We got engaged ten months ago in our kitchen and our wedding will take place in exactly 200 days! So far, planning our honeymoon has been much more difficult than planning our wedding simply because... I want to go everywhere and see everything.
Initially we made a list of 10 exotic places that we would be over-the-moon to travel to. The thought was... you only get one honeymoon. Let's make sure we go somewhere incredible!
Quickly our bank accounts slapped us in the face and said, "You idiots. You just bought a house. You're paying for a big wedding. One of you still has a lot of student loans. Get real." but I wasn't ready to give up on luxury and adventure.
Additionally, the realization that spending 24+ hours on an airplane in each direction combined with the need to see absolutely everything, made us aware that we were planning a trip not a vacation.
We also wanted to keep our honeymoon destination a secret. To be honest, I have no idea why. I remember it having something to do with just not having to discuss the trip at the wedding. As a wedding photographer, I always walk past brides stuck in long conversations with guests about their honeymoon destination when they should be dancing. But anyway, all of our initial wants have been turned upside down.
We love to travel but we tend to take trips not vacations. I feel an abundant need to make sure when I visit somewhere new that I see everything. Last winter we went to Ireland for eleven days and we were up at 5:00 AM every morning, on the road in the dark and we were jamming entire cities and multiple historic sites into 24 hour snippets. There was a hurricane hovering over Ireland and Great Britain the entire time we were there so we would literally dump water out of our boots and keep on keepin' on. There was no time to sit and sip a Guinness. On the flight home, the exhaustion hit me like a brick. I had a migraine for a few days after we got home but oh my goodness that trip was incredible.
For our honeymoon, we definitely wanted a vacation - not a trip.
Choosing our destination was really about prioritizing what we wanted out of the trip and getting help in making those priorities into decisions. I've learned a lot and I wanted to share my top tips!
- Figure out your priorities for how you want your honeymoon to feel. Do you want it to be relaxed, luxurious, adventurous, nomadic, easy, pampered, busy, scheduled, structured? From there you should decide how you want your days to be. For us the top priority was relaxation and the second was adventure. I want to be able to put on my sneakers, pack a backpack and go visit historic sites but the following day I want to just sit at the resort's swim-up bar. Deciding these priorities can also help you find the kind of accommodations that are good for you whether that's AirBnB, a vacation rental, a small boutique hotel or a large luxury resort.
- Consider your maximum budget. What is the absolute most that you are comfortable spending. Having a range is not fun and not easy. Instead of saying, "we're prepared to spend $5,000 - $8,000" knowing that $8,000 would be difficult or out of budget, I recommend determining the maximum that you would and can spend. Then your goal should be to come in under budget so you can feel good about starting your lives together in a smart way without regrets.
- Solicit the help of a travel agent. Seriously. I love planning our trips. When we went to Ireland, it was winter so a lot of the tour groups were not operating and honestly, that worked best for us. We are not big "group tour" people. But I still wanted to see and do everything we could! So, I planned every ounce of that trip meticulously. It took me months. I kept descriptions of historical sites on my phone so when we visited something (in Ireland the majority of the castles, ruins and historical sites are just open... sitting on the side of the road... with no management) I could just read out-loud to both of us the history of the location and act as our tour guide. It was quite ridiculous but we had the best time! However, with our honeymoon, I didn't want to do that. I'm already planning a wedding with a ton of meticulous details. I did not want to plan a trip. So we reached out to a travel agent and instead of months, the entire trip was planned and booked in less than two weeks.
If you don't already have a travel agent, I highly recommend Samantha Longworth of Aquamarine Travel. They're based in York County, Pennsylvania but we worked with her entirely over email so regardless of where you are, it's worth a shot to reach out! Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org and you can find their Facebook page here! A travel agent has the knowledge, network and resources to do in hours what would take you weeks.
So, knowing that we wanted:
- A mix of relaxation and adventure
- 4 - 5 star hotels+resorts
- Hotels and resorts that felt authentic to the country we were in and not "plastic"
- A mix of luxurious and rustic
- The ability to see some historic sites, eat in local restaurants and shop small businesses
- A few days of pampered do-nothingness
We have decided to go to Mexico! We will be spending eleven days in the Yucatan Peninsula. I am so excited for fresh guacamole, tequila, fish tacos and salty Caribbean Sea air. Along with relaxing by the pool and sitting by the ocean we plan to see a handful of Mayan ruins and explore the tropical jungle.
Because of my business, we cannot travel until the end of wedding season so we'll be postponing our honeymoon until after Thanksgiving. I may or may not be counting down the days already!
Are you planning a honeymoon? Did you find the decision making stressful and difficult? Are you still debating on where to go? Have you traveled to Mexico? Basically, just comment and tell me all of your thoughts, hopes, dreams, wishes and experiences! I can't wait to hear them!