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Honeymoon Countdown: Honeymoon Planning Timeline

Ready, set, relax! Ahhh, the honeymoon. Your hard-earned reward for months of stressful wedding planning. The only catch? You have to plan that, too! Here's our guide to pulling off a glitch-free honeymoon.

Six Months or More Ahead

  • Set a budget.
  • Start trading honeymoon fantasies. Where do you want to go? What do you want to do? Bat around destination possibilities, troll the Internet, talk to your travel agent, and poll friends for ideas.
  • If you're planning a destination wedding, get the ball rolling on paperwork and/or contact a wedding planner who specializes in destination weddings.
  • Find a travel agent (if you don't already have one) who specializes in your destination, activity (an adventure honeymoon tour or scuba trip, for example), or mode of transportation (a cruise specialist, say).
  • If the price tag for your dream trip is off the charts, brainstorm ways to save money. Investigate what your frequent flyer point balance can buy you and/or research honeymoon registry options with tour operators, travel agents, and on the Internet.
  • Book your tickets, get seat assignments, order special in-flight meals, and check luggage allowances (you'll need these for buying -- or registering for -- luggage later), especially if you're carting skis or scuba gear. If you hope to cash in frequent flyer miles for a trip or upgrade, purchase or transfer points (if necessary) and make your ticket request from the airline as soon as possible.
  • Research hotels, check room availability, and reserve a room.
  • Reserve a rental car.
  • If you're traveling abroad -- and feeling ambitious -- sign up for a foreign-language class or buy a language course on tape and start practicing at home or on your way to work.
  • Ask your travel agent or visit the CDC Travelers' Health Site to check whether certain vaccinations are recommended or required before visiting your destination. (Some programs need to start months in advance of your trip.)

Three Months Ahead

  • Obtain your passports and visas, if necessary.
  • Consider signing up for travel insurance if one of the following apply: one of you has health issues; you're concerned about your safety; or the weather threatens to wreak havoc on your honeymoon (hurricane season, for example). Research travel insurance coverage offered by your credit cards, travel agent, or an independent agency; secure additional coverage for your specific concerns if necessary.

Two Months Ahead

  • Buy a camera and luggage -- or register for them before your bridal shower! Practice using your camera and be sure to develop a few rolls to make sure it's working properly.
  • Research and book tours, theater tickets, hot restaurant seats, and any other activities that require advance reservations -- earlier if you're traveling during peak season -- through your travel agent or soon-to-be hotel concierge (get their name and tip them when you arrive).
  • Get certified to scuba dive or begin lessons for any other activity you hope to pursue on your trip.

One Month Ahead

  • Make a packing and shopping list.
  • Reconfirm all reservations.
  • Make kennel reservations or contact your house or cat sitter to make sure they're available.
  • For those brides-to-be on the Pill: If you want to postpone your period because it overlaps with your honeymoon, talk to your gynecologist about skipping the placebo round (and starting the next cycle right away), thus "skipping" your period for that month (perfectly safe). Make sure you have plenty of pills on hand or order more, if needed.

Two Weeks Ahead

  • Pick up airline tickets and all applicable vouchers from your travel agent. Read all material carefully to make sure the information is correct. If not, your travel agent can correct it.
  • Buy travelers' checks; stow numbers someplace safe in case they're lost or stolen.
  • Exchange about $50 (or at least enough to get you to your hotel from the airport) into small bills in the currency of the country you'll be visiting. There is usually an exchange counter or ATM at the airport, but it can be nice to have cash in hand (it will also help you get used to the exchange rate so it doesn't just feel like "meaningless" Monopoly money).

One Week Ahead

  • Arrange to have mail held at the post office during your trip.
  • Stop newspaper delivery.
  • Make two to three sets of photocopies of your passport, credit cards, insurance, traveler check numbers, wills -- basically any paperwork people would need if your wallet were stolen or something happened to you. (I know, but you have to be prepared.) Give one set each to a parent and/or a relative or friend, pack one set in your luggage, and leave one set in your safe deposit box.
  • If your guidebook weighs a ton, make copies of relevant pages (who needs the hotel section now?) and have them bound at your local copy shop.
  • Ask stores where you've registered to hold orders so gifts don't pile up on your doorstep, or ask a relative to collect packages.
  • Set out clothes to pack; buy what you need.
  • Make sure you have extras of everything you can't live without: migraine tablets, allergy pills, asthma inhaler, glasses or contacts, etc. Carry all medications in their original prescription bottles to avoid questions at customs.
  • Touch base with your house or cat sitter to reconfirm when they'll be coming over, hand over the keys, give them a copy of the vet's number and your contact info, etc.

Three Days Ahead

  • Reconfirm overseas flights.
  • Order champagne to be awaiting you in your hotel room.
  • Buy books and magazines for the trip.
  • Transfer the addresses of friends to whom you'll want to send postcards plus important phone numbers (house/cat sitter, doctor) into a little travel-sized notebook or journal.
  • Make arrangements for your rides to and from the airport.
  • Leave a copy of your itinerary and a set of house keys with a relative or close friend in case of emergency.
  • Check weather forecasts for your destination.
  • Change your voicemail and e-mail messages at work.
  • Prepare your house or apartment for your departure -- eat or dispose of perishable food, water plants, set timers, etc.

One Day Ahead

  • Reconfirm flights.
  • Make sure your luggage (carry-on and checked) is labeled both on the outside and inside with your name, hotel address, and phone number.

-- Lori Seto

See More: Honeymoon Basics