The only thing that gets most couples through the final stressful stretch of wedding planning is the thought of their honeymoon. After months of dealing with guest lists, seating charts, family drama, and making thousands of decisions, most newlyweds can't wait to hightail it to a secluded sandy beach. Whether you're staying in a bungalow in Bora Bora or five-star European resort, it is possible to save money on your most over-the-top vacation. Read on for travel advice that will help you get more for less on your honeymoon.
Budget Honeymoon Travel Tip 1: Get Honeymoon Hook-ups
Tell anyone and everyone that you two lovebirds are honeymooners. This information has the magical power to warm the hearts of airline and hotel employees worldwide. Before you know it, you'll be sitting in first class, savoring those delicious warm chocolate chip cookies for free.
In today's tough economic times, hotels have seen occupancy hit an all time low. So, resorts and hotels are extra thankful when people choose to stay with them. Make sure they know in the booking notes that it's your honeymoon. Then give them a friendly reminder when you check in. This should promptly lead to a room upgrade (hello gorgeous two-bedroom suite with balcony!) and the delivery of a chilled bottle of champagne and fresh strawberries, compliments of the hotel.
Budget Honeymoon Travel Tip 2: Research Rewards
Before you book, look into hotels and resorts that offer "rewards" so you can take advantage of extra perks and even score free nights. Or, prior to the wedding, use a credit card that offers great travel rewards. For example, with every swipe of the Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express, you'll earn points that can be used toward free stays and upgrades at close to 1,000 participating Starwood properties in 93 countries. (Who would have thought spending all that money on the wedding could ultimately work in your favor!). The credit card you've been using for years may have a points system in place, so you could be well on your way to free flights and deals.
Budget Honeymoon Travel Tip 3: Avoid Peak Travel Times
Traveling in the "off season" can save you big bucks on airfare and lodging. Most hotel websites will show you a comparison of rates for each season. Avoid heading to warm weather spots over spring break and during the holiday rush. If you book just before or after the "peak" season, you'll have more money to spend on food and activities. Plus, the blissful quiet of a resort that's not packed with people fighting for good beach chairs is way more conducive to honeymooners anyway.
Budget Honeymoon Travel Tip 4: Simple Swaps Save Money
Honeymoons are the perfect excuse to completely indulge in the royal treatment. But eating at the most expensive restaurants and getting pampered 24/7 may be a bad idea if it means living off of canned food upon returning home to make up for it. Luckily, there are simple ways to cut back without feeling like you're missing out. Pass on room service for breakfast. Instead, head to the hotel gift shop or, better yet, a local grocery store and stock up on fruit or healthy breakfast bars that you can pop in your beach bag and eat poolside. If you both forego a room service breakfast for seven days, you'll save hundreds of dollars ... much better used at the spa!
Restaurants that cater to tourists (especially honeymooners) are known for jacking up their prices. While you'll definitely want to hit up a few fabulously overpriced restaurants to celebrate your "I dos," be sure to also talk with locals to get the scoop on hot spots off the beaten path. From Caribbean reggae bars to Hawaiian fish shacks, getting a taste of the culture is fun and way more affordable than those white-tablecloth meals.
Since you'll be spending a lot of money on wining and dining, do your own "happy hour" before dinner to relax and unwind. Pick up a bottle of wine at a local store and sip as you watch the sunset on your terrace before going out. Your bottle of wine will probably cost half the amount it would to have cocktails at the hotel bar.
Finally, rent a car to avoid dropping serious cash on cabs if you'll be on the go a lot.
Budget Honeymoon Travel Tip 5: Go on a "mini-moon"
If a big trip isn't in the financial cards right now, plan a special weekend getaway to wind down after the wedding. Spending a night or two at charming bed and breakfast and hitting up local wineries or a spa is the perfect way to get some much-needed downtime together—without breaking the bank. You can always do a big honeymoon in the future, when funds allow.
Budget Honeymoon Travel Tip 6: Get Travel Advice from other Honeymooners
A great way to get the inside scoop on top honeymoon destinations is to talk to people who have been there. Find out what hotels and restaurants are worth splurging on and where to find cheap eats.
What travel advice do you have to help honeymooners save? Leave a comment below!