Cheers to 2013!

Happy New Year from my favorite city in the world: San Francisco!

San Francisco

Views of the Golden Gate Bridge never get old : )

As 2012 comes to an end, I feel very grateful for all of the traveling I did during the past year, especially my honeymoon in Bali and Vietnam.

But even though 2012 was pretty great, I seriously can’t wait for what 2013 has to offer.  We already have trips lined up for Chicago, Scottsdale, Dallas, Los Angeles, and IRELAND (!!!), and I’m hoping to get up to Tahoe as much as possible during the ski season.

Here’s to a 2013 full of exciting travels and memorable adventures!

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Real Honeymoon: Seoul & The Maldives

Where do you go on your honeymoon when you have a million frequent flier miles and hotel points racked up?  Everywhere!  Specifically, my friends Seema and Tommy chose to check out both South Korea and the Maldives during their honeymoon.  Because Seema is a consultant and travels constantly for work, they were able to upgrade their long flights and they only had to pay a fraction of their costs out of pocket.  Read all about their awesome honeymoon below:

When and where did you honeymoon? 

Seoul & the Maldives, in September 2012

Private Pool

How long was your trip? 

12 days

How did you decide on your honeymoon destination(s)? 

We wanted to do a BIG trip to somewhere that we had never been before and some place we might never go again.

The best part about our honeymoon was… 

Being on a secluded island in the Maldives & the food in Seoul was amazing!

Korean Street Food

If I knew then what I know now, I’d change…

I’d spent 1 more day in each spot!

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Real Honeymoon: Bali & Lombok

One of the reasons why my husband and I chose to visit Bali during our honeymoon was because our friends Ashley and James had such a great time there.  Read all about their awesome Balinese honeymoon below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

July 2010 – Bali and Lombok, Indonesia

River rafting in Bali

How long was your trip?

10 days

How did you decide on your honeymoon destination(s)?

A friend’s father owns Bali Island Villas, which is beautiful AND reasonably priced.  We decided to splurge on the exotic location because you only live once, and it was definitely worth it.

Balinese rice paddies

The best part about our honeymoon was…

Exploring the different areas in Bali. While it is a small island, each region has a completely different flavor. We enjoyed staying in Seminyak the most, because it offered great beaches and amazing restaurants. Taxis are ridiculously cheap so it was easy to explore and go on spontaneous adventures.

Balinese beach

If I knew then what I know now, I’d change…

Going to the neighboring island Lombok. We spent 2 nights in Lombok at the end of our trip. It was incredibly unfriendly, the downtown area is sparse, and my husband got food poisoning.

How much planning did you do in advance?

Probably a few months. We mostly just booked our flight, and I would highly recommend booking your flight in advance. It’s not a cheap flight and the more notice you have the better. I would also be sure to do your research on where to stay. I would definitely recommend finding a hotel in a good location that is walking distance to restaurants and the beach.

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Real Honeymoon: Kauai & Maui

College sweethearts and fellow Michigan Wolverines Megan and Mike didn’t want to choose between Hawaiian islands, so they decided to go to two!  Read all about their fun and adventurous Hawaiian honeymoon below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

Hawaii in the beginning of September (2011) – Kauai (Grand Hyatt in Poipu) and Maui (Hyatt Regency in Lahaina).

Hawaiian Jeep Tour

How long was your trip?

5 days on Kauai and 5 days on Maui.

How did you decide on your honeymoon destination(s)?

We wanted somewhere warm and tropical, where we could relax AND be adventurous.  We knew we would be exhausted and need lots of pool and cocktails, but we also knew we would get restless if we couldn’t get out and explore.  We also didn’t want to sacrifice too much time and budget of the vacation traveling, since we were already flying from Northern Michigan back to LA.  We decided on two islands because we don’t get to travel very often, and we wanted to make the most of the time off.  We chose Kauai based on recommendations from friends.  It sounded more quiet, so we started our trip there to unwind after the wedding.  We chose Maui as the second island b/c there were so many “adventures” we read about (volcano and watefalls!).

Hawaiian bike ride

The best part about our honeymoon was…

Watching Michigan beat ND under the lights…jokes (but it was an added bonus)!  This is actually really hard to answer because we got to do so many amazing things.  I loved the day we spent in Waimea Canyon in Kauai because we were both totally in our element together.  We found ourselves alone on most of the trails, we went off roading in our jeep wrangler (a must on both islands!), and just enjoyed some spectacular views.  I also loved our day on the Road to Hana.  Nothing is more Hawaii then swimming in a waterfall.

