “Agents can take care of the details for you so you don’t have to worry about it yourself,” Nelson says. “Travel isn’t as easy as it used to be. An agent can make sure of your flight, transfers and hotel bookings, and in case of a crisis you have someone to call for help.”
3. Do Your Research
Whether you use a travel company or not, it’s always good to know as much as possible about where you are going. “Go somewhere where you know other people have been to and have enjoyed; ask your family and friends,” says Hunt.
Besides making sure that your honeymoon wish list matches with your location, let people know you’re on your honeymoon, says Nelson. “You want to let your travel agent know that they’re booking a honeymoon because there are benefits and upgrades like spas and breakfast in bed they could find for you,” Nelson says. “Hotels and resorts know that the chances of a honeymooning couple retuning in the future are high so they like to give more as an incentive.”
4. Location, Location, Location
Compromising on your dream honeymoon to Hawaii for California or Puerto Rico could provide you the same honeymoon you desire for less. Green says there has been an increase of people wanting to travel domestically or close to home to save on money. “The farther you fly away the more expensive it will be,” says Green, who also warns that land costs could also get expensive in foreign countries. “Set your priorities. If you just want beach, you can find it closer to home, California, Florida ... You don’t have to spend $21,000 just to lie on a Thai beach.”
So with a little time and love, like your wedding, planning your honeymoon with the same attention to detail ensures that you will be traveling smart and that your honeymoon will be just as successful as your wedding.