My husband and I dated over 13 years before we got married. I know! I know! We already felt official so we were really just holding out for a killer party and an unforgettable trip. The thing was, the longer we waited to tie the knot, the more luxurious our dream honeymoon became. We should go to Tahiti! AND Moorea! AND Bora Bora! We should stay in an overwater bungalow! Let’s go for 2 weeks! By the time we added everything up, we realized that we really should have just started saving when we first got together back in high school! $$$$$! But, seriously. Those bucket list vacations are no joke on the wallet. Buuuuut if you ask me, they’re OH so worth it! Whether it’s your honeymoon or a dream excursion, if you want to plan the trip of a lifetime but don’t want to spend every last dime doing so, check out these tips.
Register for travel dollars instead of gifts. We asked for gifts towards our honeymoon instead of actual gifts for our wedding. Our travel agent had a free site we could use and it saved us from having to ship boxes from our wedding back “home” in St. Louis to LA where we live. If you plan ahead, I don’t see why you couldn’t do this for birthday and Christmas gifts, too.
BYOB or buy booze at duty-free. Ok, I’m gonna say this at the risk of sounding down-right cheap, but for our honeymoon, we brought liquor and a reusable water bottle with a filter to make our drinks in the room with water flavor packets. Judge away! But when cocktails cost $30 a pop in Bora Bora, you learn to get scrappy.
Keep the best resort for last. If you can’t stay at the dream place the whole time, try staying somewhere more affordable first, or in a more affordable room and then switching. Just make sure to save the best for last! We opted for the more affordable garden bungalow when we were at the Hilton on Moorea before splurging at the St. Regis in Bora Bora. It was nice to have a change of scenery and it still came with its own pool!
Tell everyone what you’re celebrating (and get free stuff!). Even if you’re using a travel agent! Let everyone know what you’re vacationing for and they’ll be excited to give you upgrades and amenities for your stay, your meal, your spa day, or whatever you’re enjoying. Nothing makes a good trip better like FREE STUFF and believe it or not, some people actually do like doing kind things for others. If you’re nice about it, that is. Espeeeeecially, if you’re visiting a place that’s not popular for celebrations. For example, it was practically impossible to get a flight upgrade for our honeymoon to Tahiti, but working at a hotel in West Hollywood, we would bend over backwards for our honeymooners! Take advantage, clever girls!
Get breakfast included and make it last all day. Ok, this might make us look cheap again. But really, you don’t need a lot of food after indulging in a buffet breakfast anyway. Eat your heart out with the complimentary stuff and take it easy until dinner. We kept some snacks on hand in case it didn’t last us all day (David is a morning person so dinner could end up being 12 hours away some days). This was also a perk from using a travel agent since a lot of hotels don’t offer a breakfast-included package.
Plan out your reservations before you leave and know when your splurge nights are. Not only does planning ahead make the rest of the trip so much more enjoyable and stress-free, but it can save you money in the long run! I mean, how many times do you go back and forth about what you want for dinner, then end up having to buy a snack before dining because you’re ravenous by the time you get there? No? Just me? Hangry is a real emotion, people! Anyway, it can also save you from dining at the most expensive places every night of the trip. I like to leave the best place for one of the last days of vacation and sprinkle some reservations at nicer places with casual spots on the off days earlier in the trip.
Limit your excursions to your absolute favorite. We met people on our honeymoon who were sky diving one day and swimming with sharks the next. Unless you have unlimited funds, this can make a serious hit in your bank account. Instead, consider what is unique to the location you’re visiting and start there. For example, maybe you’d want to splurge on an excursion to see the Great Barrier Reef while it’s still here instead of ATVing on the beach since you can do that on any beach. I like to plan my excursions for the beginning of the trip so the last part is nothing but relaxation.
Share a suitcase. I know, I know. This is super hard. But really, you’ll be in resort wear most of the time or can accessorize with jewelry from your blingsling® to make the same outfits feel fresh. You’ll save on luggage fees by sharing with your travel partners on the way there AND back, or even more times if you’re hopping locations while you’re gone.
Don’t forget to bring the expensive essentials. Things like sunscreen and mosquito repellant are usually top dollar in tourist areas and airports. Skip bringing the shampoo that you can probably get for free at the hotel and throw in that bottle of Supergoop! Your skin and wallet will thank you later!
Start saving now! Throwing in a few extra dollars with each paycheck a year or two out really adds up! You’ll be able to go on that month-long safari before you know it if you start NOW! If you have the ability through work (or the will power on your own) to pull the funds aside immediately, that’s even better. You’ll get used to living off that smaller amount and forget you’re even saving.
What are your tips, clever girl? I'm always looking for ways to maximize my vacations. Let me know your favorites in the comments and happy travels!
Love. Inspire. Grow. Enjoy.