As if planning a wedding wasn’t stressful enough, you’ve now got to organise an unforgettable honeymoon. Beyond deciding where to go, there are a whole host of practicalities to tackle before you tie the knot and take off. Here, Rough Guides' in-house honeymoon expert Emma Gibbs shares ten honeymoon tips to help the first trip of your happily married lives go smoothly.
Start off by deciding how much you can afford to spend. Then stick to it. It’s easy to get carried away with honeymoon planning, so knowing how much you can comfortably afford is important from the beginning – and don’t forget to leave a little room in the budget for activities (be it scuba diving, a couples’ massage or fancy dinners) while you’re away.
If you’re desperate for a particular honeymoon but your budget just won’t stretch to it, consider a honeymoon gift list. Countless travel agents now offer this service, but one of the best on the market remains Buy Our Honeymoon, where you can create your own honeymoon list and fill it with whatever you like – ballooning over the Serengeti; champagne in a hot tub; upgrades to first class – which your guests can then “buy” or contribute towards as gifts.
Holiday brochures will sell you a certain kind of fly-and-flop honeymoon, often with no real discernible difference in offerings from one company to another. If you’re after something a little more unique, a little more you, it’s worth using the brochures as a stepping stone – alongside guidebooks and the internet – to figure out what you want and where you want to go, but remember: they’re not an indication of the only options available to honeymooners.
Tell everyone it’s your honeymoon. Write it on every enquiry form you fill in and every booking you make; tell travel agents, check-in staff and air hostesses; in short, don’t wait to be asked – tell people. You may think that the word honeymoon immediately makes people see dollar signs attached to your heads, but in truth, telling people that it’s your honeymoon will often open doors that wouldn’t normally be opened – from free hotel upgrades and champagne on arrival to candlelit dinners and petal-strewn baths, being newlywed is not something to keep to yourselves.
A honeymoon is a post-wedding holiday. It’s a great excuse to be a little more extravagant than you might be normally, sure. But there’s no rule about how you honeymoon – if you want to go to Glastonbury with your new spouse and all your mates, why not? Likewise, if you’ve always dreamt about trekking through the Alps, backpacking across Asia for six months, or heading to an all-inclusive fantasy island, this is likely to be the perfect chance.
Before you book anything, check what the weather will be like for the time of year you’re travelling – you can get great deals in the Caribbean during hurricane season, but you might prefer not to run the risk of bad weather. If you’ve got your heart set on a particular destination but the weather is going to be appalling (and you’re not prepared to put up with it like that), consider having a night or two away in-country immediately after your wedding and then going on a longer honeymoon when the weather is perfect.
Buy insurance. Chances are, nothing will go wrong. But if your bag goes missing, your plane is delayed or your passport drops out of your pocket on the beach, you’ll want to be covered. Make sure the valuables limit covers the cost of those shiny new rings you’re both wearing, too.
If you’re thinking of changing your name when you get married, and planning to travel under your new name, make sure that your travel documents match the names on your bookings. Likewise, if you don’t change your name, expect everyone to still greet you as Mr and Mrs Whoever-made-the-booking’s-surname.
Most people love the idea of travelling in anything other than cattle class on honeymoon, but first and business class travel is incredibly expensive. If you’ve got a bottomless budget, then fair enough, but otherwise you might find that the money you’d spend on a ten-hour flight in business class could buy you a week or two in a couple of really nice hotels.
Yes, a honeymoon can be amazing. Yes, you can use it as an excuse to do that big trip you’ve always wanted to do. But I’ll let you in on a secret – it’s just one holiday. Really. And it is going to be great because you’ll have just married the person you love. But truthfully? If your honeymoon is the pinnacle of your travels, then what point is there in continuing to travel afterwards? Instead, think of it as just one great holiday in a lifetime of amazing shared experiences.