Once you’ve got the wedding costs under control, the last thing you want to think about is paying for a honeymoon. If you find that your honeymoon funds are going to be on the limited side, you don’t need to ditch your plans altogether. Be prepared to research, research, research to get the biggest bang for your buck. It takes time and effort and feistiness to ensure frugality. Here is the best honeymoon advice I’ve ever received when it comes to saving, where to go, what to do, and how to do it. (No, I’m not married, nor have I ever planned a honeymoon, but I find myself in bars living vicariously through young-and-in-love couples quite frequently. Plus, I work with soon-to-be-married couples a lot and I ask questions like Oprah).
Best Budget-Friendly Honeymoon Destinations:
- Tulum, Mexico—Mexico is known for being a more affordable honeymoon destination, and you’ll find an endless number of great snorkeling, beautiful beaches, and all sorts of other activities that don’t cost an arm and a leg. You’ll find resorts that are on the pricier side, some of the most famous resorts will run nearly $500 a night, but there are budget-friendly options too. Tulum’s Freedom Paradise is a smaller boutique hotel located on a secluded stretch of white sandy beach at the edge of the azure waters of the Caribbean Sea. Rooms open up to the sand and sea, start as little as $79 per person per night with an all-inclusive plan which includes meals, domestic beverages, activities, tips, and taxes.
- Puerto Rico–Room rates in Puerto Rico pale in comparison to other Caribbean destinations. Affordable packages can be found year-round, but fall will bring the very best bargains. San Juan is the capital where you can indulge in cultural attractions as well as a lively nightlife. Take the ferry to Vieques Island, which runs about $4 a trip, to relax and soak in the sunshine on miles of secluded sandy beaches. Blue Beach is famous for outstanding snorkeling with an abundance of giant sea turtles and colorful fish.
- Portugal —A full week’s stay at one of Lisbon’s five-star hotels runs the same as just one or two nights at a luxury hotel in other European capitals. It’s also known for fairly low dining costs and rental car rates. Less expensive than its neighbor Spain as well as the other popular Greek Islands, Portugal retains much of its old-world charm, filled with picturesque fishing villages, endless olive groves, and ancient castles. Plus, many of the eclectic urban neighborhoods are just now being complemented with chic beach retreats, along with golf courses.
- Dublin— Dublin has gone from being one of the most expensive capitals to one of the best bargains. Charming villages, castles, and vibrant green picture-postcard scenery are only a few features of Emerald Isle’s spectacular west coast. Most thatched-roof cottages overlooking the Atlantic begin under $50 per night per person.
- Selva Negra, Nicaragua—Nicaragua is filled with fantastic, budget-friendly options. This family-run, organic farm and coffee estate offers all types of accommodations, including one-bedroom bungalows for less than $100 a night. Located within a lush, mountain setting rich with wildlife like monkeys, lizards, and all kinds of birds, you’ll have the opportunity to hike to waterfalls and go horseback riding while accompanied by the exotic sounds of the jungle.
You don’t have to travel internationally to visit some of the most beautiful places on earth. Some of the most coveted honeymoon destinations are right in the United States.
- Lake Tahoe in Nevada or California—Nestled between the border of California and Nevada in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, is one of the most beautiful lakes in the country. It’s also one of the few places where you can relax on the beach or go skiing in the mountains on the very same day. There is an array of cozy mountain cottages as well as romantic beach villas. Between the exciting nightlife at the casinos after dark and the endless activities to do during the day, you won’t have a spare minute. In the wintertime, this region offers some of the best powder for skiing and snowboarding on the entire planet.
- San Juan Islands, Washington—You most likely won’t be swimming in the waters surrounding the San Juan Islands because they aren’t exactly warm, but the abundance of wildlife in them is enough to make up for it. Resident orca whales and harbor seals can be spotted, as well as bald eagles that are frequently perched on treetops or soaring through the skies. Spend your days kayaking and your evenings cuddled up around a beach bonfire. The largest of islands is San Juan where you’ll find a bunch of charming Bed and Breakfast establishments, upscale resorts, art galleries, boutiques, and farm-to-table restaurants. Take a stroll along South Beach, the longest beach in the country, or take a whale watch tour.
