Quick Tip #8: Book Your Honeymoon Now

When should you book your honeymoon?  YESTERDAY!  Oh my gosh, you haven’t booked it yet?  What were you thinking?  You’re so far behind!!!

Juuuust kidding, calm down.  Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to book flights and hotels earlier rather than later, but you certainly don’t need to have your entire trip planned out more than six months in advance.**

Calendar

So why is it important to book early?

1) You’ll save money.  Pretty good reason, right?

2) You’re more likely to get your first choices on airfare, hotels, fancy restaurants, etc.

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Real Honeymoon: Thailand

Thailand is definitely one of my favorite destinations of all time, and this couple sure took their time and did it right for their honeymoon.  If you love amazing food, gorgeous beaches, and friendly people, I really couldn’t recommend Thailand enough! Check out Alexis and Andrew’s honeymoon below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

September-October 2011, Thailand

  • Chiang Mai – 3 days
  • Phuket – 3 days
  • Koh Phi Phi – 4 days
  • Khao Lek – 2 days
  • Krabi – 3 days
  • Koh Samui – 5 days

Patara

How long was your trip?

3 weeks.

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

We wanted to go somewhere we hadn’t been that was warm, and mixed sightseeing with relaxing on the beach.

Thailand

The best part about our honeymoon was…

Everything! If I have to pick one thing, it would be the day we spent at Patara Elephant Farm taking care of elephants for the day.

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

Nothing! Well, maybe I would stay at a different hotel in Krabi, but otherwise, it was perfect.

Thailand

How much planning did you do in advance?

A decent amount, we had all of our airfare and hotels booked, and pretty much knew how we wanted to spend our days.

Thailand

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Non-Literary Honeymoon Entertainment Ideas

When I was working on my recent blog post on honeymoon reading recommendations, a couple of friends pointed out that they had no desire to sit around and read books all day.  Aside from entertaining yourselves in the most obvious way (*wink*), they had the following suggestions for honeymoon entertainment:

ipad in bed

Bring Don Draper along on your honeymoon, too!

1) Catch up on TV shows and movies

As much as I love The Wire and The Sopranos, I personally wouldn’t have wanted to spend my honeymoon watching violent dramas.  Just like with my book recommendations, I think it’s best to keep things light.  During my own honeymoon my husband and I watched the first two seasons of Happy Endings and plenty of our other favorite comedies like 30 Rock, Community, and Parks and Rec.

2) Play games

Are you the type of couple who loves card or board games?  If so, bring them along!  One friend told me she and her husband brought along Uno, Travel Scrabble, and Travel Sorry on their honeymoon.

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Honeymoon Reading Recommendations: Keep It Light!

Believe it or not, your honeymoon is not the time to bust out tearjerker books such as Never Let Me GoThe Road, or Little Bee.  It’s also not necessarily the best time to tackle notoriously challenging books like Infinite Jest or Gravity’s Rainbow.  In her recent Tahitian honeymoon blog post, my very wise friend Alix made an excellent point that I also want to emphasize: you’ve got to keep the reading selection during your honeymoon light.

Library

The library at the Hon Tam Resort in Nha Trang, Vietnam

I recently polled a small group of friends to ask them what they read during their honeymoons, and the feedback was almost entirely unanimous:

1) Everyone likes funny books, especially comedic memoirs:

– Bossypants by Tina Fey (the audiobook, too, is truly amazing)

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

– Anything by Chelsea Handler

2) Book series are so hot right now:

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins (although one friend mentioned that she would get so caught up in the books that wouldn’t want to put them down, which brings up a smart point that if you don’t want to turn your honeymoon into a reading marathon, you should bring along books that are good, but not THAT good.)

– The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling (these books are pretty clunky, so it’s probably best to load them on an e-reader)

– The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Trilogy by Stieg Larsson (a good story, yes, but definitely not the lightest/happiest subject matter)

3) “Romance novels” can help put you in the mood:

– The 50 Shades of Grey  Trilogy by E L James (Oh my!  Barf.  I couldn’t even get through book two, but it sounds like all of my friends were equally curious about these books)

And I can’t personally vouch for any of the following, but the following books were highly recommended by a self-proclaimed trashy romance connoisseur:

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

The Mighty Storm by Samantha Towle

On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves

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Real Honeymoon: Tahiti

A couple of days after their beautiful wedding in San Francisco, my good friends Alix and Brandon left for their equally gorgeous honeymoon in Tahiti.  And as if they truly planned it this way, they returned to San Francisco just in time to watch the Giants win the World Series!  Sounds like the best month ever to me.  Check out their incredible Tahitian honeymoon below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

Tahiti, October 2012. One week in Moorea, one week in Bora Bora.

