Plan a successful trip by taking advice from the professionals.

By Helen Sondag
December 17, 2019
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Your honeymoon is the first major vacation you'll take as a married couple, so it should be romantic and relaxing. But organizing a stress-free getaway of any kind is tough—especially while simultaneously planning your wedding. To help, we tapped travel agents who specialize in honeymoons for their top tips. Here's what the professional trip-planners wish brides and grooms knew before putting together their honeymoon itineraries.

Crowdsource suggestions, but focus on what you want.

Your honeymoon is just that: yours. Well, yours and your partner's. It's not for your friends, it's not for your Instagram followers, and it's certainly not for your parents. While it's nice to seek out some suggestions for spots to check out, you have to think about what you want before you start planning. "Close your eyes and envision yourself on your honeymoon," suggests Jack S. Ezon, founder and managing partner at Embark, a travel agency in New York City. "Are you walking hand in hand on a quaint cobblestone alley? Sitting at an open air café? Rappelling down a waterfall? Painting an orphanage? Snuggling up on a hammock above an azure sea? Once you get these down on paper, work backwards. If you both like adventure and culture, being on a deserted island for two weeks may be amazing for your friends but brutal for you."

Compromise.

Marriage requires some give and take, and for those with different interests, that includes how you'll spend your holiday. Hopefully, each person is willing to sacrifice some things in order to make the other happy. "Remember, this is your honeymoon so it is very important to think about each other and balance each of your passions," Ezon explains.

Give yourselves time to recover.

Yes, tradition (and Hollywood) calls for jetting off immediately after the sendoff, but times change. It's okay to take a break between the wedding and honeymoon. "Many brides and grooms do not realize how exhausted they will be if they depart for their honeymoon directly after their wedding," says Kristen Korey Pike, founder and CEO of Georgia-based KK Travels Worldwide. "It might make sense to take a delayed honeymoon or consider an easy-to-reach destination."

Consider the logistics.

On that note, try to envision how far you're going and how long it'll take to get there. Timing (and other required travel logistics) is everything. "An important question that should be considered is: Do I really want to spend 36 hours getting to Bali after the stress of the wedding?" Pike says.

Take it slow.

It's tempting to try to pack a lot of pit stops into your plans, and multi-destination honeymoons can certainly work, but both experts caution against cramming too much into one getaway. "If you are leaving right after your wedding, start off on a slow pace, preferably at a resort," Ezon advises. "You just went through an incredible milestone event and will need time to let it all sink and recover from all those parties!"

Don't over-plan.

You're not going to be bored on your honeymoon (well at least, we hope not). But you'd be surprised how many of Ezon's clients are concerned about just that and end up scheduling endless activities, from sunrise horseback-riding to cooking classes to volcano-climbing, into the itinerary. "Almost all honeymooners end up canceling half of their activities, often at a significant price penalty, opting to sleep late or slow down their pace," he says. "We often work with clients to navigate what's important to book in advance and what you can wing on the spot based on seasonality, popularity, and length of activity."

Alternate between active and relaxing destinations.

It's probably possible to hit the honeymoon spots on your list, but do yourself a solid and space out the more strenuous stops. This might be cities where you know you'll be doing a lot of walking or adventurous rain-forest hiking and camping. Pad them with places you know you'll get some much-needed rest and relaxation (ahem, a spa). Likewise, you might not want to be at quiet seaside resorts for weeks at a time. "We don't like to weave too many beaches or cities back to back," Ezon explains. "The ideal for us is to start quiet, hit a city, then a recreational destination, city, and end on a beach."

Plan romantic touches.

Just because you're married doesn't mean you're done dating. Ezon recommends surprising each other with some personal touches, "whether it is her favorite drink on hand, floating rose petals and votives in your private pool, or a romantic private dinner with your wedding song." After all, it is your honeymoon, and romance should be the first priority.

Check the Almanac.

Travel is so dependent on the forecast, so you should research the weather in the area you want to visit for the time frame you intend to travel. It may sound obvious, but apparently it's not uncommon for couples to come to travel agents with dreams of a Caribbean honeymoon right in the middle of hurricane season. "Of course, weather today is unpredictable, but why go when the chances are high that you'll be stuck on a sleepy sandy island with lots of rain and nothing else to do?" Ezon asks. In the end, you'd be better off picking another location or postponing your honeymoon.

Consider a mini-moon.

Mini-moons have become more popular in recent years for this very reason. Often, the bride and groom's dream destination just isn't ideal around the time of the wedding. A short preliminary 'moon is a smart solution. "Relax in a romantic setting and take stock of what just happened in your life," Ezon advises. "Then head back to work and plan for the most amazing honeymoon in the most ideal season." Bonus: You can earn more vacation days, which may be running low after the big day. "Many of our clients will even do a mini-moon and plan their longer honeymoon based on when they can use their points for business or first class tickets to their destination," he continues.

Work with a travel advisor.

This trip is too important to take any chances. Talk through it with a pro, who can also advise on destinations and properties as well as negotiate rates and upgrades. "Remember," Ezon says, "you cannot VIP yourself!"

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