40 of the Best Honeymoon Destinations Right Now


It's like window shopping, but for honeymoons

by Meg Keene, CEO & Editor-In-Chief

two women walking on a beach with text for best honeymoon destinations

So you’re starting to dream about your honeymoon, and looking for a comprehensive list of the best honeymoon destinations in the world? Well, you’re in the right place. Plus, we’ve got some ways to travel affordably, and honeymoon ideas in the U.S., because we’re always here for extra credit.

I’m a deep-down, die-hard fan of weddings (obviously). But there is nothing in this world I love more than a honeymoon. Maybe it’s because my honeymoon was two of the best weeks of my life. Or maybe it’s because I’m always looking for an excuse to dream about travel, or maybe it’s because I love pushing people to book that plane ticket already and find an affordable way to see the world.

Most online lists of best honeymoon destinations seem to assume that if you’re thinking of traveling for your honeymoon, you have some sort of money tree in your backyard. (One popular list of honeymoon ideas I found started by recommending a $900 night hotel room. When I got married, $900 was more than my share of our rent, so please.) But I’ve a firm believer in the fact that it is possible to have amazing travels without breaking the bank. If you’re just starting to figure out your honeymoon, consider using some of these resources:

  • TripAdvisor gives you a great way to find the mostly highly reviewed hotels in an area. Skip past the ones that cost a zillion dollars, and try to focus in on well reviewed hotels in a price range that feels reasonable. I’ve used this strategy for traveling all over the world, and have experienced amazing customer service, great views, and not-super-fancy-but-totally-perfect-for-us hotel rooms in many countries.
  • Airbnb. If you’re planning to stay in one place for more than a few days, Airbnb can be a great way to get an affordable apartment, or even a room share. That lets you cook some of your own food and just blend into the neighborhood a bit more like a native. Airbnb also has great collection of guidebooks compiled by hosts, which can be a great way to research how to explore a location like a local, and come up with perfect honeymoon ideas for your trip.
  • Chowhound. Digging around in Chowhound’s boards can be time consuming, but if you’re really into good food, it is the single best way to find off the beaten path recommendations. Some of the best food I’ve ever had in my life has come from a Chowhound recommendation, and a drive down a long dirt road to a secluded beach…. or a ferry ride to a less touristy location.
  • Frequent Flyer Miles. If we have a big trip that we’re dreaming of, I’m not above putting a whole lot of expenses (wedding expenses anyone?) on a British Airways card, paying it off every month, and racking up the miles. We often wait till we’re offered a free companion fare, and then build our trip around that.
  • Hostels can really vary in quality, so make sure you read reviews (nothing like settling in for a long night’s sleep and realizing you crashed in a party hostel), but there are really amazing hostels out there that allow for experiences you’d never otherwise be able to have (sleep in a lighthouse!). You can find great hostels around the world on HI Hostels.

Now that we’ve gotten the practical details out of the way, let’s get daydreaming about the best honeymoon destinations…

most romantic honeymoon destinations

paris france belleville

Paris, France: There’s a reason that Paris is celebrated as one of the most romantic cities on the planet, and always tops list of honeymoon ideas. Because, well, it’s pretty perfect. One of our editors spent a week in a tiny studio on Airbnb ($50/night! Guys!), while getting around exclusively by bus and metro… and it was glorious. If you’re looking for inexpensive ways to get by you can totally pull it off, and if money is no object (we can dream, right?), Paris is filled with options. And of course, if money is no object, Paris has you covered there too.

santorini greece honeymoon destination

Santorini, Greece: If you’re into sweeping views of the Caldera (the beautiful body of water formed by a sunken volcano), white buildings stacked into cliffs, sitting at the edge of the sea watching the sunset with new friends, and black sand beaches, Santorini might be the place for you. That said, its charms are not exactly a secret since it full qualifies for it’s #2 spot on the best honeymoon destinations list. That means you’ll fight cruise boat crowds in high season, and you’ll join 1.5 million tourists visiting the tiny island every year. Consider staying in Fira or Firostefani for a less crowded and more affordable Caldera view. Perissa or Kamari are the more affordable options, and great for hitting the (black and red and white) sand volcanic beaches on the back of the island.

