We have LOTS of suggestions on ways to TAKE A DREAMY HONEYMOON without MAKING YOUR FINANCES LOOK LIKE A NIGHTMARE.
Wedding iQ will provide you with lots of different ideas from different sources-The ultimate decision, of course is yours-and all suggestions and ideas must be evaluated by YOU!
HERE ARE SOME TIPS WE HAVE PULLED TOGETHER
YOUR FIRST STEP MUST BE to DECIDE ON YOUR HONEYMOON BUDGET-Determine what resources are available to pay for your honeymoon. (Your overall wedding expenditures will have to be determined and allocated.) If the Bride and Groom are planning and paying for the Honeymoon together, they need to decide whether they have any disposable income or savings that can be used to fund the honeymoon. Or, can additional income be generated to cover the costs?
Obviously, you can plan and book your trip on credit, but few financial planners or "Money Sages" will recommend this option. It is generally considered best to plan only what you can pay for.
SOME IDEAS FOR SUPPLEMENTING YOUR HONEYMOON $:
Some couples establish a HONEYMOON REGISTRY to help fund their honeymoon-This may be an option if you already have all the toasters and pans you need. There are several different Registries available. 1-800-REGISTRY is just one resource for honeymoon registries.
TRAVEL GIFTING PROGRAMS
There are also TRAVEL GIFTING PROGRAMS that allow Couples to register honeymoon activities so that guests can purchase "vouchers" for couples massages or rock-climbing, instead of giving a place setting of china. The AAA Clubs in some states offer a Gifting Program. You can find details at your local AAA's website.
INSTEAD OF REGISTERING FOR ANY GIFTS, ASK FOR CASH
KEEP IN MIND, if you go opt for a HONEYMOON REGISTRY, OR TRAVEL GIFTING PROGRAM, some wedding guests WILL BE OFFENDED by what they perceive as "a thinly disguised request for CASH." And clearly, asking for CASH DIRECTLY is not typically considered appropriate, and is considered OFFENSIVE. Instead, you could just not register and let word-of-mouth take care of your wedding gift wishes.
CASH IN AIRLINE MILES OR REWARD POINTS
You might also supplement a tight honeymoon budget by CASHING IN AIRLINE MILES or PREFERRED CUSTOMER REWARD POINTS. Many people earn Airline miles with credit card purchases. And, many hotel chains offer rewards to "members" who are frequent visitors. Reward points can often be used to pay for rooms or reduce the price of rooms.
ONCE YOU KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE TO WORK WITH $-WISE, SET PRIORITIES AND ALLOCATE RESOURCES.
Consider what is REALLY important to you as a couple. SPEND YOUR $ on what matters most to you. Unless money is no object, planning will involve some TRADE-OFFS. Splurge on what is important and conserve in other places.
For example, if you have been living together for five years, your dream honeymoon will not likely involve locking yourself in a hotel room for five days. You will probably want a destination that offers points of interest, scenery, and/or activities that you enjoy. So, you may not need to waste limited resources on pricey hotel rooms.
If, on the other hand, your honeymoon will be your first real "alone time," it may be a waste of money to fly to an exotic location. If you do not plan to leave your hotel room, it doesn't make too much sense to fly to Paris. Instead, consider finding a close-by romantic, secluded getaway. Put your money into your "retreat" and save the cost of airfare and gasoline.
You should weigh all of the factors that impact the costs of you being away from home. Not just the transportation and lodging. Also consider the costs of missing work, costs of boarding animals, child care, etc. Priorities come into play again here-If you want an extended, relaxed honeymoon, you may need to choose a lower cost destination. Or one that is inexpensive to get to. But, if you are dying to see Aruba, the trade-off might be to take a shorter honeymoon and spend your dollars to travel to and from your destination.
THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX WHEN IT COMES TO HOTELS AND DINING!
You can CAMP OUT even in Europe if you enjoy a bit of roughing it. You may find a small B&B that offers reasonable prices for a romantic get-a-way. There are lots of options other than booking the first pricey hotel that you find on the internet. In some cases, calling the LOCAL number of a hotel (Rather than their 800-reservations number) MIGHT offer some special rates or romance packages specific to the ONE location. It never hurts to ask!
If your DREAM HONEYMOON is ITALY or FRANCE, and you are willing to forgo television, some privacy and comfy king-size beds, you may still find a way to see Europe. Obviously, you will have to spend a major part of your budget on Airfare. To compensate, find low-cost lodging and dining options like camping, staying in a convent, monastary or in family homes-Pensionaries. (We have heard that there is a Hotel Dieu Hospital near Notre Dame in Paris. The hotel is on the 6th floor and offers, we are told, clean rooms and good medical care. LOL.)
