The stress of planning a wedding is over, your in-laws are gone and for the next couple days or weeks, you get to have the getaway single people dream of and married couples want to do again: your honeymoon. It doesn’t matter if you’re at a luxurious Caribbean resort or sleeping in a tent near your home – what matters is that you’re starting your life together, and what better way to start that than with a romantic and intimate escape?

Here are some tips to make sure your planning goes smoothly and the trip fulfills your every fantasy:

Communicate

This seems basic enough, but don’t assume anything when you’re planning a honeymoon! Take time to sit down and toss ideas around – what kind of destination you’d like (beach, foreign, cruise, etc.) and what you want to spend your time doing once you’re there (when you’re not in your bedroom.) Ask each other if you’d like a destination where there are lots of activities such as water sports, hot tourist spots, shopping or hiking, or if both of you would rather go somewhere you can relax and be pampered. It’s totally up to you, but make sure that your expectations are established before you book anything so there aren’t unexpected disagreements when you want to read a novel on the beach all day and your spouse wants snorkeling lessons. And don’t forget – this is the start of your lives together, so this honeymoon could be the beginning of throwing in a few compromises here and there.  Here are some planning tips:

Tropical:  Most people think a honeymoon is a tropical island straight out of a postcard. You can’t beat a fruity drink with a little umbrella in it, a spa treatment on the beach or romantic walks down the white sand at sunset. Even for the most active couples, a honeymoon is probably the one time where it’s OK to sit back and let yourself be taken care of.

Check into a bunch of places before you go – many have special honeymoon packages and some cater exclusively to honeymooners.  Also, be sure to ask if it is really “all” inclusive. At some places this means your room and two meals, at others it means three meals, drinks, champagne at arrival and a spa treatment. Don’t be afraid to make some requests – mention another resort threw in chocolate-covered strawberries with their all-inclusive package, and you might see a couple more perks when you walk in the door.

Abroad:  An exciting trip abroad is an exciting way to start a marriage. You’ll have a sense of adventure when you’re caught up in a whirlwind of new ideas and cultures, all while beginning a new adventure of your own. However, if you’ve never been abroad before, make sure this is something you really want to do, because planning a foreign trip for the first time can be stressful, and it could be overwhelming to be in new lands for the first time when all you want to do is relax.

If you do go, make sure your passport is updated, especially if your last name on a different piece of identification is going to change. It’s usually best to book any tickets in your maiden name, since that is likely to be the name still on your passport and driver’s license. For more information on specific foreign destinations or if you’re worried about health and safety abroad, call the International Traveler’s Hotline at 404-332-4559.

Keeping it Local:  If you don’t have the funds for a plane ticket abroad or can’t get away for a long trip, look around you to see what your area has to offer. You’ll probably be surprised to learn there is a romantic bed & breakfast just a few miles from your home or a beautiful state park where you can sleep under the stars. Turn your cell phones off and just spend time with each other so it seems as if you’re light years away from the rest of the world. Again, it doesn’t matter where you go, it’s how you spend your time honeymooning that you’ll remember for years to come.

Cruises:  If you can’t decide on a destination, a cruise might be for you – it’s got it all and more. If you want to see Europe, but you’ve never been and don’t have time to plan a trip, try a Mediterranean cruise. If you want a tropical location but can’t decide on a spot, get on a Caribbean cruise that will take you to many different islands. And if you can’t decide whether you want to relax or be active, a cruise will give you plenty of options to do both. Plus, meals, drinks and entertainment are all included and it’s all right outside your cabin door!

When you’re planning, just like anywhere else, mention you’re on your honeymoon and see if the cruise line has a special deal or package for you.

Before You Go

Even though you’ll have a lot on your plate to plan for the wedding before you leave, take some time to get information on your chosen destination before you leave. Here are some things to think about, especially if you’ve never traveled to your honeymoon location before:

  • Different Customs. If you’re traveling abroad, or even to an Americanized resort in the Caribbean, do a little research to learn if there are gestures that are deemed inappropriate, actions that are considered rude or types of dress that are unacceptable to the local community.
  • Language. Pick up a pocket-sized dictionary or phrase book if you’re going somewhere that neither of you speak the language.
  • Tipping. Not everywhere has the same tipping as in the United States – look into who to tip and what percentage.
  • Weather. Know the typical weather of your destination at the time of your travel, and plan for contingencies. Even if you’re staying local, you don’t want to have to drive home to get a pair of snow boots you didn’t think you’d need!

Use an experienced travel agent

You have enough planning and details on your plate with the wedding – leave your travel planning to a professional! The cost to you is generally zero, or very minimal, and they’ll save you so much time and greatly reduce your stress. If anything goes wrong –your flight is cancelled, or the hotel lost your reservation – your travel agent is there to help, just a phone call away. Look for one who focuses on wedding & honeymoon travel, or who specializes in the geographical area you wish to visit.

Put Romance in your Honeymoon

It’s no secret that a honeymoon is all about those intimate moments and letting out your romantic side, so be proactive in setting up that excitement! Pack a secret gift for each other to open on the honeymoon – new lingerie, a romantic photo album or something personal you two share that would ignite a little fire. You could also give each other ‘coupons’ with little favors, such as an intimate massage or a promise to try deep-sea fishing the next day. No matter what romance you bring into the honeymoon, just keep it as personal as possible and neither of you will be able to quit smiling, no matter where you are.

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