So, the date is fixed, the relatives have been informed and the invites have been decided upon, you and your honey, are all set to be husband and wife. You’ll have the most awesome kickass wedding, which will be followed by the perfect ever after where you will never ever fight over the remote (Yeah right!). All that remains is that teeny little thing called honeymoon planning, which is driving you up the wall and into the arms of that bottle of wine you got for Christmas. He wants beach, you want mountains and both of you do not want to blow the bank balance. Relax! Take a deep breath! Go to the spa if you want to, and come back to read my tips on how plan your hassle free honeymoon.
Start planning early: Please for heaven’s sake do not wake up one morning a month before your wedding and say “Hey! We forgot to plan the honeymoon!” No! We do not let that happen, just like we do not go to bed with make-up on. Plan your honeymoon well in advance, three months minimum. If you plan to travel abroad, certain countries require you to apply for a visa a minimum of three months in advance, plus airline tickets maybe cheaper today than tomorrow, so get planning!
It is all about the money, honey: I cannot tell you how important this step is. Decide who is paying for it first, are you planning on paying for it together? Is it his/her wedding gift to you? Have your/his parents or some family member offered to sponsor you two? If someone is sponsoring, what is/are he/she/they sponsoring? Tickets only? Tickets and the hotel? The whole shebang? What is their budget? If both of you are paying for it together or either of you are paying by yourself, how do you plan to finance it? Break the fixed deposit? Take a loan? Save a certain amount each month? Make a budget and stick to it like you’ll stick by your man/woman. Whatever your budget, try to ensure that you have at least 10-20% in excess of it saved up, not to spend, but as extra caution money which you may use for emergencies (Shopping is not an emergency).
How much time is forever? Let’s face it; unless you have a very lenient boss, you are not going get a month’s honeymoon time, so plan accordingly. Decide how much time you two can take off for your honeymoon and set the dates. Have a Hari Saadu type boss who thinks giving you time off for your wedding is good enough? Or maybe, your wedding is bang in middle of the holiday season and you do not want to see another person for the next week? Plan your honeymoon for a little later; after all, good things come to those who wait.
The world is your oyster: Now comes the bone of contention, where to go? Bring this topic up and guarantee, 8 times out of 10 the discussion will make you wonder why on earth are you marrying this idiot who thinks Lonavla is perfectly acceptable. Again, sit down, breathe, relax and keep the frying pan back in the kitchen where it belongs instead of bonking your significant other on the head with it. Have a calm discussion, list out the pros and cons of the places you both want to go. Research like crazy; make Lonely Planet, Tripadvisor and other travel websites your best friend. Read up on your destination; see if the weather is right for the time you plan to go (Mr. D and I had London planned for our May wedding, but had go back to the drawing board once we realised the wedding dates had to be shifted to August, since it would be quite warm there and I hate the heat.) Look for “shoulder seasons”, these are the periods between the low season and high season when the weather is like high season but the rates and crowds are much much low, prime example is Goa in early November. Remember, timing is everything, there is neither bravery nor beauty in being stuck in the Caribbean during hurricane season or in Paris for that matter, during the gloomy winter.
At this point, you may go to a travel agency and ask them to take of the nitty gritties for you, you may even look at the package tour companies to help you out, but what I would suggest is that you do it on your own, there is nothing like sitting down together and dreaming of your honeymoon to take the wedding stress away. What Mr. D and I did at this point was that we went around to the various tours and travel operators and asked for rates and itineraries, we then set out to create our own itinerary with the help of the itineraries provided by the agents. Also, if you plan to visit a country, pick a maximum of two cities to spend your time in, anymore and you’ll be too busy travelling to actually enjoy the honeymoon. A word of advice, the rates are usually in USD and depend on the current rate going plus a small surcharge, so the prices will fluctuate from day to day. If you think that a minor fluctuation makes no difference think again, a rupee’s increase will make 1000 USD increase from 60k INR to 61k INR and the difference increases with the amount.
Tickets and other stuff: Armchair honeymoons are fine, but for real ones, tickets are needed. Book your tickets (train, plane, ship, bus, donkey cart, etc.) well in advance, scout for deals and see if you can convert those miles. The Internet is your friend; use it to research tickets and other options. Remember, the cheapest is not always the best option, neither is the most expensive one. Look at sites like Kayak.com, lastminute.com etc for cheap flights. It is cheaper to fly during the week than on the weekend and of course, holiday seasons brings its own surcharges. Many sites allow you to set a notification if the prices for a certain sector fall, so be sure to check that out as well.
Hotel California: Bwahahaha!! Another bone of contention, he wants Fleabag Motel, you want Four Seasons or it could be the other way around, (it is in my case). If you want a bargain place to stay abroad, try to stay a little far from the city center, the rates will be cheaper there and if you get a hotel near the Metro then getting to the city will be easy peasy. Try emailing the hotel asking for their tariff plans and packages if they have any. Research, research and research again and read reviews, especially bad ones. Instead of looking at the room photos try finding out the size of the room, rooms in Europe are notoriously tiny, they’ll show you a room fit for a king on the Internet and give you one where you can either use the toilet or take a bath and the room feels claustrophobic with the two of you in it. A good hotel can make or break your holiday so be careful of what you choose. Mr D. and I had the hard luck of being stuck in Rotorua, New Zealand during a freak polar storm which wiped out the rest of our itinerary, we were fortunate that we’d booked an excellent hotel (entirely Mr. D’s discovery), which not only took care of our needs but the staff also gave us good advice for the best local places.
Documents please: If you are travelling abroad, please ensure that your passport is not on the verge of expiry. Read visa guidelines carefully; ensure the forms are filled correctly and with truthful information. If your wedding cards are ready, please provide one if so required (We submitted a copy of both engagement and wedding cards to the New Zealand embassy). Photo details are available on the embassy websites and I would strongly advice you to read them.
So by now, your flights and hotels are booked, your passports have gone for the visas and you two are still together dreaming of the glorious future and you think my work is done, not yet my friend, there is work yet.
Ek bima hona chahiye: Buy travel insurance, even if you think you don’t need it, especially if you think you don’t need it. We were very lucky that the polar storm did not disrupt our flight home and that there were no earthquakes in Christchurch while we were there, but you may not be, get smart, buy travel insurance.
All my bags are packed: Pack your honeymoon clothes in a separate bag or suitcase, if you plan to leave immediately after the wedding functions are over. Also, if you plan to take a carry-on and it is a long distance flight, I would suggest you pack a fresh change or clothes or at the very least, clean underwear. After 9 hours in a plane, even a change of underwear can make you feel fresh.
So now I’m done dispensing gyaan, feel free to add yours. Is there something you’d do differently? Or better? Or maybe these tips suck and you hate me? Let me know in the comments!
All images courtesy of Getty Images.