A honeymoon is important. The wedding is over. The months, or even years, of stress and planning, are finally over. It’s time for the two of you to relax, settle in, and start enjoying your time together as you embark on your first journey as a family. To make the most of this time for the least amount of money, it’s important to focus on what you want out of a honeymoon. This isn’t your typical list of touristy honeymoon locations everyone goes to. Rather, it’s a list of cheap honeymoon experiences a couple can enjoy together, regardless of where it’s at.
Honeymoons are romantic, but they can also be expensive. On average, couples are shelling out $5,342 on their honeymoon, according to a recent report from The Knot, an online registry and wedding planning site. That’s on top of what they’re spending on their wedding, which costs, on average, $33,931 nationally. But, there are ways to trim your honeymoon budget without taking away from the romance of this special trip.
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Table of Contents
- 1 Here are things you can do to plan a budget-friendly honeymoon
- 1.1 Set Your Priorities
- 1.2 Work With a Travel Agent
- 1.3 Book Flights Early
- 1.4 Avoid Paying Foreign Transaction Fees
- 1.5 Save Big on Lodging
- 1.6 Choose a Destination Where Your Dollar Will Go Far
- 1.7 Travel During the Shoulder Season
- 1.8 Want Fixed Costs? Book an All-inclusive Honeymoon
- 1.9 Take Advantage of Free Entertainment
- 1.10 Redeem Discounts for Premium Memberships
- 1.11 Need a Bigger Budget? Set Up a Honeymoon Registry
- 1.12 Plan your honeymoon first
- 1.13 Pick the right time of year
- 1.14 Use the right credit card
- 1.15 Look into all-inclusive packages and cruises
- 1.16 Look into alternative accommodations
- 1.17 Go local
- 1.18 Travel in the Low Season
- 1.19 Consider a Honeymoon Package, Cautiously
- 1.20 Cut It Short
- 1.21 Stay Within Driving Distance
- 1.22 Don’t Procrastinate
- 1.23 Consider Alternative Airports
- 1.24 Think Beyond Flying
- 1.25 Cash in Frequent Flier Miles
Here are things you can do to plan a budget-friendly honeymoon
Set Your Priorities
First, figure out your honeymoon priorities: What are you most excited about? Which aspects of this vacation are non-negotiable for you, and what can you live without? If dreamy accommodations are the most important to you, consider staying somewhere local (or at least domestic), so you can allocate your budget to enjoying luxe rooms and the spa rather than roundtrip international flights. If exploring a faraway place is what you’ve always wanted, focus your funds less on the hotel (especially if you know you’ll barely be there), so you have more in your pocket to afford to experience the destination.
Work With a Travel Agent
For one-stop, stress-free planning, a travel agent can’t be beaten. They know how to save you money with air/hotel or fly/drive/hotel packages (thanks to their high business volume). It’s their job to be in the know about last-minute or ongoing sales, and they can offer the wisdom gained from years of travel experience. For savings at sea, call an agency that specializes in booking cruises. And let the travel agent know your priorities so they can figure out exactly what to cut and keep from your itinerary.
Book Flights Early
Do a Google search for “best time to book a flight”, and you’ll find a seemingly endless number of studies claiming what the best day is to hit the “buy” button. Don’t fret, though—we’ve sifted through the research and found there’s a consensus: travellers typically get the best prices by booking flights at least three weeks in advance. Indeed, CheapAir.com recommends booking within a window of 21 to 105 days ahead, depending on the season, with a domestic-flight sweet spot of 54 days before departure. Supporting that is a 2018 report from Expedia and the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC), which examined billions of data points to identify travel patterns and found that bargain-minded economy travellers should book 30-plus days in advance.
Avoid Paying Foreign Transaction Fees
Are you planning to honeymoon abroad? Some credit cards charge up to a 3% fee on foreign transactions. Though that may seem small, it can effectively negate whatever rewards points, dollars, or miles you’d earn using the card. That’s why Bill Hardekopf, a credit expert at LowCards.com, recommends international travellers always bring a credit card with no foreign transaction fees such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred card or the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard.
One caveat: some destinations, such as Cuba, do not honour U.S.-based bank or credit cards—meaning you’ll have to arrive with cash if you’re heading to one of those locales.
Save Big on Lodging
Good news: T are some simple yet effective strategies to save on lodging. If you’re planning to stay at hotels, call the concierge to find out what the rate is—sometimes the over-the-phone price is cheaper than the online price—or use a bidding site like Priceline where hotels compete for your business. If you’re shopping for vacation rental, such as an Airbnb, don’t be afraid to haggle with the owner for a lower rate. (You’ll have more leverage if can request a multi-night stay.)
