So you have spent the past however many months planning for your wedding, and the day has finally come and gone. Now you have just hours to pack for your honeymoon. What should you do? What should you bring? What should you leave behind? To make things simpler for you, here is a comprehensive guide to your honeymoon to make it as stress free as possible.
When do we go?
Do not leave for your honeymoon the morning after your wedding. Give yourself a day in between. This will make everything far less stressful for you. It gives you the option of having a brunch the day after your wedding so you can spend a little more time with all your guests who have come from near and far to see you. Also it will likely mean you get to fly out on a weekday instead of a weekend, so rates will be cheaper.
Where should you go?
For many couples this is their one chance for a dream vacation and they splurge and go all out. While others may be concerned about breaking the bank after they just paid off all their wedding expenses. Budget can play a big role in your chosen destination, but it doesn’t mean you are limited to staying close to home. Many beautiful countries in Central and South America provide tropical paradises at budget friendly prices. Costa Rica is fabulous for those who love to hike and go to the beach. Mexico offers tons of cool archeological sites and stunning white sand beaches with all inclusive resorts that make it easier to contain costs.
For my own honeymoon I went to Hawaii, specifically Oahu, Kauai, and the Big Island. We stayed for 10 days. My husband Matt and I reminisce about that trip all the time. It was truly spectacular. It is the number one spot for honeymooners for a reason, no question. Since it is such a hotspot for honeymooners I will give you my inside scoop on Hawaii at the end of this post. When you get down to it though, just about any location that allows you to get away from it all so that the two of you can just be together will be perfect.
What should you do?
Be sure to pick a location that has activities for both of you. You’ll want there to be things for you to do together and things for you to do apart (a round of golf for him while you get pampered at the spa before you go to a romantic dinner for the two). I suggest you pick some activities that push you a little out of your comfort zone, but nothing too extreme, no one needs to be going home in a full body cast! My husband and I did an ATV ride and even tried a free scuba diving lesson in the pool at our hotel and became totally hooked! We later went on to become certified divers and now it is one of our favorite things to do together. We also went on a helicopter tour which was so beautiful and really exhilarating. If you two love skiing or snowboarding more than anything pick a spot where you can do that. A ski chalet with a roaring fire can be every bit as romantic as a tropical spot. No matter where you go or what you choose to do, you will likely need to plan some activities in advance as they require reservations but don’t over schedule yourself. Leave time for you to be spontaneous or to just relax in each other’s arms.
What should I leave behind?
So before we talk about what to bring, I think it is more important to talk about what you should leave behind. The first mistake almost everyone makes, including Matt and I, is you wear your wedding rings on the trip. You have only just gotten them on, and it feels really weird to take them off! But trust me, you will thank me for this one. Many times the rings are not sized properly at first, this can lead to EASY losses of your rings. Also many precious metals are fairly soft. Now that so many honeymooners are going on more active adventure vacations this can be a recipe for a scratched or bent ring. The first waterfall Matt and I swam out to on our trip required me to grab onto some volcanic rock. Right then and there my new gleaming wedding band was scratched up. As you go through the rest of your life there will be lots of activities you do that may be not the greatest for your rings. The gym and lifting weights can play real havoc on your wedding bands. So what I would suggest you do is purchase inexpensive rings that you can wear when doing these types of activities or just leave your rings at home. CZ engagement rings exist for exactly this purpose. Bands for men can be found in stainless steel or titanium for under $20. That way you can still come back with a wedding band tan line, but without the fear of losing the real things that have so much sentimental (and monetary) value.
What should I bring?
Your destination of choice will dictate most of what you bring, but some things apply to just about every honeymoon.
Medications: Any medications you normally take or might need to take, like prescription meds, asthma inhalers, Tylenol, Advil, Dramamine, Uristat, or Benadryl. Band-aids are often in high demand as well if you are going on a trip that involves a lot of walking or hiking. In that same vein, a small first aid kit is great to have along. One of our wedding guests had the foresight to get us a backpack, waterproof flash lights, a travel size first aid kit, and a quick drying mini towel. To our surprise, we used every one of these items during our honeymoon trip to Hawaii.
