Getting Over Post-Vacation Blues

It’s been a month since I got back from my Australia trip, and I’m still dealing with serious post-vacation blues. After three weeks of warm weather, gorgeous scenery, and being surrounded by friendly, happy locals, my transition back to reality has been a bit rough. But before I go on, let me quickly acknowledge two important things:

1) Yes, I realize that not everyone gets to go on vacations to Australia, and complaining about how hard it is to come back home after a trip like that is not going to garner a whole lot of sympathy from others. Believe me, I get it.

2) I also recognize the fact that I came home to 60 degree “winter” in San Francisco, not two feet of snow in New England. Sure, I had to stow away all of the sundresses and shorts I wore during my trip, but I also didn’t have to step off the plane and face a polar vortex either.

This post, however, is not supposed to be about me feeling sorry for myself. Rather, I hope it’s helpful for when you too get a case of the post-vacation blues. And with the extra expectations of honeymoons in particular, lots of couples have an even tougher time transitioning back to “real life” when they get back home.

So, below are the things that I recommend doing after you get back from a great trip to ward off the blues. I hope they’re helpful for you as well:

  • Try to focus on the things back home that you missed the most during your trip. For me, it’s usually thinking about how much I missed my dog, having groups of friends to go out with, and Whole Foods.
  • Recreate your favorite meals from your trip at home, or go out to eat at restaurants that serve them. I’ve been on a laksa and noodles kick since getting back from Australia, so I’ve been visiting different Asian restaurants around SF and (gasp!) even experimenting in my own kitchen.
  • Hit up World Market or BevMo to purchase your favorite international beverages and snacks. Sadly you won’t be able to find Tim Tams in the states, but you can buy these identical Arnott’s biscuits instead. Yeah, you’re welcome ;)

Continue reading

Advertisements

How to Deal With Travel-FOMO

FOMO, the “fear of missing out,” pops up in all types of situations, but it can be especially stressful when you’re in the end-stages of planning a trip. No matter where you’re going, how long you’ll be there, and what your travel budget may be, you’re going to miss out on seeing or doing something great, and you’re going to come across someone who will be happy to bring this to your attention. If you’re lucky, that person might just say something like, “It’s too bad you can’t make it to _____, because it’s my favorite restaurant in the entire world.” But other times, like last Sunday, for example, it comes across like this:

Family Member: So tell me about your upcoming Australia trip! What does your itinerary look like?

Me: We’re so excited! We’re spending five nights in Manly Beach, then flying to Melbourne for a weekend, then flying back to Sydney for five nights in Bondi Beach, then we have four nights that haven’t been planned yet, then we’re flying up to Ballina for three nights in Byron Bay, and then we’ll have just one more night in Sydney before we fly back home.

FM: You’re not going to the Great Barrier Reef?

Me: No, unfortunately not on this trip. I asked an Aussie friend to help with our itinerary and she said that Queensland is unbearably hot and humid in December so the furthest north we should go is Byron Bay.

FM: I went to Cairns in December [20+ years ago] and it was fine. The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. You’re going to go all the way to Australia and miss it because it’s just a little hot?

Me: I agree, the Great Barrier Reef is incredible, but my friend felt strongly that we shouldn’t go this time of year. Plus it’s 1500 miles from Sydney and I don’t know if we can budget another flight on this trip. We also have to spend at least 10 days of our trip working in Sydney, so it’s not like we have three full weeks to purely devote to traveling.

FM: But what’s in Byron Bay? Your friend said you should go there over the Great Barrier Reef? Are you sure you thought this through?

I’ll spare you the rest of the convo, but it was a lot more of the same thing over and over: we were making a huge mistake by not going to the Great Barrier Reef. I know that this family member was just wanted to make sure we’re seeing the very best things on our upcoming trip, but it really made me feel lousy nonetheless. And the silliest part about the whole thing is that I’ve already been to the Great Barrier Reef! Why did I feel so bad about missing a destination that I’ve already experienced?

Continue reading

Honeymoon Reading Recommendations: Part III

My honeymoon reading recommendation posts (Part 1 and Part 2) are still my post popular to date, so I thought it was time to publish a new list of great books to read during your honeymoon (or any other vacation).

books

Books! Books! Books!

As always, I consulted with a group of friends who have great taste in books and cross-referenced their recommendations with my own recent reading list. The following is the list that we came up with, in no particular order. Enjoy!

Continue reading

How Long Should a Honeymoon Be?

