How to choose the best destination for you

This story first appeared in the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of Columbus Weddings, published December 2018.

After an emotional and memorable day with family and friends, the newly married couple’s honeymoon is the ideal way to relax and celebrate a new life together. But sometimes narrowing down a honeymoon location can be overwhelming—do you want to go somewhere new or tried-and-true? To relax or get your adrenaline racing? To ski or surf? Save the eenie, meenie, miney, moe for another time; these newlyweds and local experts have tips to help you make your decision.

First Things First

Caryn Coomer of Calyco Travel says she tells couples to first consider the time of year for the trip, how long they’ll be gone and how much they can spend.

“If you have a higher-end budget and two weeks’ time, then Tahiti could be included in that, but if you have a lower budget and only want to be gone for a long weekend, then obviously Tahiti can’t be included,” she says.

Jennifer Kon of Compass Travel recommends homing in on the things you know you want and the things that are deal-breakers. She also encourages couples to consider honeymoon locations earlier in the wedding planning process, rather than waiting until the last minute, to snag the best-possible deal.

Alexandria Theodosopoulos-Plaster and Jesse Plaster booked a honeymoon in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, after a friend recommended the location. Neither of them had been there before, and they liked the idea of experiencing a new place together.

“We both really liked that everything was there for us,” Theodosopoulos-Plaster says of the all-inclusive resort they stayed in. “You didn’t have to carry stuff around [or] worry about money. You could relax, and there was lots of entertainment.”

For other couples considering destinations, she recommends looking at reviews and relying on friends’ recommendations—as she and Plaster did—to figure out what will work best. A resort or a hotel might have a great website with beautiful photos, but hearing about the experience from other travelers can give you a better feel for how your visit will go.

Research the Best Times

Theodosopoulos-Plaster and Plaster traveled just after their February 2018 wedding, successfully avoiding hurricane season, but other couples aren’t always so lucky.

Kon says many people aren’t aware hurricane season—June through November—also happens in the Pacific, affecting those in Hawaii. Traveling to tropical climes in hurricane season can be a risk, of course, which is often reflected in better prices on airfare and hotel rooms.

“That’s something to think about,” Kon says. “I don’t say rule that out entirely—there are a lot of great deals in the fall because of hurricane season, and families aren’t traveling as much with kids back in school—but that’s just something to keep in mind.”

Europe is another location to research in terms of travel dates. Kon says although it’s an excellent destination for history, certain sites and hotels will be closed in the colder months. August, when much of the European Union goes on holiday, may be another time to avoid.

For couples on a budget, Kon suggests Cancun’s all-inclusive resorts that take the guesswork out of ancillary expenses. And because there are so many flights in and out of the region, prices stay competitive. For mid-range travel, she suggests Jamaica or Aruba, recommending Europe or Bora Bora for those looking to spare no expense.

Be mindful of whether your destination requires a visa, Kon says, which should be applied for at least a few months in advance. You can search your destination on the U.S. Department of State’s website, travel.state.gov, to determine whether you’ll need one.

Consider Less Common Options

Kon says Iceland has become popular for its dramatic scenery—and extra-long daylight hours—in the spring and summer. She also suggests Croatia for travelers who have visited many of the more popular destinations and are looking for something different.

Couples who have been to the Caribbean before should consider Ireland, Italy and Greece as alternatives, Coomer says. Another lesser-known destination is Isla Holbox, a Mexican island near Cancun.

“There are no all-inclusive properties there, but a lot of boutique options, so [for] people who would want a little bit more of an untouched private island, that’s a great choice,” Coomer says. “That’s nice too because Cancun is so easy to get in and out of, especially for people in Columbus.”

She also recommends the Azores, an autonomous collection of Portuguese islands, in the Atlantic Ocean.

“There are lots of active things to do; it’s very lush and tropical,” Coomer says.

Give and Take

If your new spouse is an adrenaline junkie and you’re more of a drinks-by-the-pool type, all hope is not lost.

“I try to meet in the middle with couples,” Coomer says. “I have even talked with honeymoon couples about putting together a five-year plan and saying, ‘We’ll do this place this year and do this place in a couple years.’”

And if the trip is a longer one, Kon suggests going to two locations, which is what Jaime and David Scott did. They opted for a honeymoon in Spain and Ireland after their July, 1, 2017, wedding.

“I’m a Spanish teacher; I lived in Spain for a little bit in 2012, and I wanted to go back,” Jaime says. “My husband had never been to Europe, and we both wanted to go to Ireland and visit Dublin to see what it’s like.”

They planned the nine-day trip themselves, but one thing they hadn’t accounted for was jetlag, Jaime says.

“We had just come off the wedding high; as soon as everything was settled, we were exhausted. And there was six-hour time difference in Spain and five in Ireland,” compared to Eastern Standard Time, she says. “We were completely dead the first couple days we got there.”

Jaime suggests couples make a plan for what they will do each day, especially if they’re going to an unknown city and want to explore. Consider which sites you’d like to visit, what restaurants are nearby and the transportation arrangements you’ll need to make.

“There are so many destinations people can meet in the middle on,” Coomer says. “It’s possible for one person that wants to be in a city and experience the food and culture to compromise with someone who just wants to sit on the beach and be catered to. If you plan it out ahead of time, you can meet in the middle more than you might think.” ?