You’ve found the person who lifts you up, loves your weirdness, and looks awfully alluring sitting at the kitchen table with a coffee and newspaper. (Or whatever it is you’re into.)
You’ve also decided you want to see them like that every day for the rest of your life. Marriage is the obvious next step for many, and the honeymoon an ecstatic plunge into wedded bliss.
But planning a romantic honeymoon in a foreign country can overwhelm what should be one of the smoothest times together.
Here are eight suggestions for demystifying the process so you can delight in finally saying I Do.
1. Set your intentions
It’s easy to get caught up in comparing your plans with other people’s opinions. Before organizing anything, keep in the back of your mind that this is your honeymoon, shared only with your partner. Other opinions are great starting points, but don’t let them run the show.
Have a pow-wow with your partner and determine what it is you want to get out of the experience. What does romance mean to the two of you? If it looks like hanging out on lounge beds in Hawaii while being handed cocktails and peeled grapes, great. If it doesn’t, that’s okay too.
Use your imagination and be truthful about your desires. Glamorous pictures sell packages, but they might not be what’s right for you. A romantic honeymoon can be as budget-friendly or expensive as you see fit. It can involve Jacuzzi’s and infinity pools and champagne, or hiking, making pottery, and sleeping under the stars.
With that in mind, here’s point number two.
2. Choose a location that suits your needs
You’ve chatted with your partner and laid all your intentions out on the table. Now, you must decide on an ideal location. It might be the two of you came up with contrasting ideas – if so, relax. The world is a huge place with limitless possibilities, and you can bet there’s somewhere that incorporates everything you’re dreaming of.
If you’re both really into wine and adventure sports, consider New Zealand. If you want to gaze upon more fine art than you can poke a paintbrush at, start hunting around Italy. If one of you wants to laze by a beach and the other wants to immerse in nature, then Sri Lanka/Maldives holds the perfect recreation combination.
Brainstorm with some tea (or wine), research, and take your time to decide. I’ll wait.
3. Dot your I’s and cross your T’s
…I’m talking about visas and vaccinations.
There’s not much point in organizing anything until you know how long you can stay in a particular place. Many countries offer generous visas, which range from one month to ten years in duration (depending on your nationality). If your ideal location has longer visas up for grabs, consider taking an extended trip and traveling slowly.
It’s a crazy notion, I know. But remember: you don’t have to go hard and then go home really quickly. Slow travel can prove surprisingly more cost-effective than splurging on a two-week holiday package, allowing you to stay longer and really immerse in local culture. Talk to your bosses and see if you can wrangle some extended leave, or even a paid sabbatical.
Think about it… this is a once-in-a-lifetime gambol around the globe with your best friend. Do you really want to rush this?
Two other points to consider: some countries won’t let you in without proof of certain immunizations. Research what you need, and log your shots in an internationally recognized medical booklet.
Finally, if you’re planning on changing your name, consider waiting until after the honeymoon. Your new surname won’t match the one on your passport, which could cause confusion at border crossings.
4. Set flight alerts
Now you know how long you can stay, it’s time to set flight alerts.
The beauty of these is once you punch in your date range (some apps allow you to be flexible with time frames), apps will continually search for the cheapest and most convenient flight routes in the background. One day, you’ll get an email notification that prices have dropped, and you can pounce on one that falls within your price range.
Companies like Skyscanner and Kiwi are great, because they not only turn up consistently better value routes, but also present lots of flexible search options. Skyscanner allows you to search entire months for the cheapest days to fly, and Kiwi has a great nomad function for those traveling to multiple locations.
If you haven’t decided where you want to go yet, both of the above options have “travel to anywhere” search functions for maximum spontaneity. Momondo delivers inspiration with its vibrant design and trending locations sections. Finally, if you’re planning to do a lot of travel by land, you can’t go past Rome2Rio for its plethora of options.
Once you’ve booked your flights, take your preparations a step further and line up luggage storage with a service like Bounce. When you finally touch down at the start of your adventure, you can leave your travel bags in good hands – so yours are free to raise a toast in celebration of your love.
5. Get insured. (Seriously)
I know nothing spells romance quite like watching your partner be violently ill in front of you (trust me, I speak from experience). But the fact is, you’re going traveling, and travel makes no promises of glamour, despite what pictures indicate. When trouble strikes — and it may, even on a honeymoon — you want to be sure that you’re covered.
Some travel insurance providers offer more variety of coverage than others. If you’ve planned an adrenaline junkie honeymoon to an exotic location, consider insuring yourself with a company like World Nomads, whose coverage includes an extensive list of activities. You can also tack on a little extra for valuable items in the event of theft.
While a shared health or logistical crisis might strengthen your marital bond, you don’t want to test it sooner than necessary. Cover yourselves so you can focus on covering one another with massage oil and sinking into a fluffy white duvet scattered with rose petals.
With that, onto the fun parts…
6. Facebook is your friend
You’ve decided on a location and dates, and have hopefully booked your flights. Now, start telling everybody! You never know who might be able to help. Spread the word on social media — Facebook travel groups, Pinterest boards, Reddit threads, and Instagram accounts can be a wealth of topical local knowledge.
Leverage global connectivity to find somebody on the ground in your desired location who can make recommendations Google can’t. Moreover, someone who can warn you about any potential clashes. For example, a local festival that makes tourists swarm to the area and book out every surrounding hotel.
Of course, pay for a travel agent if you want to. If you’re a couple that hates the tediousness that comes with travel (and doesn’t mind extra spending), then enlisting the services of a professional could be beneficial. Fortunately, this internet-centric age also unlocks plenty of unique, unexpected experiences for DIY honeymooners to uncover.
7. Find local romantic flavor
A romantic honeymoon should be all about sharing what you love with the person you love. Hobbies and interests take on a whole new dimension when experienced in a foreign country. What’s more, you’ll have the luxury of time to discover new and exciting shared passions.
Companies like Airbnb now offer all-inclusive local experiences as well as accommodation, so you can easily organize anything from intimate cooking classes to a camel trek through the desert. Websites like Groupon post a huge range of products, services, and activities for discounted rates; think spas and massages, brunch crawls, Latin dance classes, and luxury suites.
Finally, if you and your partner are united by an existing shared passion, then there’s a tour for that. For example, if you both live a plant-based lifestyle, you can find tailored vegan cruises. If you fell in love with one another’s wild and intrepid spirit, then you might want to challenge yourselves to an Adventurists escapade.
8. Prioritize love for one another
And remember, above all else…
You’re not embarking on a honeymoon for the purpose of checking a million activities off a list. You’re not in it to prove anything to anyone, nor to overdo the planning and spend your precious first married days stressing out.
You’re in this for each other. Prioritize kindling this new chapter of your love instead of bouncing all over the place and freaking out over finer details. Many of the sweetest, most soul-bonding things you can do together are spontaneous and [close to] free; doing a sunrise hike and picnicking at the top, fresh produce shopping and people-watching (fresh strawberries in France or cherries in Canada – aphrodisiac, anyone?), leaving cute notes for each other under the coffee machine.
Let this honeymoon be the giddy, grand entrance into marriage you’ve been dreaming of…but don’t forget the gentler, blink-and-you-miss-them moments that link hands around you to make your life together.