Alright, you’ve finally figured out where to go and you’re ready to book your honeymoon. But now the question is how long your honeymoon should actually be. The answer is different for every couple, and it totally depends on a multitude of factors:

  • Your budget
  • How long it takes you to get to your destination(s)
  • How much time you can take off from your jobs
  • How much you like being away from home

That being said, the average honeymoon length of the Real Honeymooners who’ve contributed to this blog is around 13 days. Some of the shortest honeymoons (excluding mini-moons) were 6 days, and the longest ones were an impressive 21 days. My own honeymoon was 16 days: 8 in Bali, and 8 in Vietnam.

beach

Private beach on Hon Tam, Vietnam (from our own honeymoon)

If you’re having a hard time deciding how much time to spend on your honeymoon, it’s time for you and your significant other to think about the following questions:

  • Do you envision your honeymoon to be a major (financial) blowout? If you’ve always wanted your honeymoon to be the most extravagant trip of your life, you may need to keep it on the shorter side in order to, you know, stay financially solvent.
  • How much is there to do at your dream honeymoon destination? If you’ve always wanted to honeymoon for 2+ weeks, but you want to honeymoon in, let’s say, the Maldives, you* may get a bit restless after a week or so. (*Exclusions apply to self-proclaimed beach bums such as yours truly.) Continue reading

How to Deal with Travel Agents When Booking Your Honeymoon

I chatted with a good friend of mine earlier this week about her upcoming honeymoon in Italy and Spain. Since she and her fiancé are still finalizing the details of their wedding, her mom suggested that they contact a travel agent who specializes in Italian travel to help with the honeymoon planning, so they did.

The problem is that my friend wasn’t blown away by the agent’s suggestions thus far, and now she isn’t sure if working with an agent was the right decision. Another related issue that they’re having is that my friend and her fiancé really like the idea of planning their own honeymoon, and it’s hard to put that responsibility into a stranger’s hands. She wanted to know what I thought they should do: continue working with the travel agent, or just plan things on their own.

italy honeymoon

A lot of people think that travel agents are obsolete these days, but I don’t necessarily agree, especially for those who are stressed out with simultaneously planning other major events (SUCH AS WEDDINGS). However, hiring a professional is not the right decision for everyone. I’ve already blogged about why I think that working with a travel agent can be a smart move for certain couples, but here are some additional tips for those of you who do decide you want to hire one:

  • Try to find a travel agent who specifically plans honeymoons for people in your age group. Agents oftentimes get the majority of their business from older folks and retirees (whose interests are much different than young newlyweds), so you’ll be happier if you work with someone who will understand your priorities.
  • Tell the travel agent as much as you can about the honeymoon you’re envisioning, and be as specific as possible. This includes  your preferences for your accommodations, activities you’re interested in, and especially your budgetary restrictions. You can also let them know how much of your trip you actually want planned.*
  • If you’ve been referred by a friend, let the agent know that, but also make sure to explain if you and your friend have different tastes or budgets.**
  • Unhappy with the first itinerary that your agent shows you? Speak up! You’re paying them to plan the best trip possible for you, and they should revise your itinerary accordingly (multiple times, if necessary). Do not feel obligated to accept a cookie-cutter trip that doesn’t seem personalized to your interests.
  • Using your travel agent’s itinerary is not an all-or-nothing proposition. For example, our agent’s original itinerary included our flights to/from Asia, but we found a much better deal on kayak.com, so we told her we’d just book those flights ourselves.
  • Still unhappy after lots of revisions to the itinerary? It’s okay to say “thanks but no thanks,” and just lose your deposit. In the long run, you’ll be happier that you lost a couple hundred bucks but your honeymoon was awesome.

Continue reading

How to Deal With Social Media During Your Honeymoon

Reading your Facebook newsfeed, posting a few pics to Instagram, and sending out a couple of tweets is a daily occurrence for most young people. But when it comes to your honeymoon, do you really want your memories to be primarily about how you were attached to your laptop or iPhone the entire time? Probably not.

I’m definitely not suggesting that going cold-social-media-turkey is the way to go during your honeymoon. In fact, social media can improve your honeymoon experience. There’s a fine line between using social media to your benefit without overdoing it and forgetting that you and your new spouse are on one of the most incredible vacations of your lifetimes. Thus, the following is my list of Honeymoon Social Media: Do’s and Don’ts:

DO use your down-time to untag unflattering photos from your wedding on Facebook. I’m not suggesting that YOU didn’t look fabulous, but I am suggesting that your friends’ smartphone photography skills are most likely pretty sucky. You don’t really want the world to think your wedding was a fuzzy insta-filtered mess, do you?