Tahiiti

How long was your trip?

About 2 weeks.

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

We had a really hard time deciding. We were torn between a backpackery type trip and going somewhere cultural versus somewhere where we could just plop on a beach and do nothing. We debated Tahiti, Fiji, Madagascar, Philippines and all over Europe (especially Greece and Italy). But ultimately, the weather decided our location. Getting married in October didn’t leave us with very many warm weather options (unless we wanted to risk typhoons). I had been to Greece and had always pictured honeymooning there (beautiful beaches, culture, activities etc.). And Brandon had been to Italy and really wanted to go there (wine tasting, site seeing etc.). But the weather in both places was going to be cold. Madagascar was REALLY far and there were possible issues with weather, and in the Philippines we risked typhoons. When it finally came down to it, we realized that all we wanted was warm weather and to sit on the beach and drink rum. Tahiti was a sure-thing for the nice weather and the decision was made.

Tahiti

The best part about our honeymoon was…

Sitting on the beach, massages, the blue water, drinking rum, and having nothing to do all day, for days on end. We did a few excursions (jet skiing, ATV tour, day trip on a boat). But mostly, all we did was read books and relax on the beach.

ATV Tour Tahiti

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

As perfect as it was, there were a few things that we could have done differently. We would have brought a few more liters of rum (because you really can’t have too much rum when you are living in paradise), and some more snacks to save money. As amazing as our hotels were–and they were truly amazing–we wish we saw a little more of the islands. Moorea is absolutely beautiful; it is lush, mountainous, and has a local feel that Bora Bora doesn’t have. It would have been fun to spend a little more time seeing the island. That said, Bora Bora is a wonderful place, and there is nothing you could do to improve it.

Finally, a recommendation to all you book lovers out there, go light.  Brandon made the mistake of reading Atlas Shrugged during our honeymoon, and as much as he loved the book, it did not make for the best beach banter. Bring novels and magazines that will not lead you to contemplate the role of selfishness and individuality in a society that is on the verge of economic collapse.

Tahiti

How much planning did you do in advance?

We hired a travel agent, which I would 100% recommend (depending on where you are going). It was so nice not having to spend time figuring out where to go, and how to get to each place etc. Because we had a travel agent, we didn’t have to do much planning ourselves.

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Quick Tip(s) #7: How to Handle Your Money When Traveling Abroad

One of the last things you’ll want to worry about during your honeymoon is whether you’re handling your money properly.  Follow these quick tips to make sure that you get the most bang for your buck when traveling abroad:

Cash money

Mo money, no problems

1) As I mentioned in a previous post, make sure that you tell your credit card company in advance that you’ll be traveling abroad!

2) Don’t bother with travelers checks – you may have a hard time finding people who’ll accept them, and the exchange rate isn’t always the best.

3) When possible, use credit cards that don’t charge foreign transaction fees.

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Real Honeymoon: Iceland

When most people think of the ideal honeymoon location, they think of somewhere warm and tropical… and probably not a country whose name starts with the word “ice.”  However, Iceland is becoming a very popular tourist destination.  For one thing, it’s a lot closer to the U.S. than most people realize (only 5 hours from the East Coast), and the other-worldly scenery is just breathtaking.  My husband and I would love to go there someday, so when my best friend put me in touch with Carrie, I couldn’t wait to read all about their amazing Icelandic honeymoon.

When and where did you honeymoon?

My husband and I roadtripped around the Ring Road in Iceland for our honeymoon from May 23 – June 3, 2011.

Iceland!

How long was your trip?

We were in Iceland for 11 days.

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

Neither my husband nor I are huge beach people, so we didn’t want the typical Hawaii-Fiji-Mexico honeymoon. And having been fortunate enough to travel quite a bit previously, we wanted to try something new and different. We’d heard great things about Iceland, and it seemed like a perfect size for us to be able to cover the major and many minor sights for the time that we had. Finally, the economy in Iceland hadn’t fully recovered, so we were able to take advantage of slightly lower prices, in an otherwise very expensive country!

