Long-time readers of this site will know that I take vacationing very seriously and I viewed my honeymoon as the ultimate vacation. It was probably one of the only time in our lives that we would be able to get away for three weeks and so we made the most of it by flying around the world to Australia and New Zealand. We are, sadly, not wealthy and we also paid for our wedding entirely on our own so we really had to budget and plan to make our dream honeymoon a reality.
If you’re in the midst of planning your own honeymoon, here are some 8 tips that will help you plan your honeymoon for less:
1. Set up a honeymoon registry
My husband and I lived together for a few years before getting married so there weren’t many household items that we needed. In fact, most of our traditional registry consisted of Fiesta Ware because the only thing I’d put off purchasing was plates! Instead of loading up our registry with home goods, we made a second honeymoon registry that let well-wishers pay for certain aspects of our honeymoon if they chose to do so.
We used Honey Fund (long before it was featured on Shark Tank!), and it worked perfectly for our needs. We were able to share certain aspects of our honeymoon that we wanted to enjoy, such as whale watching in Kaikoura or snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef, and friends and family helped pay for certain activities. While you can put anything on the honeymoon registry (hotels, flights, car rentals, etc.), we used it primarily for sightseeing activities or adventures that we wanted to experience.
Honestly, without the honeymoon registry I’m not sure how we would have afforded many of the “extras” of our trip. It took some planning ahead of time to come up with a complete game plan, but honeymoon planning provided a sometimes much-needed respite from wedding planning!
2. Put your airline miles, hotel points, and car rental points to good use
Aside from our honeymoon registry, one of the primary reasons that we were able to travel to Australia and New Zealand is because we had spent the previous two years saving up all of our airline miles, hotel points, and car rental points that we then cashed in on the trip.
One of the biggest expenses of the entire trip was the round-trip tickets to and from Australia, but we were able to get one ticket for free thanks to the number of airline miles we had banked. (One thing to note: Before we started banking miles we did research into which airline would work best for us and then we spent two years ONLY flying that airline.) We spent a week driving around the south island of New Zealand in a car that we were able to rent for free thanks to a build-up of points (again, we researched which car rental companies would be available to us in Queenstown, NZ), and we stayed for free at a Marriott in Sydney thanks to points we had been saving for the trip. Obviously we weren’t able to pay for our entire trip using points, but these savings really added up!
3. And don’t forget your credit card
While you’re saving up your airline miles and hotel and car points, look into ways that you can put your credit card to work for you, too! (And, if applicable, find a card that provides rewards you will be able to utilize on your honeymoon in some way.) Since we were paying for our wedding ourselves, we put almost all charges on our American Express, paid off the card each month, and reaped the benefit of lots of points that we were then able to apply to things like nights at hotels.
4. Use travel search engines
Truth: I RARELY book flights or hotels through sites like Expedia or Travelocity because I find that their prices are generally comparable to just booking with the hotel or airline directly and I don’t like that, at least when it comes to hotels, they require you to pay up-front. Also, while some sites have started their own rewards programs, you can’t earn things like Marriott points and whatnot and I’m pretty loyal to specific hotel chains.
That said, I do recommend comparing prices on the travel search engines with the direct companies because you never know when you might get an amazing deal. One of the easiest ways to compare prices and read reviews? TripAdvisor! You can now get all of the information you need in one place!
While I’m not a huge fan of travel search engines in general, there are three travel websites that I love and use regularly:
- CheapoAir.com – I frequently find some of the cheapest flights on this site! They combine airlines and piece together flights to create flight plans I rarely see elsewhere.
- Venere.com – I primarily use Venere to search for hotels when I’m traveling to Europe. They work with a lot of smaller hotels and their prices are amazing! A couple of years ago we were able to stay in Bologna, Italy for what amounted to about $30 per night thanks to a deal we found on Venere. Another perk of this site? Most hotels don’t require you to pay up-front to book your stay. (Venere does have world-wide hotel listings but I’ve found the best deals in Europe.)
- Jetsetter – If fancier hotels are your thing I highly recommend checking out Jetsetter, where you will find deals on some of the nicest hotels in big cities. This is not a search engine for small towns or run-of-the-mill hotels.
5. Read travel blogs
Travel blogs can be a wonderful source of news about cheap flights, incredible travel deals, and ways to save on vacation! On the other hand, they can also be a little disappointing if you aren’t at liberty to immediately book trips wherever and whenever you want. A couple of months ago I was reading a travel blog and learned about unadvertised flights to Russia for $350 round trip. (The flight itself was only 50 cents in either direction and the rest of the charge was taxes.) I tried in vain to convince my husband that we needed to go to Russia in April but he wasn’t really feeling it.
Some of my favorite travel blogs include:
6. Flying within another country? Stalk their national airlines
While we booked our major flight to Australia through United Airlines, we knew we would be doing some flying within the country. We could have booked those flights through American companies, too, but we instead turned to Virgin Australia to book our flights because they offered super low prices. In Europe we have used RyanAir and easyJet to book cheap flights. It pays – literally – to research all flight options that might be available to you, even if you’re using a site that may be outside of the norm!
7. Research cheaper lodging alternatives
Everybody has different ways that they like to travel. If I’m being completely honest with you, there’s no way that I would ever go couch surfing, camp, or stay in a hostel. (You can call me a snobby traveler – I don’t mind. I like beds. And showers. And room service when it’s available!) My personal preferences aside, all three of these lodging options can be great ways to save money on honeymoons.
Other options worth checking out include Airbnb, which I used for the first time in Nashville last year and LOVED, renting cabins or other vacation properties through sites like VRBO (we tend to use this site on our annual New Year’s trip and it has always worked out great), or staying at Bed and Breakfasts (check out BedandBreakfast.com). I had never stayed at a Bed and Breakfast before going to New Zealand, but it’s now one of my favorite options because you might get the opportunity to meet locals and breakfast is included (which is a huge bonus in expensive areas)!
8. Travel during the off-season
One of the other reasons that we were able to afford to travel to Australia and New Zealand is that we traveled there during their off-season. We went in August, which is their winter. This meant that not only did we not run into very many tourists, but most touristy attractions were empty because citizens were working and/or in school. As a result, prices were a bit lower than what we might have paid during the high season. This past summer we went to Costa Rica in May, which is their rainy season, and as a result prices were much cheaper than we would have paid during their high traffic times.
Despite going during the off season, I wouldn’t have changed a thing about either of these trips! Winter in Australia and New Zealand meant the temperatures were generally in the 50s and 60s, which was fine! However, when we went to Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef, the temperatures were still in the 80s so we got some warm weather, too! In Costa Rica it was hot and sunny during the day and it generally only rained at night, but since it got dark at 6 p.m. we weren’t really going anywhere anyhow.
If you can be flexible with your schedule, it may be worth researching when it is cheaper to visit any given location because you could end up saving money on all major aspects of the trip!
While planning a dream honeymoon can take a whole lot of planning and budgeting, I’m sure that using some of these tips will help you plan your honeymoon for less!
For more travel fun, check out The Perfect Carry-On Suitcase, 5 Bags to Help You Pack More Efficiently, How to Pack for a Week in a Carry-On Suitcase, and How to Pack a Carry-On Bag for a Long Plane Trip.