DON’T over-brag (example: OMG this is the most AMAAAAAAZING trip at the most EXPENSIVE resort ever with the hottest hubby in the WHOLE WORLD!!!! #lovehim #bigpimpin #spendincheese + 10 photos of you frolicking in your swimsuits). Yes, your friends and family are (probably) very glad that you’re happily married and enjoying your honeymoon, but they’re most likely sitting at their desks at work while they read your Facebook newsfeed. Don’t push it.

DO reach out to friends to ask for travel recommendations, especially if you didn’t get the chance to do so before you left on your trip. Feel free to ask people you know who’ve been to the destination before about what restaurants and activities they really liked. (If you still need a hotel rec at this point though, you may not have planned enough. Yikes.)

DON’T over-post. Even if you’re doing it in a humble way, you don’t have to share every interesting thing that happens to you* or gorgeous tropical sunset as it happens. Wait until you can properly edit and aggregate all of the best photos and post them as an album instead.

Continue reading

Honeymoon Anxiety: What to Do When Choosing Where to Go Gets Too Stressful

I have some friends who always knew where they were going to honeymoon.  They’d dreamed about Greece/Tahiti/Italy for so long that when the time came to actually start planning their trips, they wasted no time at all booking flights and reserving hotels.

I, on the other hand, was not one of those people. My husband and I had NO IDEA where we wanted to honeymoon, so long as:

  1. it was warm,
  2. it had great beaches,
  3. it was far away, and
  4. neither of us had been there before.

In the months leading up to our wedding, we bought Lonely Planet books for Mauritius, Belize, and Venezuela. I emailed friends about the Maldives, Bali, and the Philippines.  I even remember having a random dream about honeymooning in Malta, of all places. In other words, I was ALL over the map, and it really stressed me out.

travel books

So many options!!!

Eventually one of my husband’s coworkers suggested that we at least talk to her travel agent, and I’m really glad we did. She was a huge fan of Bali herself, and she suggested we combine that with Vietnam, a country that I wouldn’t have even considered for my honeymoon. After we decided WHERE we were going, I could finally start feeling excited about it.

If you are having difficult deciding where to go on your honeymoon, here’s some advice:

  • Make a list of your travel priorities. What’s (honestly) most important to you about your honeymoon? (e.g. warm weather, sticking to a budget, having lots of activities to choose from, good food, etc.)
  • Take that list of priorities, and then organize it by how important each item is to you. (Again, be honest!)
  • Consider the time of year you want to honeymoon, and eliminate destinations that are not ideal.  (Or if you are considering visiting a destination during low season, make sure to read this post.)
  • Once you’ve narrowed it down, feel free to email me your destination shortlist, and I’ll give you my opinion :) Don’t forget to mention your travel priorities though, so I know what sort of trip you are looking for.
  • If you get stuck between two destinations, considering combining them into your ultimate multi-moon.

However, the MOST important advice I have is to just keep in mind that you’re going to be happy wherever you decide to go. Sure, there are lots of great destinations out there, but there’s no rule that your honeymoon HAS to be the absolutely most amaaaaaaaaaaaazing trip you ever go on, I promise!  Don’t put too much pressure on yourselves just because this trip is the “all-important honeymoon.”  A honeymoon will be the most sentimental/expensive/exotic trip you ever go on only if you choose to make it that way.  Believe it or not, you can still plan plenty of other great non-honeymoon trips in the future ; )

One of the reasons why I chose to write this post this week is because I’ve been corresponding with someone in the  UK about where she should go on her honeymoon. The other reason is that I’m still hemming and hawing over where to plan our own big trip of 2014 now that Brazil is out of the cards. Even I still need to remind myself (all the time) that I shouldn’t really stress about where we plan our trips. Whether we go to Ecuador, Malaysia, or somewhere that hasn’t even crossed my mind yet, it’s going to be great.

Even Travel Bloggers Miss Flights

My brother recently asked me, “Are you ever going to blog about that time that you missed your flight to Austin last year?”

“Why would I ever write about that?” I asked.

“To show the world that even travel blogger miss flights!” was his response.

I definitely wasn’t ready to write about this for awhile, but I think I’ve finally come to terms with the embarrassing truth: it’s true – I missed a flight to Austin last year… while sitting at the gate in the airport.

airplane

There goes my flight… without me.

I recall the gate agent’s announcement that they were about to start the boarding process, but the next thing I knew the screen at the gate said “Boise.”  Was I scatterbrained because I was running late for the flight?  Was I a little tipsy from a pre-flight cocktail?  Was I wearing headphones?  The answer to all of those questions is “no.”  I just flat out missed the flight.

Okay, let me explain.  I was totally consumed by a really good book.  But really, I think the thing that got me was that the plane was a lot smaller than the ones that I normally go on, so the boarding process was much faster than normal.  Seriously, the time it took between pre-boarding the “final call” (if there even was one) couldn’t have been more than five minutes.  Like I said, I was AT THE GATE without headphones on – I’d seriously like to think that if they called my name for final boarding I would have heard it.