venice italy honeymoon destinations

Venice, Italy: In a world where so many things are over hyped, Venice is one of those places that will always be under hyped, because until you get off at the train station and walk out to the grand canal, there is just no way to wrap your head about what Venice really… is… which is pure romantic magic. That said, the greatest hits, including, St. Mark’s Square, everything around The Bridge of Sighs, and gondola rides tend to be mobbed with tourists, and overpriced. If you want to save some cash (or just don’t like crowds), consider not staying on the Island of San Marco (the other islands feel similar, but with less crowds, and more empty winding streets to explore), and skip the gondolas for a pass on the Water Taxi. Also the Peggy Guggenheim Collection is to die for, so make time for it.

photo of hakone japan

hakone, japan: Hakone is the home of Mount Fuji, and is about two hours from Tokyo. If mountain climbing isn’t your thing, Hakone still offers a lot: hot springs (onsen), lush gardens, and maybe even a stay at Yama No Chaya, which we’re currently obsessed with.

a photo of edinburgh scotland

Edinburgh, Scotland: Do you like magical castles, a chill in the air you just can’t shake, and whiskey? If so, Edinburgh might be your dream best honeymoon destination. J.K. Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book in a cafe in Edinburgh with a huge window overlooking the castle, and once you arrive, it’s hard to shake the fact that she just took the old town and put it on paper. Keep in mind that Edinburgh is basically always some level of cold, and that the summer substitutes slightly warmer rain for snow. So bring sweaters, and an abiding love of magic… and find yourself a whiskey bar with a castle view.

bali indonesia photo of the ocean

Bali, Indonesia: When people call it paradise, they aren’t wrong. Inland toward Ubud you’ll find infinity pools, water temples, and lush rice paddies, as well as jungle-side eating and a hot springs in a (non-active) volcanic mountain. Along the coast, there are hip surfer towns with cafes, black sand beaches, and dolphins. You can even hop a ferry to a surrounding island (Nusa Lembogan still feels slightly out of the reach of mass tourism) and spend a day snorkeling with Manta Rays.

best beach honeymoon ideas

big island hawaii honeymoon destination

Big Island, Hawaii: Hawaii and “beach” are two words that go inherently hand-in-hand, but for some reason, not everyone thinks of the Big Island when they think of surf and fun. It’s a shame, because the Big Island is truly where it’s at, and should make the short list when coming up with honeymoon ideas. Split into seven districts (Kona, Hilo, Kohala Coast, North Kohala, the Hamakua Coast, Puna, and Kau), there’s something for everyone. Want to check out restaurants and tour a chocolate factory? Go to Kona. Looking for a little bit of a mountain escape? North Kohala is you dream! Hilo is perfect for anyone looking for a little bit of a low-key adventure, and the Puna district (south of Hilo) is extremely lush.

florida keys honeymoon destination

Florida Keys: The Keys are a chain of islands over a hundred miles long, so there’s an awful lot to do on a honeymoon, no matter how long (or short) your stay is. You can take snorkel cruises (I know, right?), stroll around Mallory Square at sunset and enjoy artists and performers, and dig into all the nightlife the islands have to offer. Pro tip: rent bicycles!

turtle bay in watamu kenya

watamu, kenya: Watamu is a village on the coast of Kenya that is surrounded by both tropical forests and beaches. AKA a pretty sweet spot to spend a week or two if you’re into that kind of thing (*raises hand*). There are numerous lodging options, from hotels to full-scale resorts, and you can snorkel or just hang at Turtle Bay. You can also spend time at the Gede Ruins, an overgrown twelfth century Swahili village.

photo of the amalfi coast

The Amalfi Coast, Italy: Amalfi is, without any doubt, one of the best honeymoon destinations in the whole world. It’s is one of those rare places that will make you gasp when you first catch a glance of it. The cities are built into the cliffs, the Mediterranean Ocean just will not stop being blue, and you can bury your face in pasta every night of the week. Add in scooters racing around hairpin turns (or buses slowly lumbering around hairpin turns, for the more safety-minded among us), and you just can’t get more romantic… or beachy. There are a million ways to vacation on the Amalfi coast. You can stay in a tiny B&B up a thousand stairs carved into the cliff (literally), rest your head on a trendy pillow at a hip hotel, or rent an Airbnb near a secluded beach. The good news is, there is basically no way to do it wrong. (And if you happen to have one of those yachts that anchor off the coast, give us a call, mkay?)