BOOK HOTELS A DISTANCE FROM MAJOR ATTRACTIONS-Especially is there is inexpensive transportation at your destination, you might sacrifice some of your time "commuting" to Save Hotel $. Wherever you travel, you can usually save significant money by booking a hotel that is some distance from the area's MAJOR ATTRACTIONS.
For example: My hubby and I enjoy taking road-trips to San Antonio TX. The drive is about 5 hours from Dallas and we love wandering up and down the River Walk and splurging at some of the great restaurants and shops. The hotels right on the River Walk are LOVELY-some are quite spectacular, in fact. But they are also pricey. Instead, we found a very nice hotel (for SUBSTANTIALLY LESS MONEY) quite a few blocks away. We hop on inexpensive trams and in minutes we are right in the middle of the River Walk.
CHECK OUT PRICELINE.COM to save money on your hotel stay. If you are flexible about where you stay once you get to your destination, check out www.priceline.com. (Would WILLIAM SHANTNER STEER YOU WRONG?) We have not personally used PRICELINE, so we cannot answer that question. But we have friends who have, and they were happy with the results. Here is how we believe priceline works: You input the city, area of the city, travel dates and level of quality of the hotel (one to four starts). You specify an amount you are willing to pay. You CAN specify the city, area of the city, dates, and level of quality. BUT, you can NOT request a specific hotel. Also, if Priceline finds accommodations at your stated offer price, you MUST accept the reservation. And, you will be charged for the hotel stay. So, be SURE if you put in a bid on Priceline.
SWAP OUT SOME PRICEY MEALS
Swap pricey meals out for bread, cheese and a bottle of wine at a park. Ask to dine at the rectory if you stay in a convent or monastery. Or enjoy rolls and cafe-au-lait as you take a morning stroll instead of brunching at a trendy cafe. When you do dine out, try to ferret out some inexpensive options that the locals frequent, rather than pricey tourist spots. And, if you must try out a high priced spot, check to see if they have a lower cost lunch menu and make your reservations for lunch. You can also enjoy the ambiance of a luxury location by stopping by for a cocktail before dinner, or for desert and coffee afterwards.
You could also opt to rent a condo or room with a kitchen and cook some of your own meals. Weigh any additional costs of the accommodations against the savings of eating in. Obviously, if you are camping out, you could cook all of your own meals as long as the actual preparations are part of an enjoyable honeymoon experience for Bride and Groom both.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF ECONOMICS 101 FIRST RULE: THE LAW OF SUPPLY AND DEMAND!
This one is just common sense. LOW DEMAND (and low occupancy rates) EQUALS LOWER COSTS.
Try to avoid peak seasons for your chosen destination. (AVOID BEACH SPOTS POPULAR FOR SPRING BREAK!)
Obviously, if you dream of lying on a beach in Jamaica drinking out of a coconut, do not plan your trip for Hurricane Season. That said, lots of destinations have off-seasons that are still conducive to travel. You can take advantage of lower air fares, hotel rates, entrance fees, and other travel expenses.
You may be able to avoid high tourist traffic by traveling at times when most folks are restricted by their work, school or family schedules. For example, you could capitalize on lower demand by scheduling your trip for early fall after school has started. I once spent 2 weeks in California, traveling up and down the coast and saved a bundle by going in early fall when most families were homebound by school age children. Weather was great as usual on the California coast, but demand was very low-so my costs were low as well.
You can also take advantage of flying in our out of less popular (and less convenient) airports. Again, less demand, usually equates to less money!
And, Airlines and hotels typically offer reduced fares during times of the week that they have fewer business travelers-on the weekend. Some months of the year also tend to be slower than others, so you may be able to cash in on savings by booking when seasonal demands are low. Some reports indicate that volumes are lowest October through December and January through March.
Many engaged couples are opting for Domestic honeymoons which can drastically bring down the cost of your honeymoon. You do not have to fly hundreds of miles away to have a wonderful honeymoon. Wedding iQ will offer plenty of ideas for great honeymoon spots that are close to home, wherever you might live in the US. All other things being equal, the further from home you go, the more it will cost you to get to your destination.
YOU CAN EVEN OPT FOR A FABULOUS, ROMANTIC MINI-MOON!
You and your sweetie can find a romantic spot (be it a cabin or tent in the woods or a luxury hotel to pamper you with great amenities) close to home. You can even take a long weekend which will rejuvenate and relax both of you after the excitement of the wedding.
YOU MAY SAVE MONEY BY GETTING OUTSIDE HELP TO MAKE YOUR HONEYMOON PLANS.
Look for package deals or all-inclusive offers, especially during your destination's off-season . You may find cost advantages by going through a travel agent. Or, you could choose from any number of companies like Sandals or Club Med that offer packages to popular warm weather destinations such as Jamaica, Mexico, Hawaii, Aruba, the Bahamas, or other spots.
