Setting aside your initial excitement, the honeymoon can often be the last thing on your list when it comes to the wedding budget. If you’re hoping to kick off married life with a travel experience of a lifetime, then it’s going to take some financial planning.
Get Some Perspective
The average engagement lasts 18 months. Including flights, the average honeymoon costs around $4,500 per couple. If you’re planning on saving, you’ll need to put away $250 per month from the day you say ‘yes’ to the moment you say ‘I do’, to accumulate those funds – more if you want extra luxuries.
Work out a Realistic Budget
Start by agreeing how much you think you can afford to spend. Are you happy to commit to less and work hard at keeping costs down? Or are you prepared to blow the budget? List the top five trips you’d love to take. Then research the following costs:
- Getting there and back – flights, transfers, taxis, etc.
- Relative cost of living – accommodations, meals, drinks, etc.
- Getting around – bus tickets, train fares, internal flights, taxis, etc.
- Visas, vaccinations, medical insurance – any other associated costs prior to travel
Comparing like-for-like costs is a simple way to narrow down your options. Do any of the destinations on your wish list work with your initial budget? Do you need to set a more realistic target?
Now think beyond the basics. Weigh up your available budget and the experience you’re looking for. If luxury is important to you both, make sure you choose a destination where the finer things in life are going to be affordable. A night in a five-star hotel in Bali might set you back $250; in Dubai it could easily cost $15,000.
If you desperately want to experience a particular destination, will it be possible to enjoy it on a shoestring budget? Being broke in Berlin is all part of the fun. Being belly-up in Las Vegas, not so much.
What trips and treats do you want to include? Does the destination require you to do certain things to experience it fully? Would you be happy to visit the Great Barrier Reef without diving, or drive Route 66 without a Cadillac?
Once you’ve decided on the destination, do a proper costing using a website like Budget Tracker (budgettracker.com) or apps such as Trail Wallet for iPhone or TripBudget on Android. Make sure you include all the experiences you want to enjoy. Then work out your total costs.
To get the best deals it’s worth booking flights and accommodations early. If you don’t have the available funds it makes sense to choose a credit card that offers travel rewards as you spend. Then agree how much you can both put aside each month to pay off the upfront costs, plus save for the extras.
Open a Savings Account
A separate bank or PayPal account will do, but a high-interest savings account will mean your money will earn while you save and limited access will ensure you’re not tempted to raid the piggy bank. Set up a direct debit for the same amount to go in each month, just after payday, so you don’t feel the pain.
True romance is about love, not money. It’s about coming home with happy memories, not debt .
Set up a Honeymoon Fund
Most engaged couples already live together these days, so when it comes to wedding gifts, more and more people are rejecting traditional department store registries and are instead asking wedding guests to contribute toward their honeymoon fund.
If you want to use a travel agency to help plan and book your trip, ask your preferred agent if your guests can contribute toward the cost. Whether you’re planning a budget backpacking adventure with STA or a super luxurious, tailor-made trip with Black Tomato, you’ll find many global travel businesses offer a honeymoon fund. In the States, gifting travel has become so popular that American Airlines, Amtrak and Zipcar also sell gift vouchers.
If you want more flexibility and don’t like the idea of having your funds tied up with one provider, there are a range of independent honeymoon funds that allow you to collect cash gifts from friends all over the world to spend how and when you like.
As a guide, the average wedding gift is worth £60 in the UK, €76 in Europe, $118 in Australia and $87 in the United States.
Meaning 50 guests will cover the cost of an average honeymoon.
Points & Rewards
If you don’t already have a frequent flier account, ask what travel-related rewards your bank can offer you. Switch to a credit card that offers affiliate travel discounts, such as American Express, and sign up for store cards that give you travel points as you spend.
While You’re Away
It’s your honeymoon, so of course, you want it to be special. But before you get sucked into buying an expensive ‘honeymoon package’ at a posh hotel, be clear about what luxury and romance means to you. Is it a penthouse suite overlooking the city, or do heights make you sick? Do you need petals in the bathtub, chocolates and towels folded into swans to welcome you? Or would a secluded terrace, an outdoor shower and some fresh fruit do the trick?
Staying in a boutique hotel, Airbnb or bed-and-breakfast is not only cheaper, but often offers a more intimate experience than a luxury hotel. Whichever accommodation you choose, think location. It’s not only romantic to be able to walk home from dinner on a warm evening, but it saves the taxi fare, too.
Packing on a Budget
Spend money on the fun stuff, such as new swimwear and sunglasses. But don’t feel you have to invest in new luggage you’ll only use once a year. Honeymoon registry HoneyFund, for example, lets people pledge their help, so it’s worth asking if your guests can fund your dream vacation as a wedding gift.
Try to avoid expensive honeymoon traps. A carriage ride pulled by a skinny horse only makes you feel sad and awkward. A single rose is not only embarrassing at the time but annoying later as it lays limp in the sink and then gets crushed in your suitcase. True romance is about love, not money. It’s about coming home with happy memories, not debt and dead roses.
Reproduced with permission from The Honeymoon Handbook, @ 2017 Lonely Planet, modified by Brandon Presser and updated by Signature Bride.