No one wants to skimp on their honeymoon. Posh accommodations, intimate meals, and soothing massages rank high on the wish list of virtually every newlywed, but most people don't have an unlimited expense account. No need to take the backpack-and-hostel route -- just focus on these five areas to cut down your honeymoon costs.
A little legwork early in your engagement goes a long way toward balancing your honeymoon budget.
1. Consider a travel agent
It's easy to find a flight and book a hotel over the Internet, so the idea of working with a travel agent might seem antiquated. While it's not for everyone, Tim Leffel, author of Make Your Travel Dollars Worth a Fortune, observes that a travel agent can save money for those who don't have a specific destination in mind. "If you just want to go to a nice Caribbean island and stay in a hotel on the beach, agents can often find deals that you might not run across yourself." So if your heart's set on the Four Seasons in Nevis, use the Web. If you're open to any number of islands and resorts, see what a travel agent has to offer.
2. Use frequent flier miles
If you've charged wedding expenses, your honeymoon is the perfect time to cash in all the bonus points you racked up on your credit card. Free airfare is great, of course, and even if you don't have enough miles for that, you can still go for an upgrade from coach to first class, allowing you to begin and end your honeymoon in style.
3. Start a honeymoon registry
As a traditional part of attending your wedding, guests will give you gifts, and the majority of them will shop straight from your wedding registry. If you have ample linens and china's just not your style, set up a honeymoon registry and have guests pay for part (or even all) of your trip in lieu of traditional gifts. Sites like thebigday.com or honeymoonwishes.com offer registries for a small percentage of the total gift. You can also register at resorts like Marriott or Disney.
An open mind while picking a honeymoon spot gives you a better chance to find a good deal.
4. Take advantage of shoulder seasons
Every destination has a high and low season -- during the high season there are crowds and high prices, while the low season is cheaper (usually because the weather is lousy). Shoulder seasons, however, are right on the cusp of high and low, so the prices are more reasonable because there's far less demand and the weather is still appealing. Shoulder season for the Caribbean starts right after spring break. "Mid-April to mid-June is a fantastic time to hit the Caribbean," Leffel says. (Should you prefer a European honeymoon, look into the late spring and early fall.)
5. Go where the dollar hasn't deflated
The poor currency exchange can sabotage your budget. The dollar has become increasingly puny compared to the euro, so seek a destination where your money still has some worth. Leffel recommends heading anywhere in Spanish-speaking Latin America -- from Mexico down to Chile -- or check out our sidebar for the best budget honeymoons.
6. Consider an all-inclusive
One of the best reasons to honeymoon at an all-inclusive resort is that you have a clear estimate of how much your trip will cost and budget accordingly. Find out exactly what you're paying for and factor in a couple of meals at restaurants outside the resort, day trips, or other excursions that might not be included. Then you'll have a solid idea of how much you'll spend.
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7. Fly off-peak
Flights are less expensive on certain days of the week. If you're traveling domestic, fly on a Sunday to avoid business travelers. If you're going abroad, find a better deal by leaving on a Monday or Tuesday.
8. Ask if airport pickup is included
When you book a hotel, try to score a ride from the airport (some hotels offer complimentary transportation). If a taxi is your only option, hail a cab in an area of the airport designated for transportation rather than riding with some guy who sidles up at baggage claim and offers a lift.
9. Use mass transit
Unless you're renting a car, use mass transit as much as possible. Cab rides, while convenient, inevitably wreak havoc on your budget. Before you travel, familiarize yourself with your honeymoon spot's main modes of transportation, be it metro, tram, or bus. Saving money isn't the only benefit of mass transit -- in congested cities, the metro is very often the quickest way across town.
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10. Get a room with no view
Check any hotel's website and you'll find a range of room rates. A room's size and view are two factors that hike up the price. Cut your accommodation's cost by booking a room looking upon a slightly less attractive landscape. When you spend most of your time on the beach, you'll hardly notice whether your room has a view of the ocean or a garden, and the savings can be significant.
11. Investigate packages
If a hotel offers a "honeymoon package," Leffel advises taking a close look to see if it's really a money-saving deal. If the offer is six nights for the price of five, that's worthwhile. If the package brings an evening rose petal turndown service plus champagne for an added $200, it's cheaper to forgo the extras and book at the normal room rate.
12. Mention you're newlyweds
You can often leverage the fact you're on your honeymoon for special (and free) treatment. While there are no hard rules for the practice -- or guarantees the hotel will do anything -- it's worth telling the receptionist you'll be spending your first days of married life with them. We've heard of couples getting complimentary room upgrades. It's also worth dropping the h-word when you're at airport check-in, and any bartender's bound to offer a round on the house.
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13. Stray from the hotel
A hotel's restaurant is definitely hassle-free dining, but that convenience often comes with a marked-up price. Consult a guide book for some other options.
14. Talk to locals 15. Prepare a few meals
With some insider info, you'll find an unassuming fish stand in a Caribbean market or a hole-in-the-wall bistro on a European side street that serves the best meal of your entire trip. Ask the local baker, butcher, or fishmonger for their pick for the best bite in town -- chances are that it will be reasonably priced and utterly delicious.
Making your own lunch doesn't have to lack romance. Go to the grocery store and stock up on sandwich ingredients, fruit, and other picnic goods. Trek to a secluded spot and enjoy a private lunch. You'll save money without missing out on the fond memories every honeymooner deserves.
See More: Honeymoon Basics , Wedding Planning Basics