Eld Hestar

Icelandic horses at Eld Hestar

The best part about our honeymoon was…

Well, the best part was that we were able to get there! The Grímsvötn volcano erupted on my wedding day, May 21st, so we weren’t sure if our flights would be cancelled. Fortunately, our last leg was only 6 hours delayed, and we made it into Reykjavík safe and sound.

In Iceland, my favorite part was the Southern coast of Iceland. It was absolutely gorgeous, particularly the areas between Höfn, Vík and Hella-Hvolsvöllur. I followed the first half of this Frommer’s itinerary for that portion of the Ring Road, and it was incredibly romantic.

Skógafoss

Skógafoss

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

I don’t think I would change a single thing–except maybe to stay for a couple more days!

Jökulsárlón

Jökulsárlón

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Don’t Let Travel Scams Bum Out Your Honeymoon

Lonely Planet’s blog just published a great piece on 10 Common Travel Scams, including the ever-so-popular bird shit and fake police scams that trick far too many travelers.  Fortunately, I haven’t encountered many scams myself during my travels abroad, but my husband and I did have one little “incident” during our honeymoon.  Here’s the story of our “You look tired, do you want to stop for some coffee?” scam:

While my husband and I were honeymooning in Bali, a prearranged driver was supposed to take us from our first hotel in Ubud to our next one in Nusa Dua.  During the drive, Aaron let out a yawn and the driver made some sort of joke about how honeymooners never get enough sleep.  He asked if Aaron would like some coffee because he knew of a wonderful coffee plantation nearby.  We don’t really remember saying yes to the driver, but the next thing we knew we were in a parking lot full of other taxis.

Balinese Coffee Tasting

Balinese Coffee Tasting

We were quickly shuffled to a table where trays of different coffees were set before us, and a young woman recited her memorized shpiel about the different blends.  We tried them all, and Aaron even paid an extra $10 to try the coffee made from luwak droppings.  (I passed on that.)

At the end of our tasting, we were given a quick tour of the plantation and our guide explained to us how poor the workers were.  Right on cue, we arrived at the gift shop where we were told that every purchase makes a big difference in the workers’ lives.  We decided to buy two little bags of flavored coffees and were shocked by the humungous price tag.

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Real Honeymoon: Italy

Have I not yet mentioned that people love honeymooning in Italy?   Allie and Jeff also chose Italy for their honeymoon because of it’s rich culture and incredible food.  Read all about their wonderful Italian honeymoon below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

We traveled to Italy (Rome, Venice, Florence, Lucca, Cinque Terre, and Milan) in May, 2012.

Roman Colosseum

How long was your trip?

May 6 – May 22, 2012

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

My (now) husband and I love food and really enjoy different food experiences. To me Italy was the place to go to see not only 3000 year old ruins on every corner, but to explore a delicious food culture.

Tuscany

The best part about our honeymoon was…

Going to this amazing small, family run winery. We were in Lucca and asked our concierge to recommend a winery we could go to for the day. She told us about a big winery that was very commercial and another small one that didn’t take visitors very often. When she called and told the gentlemen that we were on our honeymoon and wanted to come, he told her that we should be there at noon.

We drove through some of the most beautiful countryside I have ever seen and got to experience the Montichiari Winery. This man was the 3rd generation in his family to own and operate the winery. He and his wife were the most warm, inviting, friendly people I have ever met. He spoke English, Italian, and French, his wife spoke only French and Italian with a little English mixed in. I barely speak French and my husband understands a little Italian…but we made it work. We were taken around the vineyards and olive trees, shown all the best views of the property, and then sat down for one of the top meals I have ever eaten. He and his wife not only opened and shared with us 4 bottles of wine, but also opened a few bottles from their private cellar because they were just so happy to have us there.

And the food…oh man, the food she cooked was out of this world. All food was from their land or things traded with their neighbors. In total we spent 5 hours there touring the property, enjoying the beautiful view, and the hospitality of these lovely people.

Winery

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

Falling asleep a few hours after we got to Rome on the first day of the trip. It threw me for a loop and I didn’t feel right the first 2 days in Rome, so it felt like a waste.

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