Our Tips: Being a Well-Informed Honeymoon Shopper
Whether you book your honeymoon with us or elsewhere, we hope these tips will help you make smart, well-informed travel decisions.
If these tips sound like we’re promoting using a travel agent, well, it’s true: booking a honeymoon to a far-off exotic location is a very different matter from booking a domestic business trip, where you’re mostly just looking to get there quickly and have a comfortable room. This is likely the most important vacation you’ll ever plan … if ever there’s a time to take advantage of expert advice in planning travel, this is it!
Don’t Pay All At Once
If you book your trip yourself online on one of the big internet travel sites, you are generally required to pay for the entire trip at the time of booking. With packages from TheBigDay, you pay a small deposit when you make the booking and the balance between 30 and 60 days prior to your departure (depending on the supplier).
Make Sure You’re Comparing “Apples to Apples”
Don’t just compare the price for seven nights at a given resort: often wholesalers will create packages that include a rental car, or a romantic dinner, or an upgraded view … and that package, while a little more expensive, may actually be a much better deal than another deal that appears cheaper.
Watch for the following to be included in one package but not another: taxes, airport fees, breakfast. Also pay attention to what class of room is included.
Season matters: most destinations have a peak season and an offseason. Travel agencies (including ourselves) will generally advertise a package with the price listed as “7 nights starting from $”. To show an attractive and competitive price, you should expect that to be the off season price. Peak season prices can be as much as double! Certain other times of the year are generally more expensive (regardless of the weather) such as Christmas and Thanksgiving.
Here’s a tip: while you probably won’t change your wedding date just to match a destination’s off season, please realize that different destinations can have different off seasons, depending on which side of the equator they’re on, regional weather patterns, etc.
Not All Flights Are Created Equal
The cheapest flight is not always a bargain! Too many connections will leave you exhausted and put a damper on the first day of your honeymoon. Also, know what the connecting airports are like at the time of year you’re travelling. You don’t want to sit around SFO airport for 9 extra hours waiting for the next flight to Hawaii because your flight into SFO was delayed due to fog … sound like personal experience? It is … *sigh*
Different airlines have substantially different on time track records. Travel agents who travel a lot themselves know this, and won’t set you up for a short connection when they know your inbound flight is often significantly late.
Often in exotic destinations, you’ll transfer from a main airport to a more regional one. Make sure these transfer tickets are included in packages you compare! And, make sure you or someone you trust knows the reputation of the local airline company. You want that portion of your journey to be as safe as any other!
Have Current Knowledge of the Resorts
Don’t book a resort that you — or someone you trust — doesn’t know firsthand. You can count on every hotel’s brochure to show their very best views … and perhaps those best views were from a few years ago before another hotel was built right in the middle of that view ;-). Some very well-known brand names are also well-known for heavy retouching of the photos in their brochures!
Think about what kind of resort it is: a gorgeous, luxurious hotel that caters to families is going to make it difficult to have that quiet, romantic dinner or that peaceful afternoon nap in the hammock on the beach. Also, what’s great for Mom and Dad’s vacation might not be great for you! This is especially important when considering all-inclusives and cruises, as different ones target families, couples, seniors, etc.
Use Your “Honeymoon Leverage”
Many resorts will go out of their way for honeymooners: room upgrades, free bottles of champagne, flowers, a free dinner – these sorts of freebies are relatively common. Some of the upscale international hotel chains have programs whereby travel agents who are members of their program can request a free amenity or upgrade for their honeymoon couples.
Don’t be afraid to let hotels or travel agents know that this is your honeymoon: yes, the travel industry DOES market heavily to honeymooners, but you’re much more likely to get a bonus because of it than you are to be overcharged or taken advantage of. A thoroughly experienced travel agent who specializes in your destination can help you get more for your honeymoon budget this way.
The strength of your country’s currency compared to where you’re going makes a huge difference. In some popular destinations, that lovely tropical umbrella drink is now twice as much as a couple of years ago! You’re somewhat protected from these sorts of surprises when you’re on a cruise or at an all-inclusive.
Call us for exchange rates and currency conversions.
Choose a Person, Not an Agency
Just because some monstrous travel agency has sent thousands of people to your chosen destination doesn’t necessarily mean that the person they’ll assign to you knows a thing about that destination! Make sure that the person you’re working with is truly an expert in your destination.
And that brings up another point: make sure you have one person who’s responsible for your trip, so if there are any issues or things you need to change, you have someone who already knows all your details already…and someone who’s specifically accountable to YOU.
Travel Insurance Makes Sense
Life has a way of handing out little surprises: things with work, weather, or your family can happen at the last minute and require you to move your honeymoon out a week or so. Without travel insurance, you’re often simply out the money. Travel insurance is inexpensive, and for this important a trip, it makes good sense.
Similar but Lesser Known Destinations
Often, destinations you’ve heard about or seen featured on TV will be more expensive than other similar but less heavily marketed destinations. This is especially true in the South Pacific and the Caribbean. Hotels that spend huge amounts of money on TV campaigns simply have to make their money back somewhere!
A well travelled, seasoned travel agent who really specializes in a region will know this, and know the little-known islands with the same charm as the better-known ones.
Newly opened resorts: often brand new resorts will offer spectacular deals in order to get awareness with travel agents and customers. If your travel agent really stays on top of what’s happening in their destination, they’ll know about these sorts of deals.