- Big Sur, California—Writers like John Steinback found inspiration in the dramatic scenery and beautiful coastline of Big Sur. Deep gorges cut through rugged mountains, with pine forests extending to the edges of gorgeous beaches. McWay Falls plunges 80 feet into turquoise-hued waters. Campsites that overlook the Pacific are under $20 a night. Good luck trying to beat that price.
- Havasupai, Arizona –The picture looks fake, almost. It’s internationally renowned for having some of the most breathtaking scenery on earth, including Magical Havasu Falls. Located in a remote corner of the Grand Canyon on the Havasupai Native Reservation, you’ll have to make a ten-mile trek to reach the falls, but once you get there, you’ll find cascading waterfalls of crystal clear turquoise waters, plunging into travertine swimming shores at the bottom. Hotel type lodging or camping on the reservation starts at just $17 per person per night. Definitely an ideal destination for the adventure loving couple.
- Rocky Mountains, Colorado –Some of the most picturesque, dramatic mountain scenery in the U.S. can be found in the Rocky Mountain National Park. Estes Park, located just outside the park’s eastern border offers a wide range of secluded cabins as well as romantic B&Bs, and resorts. Many rooms feature in-room or private Jacuzzis on a deck overlooking the river, along with a fireplace, perfect for cozying up to and sparking your own flame. During the day, enjoy hiking through the wilderness and picnicking in lush meadows at the edge of a beautiful stream with the dramatic, rock peaks as the backdrop
Sign up for airfare alerts
Getting to see the best prices for flights in real-time is essential to ensure you are getting the cheapest deals. Sign up at FareCompare. When you find a good price, jump on it—it won’t last long.
Be sure to book your travel days on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, which are almost always the cheapest days to fly. Fly when most people don’t want to and save even more money. This includes flights at dawn, red-eyes, overnight flights, and flights around the dinner hour.
FareCompare’s data shows that the best time to book a flight in the U.S. is Tuesday at 3 p.m. eastern time; this day and time gives you access to the best flight deals. It’s when airlines release the most options when booking flights.
International Fares: The best time to buy international airline tickets is between 5 ½ months and 1-½ months before departure. Procrastination doesn’t pay. The best time to book flights is sooner rather than later.
Domestic Fares: The best time to buy airline tickets in the U.S. is between three months and thirty days before departure
Shop one passenger at a time:
When booking travel for two or more, shop one passenger at a time. That’s because airline reservation systems require that when multiple tickets are sold in a single transaction, those tickets must be the same price. So if you shop for two people, and there is one ticket for $100 but many tickets for $200, you’ll pay $200 for each ticket. Learn more here.
Being flexible can save you big money. Taking connecting flights, and flying into bigger airports are two ways to be flexible. Often—not always, but often – you can save by foregoing the ease of a non-stop flight in favor of a less convenient connecting flight. Sometimes adding a stop (or two) can save as much as 50 percent. Sure, it’s a little sucky, but saving never sucks.
Flying into bigger airports, particularly hubs often have cheaper airfares. Generally, the smaller the airport, the more expensive it will be to fly in or out of it. Compare prices from your home airport as well as surrounding airports to weigh the pros and cons. You may find driving an extra hour or two is well worth it.
If you don’t plan on entertaining all that much, why fill your registry with gravy bowls and glassware? Create a registry that keeps on giving with honeymoon registry sites like HoneyFund, Traveler’s Joy, Honeymoon Wishes, Wanderable, Honeymoon Pixie. (Click here for our post where we ranked these sites to help you choose which site works best for you).
Other Tips and Tricks:
Sure, using a travel agent relieves some of the stress that comes with planning a honeymoon, and they can save you money with the air/hotel or fly/drive/hotel packages, but so can you. You don’t need an agent to get really good deals, it just takes a little elbow grease and research. What you can do is call an agency and get as much information as possible on techniques they use to find deals, and any advice they can offer you. Chances are they won’t mind, and just stay strong when they try to offer their services.
Ask lots of questions when it comes to all-inclusive deals. There are no surprises and no limits. You can live like a king and queen for one flat fee, but packages can vary. Club Med, for examples, doesn’t include alcoholic drinks. Make sure what is included appeals to you, otherwise what is the point?
Book the swankiest hotel you can afford. You don’t need to live large when it comes to a room, most likely you will be spending the least amount of time there, anyway. Sleep cheap and save big bucks for more fun activities.