Given the current economic climate, many of us are buying less, taking fewer trips, and generally trying to tighten the old belt. In order to save money around the house, I have even stopped using organic lime juice in my margaritas, and I don't feed the dog anymore. (She still gets her own margaritas, so don't go calling the Humane Society or anything.) What it comes down to is: Times are tough. It can be especially challenging to plan your wedding - let alone the honeymoon - when you're not exactly flush with cash. It usually costs a pretty penny to travel to a beautiful, relaxing location where you will spend a week basking in your post-nuptial afterglow if "basking" is what the kids are calling it these days. However, it is possible to have a blissful honeymoon minus the hefty price tag, if you're willing to think a little bit outside the box. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you plan your getaway:
Travel During the Off-Season
Most popular sunny getaway locales, such as Hawaii and the Caribbean, are more expensive during the winter months when everybody and their mother want to thaw out for a week. Try traveling during other times of year for some serious price breaks on airfare and accommodations. If your wedding happens to be during high season, consider taking an inexpensive mini-moon immediately after the event, (say a couple of days at a local hotel) and postponing the big trip until it's no longer peak travel season.
Register For Your Honeymoon
This is an increasingly popular thing to do, and if you work with a travel agent they will help you figure out the logistics of it. Most people want to give you something that you will really enjoy, and a week on a tropical island is marginally more enjoyable than a gravy boat. Also check out Honeymoon Wishes, which is a great website that allows you to register for your honeymoon online.
Book a Package Deal
You can often save money by booking a package deal, such as airfare + lodging + transportation, or even going the all-inclusive route (find and read customer reviews carefully before committing to an all-inclusive). Ask your travel agent, or look online for package deals.
Check out the Literature
There are publications such as Budget Travel that are dedicated to the quest for affordable vacations. Ask at a local travel agency, library or bookstore for guidance when choosing one. Peruse for destination ideas and tips.
Be Flexible (Last minute deals, alternate airports)
If you're willing to be flexible about your travel dates and the airports you use, you may be able to find a better deal that you would otherwise. Generally, it's cheaper to fly out of larger metropolitan airports than local regional ones. Also, if you stay away over a Saturday night you can often save even more, as it weeds out the high-rolling business travelers. Perhaps if the CEOs of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had done more business travel on weekends, we wouldn't be in such a mess. Because I'm sure they flew commercially all the time.
Sign up for Online Travel Alerts
Enter your honeymoon destination and travel dates with an online travel company such as Airfare Watchdog, Orbitz, or Travelocity, and have email alerts sent to you when there is a deal that corresponds with them.
Hit the Road, Jack (and Jill)
Now that gas prices have gone way down, a romantic road trip could be the way to go if you're trying to keep spending to a minimum. If you're really brave, you could also incorporate camping, but I don't recommend this unless it's actually suggested by the bride. Otherwise it will not turn out well, trust me.
Get a Credit Card with Mileage Points
You know your credit card will take a beating during wedding planning, and this is one way to assuage some of the associated guilt. If you sign up for a card with airline mileage awards benefits, you can get some satisfaction from the knowledge that each ka-ching you hear on your way to the altar (believe me, you will think your ears are constantly ringing) is getting you that much closer to that white sandy beach.
Finally, remember that no matter where you go and when, and how frugal you have to be about it, it will be a perfect honeymoon in at least two all-important ways: You will be married to your sweetheart, and your in-laws will be far, far away.
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