Planning Your Honeymoon

by Female Abroad

When it comes to planning a honeymoon time of year, length of stay, and budget are super important.

Honeymoon Budget & Booking Timeline

For budgets, it can get a bit tricky as a lot of your money will go to last minute surprises that will pop up during wedding planning but more and more people these days are giving money as wedding gifts instead of physical gifts. You could also setup a gift registry for somewhere like the Fairmont Hotel & Resorts which allows people to put money towards the stay at a location of your choice or purchase experiences (massages, dinner, etc) that you can redeem when onsite; this is also a great idea if you only have time for a staycation following the wedding.

If you are ready to book, book as soon as you can as you will get the best prices and more options will be available. Airlines usually release flights 6-9 months prior to departure, hotels take bookings a year ahead, and cruises are usually 1-2 years prior to departure.

Where & When to Go

Where you go really depends on your interests or what you want to do while you are on your honeymoon. Beaches and relax? Think an all-inclusive in Mexico or the Caribbean. History and exploring? Europe. Culture and Temples? Asia. Safari? Africa. Wine and ruins? South America. Scenery, Speaks English, and is Comfortable? Canada or the USA.

Low or Shoulder season can bring you the most bang for your buck. For us, we got married in May but waited until September for our honeymoon as we saved a ton of money due to it being low season. The downside with low season is it can translate to the rainy or hurricane season in certain parts of the world but it will be a lot quieter than busy season. High / Busy season will have higher prices, more people, but more amenities will be open especially if you are traveling somewhere that has a tourism dependent economy. Another option would be going to somewhere in the Pacific (like Hawaii, French Polynesia, Fiji, or Cook Islands) when it is hurricane season in the Atlantic / Caribbean as the Pacific is usually pretty quiet at this time.

Where to Spend

Since it is your honeymoon, I would look at splurging or at least spending a bit more on flights. It is nice to pay a bit more for a direct flight and comfortable seats so then you can fly out excited, relaxed for your trip and when you come home it is a lot less stressful plus you can enjoy the last few moments of your honeymoon. Upgrading yourself into Premium Economy may not cost much compared to Economy when you look at the inclusions that Premium Economy has over Economy (seat selection, food included, luggage included, ex). If you have a travel agent, they can sometimes find Up Fares which will upgrade you from Premium Economy to Business for free if there is space. If you do have an agent that finds one of these fares (they are extremely rare), make sure that the agent also books your seat assignment as this lowers the chances of you being bumped from business.

One thing most people don’t think of when booking is the class of a hotel. While people say they stayed at “X star” or “X diamond” hotel, did you know that these rating systems are not based on quality? They are actually based on the amenities the hotel offers. For example, if the hotel has a front desk with limited check in hours then it is a one star but if it has 24 hour front desk staff with a limited onsite restaurant it will only receive two stars. The best way to determine if a hotel is worth staying at is to spend sometime Googling reviews for it or seeing if you can find it on Tripadvisor. The diamond rating system is just another company wanting to have a similar ranking as the Star rating which came from AAA. If that is not confusing enough, the ratings also vary from country to country as a four star in Cuba is going to be a lot different than a four star in Italy so if you are going to a country that is known for a lower level of service, book a higher ranked hotel. Also, do not trust the same level of service across brands either as a Melia in Buenos Aires can be a lot different than a Melia in London. It is unfortunate but I have received a lot of complaints based on the star rating and branding.

Ways to Save

A possible way to get an upgraded flight class for free or for cheap is to wait until the 24 hours check in email goes out and check in right away to see if they are providing free or cheap upgrades. When you arrive at the airport, you can also let the agent know that it is your Honeymoon and ask if there is anyway they could upgrade you for free; if there is space they are usually happy to oblige.

If you are planning to go to paradise then shoulder season can be a really great time to go to the Caribbean or the Caribbean side of Mexico as prices will be lower but you also risk getting caught in hurricanes. However, if you try to aim for the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao) there will be a lower chance of hurricane interruption. If you are worried about being on the island and a hurricane hitting, a cruise could be a great option. The reason for this is because cruises pay attention to the weather so they may reorder an itinerary or skip an island if a hurricane does hit and if they skip an island you do not get reimbursed.

What About a Cruise?

Cruises can be a great way to spend your honeymoon as you unpack once, see multiple locations, not worry about transportation, and have everything you need almost 24/7 while you are on the ship. A huge tip that a lot of people do not know about it that once you put your deposit down, sign up for their membership then sign up for their promotional emails and check their website (on private or incognito mode) to see if the price changes or there are any promotions that come up. The reason for keeping an eye out is because if there are any promotions or price drops, you can amend your reservation to reflect these all the way up to the final payment date. I did this and by the time finally payment came around we got a free upgrade to a concierge level room on the stern, $2,000 off the original price with Wi-Fi, $150 per person shipboard credit (can use to book excursions or using on the ship for the spa, photos, or dining), gratuities, and a Premium Drink Package. If you haven’t seen any promotions you can always call and ask to see what they can do for you, especially right now while the industry is trying to get people cruising again.