If I knew then what I know now, I’d change…

The day we spent on the Road to Hana in Maui.  It was an epic adventure, but there are two things I would have changed.  1) I would have charged our camera before we went or even brought a waterproof disposable for all the waterfall photos and 2) I would have bought water shoes for all the slippery rock climbing in the water fall lagoons.  In Kauai, I also wish I would have known to get into Waimea Canyon Park early and up to the Napali Coast viewpoint at the top before the clouds roll in.  We were lucky and got a quick sneak peak, but the longer you wait the less likely the view gets.

Napali Coast

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Do You Need To Buy Souvenirs During Your Honeymoon?

It really just depends on whether you like souvenir shopping or not.  If you love it, then go for it!  Shot glasses and magnets for everyone!  But if you aren’t a huge fan of bringing tchotchkes home from all of your trips, you don’t need to feel obligated to do so on your honeymoon.

Souvenir Shop in Granada

Souvenir Shop in Granada, Spain

If you’re still on the fence about souvenirs, here are a couple of things to consider:

1. Are any of your family members or friends going out of their way for you back home?

A token of gratitude will most likely be appreciated if you’ve asked anyone (or if you’ve accepted someone’s offer) to do any of the following for you:

– watch your dog/cat/goldfish/etc.

– water your plants

– pick up your mail (even though you should just sign up for hold mail service!)

– house-sit

– drive you to/from the airport

2. Is your honeymoon destination known for a cool product?

This is my nice way of saying, “don’t just buy someone foreign crap.”  If you’re going to buy someone a souvenir, try to find something that’s popular in, or unique to, your honeymoon destination.  For example, if you’re honeymooning in Italy, it’s a good idea to bring home high quality olive oil or something made of Murano glass.  If you ‘re honeymooning in Hawaii you can always bring back macadamia nuts or Kona coffee.  You get the picture.

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Real Honeymoon: Tahiti

To me, Tahiti is one of the quintessential honeymoon destinations.  Absolutely gorgeous scenery, impressive resorts, divine French cuisine, and plenty of daytime activities to choose from if you need a break from the beach.  In fact, when I was faced with the decision to study Spanish or French back in 7th grade, I boldly told my parents, “I’m going to learn French so I can go to Tahiti one day.”  Since we lived in California and 95% of my classmates were choosing the more “useful” language of Spanish, my parents just rolled their eyes at me.  Seven years of French classes later, I finally got to go to Tahiti with my best friend and her family, and I was not disappointed.  And through that best friend, I met Marissa and Pat, whose great honeymoon photos are below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

September 2011 in Tahiti (Moorea and Bora Bora)

Champagne in Tahiti

How long was your trip?

8 days

How did you decide on your honeymoon destination(s)?

While we debated the benefits of more of an “adventure” vacation, we speculated (correctly) that by the time the wedding was done, we’d want a honeymoon that allowed us to relax and unwind. We liked the fact that there were still plenty of options to be active (hiking, all types of water sports, etc.), but we would also have the ability to do nothing on a beach.

Hiking in Moorea

The best part about our honeymoon was…

There were so many it’s hard to pick! I loved our “shark and ray snorkel safari” – we saw incredible coral reefs, fed rays and swam with sharks! I also loved how somehow being on our honeymoon turned my husband into the uber tourist. Normally I’m the one clamoring to take a million pictures, but this time he was just as into recording every moment.

Snorkeling in Tahiti

If I knew then what I know now, I’d change…

I would have stayed longer, and might have gone to a third island.

If you plan to visit both Moorea and Bora Bora, I’d say it isn’t necessary to stay in the over-water huts in Moorea (if you’re looking to save a little money). We spent much of our time on this island exploring and being on the beach, very little in our room.

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Quick Tip #5: Use Priceline.com for Car Rentals

Need a rental car for your honeymoon? Look into Priceline’s Name Your Own Price deal and place a bid as low as you want. Worst case scenario: they say that your bid is too low, and you can re-bid again with a higher amount.  Try it, it’s fun!

Jeep

You can also use Priceline to bid for your flights and hotels, but usually people want a bit more control over those aspects of their trips.  However, who really cares what company you use for renting a car?

(Actually, I guess some people do like to rack up loyalty points by using the same company each time, but shhhh.)

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Real Honeymoon: Fiji

Two of my friends from law school got married in Sonoma over the summer and decided to go to Fiji for their honeymoon.  Not too shabby, eh?  Take a peek at the photos from their beautiful trip below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

Fiji (Tokiriki, Denarau, Natadola Bay)

How long was your trip?

10 days

How did you decide on your honeymoon destination(s)?

Warm beach weather, but not too hot to be active, beautiful beaches, relaxing, different culture

The best part about our honeymoon was… 

Relaxing on beautiful beaches, snorkeling, kayaking and golf

If I knew then what I know now, I’d change…  

Avoid the big island and explore more small islands

How much planning did you do in advance?  

Just the logistical stuff (flights, hotels, transport to/from)

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