Between paying for the wedding and setting up a new household, many couples find there’s not much money left in their budget for the honeymoon. But who says you have to spend a fortune to enjoy a romantic honeymoon at your dream destination? Here are eight ideas for a more affordable, yet still romantic, honeymoon.
1. Ask for the gift of a honeymoon
You can defray the cost of your honeymoon, or perhaps even cover the cost entirely, by listing it on a honeymoon gift registry. A honeymoon registry works just like a wedding registry, but instead of buying you china your wedding guests buy you a trip to China (or the honeymoon destination of your choice). Yes, your guests could just contribute cash toward your honeymoon, but giving a particular portion of the honeymoon (dinner at a fancy restaurant, or a carriage ride through the historic district of a far-off city, for example) is somehow more meaningful. You’ll find a number of honeymoon registries online; theBigDay.com and theHoneymoon.com are two of the most established.
2. Exchange homes
If you prefer to mingle with the locals rather than other tourists, look into a home exchange for your honeymoon. In a nutshell, you go stay in someone else’s house while they stay in yours. Sound risky? Maybe—but tens of thousands of people have exchanged homes since the 1950s. For an annual membership fee (usually around $50), home exchange clubs open the door to thousands of people from around the world who are interested in swapping homes. You could probably find a home exchange partner on your own, but the home exchange clubs offer tools to help the exchange goes smoothly. According to ExchangeHomes.com, a home exchange can cut your travel costs by as much as half. More importantly, though, you’ll get to live like locals, and perhaps make life-long friends.
3. Rely on the hospitality of others
Hospitality clubs can hook you up with people who are willing to host you in their private homes; the largest such club has more than 23,000 members in 148 countries. Membership is usually free, although you’re asked to provide hospitality to others (on a voluntary basis) sometime in the future. In addition to saving you money, it’s a great way to meet locals who can give you an insider’s perspective on your honeymoon destination. Other places you can look for free or reduced-cost accommodations include hostels (they’re not just for the young and single anymore) and monasteries and convents, some of which open their doors to guests for little or no charge.
4. Win a free honeymoon
"Nothing in life is free"—unless you win a free honeymoon vacation in a promotional sweepstakes or contest. Quite a few travel agencies and other companies run contests giving away honeymoon vacations as a way of promoting their services.
The odds of winning a free honeymoon may be remote, but the cost of entering is usually just the time you spend searching the web for “honeymoon contest” and filling out online entry forms.
5. Go camping
Firelight and shooting stars every night . . . breathtaking natural beauty . . . snuggling with your honey in a cocoon of zipped-together sleeping bags . . . . Yes, camping can be romantic, as long you’re well prepared and have the right equipment (warm sleeping bags, a comfortable mattress pad, and a waterproof tent are a must). Plus, it’s pretty cheap--$10 to $20 per night at most locations. It’s even cheaper if you cook your own food. You can mix a few nights of camping with a few nights in hotels to make your honeymoon more affordable. And don’t overlook the rustic (but cheap) cabins available for rent at many state and national parks. Some even offer a honeymoon cabin!
6. Travel in the off season
It may be obvious to seasoned travelers, but those with less experience may not be aware of how affordable it can be to honeymoon in the off season: basically, any time other than when most people travel to your destination. Certain destinations’ accommodation and airfare prices may be slashed by 30 percent or more during the off-season compared to the peak travel season. Traveling in the off season doesn’t necessarily mean enduring wintry weather. Fall and spring usually offer discounted rates as well.
7. Consider your airline alternatives
When booking airfare online, don’t overlook the discount airlines (Southwest, Song, jetBlue, and so on); some are not listed on the big travel portal websites, even though they might have a lower fare to your destination. Also be sure to compare rates for alternate airports within a reasonable traveling distance. You might live half an hour from a major airport, but the smaller airport a couple hours away might have substantially lower fares, perhaps saving you hundreds of dollars. Finally, be flexible about your arrival and departure dates; the major travel portals all have options to search for the cheapest flights within a range of dates. Any one of these alternatives could potentially save you hundreds of dollars.
8. Check budget travel newsletters
If you’re not picky about where you honeymoon, you can probably cash in on promotional deals offering deep discounts on airfare and lodging—if you know about them. To stay abreast of the latest offers, sign up with as many free budget travel newsletters as you can. Start by signing up with the budget travel newsletters offered by Frommers.com, About.com, and MSNBC.