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Expert Advice: Choosing Your Perfect Honeymoon

Married couples and travel agents share their advice for how to choose, plan and enjoy the honeymoon of your dreams.




PHOTO courtesy of mallory malesky & mark walters
 

Close your eyes and imagine your ideal honeymoon spot. Is it somewhere sunny and warm on a golden beach? On a cruise through the Mediterranean? Or traveling across the countryside among the castles in Europe? 

Wherever your perfect getaway may be, organizing a trip can be daunting. After you’ve spent so long planning your wedding, your honeymoon should be a time to kick back and relax. Too often, though, couples stress about the details. How do you pick the hotel? Choose what to do? Avoid spending too much money? 

Don’t fret. These couples have drawn from experience to help you plan — and enjoy — your perfect honeymoon. 

Advice from the Brides


PHOTO COURTESY OF MALLORY MALESKY & MARK WALTERS
 

Mallory Malesky and Mark Walters honeymooned in more than one spot after their wedding on Aug. 1, 2015. They began in Las Vegas then traveled all the way to Fiji. On their way back, they stopped in Los Angeles to top off a dream vacation.
 
“Once I realized [Fiji] was literally halfway around the world and you cross the international date line to get there, we decided to split up the trip,” Mallory says. “Vegas is one of our favorite places, so that was an easy choice.” The couple chose to stop in LA because Mallory had never been there and the only direct flights to Fiji from the United States originated in that city.

Mallory offers wisdom on how to be flexible without breaking the bank:  

Remaining stress-free:
After you take off, leave everything behind and go with the flow. If you’re looking to relax on the honeymoon, don’t pre-plan anything that isn’t absolutely necessary. That way you’re on your own schedule, and you don’t have to worry about being on time for reservations or activities. 

Keeping costs low:
Plan the travel details as much as possible and try to look for deals or use reward points to help the cost. Tell your hotel and waiters at dinner you’re on your honeymoon. Mallory says she and her husband enjoyed lot of freebies, such as champagne and desserts. If budget is a concern, look to find savings elsewhere in your wedding and put the money towards the honeymoon. Your guests will forget about your programs, place cards and candy-buffet table — but your honeymoon memories are forever. 
 


photo courtesy of Ashley Jacobson & Jake Bratek 
 

Ashley Jacobson and Jake Bratek honeymooned in Aruba after their wedding on Aug. 22, 2015. Though they wanted an island vacation, most of their choices fell in the hurricane belt during peak storm season. They chose Aruba so they could have a sunny, stress-free honeymoon.
 
“Not one person we asked about Aruba had a bad thing to say about it,” says Ashley. 

Ashley shares best advice for remaining stress-free in the moment during your trip: 

Remaining Stress-Free:
I would highly suggest to plan your honeymoon by the six-month mark or earlier if you can … the stress just intensifies the closer you get to the wedding — at least for us it did. Personally, it was a relief to us to have that huge ‘to-do’ marked off, and it gave us something to look forward to after the wedding high. We booked our trip around the nine-month mark out and then booked our flights six months out. If we had waited, I’m not sure that we would have been as clear-minded about what we wanted, and I don’t think we would have spent as much time researching the different places beforehand, either. I think that’s key for planning a successful, stress-free honeymoon — you want to make sure you research. 

If you do want to plan activities, it’s not necessary to preplan them. We waited to do it the second day of our stay and had no problem with any reservations.
 



PHOTO courtesy of alissa rudolph & ben verney
 

Alissa Rudolph and Ben Verney married on Sept. 5, 2015 before celebrating during a romantic honeymoon to Kauai, Hawaii. Although Alissa was worried about the long flight, she turned to Ben for advice. “Ben brought up the good point that you only get one honeymoon,” Alissa says. “[We] might as well go somewhere we may never get the chance to visit again.” 

They wanted to pick a destination that offered relaxation, adventure and the ability to experience local culture. “Kauai was perfect for that and truly is paradise,” says Alissa. 
Alissa, too, has pointers for any couple looking to maximize fun without maxing out their wallets: 

Remaining stress-free:

  • Don’t set an agenda for every day. Especially the first few days — [include] time to relax.
     
  • Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Yes, it is your honeymoon, but you want to take time to do nothing. If everything doesn’t go as planned, it’s OK. 
     
  • Put the technology away. I can’t stress this enough. It was very tempting after the wedding to want to look at pictures on social media or text/call our friends and family. The best thing we did was to put the cell phones away.

Keeping Costs Low: 
Eat the local produce. One of our favorite moments on our honeymoon was going to the local farmers market and picking out fruit for breakfast and snacks. Don’t feel the pressure to eat every meal, specifically dinner, at a super fancy/expensive place. Some of our favorite meals were at the really small/cheaper local spots.  

Advice from the Professionals


PHOTO COURTESY OF ASHLEY JACOBSON & JAKE BRATEK 
 

Leslie Hughan, a senior travel consultant at Ambassador Travel in McCandless Township (ambassadortravelpghpa.com), has worked on countless honeymoons and destination weddings, and she has plenty of practical suggestions for making sure your honeymoon goes off without a hitch. 

  • Look for destinations with an easy air schedule — not too much time in the air, and with good connections.
     
  • Make sure you have the proper travel documents.
     
  • Purchase travel insurance. People often say, “I am going, no matter what,” but many times the travelers must cancel for illness or death in the family.
     
  • Do you want a beach vacation or more adventure? Talk about what interests both of you. 
     
  • After you decide where you want to go, look for excursions and other trips you may want to do. Most couples can’t lie on the beach for a whole week. Too much sun!
     
  • Is it an exotic destination? Innoculations might be required. Check with the U.S. Department of State for any travel restrictions to that country.
     
  • Plan well in advance. The most popular resorts for weddings and honeymoons sell out in the peak honeymoon season. 
     


PHOTO COURTESY OF MALLORY MALESKY & MARK WALTERS
 

Malori Asman, chief amazement officer at Amazing Journeys in Mt. Lebanon (amazingjourneys.net), stresses that there’s a lot to consider while planning a honeymoon.

“This is a special vacation that a couple remembers forever,” she says. “For me as a travel planner, asking the right questions is the key to a successful honeymoon.” 

What does she ask couples to get them started?

  • What have been your favorite trips so far?  This question is one of the most important for determining what you enjoy the most from a vacation and what types of accommodations you prefer. It will tell us if you are one who enjoys cruises or organized tours or meandering through a national park.
     
  • Determine your travel style.  Do you like to be pampered at a luxury resort and upscale hotels, or are you the type who enjoys living out of a backpack and staying in a home such as an Airbnb? Answering this question will help to figure out an approximate budget.
     
  • Decide on the length of trip.  The average length of a honeymoon is 7-10 days, but there are short getaways for 3-5 days as well as those that are 2-3 weeks in length.

Asman also suggests the following as some of the hottest honeymoon destinations for couples:

  • Exotic: Thailand
    • Explore culture, history and scenic beauty with wonderful culinary experiences. Some of the most amazing beaches in the world are found in Thailand, too. Your money goes far in Thailand, and you can get a flight for less money compared to other international destinations.
       
  • Romantic: Hawaii
    • From surf lessons in Waikiki to biking down Haleakala Crater in Maui to seeing a volcano erupt on the big island of Hawaii, nothing spells romance like Hawaii. 
  • Adventure and Wildlife: Costa Rica
    • Zipline through a cloud forest, rappel down a waterfall, climb near a volcano and go white-water rafting. Then visit a national park on a monkey tour, see where tortoises hatch their young and sail alongside dolphins on a catamaran. Combine this with lodges that are set in magical destinations.
       
  • Something for Everyone: Italy
    • Rome, Florence, Venice and the Amalfi Coast are but a few of my favorite Italian cities. Whether you come to wander the 1,000-year-old streets, shop for leather, learn to cook your favorite Italian dishes or discover local wines, Italy has something for everyone. 
  • Scenic Beauty: Canadian Rockies
    • If you love the beauty of nature, mountains, glaciers, waterfalls and turquoise lakes are but a few highlights. Calgary, Banff and Lake Louise, plus the Icefields Parkway, make for some of the most beautiful settings in the world. With the strong U.S. dollar and weak Canadian dollar, your money goes farther in Canada, too.
       

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