Check with Cruise Lines (or an agency that specializes in cruises) for specials during slow travel seasons. If you DO arrange for any type of travel package, ask LOTS of questions and be certain that you KNOW WHAT IS AND WHAT IS NOT INCLUDED in the price you are quoted. (GET IT IN WRITING, AND READ THE SMALL PRINT.) Being thorough up front will help avoid costly surprises when you are away from home.
AAA may be an excellent resource for you. I used to think of AAA as good "insurance" if you lock yourself out of your car, or if you need a map. But as their site points out, "This is NOT your Granddaddy's AAA." AAA is still a network of automobile clubs as it always has been, but it does a lot more than rescue stranded motorists and give out maps.
Not only are they a great resource for domestic travel, AAA offers full service travel help and can book your honeymoon trip regardless of your destination. Wedding iQ is in NO WAY affiliated with AAA, but we wanted to share some info from their website since we recently realized that AAA can often NEGOTIATE REDUCED TRAVEL RATES ON AIRFARE, RENTAL CARS AND LODGING.
AND, of course, AAA can equip you with all of the maps and directions you might need. Feel free to check out their website at www.aaa.com. According to their website they can fill you in on foreign currency exchange rates, travel insurance, time changes, travel advisories, driving regulations, info on public transportation, and identification and health requirements, if any.
LET SOMEONE ELSE (LIKE SANDALS, CLUB MED OR CRUISE LINE) DO YOUR HONEYMOON PLANNING FOR YOU. ALL-INCLUSIVE PACKAGES offer advantages in several ways:
If you are careful to understand WHAT is included in your package, you will not have as many SURPRISES when you get your final bill. Avoid a package that includes costs for things that do NOT interest you.
You should get lower overall costs than separately negotiating with un-related parties (the airline, the hotel, individual restaurants, taxis, etc.)
Booking can be simpler since you might take care of transportation arrangements, hotel, food, drinks, and activities in one fell swoop.
You can even opt for a DESTINATION WEDDING AND HONEYMOON PACKAGE which can define your costs and greatly simplify planning-Not only for the honeymoon, but also the wedding.
WEIGH ALL YOUR OPTIONS WHEN IT COMES TO HOW YOU GET THERE. And, how you GET AROUND once you ARRIVE!
AIR TRAVEL may or may not be your most cost-effective option. If you consider driving, be sure to factor in the price of gasoline and wear-and-tear on your car, food while on the road, and possible overnight stays. On the other hand, keep in mind that if you DRIVE your CAR, you will not have the expense of a RENT CAR or ground transportation once you arrive.
In some areas, trains or busses may be an option, but be certain you are OK with the slower travel mode and likely frequent stops. Also, be aware that there will be costs associated with any long trip and that you will STILL HAVE NO TRANSPORTATION once you get where you are going. We have one good friend who does a LOT of traveling and she decided she wanted the experience of taking a trip by train. The experience was NOT a good one because the train broke down and left the passengers stranded for hours. But, a trip by train could be a romantic way to share scenery or leisurely time together.
If you decide on FLYING, it should go without saying to check out low-fare airlines. I find Southwest Airlines has lots of reasonably priced flights. And, if you are flexible about changing planes or departure times, you may be able to find bargain fares. Trade the convenience of a direct flight for savings. Is there a "red-eye" flight that will have you up WAY too early-But will save you bundles?
Typically, you can get the best AIRFARES by booking well in advance. Frequently, you will pay a premium for last-minute reservations. In other cases, there might be some cheap seats that become available at the last minute if travel agents release blocks of seats that had been reserved. Sometimes, you can save money by booking on-line.
Once you get to your destination, look into your COSTS OF GETTING AROUND. If you have driven your car, you will not have to rent one, but you will need to find out about the availability and costs of parking. In some large congested cities such as Washington DC, navigating and parking are difficult and parking can be very expensive, if you can find it.
When I lived in California, we knew folks who worked in San Francisco and found it much easier to park their car on the outskirts of the city and take BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) into the city. When we drove into San Francisco, it was sometimes just easier to leave the car in the garage and take BART, cable cars or taxis to get
around. Parking in the city was difficult and pricey, and finding our way in San Fran was a challenge.
You may be able to get "TRAVEL PASSES" once you get where you are going. For example, you can buy train tickets in Europe that will allow you to travel at will from country to country as many times as you wish during a specific time period. Same goes for transportation in many cities. You can often get bus, train or shuttle passes that allow you to get on and off as many times as you wish and allow you to travel all over the city. We had a great time in Boston on their shuttles which you could ride all over the city for a great over-all tour. You could get off and visit Boston Commons, then ride over to the harbor and catch a sunset harbor cruise. No worries about finding a place to park and paying for parking. Cheaper AND less hassle.