Planning your perfect honeymoon should be a welcome reprieve from the more stress-inducing wedding decisions, so make the process as easy as possible, says travel counsellor Robert Kiernan…
Consider the weather
This will help narrow down your options. Most exotic destinations have ‘no go’ seasons, examples of which include hurricanes, monsoons or just unbearable heat. And there are some destinations where weather patterns vary throughout the country itself, for example, Thailand has tropical monsoon weather from May to October on the west coast, whereas the same weather hits the east coast from October to December. Don’t let your idyllic vision of walking barefoot on the sand be ruined by a beach full of seaweed, thanks to trade winds!
Get hotel savvy
When it comes to hotels, different regions of the world offer better value. For example, comparable hotels in Asia are significantly cheaper than the Caribbean or islands such as the Seychelles and Maldives. But, if you have your heart set on the Indian Ocean, talk to a specialist about which hotels offer the best discounts. Sometimes, however, you need to spend a little more to save in the long run. ‘Club’ rooms are a good example of this; the benefits vary between hotels but can include extras like cocktails with canapés, or afternoon tea.
Get the most out of your flights
If you aren’t planning to blow the budget by travelling first or business class, then be savvy about flights with a twin-centre honeymoon. For example, combine Sri Lanka with the Maldives; New York with Barbados; South Africa and Mauritius; a Tanzanian safari with Zanzibar; Dubai and the Seychelles; or Hong Kong and Bali.
Be creative with stopovers
Using free airline stopovers can save you money and broaden your horizons. Fly through Dubai and do the five-star Six Senses Zighy Bay in Oman. Escape Bangkok airport and head to the River Kwai or idyllic island of Koh Chang. Transfer straight from Singapore to Bintan Island, staying in the luxury Banyan Tree resort. Or tag on a safari in Marakele to a Johannesburg stay.
Compare the true cost
When comparing holidays, consider what’s included and how this will impact on your spending money. For example, South Africa is a top-end destination but once there, eating out is not only exceptional but also very affordable. You might find a great ‘deal’ to the Caribbean but should consider how much extra you’ll spend if food and drink aren’t included. Read the small print regarding all-inclusive trips, too. Packages vary from basic inclusions of one buffet restaurant and local beers and spirits to the unlimited luxury of champagne, imported wines, spa treatments and fine dining.
Don’t forget little extras to make your trip special
Pay for fast-track immigration; book into an airport lounge; upgrade to private transfers to ensure you’re whisked straight to your destination. Check in to your room and head straight to a pre-booked couples’ spa treatment – and relax! Pre-book restaurants and excursions, too, so you don’t come home feeling like you missed out because you ran out of time or money, or you left it too late.
Play it safe with packages
Why, when everything is so accessible online? The EU Package Directive puts significant obligations on tour operators when selling ‘packages’, meaning that if there’s an airline strike, adverse weather or civil unrest, tour operators must provide alternative travel, an alternative holiday or a full refund (in the majority of cases).
Boost your budget
Many travel companies offer a free wedding gift list whereby your guests can contribute towards specific experiences or the cost of your honeymoon. This is a great way to boost your trip of a lifetime.