The pressure of a dream honeymoon is a recipe for an overstretched budget and bad travel match. Don’t book the overwater luxury bungalow in the Maldives if you’re an outdoor, adventure loving adrenaline junkie. Do splurge on the oceanview suite if you’ll be spending most of the trip en casa. Just like wedding planning, remember to craft your not the perfect honeymoon.
For every couple starting their travel plans and itinerary, here’s our honeymoon planning checklist—the what, where, how, who plans the honeymoon and what to know of booking your romantic honeymoon vacation.
This isn’t the beach or city, cruise or eco-cabin conundrum, but mini moon or maxi moon, group moon or do-good moon. Framing the special trip by type narrows down the destinations that fit the bill, plus the budget you’ll need and the best season to go. So what’s what?
Normally attached to the wedding weekend, minimooners add a buffer between “I do” and the real world with a quick stay away from home. Hotels, B&Bs, and yurts all apply. The perfect mini moon gives you a beat to take it all in, relive your favorite bits from the wedding day, and, most importantly, sleep. You did it!
Maximooners go big, matching innate wanderlust with a cash fund registry and their boss’ willingness to sign off on a 10 day getaway. This is Zanzibar with a Tanzanian safari, yachting through the Amalfi Coast, Aman hotel hopping in Nepal, or Patagonia exploring with an Antarctic cruise. Wherever your “I’ve always wanted to go there” bucket list is, you’re off.
We’re moving away from home earlier but getting married later, so during the years in between, we’re making friends that become family. For tight-knit groups, this breed of ‘moon is the chance to keep the celebrations going—and gather evidence to show each other’s future kids. The Burning Man and Coachella crowds are prime candidates, and off-the-beaten-path boutique hotels are their dream hangout.
For couples ready to step out of the spotlight and give back, this is the chance to do good with your honeymoon travel plans a trend that’s also hitting bachelor and bachelorette parties. Sign up for community projects close to home.
Travel with an organization like Island Routes Caribbean Adventures, which pairs travelers with voluntourism organizations across the Caribbean, or seek out a resort that contributes to the local community. Trailblazers SALT resorts in Mauritius is a best-in-class example of how to celebrate your community and destination as much as your guests.
This is one of the most important aspects to figure out at the start of your planning. And while we believe you can travel anywhere anytime with the right gear, you’ll want to know in advance to pack a poncho or prepare for the sticker shock of peak-season pricing.
Our personal honeymoon planners shared Zola couples’ most-requested destinations and the best time to visit them:
Many people enjoy Hawaii as a honeymoon destination. You’ll find the best weather in April and May, and September and October; the rainiest months are from June to September (though Kauai can be rainy year-round); and the steepest room rates from December to January.
When planning a honeymoon around Hurricane season, you need to be aware that the dates span from June 1 to November 30, but the majority of storms hit in September and October, so you can snag lower rates if you’re travelling at the beginning of the stormy months (with good travel insurance!).
The festive season is always the busiest, with many resorts booking up a year in advance and setting 10-night minimums. The Carribean is a hot honeymoon destination, so book as far in advance as you can.
Outside the mild rainy season in August and September, the “best” time to visit the popular Los Cabos region is between the crowds, so after Spring Break and before the festive season.
The Yucatan Peninsula (encompassing beach town favorites Playa Mujeres, Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum) is popular year-round, but you’ll get the best weather from December to April. There’s a brief shoulder season in late November between the summer rains and holiday crowds.
One quirk of creating a honeymoon budget and travel planning is that you don’t have to pay for everything upfront. Couples using Zola Honeymoons cover around 20% of the vacation in advance, then pay the balance closer to departure.
Those weeks or months in between give you a chance to add a cash fund to your registry (Pro Tip: Create destination-specific asks within the fund as many guests prefer to give a “thing” than cash) and build your honeymoon budget slowly.
“Give yourself extra wiggle room,” says Rachel Ellen Wong, a financial writer at You Need a Budget. “It's a really fun time and for most couples, that means you're a little looser with spending on things like excursions, upgrades, and food. Whatever number you think you'll spend, add 15-20% to the cost as you're planning.”
Your dates are locked in, your room overlooks the Caribbean Sea, and your monogrammed swimwear is safely packed. Hurray. But did you cover travel insurance, check on immunizations, and think about ground transportation? Make a plan to match every fun honeymoon reservation with some life admin.
Many credit card companies include travel insurance as a standard but check on medical coverage in hard-to-reach destinations and what kind of compensation you can get for delayed or canceled flights. For far-flung destinations, look at immunizations recommended by the CDC, and know that some are time-sensitive and expensive.
Finally, if your guests contributed a honeymoon-related cash gift, think about personalizing your thank you cards by taking and including photos from the activity they shared with you.