December Dream Vacations

The holiday season always makes me appreciate all of the wonderful people I have in my life, and I’m very fortunate that so many of them live near me in the San Francisco Bay Area.  However, some of the most important important people, for some reason, prefer living in a not-so-moderate climate.  That’s right, we’re off to Minnesota next week to freeze our butts off spend Christmas with my in-laws!

Don’t get me wrong, my husband’s family is totally great.  I can’t tell you how grateful I am that they’ve always been incredibly welcoming ever since I first met them.  I’m especially looking forward to a Cinderella-themed slumber party with my 2 1/2 year old niece, playing with my sister-in-laws’ awesome pups, catching up with my husband’s adorable grandparents, and spending time with everyone else… but, man will it be cold!

Although I’m going to freeze in Minnesota this year, here’s a list of warmer places that I’d like to visit during future Decembers:

Clockwise from top left: Zanzibar, Milford Sound, Turks and Caicos, Langkawi

Clockwise from top left: Zanzibar, Milford Sound, Turks and Caicos, Langkawi

1) Southern Africa + Mauritius: it would be an absolute dream vacation to go on safari in South Africa or Tanzania, visit Mozambique and Zanzibar, then relax on Mauritius.

2) Australia + New Zealand: although I’ve already spent lots of time in Oz and NZ, I cannot wait to go back with my husband to sail the Whitsundays again, visit Milford Sound, and hoard Tim Tams.  I’m pretty sure that he’ll like it there as much as I do :)

3) Turks and Caicos: my husband hasn’t been to the Caribbean before, and since we’ve heard such fabulous things about Turks and Caicos especially, I think we’d have to go their first.

4) Malaysia: I’d love to relax on Langkawi and explore the other gorgeous islands in Malaysia.  Friends have told us that Turtle Island is a must-see, too.

Wherever you spend your holidays this year, I hope you and your loved ones are warm and happy!


Cheap and Adventurous Honeymoon Ideas

Some friends of mine recently got married in Mexico (blog post coming soon!), and now they’ve asked me for recommendations on where to go on their honeymoon.   Their two biggest requirements?  Adventurous and inexpensive.

Since this couple lives in California, I immediately thought that they have two major options: Asia or Central America.  Here’s why:

1) SE Asia: The yes-the-flight-is-expensive-but-everything-else-is-cheap option.

If your honeymoon is 10+ days, I’d definitely recommend going to SE Asia, specifically certain parts of Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia*, and Cambodia*.  Although your flights will most likely be $1000 or more per person, your money is going to go a very long way once you’re there.  You can stay at incredible resorts for less than $200 a night, domestic flights are super cheap, fancy dinners can be had for $30 or less, and spa splurges like massages are around $15.

Morning sunrise hike in Bali

Morning sunrise hike in Bali

SE Asia also offers a lot of cool options for adventure lovers.  You can trek with elephants in Thailand, go water rafting in Bali, hike mountains in Borneo – the list is endless (and pretty damn awesome).


Alexis and Andrew riding elephants in Thailand

If you want to stay on budget, just make sure that you avoid the most touristy areas and “name brand” hotels.  In other words, if you think that the Four Seasons in Koh Samui will be a steal just because it’s in Thailand, think again.  (Because the cheapest rooms are about $1000 USD a night!)

2) Central America: The flights-are-short-and-inexpensive-but-you’ll-pay-a-decent-amount-for-everything-else option.

Remember when I was deciding whether to go to Belize, Nicaragua, or Panama last Memorial Day weekend?  Well, the flights from SFO to all three countries were basically the same price: $600.  And compared to flights to Asia, they’re really short which makes them perfect for honeymoons that are less than 10 days.

panama snorkeling

Snorkeling in Panama

While Costa Rica is great for honeymooners, it will certainly not be your cheapest bet.  Belize*, on the other hand, has great “beach + jungle” resort combo packages at all different price points, and our neighbors raved about the amazing diving resorts in Honduras.*  Panama is a major up-and-coming surf destination, as well.

Belize horseback riding

Agnes and Matt horseback riding in Belize

Again, you may save money if you stay away from the big name hotel chains and choose boutique hotels instead.

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Real Honeymoon: Malaysia

Remember when I asked if there was such a thing as taking too many flights on a honeymoon?  Well Ben and Yoninah are back from their epic trip, and they will be the first to tell you that all of the flying was well worth it.  Read all about their incredible Malaysian honeymoon below (and do not miss their amazing sea turtle video!):

When and where did you honeymoon?

We left for our honeymoon on September 3 [2013] (just over 24 hours after the bride finished her post-wedding afterparty cheesesteak). The honeymoon’s primary destination was Malaysia (both Borneo and peninsular Malaysia), but also included stops in Bangkok and Tokyo.


How long was your trip?

The trip was two weeks long.


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

We always knew that we wanted to go somewhere really far away and exotic and somewhere that we would likely never visit again. We also knew that we wanted part adventure and part relaxation. Our thinking was not much more developed than far away and off the beaten path when Yoninah and I were watching a Discovery Channel special on orangutans. Yoninah said “Let’s go there!” After some Googling we learned that the best place to see orangutans is in Malaysia on the island of Borneo. We also discovered that the requirements of adventure and relaxation could be met in Malaysia.


We then developed our itinerary around other things we definitely wanted included. We both wanted more wildlife, I wanted some form of hiking, and Yoninah wanted relaxation on a beach. The final itinerary included beaching, a climb of Mt. Kinabalu (the highest mountain in Malaysia and depending on who you ask, the highest mountain in SE Asia), a visit to Turtle Island (a sanctuary where we saw a mother turtle lay her eggs and later see hatchlings released), and five days on Langkawi at the Andaman Resort (off the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia). Our slow return home also included day-long stops in Bangkok and Tokyo.

The best part about our honeymoon was…

Reaching the top of Mt. Kinabalu at sunrise, releasing a baby sea turtle in the ocean, and monkeys – Yoninah loves monkeys. Also a big plus was traveling just about the entire way in business class for about 1/10th of what it would have cost to pay cash for the flights (Thanks, credit card sign up bonuses!).


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