Everybody knows that weddings are EXPENSIVE and most people spend months, if not years, saving every penny to have an amazing wedding day with all their family and friends to remember forever. But what about the honeymoon? The holiday of a lifetime where the two of you get to travel somewhere beautiful and exotic for the first time as a newly married couple - in some ways - the best bit! But how can you have both? The wedding you've always dreamed of and the honeymoon of a lifetime? Here is installment 1 of my tips on finding exotic luxury at a fraction of the price...
Travel out of season - I mentioned this previously in my Santorini blog post but I cannot stress it enough. It's a little trick that seems to work in most places.
For instance, travel to the Indian Ocean in British Summer Time and not only will you find temperatures in the mid twenties, 8 hours of sunshine a day, beautiful and exotic beaches, but also hotels at considerably lower prices. I have looked into both The Maldives and Mauritius and the flight prices may not vary much throughout the year but hotels will offer substantial discounts as it is their 'winter'.
Kuoni ( a travel company owned by John Lewis ) have weekly offers and regularly have sales where you can get 4 and 5 star holidays to the Indian Ocean with flights for under £1000 for 7 days. Look out for their weekly discount holidays here.
Pick Southeast Asia as your Honeymoon Destination
Thailand is quite an obvious choice for a Honeymoon for some, but if you haven't considered it as an option, then do! It is literally a paradise of Islands that will rival any island in the Indian Ocean for sure. It is not as cheap as it used to be as tourism in Thailand has increased dramatically over the last 15 years but it still has so much to offer at reasonable prices.
Not only can you have your paradise island retreat here but you can have as little or as much adventure as you like as newlyweds. You can go scuba diving and snorkelling off Koh Tao, see and even ride elephants in Chiang Mai or even sample the hedonistic Full Moon Parties if you have the stamina.
It can be more afforadble than you think, for example - you can stay in the gorgeous Panviman Resort and Spa on Koh Pha-Ngan ( a 2 hour boat ride from Koh Samui ) in a beautiful and private villa for seven days for as little as £540 per couple. The resort has a private beach, infinity pools, beautiful natural gardens and a stunning view of the beach, Thong Nai Pan Noi, which is on the quietest side of Koh Pha-Ngan so you can relax in peace and tranquility in pure island bliss. This including economy flights from Heathrow would cost slightly over £1500 for the two of you for 7 days, less than the half of the cost of the traditional honeymoon trip to the Maldives.
Thailand is the obvious choice, but why stop there? Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Bali and Singapore are all just a short flight from Thailand. They all have stunning scenery, beaches to die for, a real taste of Southeast Asian culture and some of the most interesting and delicious food in the world. You could easily spend a week in Thailand and then hop over to Vietnam for a totally different taste of Southeast Asia.
When it comes to booking flights, timing is key and so is research research research! Flight prices fluctuate massively depending on what time and what day you do your search so my advice would be to search frequently and at different times of day. I had heard that if you stay up and book a flight at 3am, it will be cheaper! I don't know how much truth is in this as I've never managed to stay awake long enough to try it! But there are certain things to bear in mind when booking flights:
Be Flexible - Being flexible with your dates will help you an enormous amount and allow you to find the best possible price for your flights. According to Cheapair.com, flights are generally cheapest when you fly on a Tuesday or Wednesday. The optimal flight booking time for the best price is 7 weeks but don't leave less than 3 weeks or longer than 4 months.
Always check alternative airports - I find the best website to view alternative airports for the same destination is Skyscanner. On most other flight search websites, you usually have to input the airport you're flying from meaning you will spend much more time doing the same search with alternative airports. After a few searches, this will drive you mad!
Fly Economy - This may seem like an obvious point but the tendency when booking a lavish trip like your honeymoon is to go all out and be extravagant in every aspect of your trip, and I know it's boring but you don't HAVE to fly first class. There are now many more options for booking premium economy seats on most large airlines and let's face it, if you opt for a cheap seat on a plane, you can sleep through the pain and when you wake up you'll be in paradise anyway!
Research high and low seasons of your destination - I mentioned this briefly above but it really does make a big difference. Certain places, like the Maldives, or basically anywhere in the Southern hemisphere have their high seasons in UK winter time. So if you're wanting to go the Maldives for your honeymoon, my best advice would be to go in Summer. The prices will be nearly half of what they are from November to March, and this is when you can find some truly great deals.
Also bear National holidays in mind, for instance Songkran in Thailand is a huge national holiday and is the equivalent of our New Years Day, except in Thailand they have a massive water fight to celebrate it. Although worth seeing and an awful lot of fun, this is likely to increase flight prices to and from Thailand and will make travelling around a little more difficult.
Start saving your air miles NOW! - Here is a good guide on which are the best credit cards you can use day to day and collect air miles for your big special trip.
Do your research - The best thing you can do when looking for your ideal and most affordable honeymoon is research, research and more research.
For flight searches, I cannot recommend this enough. Monitor flight prices every few days and at different times of day for a few weeks and see just how much they can fluctuate. It's dead easy now as you can use the Skyscanner App and keep your saved searches, this will give you a better idea of when is best to book.
In my next blog post 'How to have the dream honeymoon on a tight budget (Part 2)', I will go into more detail on where are the best places to look online for those top luxury travel deals and more importantly how to find the most beautiful hotels to stay in for your trip of a lifetime. Keep a look out for Part 2.....