It's been 365 (awesome, difficult, surprising, amazing) days of wedded life, and now it's time to whip out the top tier of your wedding cake for good luck and plan a celebration in honor of one year of marriage. While couples traditionally give one another a "paper"-inspired gift for the first anniversary, you and your partner might want to book a romantic getaway instead. It's the perfect way to sit back, relax, snuggle, and soak up all the good that's happened in the past year together. Thinking of planning your own first wedding anniversary vacation? Here, travel agents share their expertise on the biggest mistakes couple make when booking this meaningful trip, and how you can avoid it.
They pay too much for airfare.
While it seems crazy that you'd ever forget that date that you spent so much time and energy (and, ahem, cold hard cash) preparing for, your milestone first anniversary has a way of sneaking up on you. If you find yourself a month out from your wedding date and know you'd really like to get out of town to celebrate, travel agent Malena Cahall says you might pay more than you need to on airfare. This is especially true if you'll be packing a passport in your carry-on. "A good rule of thumb for international flights is to start looking for deals roughly two to three months out, depending on where in the world you are headed. For domestic trips, it's a good idea to keep an eye on flights starting about six weeks out. There are even programs that will notify you when airfare drops," she explains.
They travel over a holiday.
Between your vacation days and your partner's, you only have so many long weekends and PTO days to use. When you factor in the slew of holidays, bachelorette and bachelor parties, and weddings you have to attend, there is a very limited window during which you can truly escape your day-to-day routine and go on vacay. To make sure you're maximizing your time and budget, Cahall says to avoid traveling during the most expensive times, like around a holiday or in the summer. "Airfare rates vary greatly depending on the season. For instance, flights will be much higher at peak travel times. Take that into consideration when deciding when to take your trip and you'll save a bundle on flight prices," she explains.
They forget to change their name on any travel documents.
If you've decided to change your last name when you got married, you have to do more than just say, "I do." Making your new surname official is quite the process, and includes a trip to the DMV, the Social Security Office, and filing several new forms. Whew. Travel agent Greg Antonelle says to get started on this ASAP after your honeymoon, and make sure the entire process is complete well before you start planning your anniversary trip.
"For women or men who have changed their last names, if you are planning on traveling overseas and haven't updated your passport with your new last name, make sure you check with the consular section of every country you intend to visit to ask if this will be a problem," he says. "The best way around this is to get your passport renewed with your new last name. If your current passport is less than a year old then there is no fee for this, but passports older than one year will need to pay the appropriate fees. Not having your passport updated with your new last name, can cause delays and missed flights, which is not the way you want start your first anniversary vacation."
They overschedule the trip.
As much as you want to create a checklist and plan all of your must-see monuments, museums, and landmarks while on your anniversary vacation, Cahall says some of the magic of traveling can be lost if you plan out every hour of the day. "Leave room in the itinerary for free time! If you are a chronic over-planner who tries to cram as many activities into your trip as possible, just remember to leave some time for spontaneity. If you have too many activities booked, you may end up feeling rushed and become stressed, which is not what you want," she says. "Leave time for leisure activities like shopping, relaxing, and exploring."