Choose a Destination Where Your Dollar Will Go Far
One way to trim your trip’s expenses is by choosing a location with a strong exchange rate. On the end of the exchange-rate spectrum, you may want to consider honeymooning in Argentina, Sweden, or Nigeria, where the exchange rate for the U.S. dollar is predicted to decrease by double digits in 2019, according to a forecast by Carlson Wagonlit Travel, a U.S.-based travel management company. But you can also opt for a more moderate exchange rate by doing your homework before choosing your destination.
Travel During the Shoulder Season
Travelling during the “sweet spot” between high season and low season can help you nab a great honeymoon at a shockingly low price. Though shoulder seasons can vary when travelling abroad, most airfares and hotel rates in the U.S. drop in popular summer destinations as summer turns to fall, especially in beach towns, National Parks, and theme parks.
Want Fixed Costs? Book an All-inclusive Honeymoon
For couples that have trouble sticking to a budget while travelling, staying at an all-inclusive resort may be the most cost-effective option. With an all-inclusive resort your room, meals, drinks, taxes, and airport transfers are paid for as one flat fee—meaning you’ll never feel tempted to whip out your wallet and make an impulsive splurge.
Pro tip: Staying at an adults-only resort will up the romance—letting you enjoy candlelit dinners for two and couples’ massages without the hustle-bustle of families with children nearby.
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Take Advantage of Free Entertainment
When you’re on the ground, you can curb expenses by going to free museums and events. Nearify, a free mobile app (available on Android and iPhone) that compiles happenings in hundreds of cities, can help you discover free events near your location. Also, a number of cities offer free walking tours, which you can find on Google and FreeToursByFoot.com.
Redeem Discounts for Premium Memberships
Many hotels, rental car companies, and attractions offer reduced rates for members of frequent flier programs, credit card holders, and organizations like AAA and AARP. However, you may need to do a little digging to find these discounts or inquire about them when booking reservations.
Need a Bigger Budget? Set Up a Honeymoon Registry
Nowadays, many couples are creating a honeymoon registry to supplement their travel expenses. Having this registry will make it easy for your family and friends to donate cash for your honeymoon. Most wedding registry websites, including WeddingWire and The Knot, let you set up a honeymoon registry alongside your gift registry.
Plan your honeymoon first
Well before you fully launch into the wedding planning process, take time to plan your honeymoon. Planning your honeymoon before the wedding-planning craziness takes over can help you do several things. For one, it’ll help you set your wedding date in a season when you can get good honeymoon deals (see tip #2 below). For another, it will ensure you book your flights, hotels, and other important matters early enough to get the lowest possible price. Waiting to plan your honeymoon can leave you scrambling to get tickets and reservations — and paying more for them because of it.
Pick the right time of year
Choosing the right time of year for your honeymoon is crucial to saving money — even if it means planning your wedding date based on your honeymoon location or postponing your honeymoon for a few months until after the wedding.
The ideal time to travel depends on where you want to go, but your goal should be to travel in the shoulder season. For instance, choose October for a European honeymoon or March for a honeymoon to Florida. In the off-season, many attractions and hotels in tourist-heavy areas will be closed or limited. But in the middle of the tourist season, prices will be at their peak.
Use the right credit card
Most likely, you’ve got a lot of wedding expenses coming up, but you lack the cash to pay for them now. You can use a travel credit card to cover those expenses and get some rewards in return that you can apply toward your honeymoon.
Budget properly for your wedding so that you can pay off the card ASAP and avoid overpaying for rewards in interest. If you plan to travel overseas, don’t forget to check out credit cards with no foreign transaction fees. Otherwise, you’ll pay an extra fee with every swipe of your card.
Look into all-inclusive packages and cruises
All-inclusive packages and cruises can make the honeymoon-planning process easier, and they may even make your honeymoon cheaper. Frequently, these packages are more affordable than putting together a honeymoon piecemeal.
Consider using a travel agent who may have access to the best deals. Also look into Groupon’s and LivingSocial’s travel-related coupons, which often include vacation packages for exotic and domestic locales.
Look into alternative accommodations
Just changing your accommodations can make a huge difference in your overall honeymoon spending. Instead of opting for a five-star hotel, choose one that’s slightly cheaper but still has nice rooms. Or stay in the five-star hotel but downgrade your room a little bit. In the big picture, the size and beauty of your hotel room doesn’t matter all that much (as long as the bed is comfortable).
If you want to save money, go against the honeymoon norm. Bed and breakfasts are often cheaper and homier than hotels — plus they come with at least one meal. If you’re an adventurous couple, consider renting a cabin in the woods, or backpack parts of Europe while staying in hostels.
