Honeymoons and Romantic Vacations

Amy Cunningham

If you're like most couples (myself included!), you put most of your effort into planning your wedding, with your honeymoon as an afterthought. While that's probably a good thing (after all, it IS your big day), your honeymoon is your first trip as a married couple and one that you'll remember forever.

Honeymoon planning can be stressful - after all, you want that that dream locale where romance fills the air. You can alleviate some of that stress though and Picking the perfect destinationromantic honeymoon destination that will fit individual preferences.

Here are 7 tips to help you find the perfect romantic destination for your honeymoon.

1. Plan in advance. Experts agree that one of the most important ingredients for an optimal honeymoon experience is planning ahead. In fact, Buena Vista University recommends planning your honeymoon between six and nine months prior to your wedding date. Planning this far in advance allows enough time to browse your various options, and help you avoid picking the wrong spot in a rush.

2. Research package deals carefully. Many couples arrive at their chosen destinations only to find that what they receive does not meet their expectations. For example, a package description that includes complimentary champagne and glasses may not specify that the champagne is cheap and the glasses are plastic. Free breakfasts may only consist of toast and juice instead of fresh fruit, baked goods, and omelets. There are many other issues to consider as well. The best way to avoid potential disappointments though is to go over every planned detail. Write down expectations for each detail, and call the provider of the package to verify the specifics. While online research and reviews are also options for finding this information, it is important to remember that specific details may change from one year to the next.

3. Think beyond traditional locations for quieter options. Unless you have your hearts set on Hawaii or the Caribbean, considering different locations is helpful. According to a survey from Brides Magazine, the Caribbean attracts more than 30 percent of honeymooning couples and Hawaii more than 15 percent! That's nearly half of all honeymooning couples! Couples who prefer less tourists and crowds should research more secluded areas or private rentals. It is also important to remember that many popular destinations welcome not only honeymooning couples, but also families. For those who want to avoid screaming kids and noisy groups of tourists in popular cities, it is essential to research adults-only resorts and restaurants.

4. Consider a honeymoon registry to make a dream trip affordable. According to Texas State University, the average honeymoon costs between $5,000 and $15,000. This is on top of your wedding costs, which already average $24,000 and $28,000! If you're like most couples, you're searching through couch cushions and coat pockets for any extra money you can find to put towards your dream honeymoon or end up settling for a different destination. Fortunately, couples today can create honeymoon registries. In the past, such a registry may have seemed taboo or even tacky, but according to Amy Eisinger, editor of WeddingChannel.com, they've become more socially acceptable in the last few years.

Honeymoon registries work by breaking down your chosen trip into smaller increments: airfare, excursion, hotel stays, dinner, etc. Guests can then gift the newlyweds with parts of their trip. According to a study done by TheKnot.com and WeddingChannel.com, 11% off all engaged couples register for honeymoon-related gifts.

5. Call hotels and other venues directly. When making your hotel, dinner or activity reservations, call the providers directly. Never make reservations using toll-free numbers that are based out of call centers. By calling directly, you can also mention that you're planning a honeymoon. Many hotels, restaurants and merchants offer discounts, special services, or even free upgrades to newlyweds to make their experience more romantic! You can also ask location-specific questions by calling directly.

6. Consider places holding individual significance. You may find certain locations more appealing for personal reasons. For example, one couple met while taking a Russian language class in college and decided that they wanted to travel across Russia for their honeymoon instead of the traditional all-inclusive tropical vacation. If you who have difficulty agreeing on destinations should discuss places or events of personal significance to reveal destinations they can both enjoy.

7. Consider priorities for the trip. If you're like most couples, you've set a budget amount before making your honeymoon plans and deciding how to allocate the money for various expenses can be tough. Before choosing your perfect romantic honeymoon destination, think about activity preferences. If you prefer not to leave your room or resort for sightseeing, your options for locations are plentiful -- a nice hotel with great amenities in almost any location. However, if you prefer sightseeing or outdoor activities, your destination will be dependent on which type of activities you want and you may need to budget more for activities and plane tickets than lodging expenses. Prioritizing is one of the keys to choosing an optimal destination and hotel. If you prefer the perfect mix of both worlds, you may want to save money try a cruise!

Finding the perfect romantic honeymoon destination does not have to be a stressful process. Plan in advance, budget, and communicate your preferences with one another and you'll end up with a smooth planning process and an incredibly romantic honeymoon. Remember to read travel guides to learn other helpful location-specific tips.