It has been a whirlwind past two months with so many “pinch me, is this real life?” moments that I can’t even count them all. I took a break from the blog to savor every minute of my final engaged days, prepare for the wedding and then completely detach for our ceremony and the nearly three week dream honeymoon. I couldn’t have asked for a better time in my life. I’ won’t forget the pure love emanating from family and friends along with my now husband. Or the fairy tale wedding which includes everything from the venue to the dress to the party itself. Oh and the honeymoon that still makes me drool when I look at the spectacular views. All of these were enough to keep me happy for a lifetime.
While everything went off without a hitch there was plenty (and I mean PLENTY) of planning that went into the wedding and honeymoon. Today I want to focus on building your dream vacation. I’m not going to tell you what locations to pick (although, I highly recommend everywhere we went). I’m also not going to tell you how much money you should try to spend. Everyone is so different so I want to stay away from the specifics and zone in on the actual planning process. I’ll throw in a few “to-do’s” to make your honeymoon that much more memorable.
The following list is my planning “musts” to a successful Honeymoon.
Pick your dream destination.
I know this one sounds like a no-brainer however; my husband and I spent countless hours researching where we wanted to go. This is a once in a lifetime trip after all. Believe me when I say it is magical and you want to spend it where you and your hubby are going to feel your happiest. For us, it came down to a few things.
- First, was picking locations that would give us the itinerary we wanted. This included a little of everything. We wanted to relax but, we are not people who can stay sedentary for too long. We love being near the water but, we also love history and places that are rich with it. The food and wine of the region was also very important to us. When picking your location think about what’s important to you. Is it laying at the beach? Is it being adventurous doing things like hiking and ziplining? Is it seeing a culture that is very different from our own? Everyone has their own idea of what is their “dream” vacation. Identify yours and go from there!
- Another exercise that was helpful for us was making a list of all places we want to go in our lifetime. We then broke them out into categories. Create your own buckets. They can include things such as long trips, short trips, blow out the bank trips, trips with/without kids, etc. Whatever categories might be relevant to you. This will help you visualize and narrow down a location based on budget, time length, and your family status.
- Lastly, the time of year was a much bigger factor than we imagined for picking a location. I originally was set on going to Thailand. But June is part of the monsoon season in South East Asia and it just wasn’t a risk we were willing to take. The weather factor narrowed down our location pool. Use it to help whittle your list. The last thing you want is a rained out honeymoon!
Taking all these factors into account we managed to get the best of all our worlds. Our first stop was relaxing on the water in Lake Como, Italy, then we moved on to exploring the rocky shoreline in the French Riviera. Next up was wine tasting and mountain views in Menerbes (in the Provence region of France) and we ended with some city exploring in Paris, France.
Use a travel agent!
I can’t stress this tip enough. This is coming from someone who is Type A, a compulsive planner, likes to do everything on my own, and researches things like going out to dinner as if I was planning my wedding. It’s hard to hand over the reins but I was still able to play such an active role in the process.
Using my initial research and ultimately some of my hand picked hotels paired with some spectacular suggestions from our travel agent, we curated our dream vacation. They are the experts after all!! The best part, the service is FREE!! Yes FREE. The hotels and vendors the agents use are the ones that pay their commissions. I used Sarah Halpern of SmartFlyer (She specializes in honeymoons) and with a $100 deposit that was put towards my trip she provided me with multiple itineraries that we paired down, tweeked, and finalized based on my budget, the locations we chose, and the activities we ultimately wanted.
She even booked all of our dinner reservations, spa appointments, and tours. Not to mention the agent’s relationships with hotels often lead to perks (we got free bottles of wine and room upgrades throughout our trip!!). USE THIS RESOURCE, I promise you won’t regret it.
Stop. Look. Listen. And Write.
When you finally make it to your honeymoon its time to detach, decompress, and enjoy each other’s company fully! Take every second to soak up the views. Listen to the waves, the city traffic, the animal noises or whatever natural symphony is surrounding you and let it be your soundtrack for your vacation. I’m going to say it again; no trip will ever compare or be this magical. Savor every second with your new hubby and your beautiful honeymoon surroundings.
Lastly, write it down. I’m a big supporter of travel journals. Take time to reflect. The journal is going to be so great to take out in five, ten, or even fifty years from now with your husband and read about the vacation of lifetime and relive it together. It also poses as a resource if you ever return for the sights and restaurants you visited.
No matter where you choose to go and no matter what budget you have your honeymoon will be amazing. But with the help of a little organization and extra hands in the planning it can only make it better!
I hope you all enjoy your dream vacations as much as I did! Stay tuned for special posts on each of the locations I visited coming soon!
…for the love of the dish