Contraception: Unless you are planning to start trying for a baby right away, you should bring your preferred method of contraception with you. You do not want to be in the jungles of Costa Rica searching for a store selling condoms or a pharmacy to fill your birth control pills. Along similar lines, if you are prone to urinary tract infections you may want to ask your doctor to provide you with a prescription to have with you pre-filled for antibiotics. You can tell them you are concerned about getting “honeymooner’s UTI” while on your trip. They will know exactly what you are talking about without having to get into the embarrassing specifics.
iPad, iPod, or iPhone to play music with a playlist of your favorite romantic songs.
Camera: Bring plenty of memory cards and look into a waterproof digital camera. You may want to leave the big DSLR you got as a gift at home if you are worried it is going to be too heavy for you to bring around with you. Nowadays you can get “tough” point and shoot digital cameras that will function pretty well both underwater, and on land. Below is a shot we took with ours of a sea turtle.
Appropriate footware: Keens or water shoes are a must for adventure honeymoons. We got ours on our honeymoon in Hawaii and still use them. These will save your toes big time and you can wear them in the water and they dry out quickly. I found them to have better traction than water shoes.
Passport: this seems obvious, but you absolutely will need to remember it if you are going out of the country. Also have xerox copies and scanned copies of it in your email on the off chance it gets stolen on your trip.
What should I buy there?
Sunblock, snorkel gear, towels, and food at a local grocery store. This will allow you to get some usable souvenirs and have them take up less space in your bag. Getting food there will also really help you cut down on costs instead of eating every meal out.
Honolulu on Oahu is where most planes fly into from the mainland. To me Honolulu felt much more like South Beach in Miami than how I expected Hawaii to be. The traffic there rivals some of the mainland’s busiest cities. The northern part of Oahu is much more lush and laid back. If you are a real foodie, I suggest you check out Alan Wong’s Honolulu. While the location doesn’t look like much, it’s the 3rd floor of an office building, the food and its presentation will make you think you are in heaven. Let them know in advance that it is your honeymoon, they will likely make a menu special just for the two of you that night and the chef will sign the menu for you. The address is 1857 S. King St., Honolulu, HI 96826 and the phone number is 808-949-2526. One of the main attractions in Honolulu is Pearl Harbor. While this is a site worth going to, I wouldn’t make it the first stop on your honeymoon. Matt and I made that mistake, and it isn’t exactly the most romantic of ways to start off your vacation! Instead do it on one of your last days in Oahu. Then be sure to island hop. You can get cheap flights between the islands.
We adored our time on Kauai and the Big Island. Much of that success was due in part to some amazing guidebooks a friend gave us who had just returned from a honeymoon to Hawaii. The Hawaii Revealed books are an absolute must if you go there on your honeymoon. They are an insider’s guide to the islands. It took us to AMAZING restaurants and beaches we never would have found if we had just followed the beaten path. You can get these books on the islands but I suggest getting them advance from Amazon for a huge discount and they are great reading for your plane ride there. Get them in paperback edition, rather than kindle form, as you’ll want to have them with you on many fun treks you’ll go on in Hawaii that your kindle probably won’t be along for the ride on.
The most romantic part of our trip was definitely on the Big Island. A big part of that was our choice to stay in the bamboo guest house at the volcano rainforest retreat. It is a bed and breakfast nestled in a rain forest near volcano national park and is run by a sweet couple from California. Every morning we would awake to a fresh delivery of warm muffins and baked goods. Each guest house is surrounded by so much vegetation that you have COMPLETE privacy from the other guest houses.
Our cottage had its own private outdoor Japanese soaking tub as well as a large jacuzzi tub inside. There was no cable tv, just an extensive movie and music collection. It was the perfect environment to just relax and enjoy time together in. While on the Big Island we also went on an evening trip to the summit of mauna kea. It is so high up it is above the cloud line. It makes for a sunset unlike any other you have ever witnessed. The bare red rock all around makes you feel like you have landed on a whole different planet.
Once the sun goes down be ready for a show unlike anything you have ever seen before. Because you are above the cloud line and far from light pollution, mauna kea is home to some of the greatest star gazing in the world. Many large research telescopes are located there. But the views you can even see with your own naked eye are stunning. Add in a telescope set up by one of the tour groups and you will see things you have only ever seen in books and on tv. Spiraling galaxies, the milky way, and so much more. It was a sight to behold and it was breath taking. Getting to experience that with Matt is something I will always treasure.
We loved every minute of our honeymoon in Hawaii and look forward to some day going back again to see even more of this amazing paradise.