In just a few hours Ray and I will be traveling on our honeymoon to Europe! It’ll be my first international trip where I’m doing most of the planning. I consider Mexico and Canada neighbors, not requiring too much advanced planning and my last long haul flight was to the Philippines with my family in which my dear parents had planned. I’ve been asked a lot of the same questions when it came to planning our honeymoon so I wanted to share tips and tools that helped me during the planning process!
Since Ray and I both haven’t had the opportunity to visit a lot of the world, our list of places to go was crazy! Make a list of places you’d like to visit and do a preliminary round of research. This preliminary round can consist of when’s the best time to visit, $$$$, and is the location best enjoyed leisurely or is it full of adventure. There are many ways to narrow down this list, but those were a few of things we kept in mind while we were beginning to plan our honeymoon.
Initially we had dreamed of traveling up and down Croatia for two weeks. Another moment we were gazing at all the cuisine Italy had to offer and then it was always a dream of mine to visit Greece (thank you Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants). From our list that consisted of over a dozen destinations, we were able to narrow it down to three locations: Italy, Greece, and Croatia.
If you don’t already have a credit card that provides great travel incentives (think no foreign transaction fees and points for dollars spent), nows the time to consider signing up for one. I highly recommend checking out the Sapphire Reserve. We have benefited by using the Priority Pass at airport lounges (membership included!), $300 travel credit, and we’ve been able to use our sign up bonus points for hotel lodging and experiences through Chase. There are plenty of credit cards that will provide travel benefits, it’s just a matter of figuring out what works best for you and your needs.
Once you’ve figured out when the best time to visit your destination is (taking in to account personal and work schedules too), there should be a healthy range of dates to keep an eye out for travel deals with some flexibility. I love using a combination of sites and apps to help me figure out when to buy flight tickets. I checked Hopper to get an overview idea of what prices were looking like during the range of dates selected, tracked specific flights/dates through Kayak, and signed up for notifications from The Flight Deal for flight deals.
We booked our honeymoon flights based on a deal The Flight Deal had published — I signed up for notifications through Facebook and by email and I literally kept an eye out for any deal that involved Italy. Once a deal popped up, I followed the instructions given to see which airline was providing these deals and what dates it applied to. Because I had been tracking flights on Kayak and already had an idea of what flights typically cost through Hopper, I could determine whether or not it really was a good deal.
Kayak is my go-to when searching for the most affordable flights when traveling. The site offers ‘hacker deals’ in which it may suggest booking a one-way ticket with an airline and a return one-way ticket with another airline; basically giving you an extra option to consider. On the desktop site Kayak will advise you to buy now or wait for price drops. If you decide to wait you can track these flights and get notified when the price drops.
Another neat trick Kayak can do: track hotel prices.
Thank goodness for Tripadvisor! I love referring to the ‘Traveler Photos’ section when I’m looking to book hotels for domestic or international trips. The professional photos on the hotel’s website are staged and are meant to make you want to book a reservation. That’s where traveler photos come in — real people who are staying at the hotel share their unbiased photos and help give you a realistic insight at where you might be staying. Tripadvisor not only provides accommodation reviews, there are lists of things to do, places to see, restaurants to eat at, and pretty much a list for anything your traveler heart may want to inquire. I’ve found the Tripadvisor has been a great tool in planning for my upcoming honeymoon.
If you’ve be bitten by the wanderlust bug or need a book to inspire your inner jetsetter, I highly recommend taking a look at Why LA? Pourquoi Paris?, a full-color 272-page collectible art book, travel guide, and personal journey. The colorful, charming illustrations by Girat and Lu compare and contrast the foods, fashions, cultures, and cityscapes of L.A. and Paris. And, as an added bonus, precise GPS coordinates are included next to each illustrated page bringing the experience of these two incredible cities ‘off the page’ and into the real world.
There you have it, a few tips and tools to have in mind when you begin to plan your vacation, honeymoon, or even a quick getaway. As Mark Twain best says,
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in you sail. Explore. Dream. Discover.