You’re excited, in love, getting married and on a budget. The wedding is approaching fast and everything costs money. It just gets overwhelming! Knowing that you can still have a romantic fun filled holiday on a tightly stretched budget will relieve some of the stress. Knowing how and what to plan for is key, knowledge is power!! So research early and ask questions, lots of questions.
Hint no. 1 To use an agent or not use an agent
We all know our way around the internet these days and that is a good thing because we can research and find great deals. However don’t believe everything you read on the ‘net, particularly if you are travelling to a developing country. Consider using an expert travel agent. Ask for references and check their affiliations. Many affiliations such as ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents) will be able to tell you if this agent has had any complaints raised against it. These niche agents are well connected and can often find a deal or recommend a package that will save you money. They could give you hints on when to go. Their inside knowledge could include discounts, package deals or info on hotel renovations. Often the agent has a bit of influence and may just be able to get you an upgrade just by mentioning that you are a honeymoon couple. Be aware that some hotels may ask for proof that you are a honeymoon couple. You might have to produce your marriage certificate or a notarized copy on check in.
Hint no. 2 Flights
You have to travel to your destination and if you need to fly, book early. The earlier you book the better, and whether you are using an agent or not, consider using a flight consolidator. They buy up blocks of airline seats and can offer them at an extremely good rate but they sell out fast. Check with your rewards programs on airlines or credit card companies, do you have enough frequent flier miles or points to convert into a flight. If you fall just short of the required points or rewards ask if you can buy extra points to make up the short fall. It may be cheaper to upgrade your points than to buy a ticket. Another advantage of points and rewards is that you may be able to use them to upgrade your seats to business or first class. You may as well start your life together in style and comfort.
Hint no. 3 Honeymoon registry and gift ideas
In this day and age you probably moved out of your parent’s home years ago, you have your own kettle, toaster and set of wine glasses and so does your fiancé. A trend is developing where couples ask for money to be placed in a honeymoon travel registry. Some travel agents will manage this for you or you could use a company that specialises in this kind of gifting. Remember to read the fine print and expect an administration or commission fee as high as 7 or 8% of the money placed in your registry.
Honey Fund http://www.honeyfund.com/ and,
Honeymoon Wishes http://www.honeymoonwishes.com/
are two such registries. Depending on how you set up your registry, your guests could purchase small gifts such as a bottle of wine at your hotel or a couple’s massage, all with the convenience of using a credit card.
A more direct registry can be set up if you have chosen a resort such as a Marriot or Disney resort or even a hotel chain in Mexico. Many of these chains will have a dedicated wedding/honeymoon office that will help to set up your registry at the hotel/resort.
Hint no. 4 Best time to go
We would all like to go in peak season but this may shoot the cost through the roof. Consider travelling in a green or shoulder season. This is when the hotels are more likely to have specials and rooms that they desperately want to sell, often at a greatly reduced rate. Some couples may even wait a month or two after their wedding to go on honeymoon and enjoy the savings. Just a note though, shoulder season is not low season it is the season just outside peak season when the crowds thin out and demand drops but the weather is still enjoyable. Make sure you know when these dates are because it can get confusing. In some parts of Africa the peak safari season is in their winter and this is when prices are higher. The drier winters offer better wildlife viewing because there is less vegetation and grasses are lower.
Hint no. 5 Should we choose all inclusive?
This could be a definite advantage because you leave home knowing exactly what your meals are going to cost. This could be a disadvantage if you are less than satisfied with the meals at the hotel, resort or lodge. If you are in a remote camp in the middle of the Okavango Delta, Botswana (accessible only by air) then you obviously have no choice, but if you are in a city you might want to decide to eat local. This way you can experience local food and keep a varied diet throughout your honeymoon.
Hint no. 6 Transportation
The hotel or lodge may offer a free transfer from the airport. Remember one of our first hints, ask a lot of questions. Certain room categories may include transfers, or you may want to mention that you are a honeymoon couple and this qualifies you for a transfer. Alternatively find out prior to your arrival what a cab will cost, maybe there are public airport trains, shuttles or buses that are cheaper. Whatever your choice make sure you have educated yourself on whom to trust. If possible book the transfers ahead of time; again this is where a travel agent is invaluable because they will know who to book with. Alternatively ask your hotel for some references.
Hint no. 7 The hotel room
It is true that we all want a little luxury in our hotel room but sometimes a little sacrifice on room category can yield big savings. Consider how much time you will actually be spending in your room. Perhaps you are more of a night owl and you will both be in the hotel lounge, casino or at a show at night. During the day you will be at the beach, on safari or on an excursion so perhaps that room with the view and the higher price tag is not as important. Room sizes and amenities are also factors to look at. The bigger the room the more it will cost. The in room Jacuzzi or hot tub is also going to cost you. In fact any extras, such as turn downs, rose petals on your sheets, chocolate or wine are all extra and may be items you can eliminate from the hotel bill. Perhaps add them to your honeymoon registry and someone can give these little ‘pamperings’ to you as a gift.
Hint no. 8 Personal detail
If you have a medical or dietary concern, please be up front with your travel agent or the hotel you are staying at. This way they can make sure they are prepared for arrival. Another very important factor to divulge is whether you are a same sex couple. Even in this modern day and age there are properties that will not allow same sex couples to book into the establishment. There are also a handful of countries to avoid for same sex couples. In Africa, it is Uganda for example.
Hint no. 9 Volunteer
This is more of a suggestion and less of a hint, but if you are the type of couple who loves to give back and who would like to experience local culture, then consider a volunteer program. You can volunteer at a Shark program, children’s home or at a youth sports program. You have the unique opportunity to really delve into the local way of life, and there will be nothing touristy about your experience. Imagine the unique stories you will take home with you.
Hint no. 10 Talk to the locals
When you reach your destination you can still find ways to save. Talk to hotel staff and other locals. Find out where the less touristy shopping areas are, you are bound to get cheaper prices there. Find out if the country you are visiting encourages haggling or bartering. Morocco is a great country for haggling and you might want to hire a personal shopper to help with language and price. Zimbabwe and Zambia are two countries where you might be able to barter with baseball caps, school supplies or T shirts. Ask your agent for more information and best practices.
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Author: Principle writer – Celeste Wilson
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