Honeymoon Planning

How to choose a honeymoon destination, is always a cause of concern when planning a wedding. A few very lucky couples are gifted with a honeymoon trip as a wedding present; others have the financial means to travel to any destination they choose. The rest of us plan early and carefully to make the most of the money we have allotted for the trip.

There are plenty of options for the honeymooning couple on a budget, especially if you start to plan early. Here are some ideas to help you to plan your trip better and keep it within your pocket range.

The Plan

Laying the plans
When you make your initial wedding budget calculations, set aside an amount for the honeymoon. This way, you will have a trip fund set up, and the possibility of taking a honeymoon will seem real, rather than a pipe dream. You don't have to allow for the entire cost, but once the fund is set up, you can treat it as the home for any stray money. It will grow.

Stay in the country
It is difficult to plan a trip overseas without incurring substantial expense. The airfare alone will put a healthy dent in your finances. You will also likely have to take more time off work to go out of the country. If you set your mind on finding a destination within the country, you'll have a better chance of cutting the budget. Just look around and see what you have visited and what you have not.

Take to the road
Choosing a destination you can drive to, virtually guarantees a reasonably priced honeymoon. There's a good chance you'll be able to find a reasonable deal. With tourist luxury buses running all over the country for any destination will help you to make reasonable cut-offs in your pricing.

Shop for air fairs
Don’t eliminate the possibility of flying though. Airfares change constantly. Start looking for a flight early, but keep the option of driving open if possible. Often flying can be comparable price-wise to renting a car and driving to your destination.

Island hopping
While you may not be able to afford a six-week Caribbean holiday to celebrate your marriage (not to mention getting the time off), you can still have fun on an island without going into debt. Ask a local travel agent about island packages or cruises (many of which are all-inclusive), or plan on camping in some really beautiful places.

Go Online
Some of the best air fares, hotel room rates and cruise specials are available on the internet. Often you can get a fabulous deal on a great trip. Be sure to make your arrangements through a reputable company though. Sites like Expedia, Priceline, Cheaptickets and Travelocity have been around for years. Also, be sure to confirm your tickets and reservations with the vendor themselves rather than relying on the website.

Appeal to their romantic souls
If any of your friends have vacation houses or you know somebody has a time-share, don’t be shy about asking them to help you plan your dream honeymoon. You may be able to get a great rate, or even get your lodging as a wedding gift.

Frequent Flyer Miles
Look for friends and family members who travel a lot. Often, such people will accumulate thousands of frequent flier miles that can be used to acquire tickets for family members. If you find someone willing to share their miles with you, be sure to check with the airline first to determine the rules for such transfers. The airline policies vary widely; some even allow friends to share their miles.

If you're marrying during prime wedding season -- May through September -- your honeymoon will be taking place during high season for vacations. The costs of accommodation and travel are at their peak during these months, so delay your real honeymoon for a while. This way, you can find yourself alone on a deserted stretch of beach with the undivided attention of the hotel staff.

How the heck do I plan the honeymoon?

This is a special, romantic getaway you'll both remember for the rest of your life, and you'll need good planning to make it a success.

It can be difficult to narrow down your options and settle on one perfect spot. First, you need to consider as a couple your interests and how you want to enjoy your honeymoon. If you enjoy museums and historic locations, consider visiting Charleston or Washington DC. If you want to get a great tan and engage in water sports, go to the Caribbean or the Carolina or Florida beaches.

Consider some unique locations that aren’t necessarily on the top ten list for vacation destinations. Is there a special place that you and your fiancé consider your special place? How about staying at the location your favorite romantic movie was filmed. The Tri-Cities is within easy driving distance of the sets for “Last of the Mohicans,” “Dirty Dancing” and many other movies. These locations were chosen because of their beautiful scenery and if you have seen the movie, you should know what to expect.

Once you decide what you want to do, it will be easier to decide where you want to go. But remember, it doesn't have to be expensive or exotic for it to be fun -- as long as it's the two of you, it will be a special way to start your new life together.

Here's a simple timeline to help plan your honeymoon:

At least six months in advance:

* Set a budget and a spending limit for your expenses.
* Decide upon a destination option. Talk to a travel agent, friends, family and scout the net for ideas.
* Book airline tickets and get your confirmation number.
* Reserve hotels and room type (non-smoking, beachfront, suite, etc.).
* Book a rental car (if you need one) and get a confirmation number.
* If you're going overseas, consider taking language classes or buying instructional CDs.

Four months in advance:

* Get passports and any required visas if you are going out of the country.
* Finalize your reservations.
* Keep your plane tickets and other reservation information organized as it comes in.

Two months ahead:

* Prepare a shopping list of everything you need for the trip (sunscreen, film, clothes, etc.)
* If necessary, get vaccinations (if you are going out of the country).
* Talk to your doctor about a prescription for motion sickness medicines if you are prone to the malady. If you are flying or sailing for the first time, it is best to be prepared.
* Make house/pet/plant-sitting arrangements for while you're gone.

One month:

Confirm all reservations.

* If you have special meal requirements, speak with the airline.
* Book dinners, massages, tours, theater tickets or other activities that need reservations through your concierge, travel agent or tour operator.
* Be sure to refill prescriptions or medications you'll need.

Two weeks:

* Get your tickets, vouchers, passes, etc. from your travel agent.
* Purchase traveler's checks and keep a safe copy of the numbers (not in the same place where the checks are stored) in case they are lost or stolen.

One week:

* Make arrangements for your mail to be held or have someone get it while you're gone.
* Cancel newspaper delivery for the length of your trip.
* Request stores where you're registered to temporarily stop delivering gifts or ask someone to collect them.
* Start packing.
* Get your addresses organized so you can write thank-you notes on the plane.

Three days before:

* Reconfirm any overseas flights.
* Purchase and pack books and magazines.
* Arrange for transportation to and from the airport.
* Prepare an itinerary for friends and relatives in the event of an emergency.
* Keep an eye on the weather reports for your destination.

Two days before:

* Reconfirm domestic flights.
* Make sure your house is in order before you leave (take out the trash, adjust the thermostat, set timers on lights, etc.).
* Finish packing. This is not something you want to save till the last minute.
* Be sure to leave plenty of room for gifts and other things that you’ll bring back form your honeymoon.

Here are some great regional honeymoon ideas:

We have some of the best skiing on the East Coast less than two hours from the Tri-Cities. If you are planning a winter wedding, why not take advantage of this by visiting one of Tennessee, North Carolina or West Virginia’s many ski resorts? If you are not a accomplished skier, there are always lessons available on the bunny slopes, many resorts now offer tubing, which requires much less expertise and what is more romantic than curling up with your sweetheart in front of a roaring fire at the ski lodge?

Most of these resorts are open year-round and you can get some great off-season rates. There are plenty of summer and fall activities available, especially in Western North Carolina, for off-season travelers.

If you are getting married in June and want to avoid the sunburn you are likely to get at the beach, why not rent a mountain cabin as a romantic get away destination? There are plenty to choose from in the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area as well as in areas of Western North Carolina around Asheville and Boone. If you like the idea but would rather get a bit further away from the hustle and bustle, at least one state park in our area has cabins for rent. Marion’s Hungry Mother Park has cabins that range from sparse to luxurious.

If you are planning an autumn wedding, why not take a leisurely tour down the Blue Ridge Parkway. There are plenty of great places to stay (including a motel built to look like a castle) and there are plenty of places to go and things to see along the Parkway. In the fall, the area has some of the best color on the East Coast.