Continue reading

Where You Should Honeymoon in September

Once Labor Day Weekend is over, September can be one of the best months for travel, namely because many families stop traveling after their kids go back to school which makes the prices go down a bit.  So what are the best September honeymoon destinations?  Although you’ll probably want to avoid the Caribbean due to hurricane season, there are lots of other great places to visit in Europe, the Americas, and Oceania.

Here’s a run-down of Lonely Planet’s four destination recommendations for September with, of course, plenty of additional commentary from yours truly.

Barcelona

Barcelona is one of those cities that truly has it all: tons of culture, great nightlife, amazing food, and, oh yeah, a beach!  Barcelona is still plenty warm in September, so you can spend your honeymoon sightseeing in the mornings, taking a daily siesta on the playa in the afternoons, and then eating paella and drinking sangria all night long.  I also recommend signing up for a bike tour to get a good feel for the city.  However, as wonderful as Barcelona is, the city does have a reputation for petty crime, so just remember to be aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded touristy areas like Las Ramblas.

Barcelona Playa

The beach in Barcelona

parc guell

Park Güell in Barcelona

To make your September honeymoon even better, consider combining Barcelona with another cool city in Spain, such as the beach town of San Sebastian (5.5 hour train ride from Barcelona) or the gorgeous Balearic Islands (one hour flight from Barcelona).

Croatia

Once the busy summer tourist season dies down, Croatia is a wonderful honeymoon destination for early fall.  While the water may cool off a bit, you can still enjoy warm weather in the seaside towns of Dubrovnik and Rovinj, and finding accommodations on the islands of Hvar and Dugi otok will be much easier.

If you do decide to honeymoon in Croatia, don’t forget to spend a day visiting one of my favorite places in the entire world: Plitvice Lakes National Park.  The beautiful scenery will just blow you away.

Plitvice Lakes National Park

Plitvice Lakes National Park

Croatia

Hvar, Croatia

California

Of course I am biased towards my home state, but even Lonely Planet thinks it’s a great September destination!  Because we tend to get a late Indian Summer each year, September/October are definitely the best months for visiting San Francisco, and it’s also a great time for relaxing in Wine Country or driving down the coast to Big Sur, San Luis Obispo, or Santa Barbara.  The beach towns in Southern California (e.g. Malibu, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, etc.) are fantastic honeymoon destinations, too.  If you want any specific recommendations of where to go/what to do in California, feel free to message me directly.

McWay Falls in Big Sur

McWay Falls in Big Sur

The views of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco never get old

The views of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco never get old

Continue reading

How To Make Money During Your Honeymoon: List Your Place On Airbnb!

Depending on the type of trip that you go on, your honeymoon will probably fall within the range of “expensive” to “verrrry expensive.”  The bill can be tough to swallow for many couples, especially when it comes directly after months of paying off various other wedding expenses.  Honeymoon registries aside, wouldn’t it be great to somehow make money while you’re away to subsidize, or even cover the entire cost of, your trip?

airbnb

Several of my friends have recently started renting out their apartments on Airbnb with great success.*  And depending on your place and where you live, you can really make some serious cash when you go away on vacation!  Creating a listing on Airbnb is free, you get to state your own price and house rules, and you always have control over who books your place.  You get 24 hours to decide whether you want to approve a reservation, but don’t worry, Airbnb also makes it really easy for you to communicate with potential bookers so you can feel much more comfortable about letting strangers stay in your home.

But renting out your place when you go on your honeymoon isn’t for everyone, and there are several additional things that I think you should consider before listing your place:

1) Will you be okay with adding extra stress to the days leading up to your wedding/honeymoon?  In my opinion, this is definitely the most important factor.  Allowing Airbnb guests to stay in your home requires significant preparation: cleaning, arranging check-in/check-out times and key exchanges, stowing away valuables, etc.  If you’re already scrambling to finish last minute wedding details, it may not be wise to add more to your plate.

2) Will wedding gifts arrive at your place while you’re on your honeymoon?  It’s always smart to set up hold mail service when you go out of town, but it’s also a good idea to make sure that your wedding presents don’t get delivered to your place when you have strangers staying there.

3) Are you willing to make yourself available to your guests (via email or phone) during your honeymoon?  Better yet, think of it from your guests’ point of view.  Would you be willing to rent a place if there’s no way to reach the owners if anything goes wrong?  I wouldn’t!  Responsible hosts should be reachable when guests stay in their home, even if it’s during their honeymoon.

Continue reading