Congratulations! You’re engaged. Welcome to the wonderful world of planning your wedding and reception. You might feel overwhelmed with the details: Where to have the ceremony? What if I can’t find the perfect dress? DJ or live band?
Add to your “responsibilities” the planning your honeymoon. Fortunately, this is the fun stuff. Or it will be if you follow these five tips:
Relax and enjoy the process
First, take a deep breath. Take another one. Then, if you and your fiancé have not already agreed on a specific honeymoon destination, sit down together with a pen and paper (or computer keyboard), and compile a list of your dream vacations. No destinations are too big or too small. So many possibilities to consider: Tropical beach or big city? All-inclusive or do-it-yourself? Cruise the Caribbean or hike the Alps? Have fun with it!
Make a budget
Then get down to the nitty-gritty. Together, figure out how much you can spend on your honeymoon. When you’re determining a final number, don’t forget to factor in costs for the following:
- Transportation (flights or gas mileage)
- Activities (from scuba diving to sightseeing)
- Clothing and gear (from new hiking boots to that sexy bikini)
Narrow down your options by doing some research. The Internet is, of course, a treasure-trove of travel information. I love doing searches on Google to find out more about specific countries, cities and resorts.
Your local travel agent is also a wealth of knowledge. If you can find someone who will take the time to help you with some research, even if it’s simply passing along some brochures, use such a source.
Talk to those who have gone before you. If you have friends or acquaintances who have visited your potential destinations recently, ask them for their advice. People typically love to talk about their travels and offer their opinions.
Visit TripAdvisor.com. Here, people write candid, honest reviews of particular hotels. I don’t book a hotel room anywhere before visiting this site. Remember, though, to take strangers’ advice with a grain of salt. For every person who complains about the hard beds and the grumpy concierge, there’s someone who found the sleeping arrangements wonderfully comfortable and the concierge friendly and helpful.
Research what documents you will need for your honeymoon. As of January 8, 2007, U.S. citizens need valid passports for all air and sea travel to or from Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. Of course, all existing passport requirements to Europe, Asia and Australia remain as well.
Consider making a folder or notebook where you can file all your research and keep it organized.
Book your trip
If your honeymoon itinerary features multiple countries or several destinations for which you need to arrange several flights or train trips, consider using an experienced travel agent to help you book your vacation. Some agents charge service fees for their time, but for the convenience of hassle-free planning, it may be worth it. Other agents receive commissions directly from the airlines, hotels and travel consolidators, and don’t charge you a dime. Just ask your agent up front if their expertise will cost you anything.
Whether you are using a travel agent or booking the trip yourself, be sure to keep copies of all correspondence, confirmation numbers and invoices. Double-check all the arrangements to make sure departure and return dates are correct. Let your hotel or cruise ship know that you’re traveling on your honeymoon—you may receive some complimentary perks like free champagne, in-room amenities or upgrades.
Keep your expectations in check
Naturally, you want your honeymoon to be blissful. After all, this is a long-awaited vacation, and your first one as husband and wife. But there are travel-related mishaps that regularly occur—flights are delayed, your hotel room isn’t up to par, you get food poisoning on the second night.
Remember that however your honeymoon turns out—whether it’s your best vacation ever or a honeymoon horror story—it’s a trip you and your new spouse will have shared, making lifelong memories in the process. Go into your honeymoon with an open mind; prepare to have lots of laughs, no matter what happens.
And don’t forget this is just your first vacation as a married couple. Hopefully it’s the first of many trips you’ll take as husband and wife!