Is it still a honeymoon if it takes place 11 months after the wedding? Xavier and I think so! As all married folk (and soon-to-be married people) know, weddings are far more expensive than they should be. My husband and I simply didn’t have the money or the time off from work after the wedding to do an all-out honeymoon.
Xavier and I spent a few days after the wedding at Redington Beach, Florida, soaking up the sun (okay, getting sunburnt) and enjoying the beautiful weather (jk, Tropical Storm Colin had a good laugh about that). As you might imagine, that wasn’t entirely fulfilling! We knew we would need to save, plan and (sadly) wait to take the vacation of our dreams.
Saving Money for the Honeymoon
Instead of a traditional wedding registry, Xavier and I opted to use a service called Honeyfund to “register” for our ideal honeymoon. After living together for more than 7 years, we already had linens, kitchenware, and decor, so a Bed Bath & Beyond or Macy’s registry wasn’t necessary.
On the site, you can pick activities you’d like to do, hotels you’d like to stay at, restaurants you’d like to visit, and more. You can create something very generic (100 airline miles, steak dinner, 2 hotel nights), but we wanted to personalize it to make it seem more real. It actually helped us plan the honeymoon!
In addition to the generous gifts from our friends and family, Xavier and I took full advantage of the extra time between wedding and honeymoon to save additional funds.
Picking the Dates
My friend Sarah pointed me to an app called Hopper which monitors flights and recommends the best times to buy tickets. I plugged in a few random Spring 2017 dates to keep an eye on immediately after our June wedding. I mostly monitored dates in April in May, before the high season, to keep flight and hotel costs low(er). It ended up being a good pick – it was a mix or warm and cool weather.
It wasn’t until October that I got an alert about incredibly affordable tickets in and out of Paris. Icelandair and Air Canada simultaneously posted flights that would cost us around $400 each roundtrip. That pop up notification set the wheels in motion, and after that we booked everything rather quickly.
Selecting the Cities and Countries to Visit
Understandably, we were a little trigger-shy about planning our first European vacation. I hear all the time how costly it is to fly to Europe, but once you’re there it’s affordable to get from place to place. Even so, I had never traveled from a foreign country to another foreign country, and I didn’t have any high speed train experience, so I was afraid of biting off more than we could chew.
We focused on the must-visit destinations. We asked ourselves, if this trip is the only chance we have to visit Europe, where must we visit? Xavier’s number one: Paris. My number one: Pompeii. We considered a Eurail pass, connecting the dots by train, but I was overwhelmed by the idea of hotel/hostel hopping.
In the end, we selected a Mediterranean cruise through Royal Caribbean International to help us get from place to place. I’ve always wanted to cruise, and Xavier is a cruise enthusiast. We spent a couple days in Paris on our own, headed down to Barcelona for the cruise, and then the cruise took us through parts of France and Italy.
The cruise offers excursions into the cities with either guided or self-guided options available. You can forgo their services and do it completely on your own, but if you go through the cruise line, the ship won’t leave you if you’re late getting back to port! We started by booking excursions in Nice, Cannes and Naples, and filled in the rest as our budget allowed.
Booking Hotels and Travel
Because of the amazing deal we got on the flights, we booked them a little over five months in advance. If we had booked a flight from Paris to Barcelona at that same time, the price was around $100. Unfortunately, we waited too long, so by the time we checked a couple months prior, the cost of plane and train were the same. We felt the train would be a bit more leisurely and scenic, so we booked via Trainline.
Our Honeymoon Itinerary
- Day 1: Arrive in Paris, France
- Day 2: Full day in Paris
- Day 3: High Speed Train from Paris to Barcelona
- Day 4: Board the Freedom of the Seas
- Day 5: Marseille
- Day 6: Nice and Cannes
- Day 7: Florence & Pisa
- Day 8: Rome
- Day 9: Mt. Vesuvius and Pompeii
- Day 10: Day at Sea
- Day 11: Return to Barcelona
- Day 12: High Speed Train from Barcelona to Paris
- Day 13: Depart Paris
There are a million more things I could say about this trip! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.