One of the best ways to save on your honeymoon is to avoid tourist traps simply. Ask locals where they go for dinner, drinks, or nightlife. Chances are they’ll let you in on some hole-in-the-wall places that are sure to be cheaper — and more fun — than tourist-oriented restaurants, bars, and clubs.
You can take this to the extreme — and save extreme amounts of cash — by avoiding tourist destinations altogether. For instance, if you want a romantic French honeymoon, avoid tourist-ridden Paris and visit Amiens, home to artisan bakers and a gorgeous cathedral that’s bigger than Notre Dame.
Travel in the Low Season
There are plenty of tricks to save money on vacation. One of the best is to travel during the low season when tourism-dependent businesses are at their hungriest. You’ll find better deals on hotels, lower airfare (and cheaper upgrades to first-class), generous package deals, more affordable excursions, and fewer crowds.
The low season isn’t monolithic. In temperate coastal areas, summer is the high season and the rest of the year is the low season. In mountainous regions with skiable terrain, the low season is spring and fall. In tropical locales, the low season coincides with the rainy season, which happens at different times of the year in different places.
Once you choose your destination, identify its low season and plan accordingly – even if it means delaying your honeymoon by a few months. Alternatively, pin down your travel dates and avoid destinations that promise to be busy.
Do you want to get more tips about marriage life? Check out our post on What is a happy marriage like?
Consider a Honeymoon Package, Cautiously
Are you looking at all-inclusive resorts? Ask about honeymoon packages. The typical honeymoon package includes a room upgrade, champagne and snacks at welcome (and possibly every evening), credit at resort restaurants or bars, and romantic experiences such as private dinners and couples massages. Bigger resorts offer packages at several price points.
Honeymoon packages almost always cost more than off-the-shelf stays in basic rooms. That’s the point. If cost-cutting is paramount, you might want to avoid the temptation. If the package’s inclusions entice you and you’re pretty sure you’d pursue them anyway, do some back-of-the-envelope math, make sure the package’s total cost is lower than the sum of its parts, and pull the trigger.
Honeymoon packages aren’t exclusive to all-inclusive resorts. On our honeymoon, my wife and I stayed at a nice but not all-inclusive resort in New England. We sprang for the honeymoon package, because why not. The highlight: an amazing room upgrade. The downside: by our calculations, we may have just broken even. Again, do the math before you pull the trigger.
Cut It Short
A long weekend can be just as romantic as a 14-day odyssey, and it’s cheaper. You can do it without depleting your vacation time and PTO accounts. Since you’re spending fewer nights away, you have leeway to raise your per-night costs – whether that means upgrading from a three- to five-star property or splurging on a special experience for which you’d otherwise lack the budget. And you can always sock away your savings for a future vacation, if not a second honeymoon.
Stay Within Driving Distance
In general, the shorter the flight, the cheaper the airfare—that’s one big reason West Coasters head south to Mexico, and East Coasters flock to the Caribbean. But here’s another idea: Save the airfare and use the extra money to upgrade to a nicer hotel and room at a spot within driving distance.
Booking early guarantees that all the inexpensive rooms won’t be sold out. On cruises, which announce their itineraries 10 to 14 months in advance, it also means savings of more than to 50 per cent. On the flip side, if a ship is under-booked, you may snag a last-minute deal up to eight weeks before sailing (although you may have a limited choice of cabins).
Consider Alternative Airports
As in, sacrifice convenience for savings: Try flying into or out of a smaller or farther airport at one or both ends of your trip to reduce airfare. But always call your hotel to make sure the roundtrip cost of a taxi or car service from the farther airport won’t wipe out your savings.
Think Beyond Flying
Instead of flying a major airline, consider getting to your destination via train, bus or car. Turn a long drive into a road-trip adventure by planning some sightseeing stops along the way. And once you’re there, get around like locals by relying on public transportation instead of cabs or ride apps. You don’t have to take it everywhere, but replacing a few long, pricey cab rides with a subway or bus ride can save you.
Cash in Frequent Flier Miles
That credit card you’ve been using to pay for your wedding is now ready for airline tickets, hotel rooms, car rentals and upgrades. (In fact, seat upgrades have a better “exchange rate” than ticket purchases and are invaluable splurges on long flights.) Ask about partnerships, allow plenty of time for membership rewards or points to be transferred, and remember that blackout dates may curtail your plans.
Now we’ve given you a sample of the helpful honeymoon money-saving tips, and we wish you the best of luck booking your dream holiday! Give us a shout if you have any questions or need help planning! A honeymoon is a once-in-a-lifetime occasion that you’ll want to remember for years to come. However, it doesn’t need to get you into debt, so you’ll have good stories to tell your friends too.