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Honeymoon planning made easy

Honeymoons are a blank canvas, a celebration and a start together. Whether you're canvas reaches the farthest corners of the world or, perhaps because of constraints, just a weekend getaway out-of-town, it's special and it's YOURS.

Planning a honeymoon is in-and-of-itself pretty fun. After all, it's one of the (if not THE) most memorable trips of your lifetime. I bring this topic up because I'm currently amidst honeymoon planning with my fiancee and it's a blast. Planning the wedding has been a blast, too. And, while I totally understand that for some folks planning is not their cup o' tea, it's ours! Given that both my fiancee and I exhibit some strong 'Type A' personalities - we're getting a kick out of researching, planning and confirming every piece of it. (In fact, I wonder if we shouldn't have a side business for this once our wedding and honeymoon are behind us!)

Ok, so I realize this isn't necessarily the forte of most people. Planning, logistics, spreadsheets and numerous phone calls may not sound like a ton of fun, but whether or not it's the case, I've got 7 tips to make honeymoon planning a bit easier for you, those you know planning one or, even a romantic trip that rekindles your honeymoon:

Tip #1: Consider the Season Nobody wants to spend any more than they absolutely have to when vacationing, much less honeymooning. Don't forget that Google (or Bing, if that's your jam) are your friends. Simply type in "Where are the cheapest places to vacation/honeymoon in August?" and see what comes up. You may be surprised! We'd never thought to consider Chile, Trinidad & Tobago and Portugal, but rates are traditionally cheaper to those spots during the times we were looking. It can be eye-opening, so be prepared for serendipity!

P.S.: Keep your eyes peeled for traditionally reputable travel review sites like: TripAdvisor, Fodor's, Frommer's, Lonely Planet and Moon to name but a few.

Tip #2: The Airbnb & HomeAway Options While often folks look to the "all-inclusive" resorts and standard western-style hotels with which we're all familiar, you can save a substantial amount of money, get surprisingly more "bang for the buck" or - better yet - both by considering complementing your itinerary with a stay at an Airbnb or HomeAway property. These properties often get you an entire apartment or house for a similar price to just a hotel room elsewhere. Not only does this allow for a more comfortable atmosphere, it allows one that isn't overrun with other tourists and the standard hotel format and can mean more opportunities to really feel "at home" - cooking a nice meal together, relaxing on a patio or enjoying a dip in your own pool!

Tip #3: Treat Yourselves This is the one time in your lives where you really have every right to treat yourselves. And while, of course, budgets have to be adhered to and a sense of reason must prevail, as long as you've done your homework on budgeting and allowed sufficient time to save, don't penny pinch. If you think it might be nice to have a couples massage, but it's typically something you'd poo-poo due to cost, just stop. There's no other time more appropriate. Want to do a hot air balloon ride? Well, if now's not a sufficient time to splurge then no time will ever be. Consider the cost that you've accrued simply by getting to the locale and determine what the realistic impact of a few hundred additional dollars one way or another might have. Chances are you can forgo something at home and make room for it on your trip and thus make room for life long memories, too.

Tip #4: Research & Surprise Make time together to plan the trip. Whether it's setting aside an hour each Sunday morning or a fun activity before bed midweek, let it reside in your schedule in a fashion that you both can look forward to it regularly and therefore daydream between planning sessions. Also, as you do your research together, make sure that you both choose an excursion that you plan in secret for the two of you. Not only is this a fun way to become an expert in something all-your-own for your honeymoon, it's a wonderful way to give your new spouse the gift of an experience that you've spent time planning. Pretty sweet, isn't it?

Tip #5: Rest, Relaxation (& Reality) Be honest with yourselves: depending on the locale you choose, you may get bored. So, if at all possible, select a destination that has some variety in terms of R&R, sightseeing, activities and adventures, local culture and shopping. For example, beaches are awesome and, though you may argue that you could easily spend two weeks on a beach without getting bored, chances are if this was actually posed to you, you'd begin to get tired of sand and yearn to do some exploring. Just ensure you've done your research about the history, culture and offerings in the local area where you'll be located. Believe it or not, it could go a long way to the sanity of you and your spouse. Don't forget to have an adventure!

Tip #6: Spreadsheets Are Your Friend Depending on your personal feelings about Excel and Google Docs, you may have read the title to this tip and your stomach may have flipped. Now, that said, you don't have to be some crazy finance guru with a spreadsheet laden with pivot tables, formulas and formatting in order to have an effective approach. Spreadsheets are just a great way to efficiently organize and filter information, especially when there are prices, itineraries and even budgets that all could stand to be in close proximity to each other as you plan and make decisions about your honeymoon. Intimidated by Excel? Not to worry, we all either once were or still are. Here are a couple sites that have templates or can help: Lynda.com Excel tutorials, The Plunge Budget Template, FoundItGood Itinerary Template. You'll be glad you organized this way and soon may find yourself offering friends and loved ones your spreadsheet expertise, too!

Tip #7: Let It Set the Tone Lastly, just make sure that you have fun exploring together. Regardless of what comes your way (flight cancellations, weather, lost luggage, etc.) just let the occasion be a time to take risks together and be there for each other no matter what - especially in the face of travel stresses. Remember, this trip is to celebrate your new life together and every moment is an opportunity to reinforce how well you work together as partners, travel partners and spouses. Now, go rack up those miles, have a blast and take lots of photos!

These are just a few of my suggestions as I've done honeymoon planning with my fiancee. What great tips do you have to share?

Image courtesy of Murielle

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