Image source: Flickr - Ali Nishan
Honeymoons are often one of the most expensive parts of planning a wedding. That being said, they don't have to be. One mistake many couples make is having one destination idea in their head and then booking the first flights, hotels, and experiences they see, without implementing any savvy money-saving tips. Luckily, we've created an easy-to-follow plan that can help you book your dream honeymoon without breaking the bank. Without further adieu, here are eight essential tips for planning a honeymoon on a budget.
As soon as possible, it's wise to start planning your honeymoon. Start an account for the trip and vow to put a certain amount of money in each month. This way, when the time comes to actually book, you won't have to cut corners to create your perfect experience.
As you plan, make sure to make an ordered list of your trip priorities. What's more important to you, shelling out for a nice hotel, or luxurious spa treatments? Is a helicopter flight a must? Is French Polynesia your only option, or is there a more budget-friendly island getaway that you'd be open to? This will be important for deciding how to allocate the funds that you save to have the experience you ultimately want.
You'll be amazed at what kind of honeymoon deals you can find on flash sale sites such as Living Social Escapes, Groupon Getaways, and TripAlertz. Many times, vacation packages and hotels can be booked for more than 50% off. The trick with these is not to wait, as they're limited time (and sometimes limited purchase) promotions that won't last long.
Bidding is also an option that is becoming more popular in the travel sphere. For example, Priceline allows you name your own price for hotels, flights, and car rentals. Just note that bidding and getting to pay what you want means you can't choose exactly what you get, although with hotels you'll be able to name what class you want.
One expense that can add up quickly is credit card fees. The average international credit card fee is 2-3%. While this may not sound like a lot, it can really add up, especially with lots of romantic dinners and excursions sprinkled in. For this reason, you may want to look into getting a card with no international surcharge that also accumulates points for booking travel, like the Capital One Venture Card or the Chase Sapphire Preferred. These cards don't just help you save money, but can allow for free travel through points earned on dollars spent.
ATM fees can also kill your honeymoon budget, although banks like Charles Schwab and TD Bank reimburse travelers for these fees or don't charge foreign transaction fees, making them great choices for honeymooners.
Sure, French Polynesia is a beautiful place full of romance, and certainly popular with honeymooners; however, it's also extremely expensive, even if you opt to stay in the more budget-friendly pensions. Instead of opting for the first destination you see in a magazine, do your research. If it's beaches you're after, Thailand has some beautiful stretches of coast on a budget. Want adventure? Throughout Latin America you'll find many budget-friendly opportunities for hiking, cycling, and paragliding. If you want ambient health and wellness, places like India and Vilcabamba (Ecuador) are worth checking out. Remember, the better your exchange rate with the currency, the more you can splurge on accommodation, transportation and tours with all the trimmings.
Romance doesn't have to be synonymous with big budget. Along with choosing destinations where your dollar stretches farther, you may want to tweak your notion of what romance is. Many times it's not the splurge itself, but the idea that you were thinking of someone else. Come up with ways to connect with your significant other and show that you care. Plan a beach picnic, bring your spouse breakfast in bed, or map out a sunrise hike. Think about what your new husband or wife likes, and use that as your inspiration for do-it-yourself experiences.
There are a few ways to go about this. One, you can Tweet to your followers and hashtag the destination -- for example, #SaintLucia -- to get advice on things to do and current deals. Additionally, you can also follow tourism boards and operators in the destination(s) you're thinking about honeymooning in to stay up-to-date with tips and bargains. Lastly, make sure to follow general travel deal handles, like @TravelDeals, @GetATravelDeal, @HoneymoonButler, @TravelZoo, and @JetBlueCheeps.
Flights are often the most expensive cost for a honeymoon, at least up front. Being strategic about when you book can help you save money on this large expense. According to Warren Chang, vice president and general manger of Fly.com, honeymooners should look to booking Tuesday through Thursday, as this is when airfare sales normally run, as well as flying on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, which are typically the cheapest days to fly. If you can be flexible with when you travel, a Fare Calendar will help you to compare prices on different dates. If you really want to be strategic, booking flights that offer free snacks and/or meals - such as JetBlue, Delta, and Hawaiian Airlines - can help you further save.
Don't just book your tours with the first company you see. With the community sharing economy becoming a strong force in the travel community, it's possible to book budget-friendly experiences with locals you won't find in your guidebook. Vayable and Spotted By Locals are a couple to check out. There are also companies offering uber-local experiences in other areas of travel, such as Airbnb for accommodation, EatWith for dining, and Lyft for transportation.
To protect your dream honeymoon be sure to also use travel insurance to help protect against everything from cancelled flights to medical emergencies. Check out all of our honeymoon options here.
Note: Available plans and coverages may have changed since this blog was published.
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Jessica Festa is a full-time travel writer who is always up for an adventure. She enjoys getting lost in new cities and having experiences you don’t read about in guidebooks. Some of her favorite travel experiences have been teaching English in Thailand, trekking her way through South America, backpacking Europe solo, road tripping through Australia and doing orphanage work in Ghana. You can follow her adventures on her travel websites, Epicure & Culture and Jessie On A Journey. You can also connect with Jessica directly on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus, or follow her epicurean adventures on Facebook and Twitter.
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