Over the last week I have spent most of my hour and 15 minute morning commute going about an average of 45 mph on a major U.S. Interstate due to massive amounts of snow and ice. I actually even had a “work from home” snowday because my car was encased in so much ice, I couldn't get into it. All of this contributed to cabin fever with severe symptoms of honeymoon-itis.
I'm so ready for warm weather. I love Ohio, really I do. But I really don't like it from about January until March 1. (Honestly, if it wasn't for the holidays I would probably hate it in December too, although it seems like we don't get the really wintry weather until January every year.) Compounding my detest of the wintry weather, is the fact that my beloved gets to stay home when it happens because he is a school teacher, and therefore gets a snow day if its really bad. I on the other hand, get to head out for the 64 mile commute. So, about every evening this week I have been doing some honeymoon planning.
Remember, we are getting married in July. As much as I do not like cold weather, I REALLY do not like obscenely hot weather. I have a grandmother in Florida, who I will not go see during the months of May through August because it is so oppressively hot down there. Ryan also hates hot weather, and neither of us are really enamored with the beach. I mean, don't get me wrong the beach is nice. And right now, I would love the beach. But, the beach in July, all I think of is crowded and really really hot.
Unfortunately, all of the “budget friendly” honeymoon options usually involve cruises to Jamaica, the Bahama's, etc. which are not really our cup of tea. We also considered going crazy and going into Europe. However, most of the places we thought of going both of us have been to before, and we'd like to go somewhere totally new for both of us.
So, we decided to explore New England. Going that far north in July will mean it's not too hot, but it won't be really cold either. We first considered a cruise, however, there is only one cruise which goes that way the week of our wedding that is reasonable. And, the problem was that if we got a balcony room, which we thought was kind of important to us since it's our honeymoon, it would be almost $720/pp. And, we would only be stopping two places for about 6 hours each. See, we aren't touristy people. We like to roam, find kistchy little bars and restaurants and just kinda stroll. The cruise schedule didn't really allow for that. Instead, we looked into some hotels in Portland, ME right on the waterfront. We found a hotel room for 5 nights at a Hilton Garden Inn for about $850. (we are also booking our block there…apparently, I need to become a rewards member!) That allows us to spend 5 days roaming around, relaxing in Portland in a bigger room and all for about the same price as one cruise ticket cost (because they don't add any of the taxes/port fees/etc. to the advertised cruise fee). We also found airfare for BOTH of us for only $500 (WITH all the fees except baggage!). The cruise overall with airfare would have cost us about $1900, the hotel and airfare will cost us about $1370.
GRANTED, cruises have other perks. Much of the entertainment on the boat is free and your meals are provided on the boat. However, I figure we probably won't spend more than $400 on the food and such, especially if we bring along some snacks and things in our bags. We can always visit a grocery store or the local farmers' market in town and buy some fruit and stuff to munch on. AND, don't get me wrong, this wasn't exactly easy to find. It took awhile. So, my tips for honeymoon planning:
Decide what is important to you for a honeymoon and think about what you want/like to do on vacation. If I've said it once, I'll say it 100 times, going cheap isn't worthwhile if it's not at all what you want to do. We do not like touristy and scheduled, we like to do our own thing, so cruise didn't work for us. However, if you like schedule and all you can eat, and really think that fits your style, it's probably a good budget option.
2. Make a list.
List the places you would like to go together. Throughout all of our planning, Ryan kept saying to me, “Remember, this isn't our last vacation ever. It's our first as a married couple. There will be more.” So, try to remember that too. I know it's hard. We're all hopeless romantics and we want it to be the best, most awesomely romantic, meant for a movie trip ever there was. Well, in honesty, I hope this isn't the best vacation you ever have, as the Irish say, “May the best of your past, be the worst of your future.” There's so much more, so don't get caught up in that mentality of it has to be the best.
3. Try a Travel Agent.
If you do go with a cruise, go with a travel agent. Travel agents can get you better deals than you can find online, because typically they will add in some extra perks for you that you cannot get on your own. Even if the price is different, you will probably end up getting more with the travel agent's help.
4. Do You Research!
If you're booking yourself, CHECK EVERYWHERE! Do not rely simply on Orbitz, Hotwire, AAA, etc. to get you the best deal. My darling fiancee spent an hour of the Superbowl checking every airline that flew into Portland, and every travel site. We ended up finding the best flight and hotel booking individually with the carrier and hotel. For one thing, if you use a AAA discount, Orbitz/etc. does not allow for you to put that in. Also, many of those sites do not have all the airlines available on them. (Southwest, for instance, only sells tickets on its website and often times it is REALLY cheap if you are lucky enough to have its service available!). Additionally, although it is not a good idea to charge up costs on your credit card, you can often get a really good hotel deal if you pay in full when you make your reservation. Consider charging the whole thing and paying it off so you can get the best deal.
5. Be FLEXIBLE!
We are not leaving the day after our wedding because staying over on a Saturday night is almost double what it is on Sunday and weekdays. This also means we will have time to do some family visiting the day after our wedding, open gifts, get things home and in order before we leave and, this is my fave, PACK AFTER THE WEDDING! (I hate hate hate packing, and there is no way I will be able to get to that before the wedding because there will be to many other things I want to do! One less thing to worry about beforehand.). It saved us about $300 on our hotel just for leaving one day later!
6. Start early!
Early booking saves you money on nearly everything. Do not procrastinate on this one! You want to have time to weigh all the options and make the best decision.
I cannot wait to be waking up a Mrs. with THAT view!!
Happy honeymoon planning!!