Our Thrifty(ish) Honeymoon

>> 8.03.2012

Okay, so things are quite "blog finished" in the rental apartment. After driving all the way to IKEA last weekend, I ended up coming back without a shelf component. We've been too busy to go back again (happy birthday to Nate) so I won't have the finished pics this week. Soon!

As I mentioned earlier, after nine months of marriage, we finally went on our honeymoon this past May. It was an especially overdue vacation because Nate and I had never taken a "real" vacation (we only traveled to visit relatives) in the time we've been together! We had originally talked about going to Hawaii, but changed our tune after paying for our wedding and buying our new house.

Hawaii appealed to us because we knew it would be an easy (no passport/ English speaking/ safe) and memorable (culture-rich/ drastic change in scenery/ not something we could do every year) choice. At the same time, we realized that no matter how we crunched the numbers, Hawaii was going to be a $5,000+ trip the way we wanted to plan it. So, the challenge was to get an experience similar to the $5,000 one we originally wanted, but save money somehow! Oh, and Nate wanted to snorkel to it had to be near the water :).

snorkeling: check!

ps Here's the cool snorkeling platform 400 meters from shore. Nate's thing was snorkeling while I wanted to do glass bottom kayaking. Somehow I managed to get seasick on the kayak, the platform, the ferry, and the bus :).

The first decision that we made in the process was to do the trip in May directly after doing our Ironman. We knew that we'd be ready for relaxing at that point! Plus, being near the Houston airport, we would have many more flights to choose from and probably cheaper prices compared to flying out of Austin. From there, I matched up my "easy and memorable" selection criteria with possible destinations. 

Thrifty Little Tip: Consider your travel options before choosing your destination...

For us, Bermuda quickly rose to the top of our list for several reasons:
*Airfare costs: At the time (gas prices have changes since), we were able to find flights for just under $500 where Hawaii was closer to $750. Savings = $500 (together)
*Travel time: The flights available to us were much shorter than the ones to Hawaii and among the shortest travel time to the other "easy and memorable" islands on our list. Savings = 6 hours
*Safety: It doesn't get much safer than Bermuda. This meant that we were able to take advantage of exploring the island without having to worry about no tourist zones.
*No rental cars: They don't even allow them, but scooters are available. They have a really great bus and ferry service that can get you anywhere on the tiny island and we went that route. Savings = around $200
culture: check!

*Culture: It's a whole different country, but it's a British territory so English is the primary language spoken there.
 *Shoulder season: Bermuda isn't a tropical island so they experience colder temperatures in the winter and warmer temps in the summer. We were able to take advantage of this by visiting the week before the summer season started. Savings = $400
 bonus culture: we were there on Bermuda Day (their start to summer) and got to see half the island racing by one morning

Thrifty Little Tip: Limit your hotel stay. Fly in as early as possible and then leave as late in the day as you can. My opinion: fewer days in quality hotel > more days in so-so hotel

the ocean view from our room... we could see fish swimming in the water from here!

I knew going into this trip that people get the most happiness out of planning for their vacations and that the duration of the trip didn't matter all that much... so we decided to do a four night trip instead of the more popular seven night honeymoon. We scheduled the trip so that we would arrive well before dinner on the first day and then leave later in the afternoon on our last day. These additional hours really made it feel like we had spent more time on the island than did because we didn't waste away time traveling. The amount of time that we were there was perfect because we were able to see the entire island and enjoy ourselves on our travel days- we even snorkeled on the same day that we left!

Thrifty Little Trip: Get the inclusive plans for your sanity and your budget. The all-inclusive and meal plans that hotels offer don't always necessarily save you money because local restaurants often charge less, BUT they do make your travel budget very predictable and your meals less stressful once the waiter brings the check :).

With the destination set, I made things really easy on myself by booking the #1 rated hotel on tripadvisor that claimed to have good food, views, and easy access to the ocean for snorkeling. I knew that it would be a mood killer to have to sign checks for each meal (island food = $$$) so I went for the American meal plan that included breakfast and dinner and it was sooo worth it!

our hotel

In the end, our trip wasn't "cheap" at all, but I would consider it to be thrifty because we got a lot of value for the experience that we got from our money. I don't plan on doing a full budget breakdown because I didn't save all of the small receipts, but the airfare after taxes/ baggage was $1,150 for both of us and the hotel was $2,350 including breakfast and dinner. There were a few other small costs here and there, but we hit both our experience and budget goal at somewhere between $3,500-3,750. Again, I know that we could have done Hawaii at that price, but not with the experience that I wanted.

Has anyone else considered the travel options before selecting the destination? Where did you end up going?


the cape on the corner August 7, 2012 at 9:35 AM  

i have starred this in my reader so that i could go back and comment, and i've finally remembered to check that section. this looks amazing. the hotel, the view, the water...all gorgeous!

Someday I'll Learn August 11, 2012 at 1:50 AM  

How fun! MY Nate and I went on a cruise to Alaska, which saved us a ton of money since cruises fees cover all food and lodging expenses. Plus, we flew to the port on my mom's guest flight passes so we saved on airfare. However, we do prefer on-land hotel stays because you get to experience the sights and culture on a much deeper level that way. In the future, I'd only do a cruise in Europe...I hear that they're small and intimate and spend a lot of time docked.

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