How to Plan the Best Cheap, but Memorable Honeymoon

couple honeymoonSix months before my wedding, my wife was consumed with wedding plans related to dresses, bridesmaids, and floral arrangements. It fell on me to plan our honeymoon, and I didn’t know where to begin.

Back then, I wasn’t quite the travel expert I am now, so I was really starting from scratch trying to put together a honeymoon that would be the equal of our wedding. Ultimately, I learned that a honeymoon is not like any other trip you have ever taken.

With some research and effort, I was able to design an awesome honeymoon. Here are the essential guidelines I followed to plan a memorable and affordable honeymoon.

4 Ways to Make Your Honeymoon Memorable

1. Think Outside the Past
Start by eliminating all of the places you and your fiance have ever been to. This includes all places that either of you have ever traveled to alone, with each other, and certainly destinations that either of you have visited with other people. Remember that you can never have as much fun as you did the first time you were there. The weather and the people will always be different, and the destination will have become either more developed or more run down than it was during your last visit. More critically, your honeymoon is symbolic of the new journey through life that the two of you are undertaking – it is not about re-living old memories.

2. Go with What You Don’t Know
My wife and I spent the first week of our honeymoon on the island of Fernando de Noronha. Never heard of it? Neither had we six months before our wedding. We started researching destinations in Brazil because of its temperate climate and favorable exchange rates. We purchased a guidebook and read about a sparsely populated island off of the coast of northern Brazil. My wife and I instantly realized that we had found our honeymoon destination.

3. Avoid the Crowds, at First
Honeymoons are about the two of you, so you probably want to avoid mega-ship cruises, major cities, and large destination resorts – at least for the first part of the trip. If you have enough time, you can emerge from isolation and start to re-acclimate to society as a married couple. After visiting the island, my new wife and I stayed in a jungle lodge in the Amazon before finally touring bustling Rio de Janeiro. We were happy to enjoy the solitude following the chaos that is an American wedding.

4. Stay Out of Hurricane, Typhoon, and Monsoon Zones During Active Seasons
While your honeymoon would certainly be memorable if you survived a hurricane in the Caribbean, it obviously wouldn’t be a good memory. Mega-storms don’t just happen anywhere at any time, they almost always occur during a defined season and within a designated zone. For example, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) lists the Atlantic Hurricane season from June 1st to November 30th. Someone encouraged us to take our honeymoon in Cozumel, but thankfully we never considered it. During our honeymoon in Brazil, we saw footage of Hurricane Wilma devastating the island.

fernando de naronha

4 Ways to Make Your Honeymoon Affordable

1. Think Beyond Your Dreams
While St. Tropez may be on your honeymoon bucket list, for most people it’s also a break-the-bank destination.  By casting aside your previously held notions of a “dream” vacation, you can spin the globe and find the ultimate trip that’s also budget-friendly. That’s how my wife and I stumbled on Fernando de Noronha. Though we had never heard of it before, it ended up being a dream vacation within budget for both of us.

2. Avoid Destinations More Expensive than Home
While it is tempting to splurge on a high-priced destination, you don’t want to spend your honeymoon worried about money.While the dollar may not be particularly strong now, there are entire regions of the world where it still goes further than at home like Central and South America, Southern Africa, Southern Asia, and parts of Eastern Europe. On our honeymoon in Brazil, we fondly recall dining at fine restaurants for $20. Even within the United States, a romantic cabin by a lake will be less expensive in Idaho than in Aspen.

3. Travel Out of Season, but Not Too Far Out
It is a good idea to avoid the peak travel season at any destination, but that is not the same thing as traveling completely out of season. I once visited a Greek island in the middle of winter. The weather was reasonable, but the towns were deserted and all the shops and restaurants were closed. Don’t visit the beach when it is likely to be cold and rainy. Avoid a ski trip in November or April. Look to travel right before or after peak season to save money, not the “off” season.

4. Plan Your Trip with the Help of Local Experts
The ideal travel agent for your honeymoon will either be a resident at your destination, an ex-patriot, or at least someone who visits that part of the world regularly. People who know the area you’re going to will have knowledge of all the non-tourist hot spots including amazing restaurants, boutique hotels, and off-the-beaten-path shops that won’t have the inflated prices of tourist traps. If you don’t use a travel agent, ask locals (e.g. your cab driver, the housekeeper, and bartenders) for their favorite local digs.

Final Word

Getting married is all about undertaking a new journey through life, and your honeymoon will be your first steps. While it should not be an extremely frugal vacation, you don’t have to spend too much on unnecessary luxuries. For example, my wife and I had an unforgettable honeymoon traveling around Brazil for about the price of a cruise or a stay at an all-inclusive resort.

By keeping an open mind and researching the many possibilities, you will realize that there is still no shortage of safe, exotic, and affordable destinations across the country and around the world. The key to our success was to set aside our previous notions of a honeymoon and to plan ahead for a vacation as unique as ourselves.

Have you ever planned a honeymoon after getting married? Where did you go and why?