As all travelers know, planning is essential. Special events, tours, restaurants, and airline seats book quickly during the high travel season. Festivals, markets, and ideal weather conditions occur only at certain times of the year.
Much of your own planning will be specific to your destination and personal interests, but these tips should help you get started.
- Agree on your honeymoon budget.
- List ideas for possible destinations; gather brochures; consult a travel agent; and search guidebooks, magazines and the Internet. When you decide on a location, purchase a guidebook to study your destination in detail. This will also help you customize your honeymoon registry.
- Check the Internet for special events at your destination during the time of year you will be traveling.
- If making flight connections in Europe, bypass major airport hubs such as Charles de Gaulle in Paris and Heathrow in London. Instead, switch planes in less trafficked Dublin, Brussels, or Zurich.
- Fly on a small, low-cost air carrier such as JetBlue or Southwest. For a directory of U.S. carriers, try ReidsGuides.com. For European carriers, check out Air-Ticket-Cheap.com.
- If you have an evening reception, plan your departing flight for mid-morning or early afternoon the next day to allow yourself ample time to rest. Better yet, give yourself a full day between your wedding and honeymoon departure to say thank you and goodbye to your friends and family that attended.
- Make and pack a list of addresses for thank-you notes, as well as any personalized stationery you are planning to use.
Reservations and Traveling
- Keep your honeymoon under wraps, at first. Some companies will try to charge you more, reasoning that you'll want to splurge on this special getaway. Once your reservations are finalized, share the reason for your trip. You might receive complimentary champagne on the plane or an upgrade at your hotel.
- Many honeymoon destinations offer all-inclusive packages that can reduce the overall cost of your trip. When you inquire, ask specifically whether taxes, gratuities, and alcoholic beverages are included.
- Once your honeymoon flights are booked, go to SeatGuru or SeatExpert to help find the best two seats on the airplane.
- Shop around before you book your rental car. Get an estimate from one company away from the airport. If you decide to purchase rental car insurance, which can be pricey, check first to see if you're covered by your credit card or personal auto insurance.
- If you plan to travel internationally, be sure to leave yourself ample time to get a passport, this can take 6-8 weeks. If you already have a passport, check that it is not expired. In addition, some international destinations require that your passport not expire within 3-6 months of your return date.
- When checking in at the airline desk, mention that you are on your honeymoon. Complimentary business or first class upgrades are possible if there is availability.
- Slip an easily compressed duffle bag into your suitcase. If you learn your luggage is too heavy when you check-in with your airline, you can quickly repack and avoid fees of up to $150.
- Check the weather report for your destination.
Banking and Communication
- Give your itinerary and telephone numbers to a family member or anyone else who might need to contact you in an emergency. Be sure to remind them that the information is for emergency use.
- Learn your bank's ATM and credit card fee structures for international withdrawals and charges. The New York Times Travel section has great articles on the best strategy to minimize fees. Packing the Right Credit Card, How to Beat the Euro, and How to Get the Best Exchange Rate.
- Alert your credit card company and bank of where you are traveling, the duration, and if you are going to be charging a large amount. This will help prevent your credit card from being rejected due to automatic fraud deterrents.
- If you are traveling internationally and plan to call home, set-up a Skype account so your calls are inexpensive (or free). All you need is a Wi-Fi connection. The New York Times Travel section reviews some popular methods. Calling Home for Even Less and Staying in Touch Internationally, on the Cheap.
- Book your activities and adventures after arriving at your honeymoon destination-not before you leave. Often local tour operators will offer better rates.
- Don't pack too many activities in your schedule so you have plenty of time to relax!
- Withdraw money at a well known and established local bank's ATM.
- Contact hotel concierges to remind them that you are honeymooners and request suggestions for special tours or events. Many hotels enjoy pampering newlyweds with special attention.
- Pay with a credit card. Often you'll get the lowest possible exchange rate, and you'll be protected from unauthorized charges. Caveat: Some banks tack on conversion surcharges of up to 3% so check with your credit card company.
During the Honeymoon
- Take photos of the two of you enjoying the activities your guests purchased from your honeymoon registry so you can include a photo in your thank you card.
- Head off the beaten path. Ditch the "hot" touristy districts and seek out a small neighborhood for a more affordable (and often more authentic) dining experience.
- Beware of cover charges at restaurants. At some places in Italy, for example, a 15% service charge is automatically added to your check as soon as you sit down at a table.
- Visit small neighborhood markets instead of big, flashy shopping venues. That authentic tapestry or handmade jewelry will cost less, and you'll have a more authentic local shopping experience.
- Keep a journal together so you'll remember all of the activities, romance, and funny moments during your trip. This will also help you write your honeymoon story when you return.
- Relax and enjoy this once in a lifetime vacation!