aruba honeymoon destination

Aruba: Aruba has pretty much any kind of lodging experience you want. All-inclusive? They’ve got it. Standard hotel? Yep. Adult-only resorts? Of course. The island is known for being quite safe, and since it’s only nineteen miles long, you can literally see it all.

penguins at boulders beach south africa

boulders beach, south africa: Boulders Beach is known for its delightful beach-going companions: penguins! In case you’re thinking this might be overhyped, it’s not. I’ve seen the penguins and they are the cutest (and the beach is pretty nice too). The Boulders is just outside Cape Town, and you get to it through a delightful drive through South African wine country. That makes it a pretty easy trek for all who find TINY ADORABLE PENGUINS topping their list of honeymoon ideas. Bonus points: By visiting the beach, you’ll be helping boost conservation efforts for the penguins.

beaches in tulum mexico

Tulum, Mexico: If you’ve ever been stuck between wanting white sand and absurdly blue waters versus a wanting a wild jungle getaway (just me?), then Tulum is for you. A 1.5 to 2 hour drive from highly developed Cancun, Tulum is a whole other world. The beach portion of Tulum is a bike-able strip full of boutique eco-hotels with waterside beds and fancy cocktail bars. History buffs can visit the ancient Mayan ruins overlooking the water (or some in the jungle!), while others can jaunt up to Akumal to swim with sea turtles or venture to Cenote Dos Ojos for a tour of unbelievable underground caves. Foodies have to hit up Tulum town, where there’s endless tacos (try breakfast at Taqueria Honorio), vegan food, and even a hidden pozoleria run by the sweetest older ladies. When it comes to the world’s best honeymoon destinations, Tulum gets a prime spot on the list.

san juan del sur nicaragua

san juan del sur, Nicaragua: If you’ve been looking for an excuse to finally learn how to surf, take yourself and your partner to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. The beaches are gorgeous and the waves are not too scary for beginners. Treat yourself to a private tree house in Playa Maderas, and when you’re all beached out, head to Granada for city exploring, dancing, and cheap beer.

affordable us honeymoon IDeas

savannah georgia honeymoon destination

Savannah, Georgia: If there is one U.S. city that is at (or very near) the top of every “affordable U.S. honeymoons” list, it’s Savannah, Georgia. And guys, the reasons why are legit. Savannah is gorgeous. Overflowing with Spanish moss and soul food, exploding with art and craft beer, and adjacent to the Atlantic, the city is the perfect get-away for two who are looking to keep it light, romantic, and relatively inexpensive.

bourbon street in new orleans, louisiana

New Orleans, Louisiana: Do you need an excuse to go to NOLA? Never ever. Does it deserve a spot on every best honeymoon destination list ever? YES. Given that it combines all the best things in life—great food, great music, great people, and beautiful old world architecture—you can’t go wrong. Actually, JK, you totally can. No matter what anyone tells you, Bourbon Street is not what dreams are made of (unless they are the dreams of puking frat boys). Try staying near Frenchmen Street if you’re looking for good music and artistic crowds, or in the Garden District if you’re looking for the picturesque south, or Magazine Street if you’re wanting a more contemporary hip scene. Make sure you hit up Preservation Hall for the best music in the world, and Jacques Imo’s for Creole Soul Food.

catalina island california

Catalina Island, California: If you’re looking for a magical island honeymoon idea that’s right within the old US of a, think of journeying to Catalina. You’ll want to look for lodging in Avalon (the town on the asiland). That way you’ll be near the water, and you’ll likely have the option of checking out a rooftop deck (a la the Villa Portofino) or taking a beach chair out toward the water. Speaking of, if water sports are your thing, Catalina is a kayaker’s dream (and rentals abound).

nashville tn honeymoon destination

Nashville, Tennessee: Long ago, Nashville was a janglin’ town filled with country music and honky-tonks. It’s still got those, but the city has boomed (and boomed, and boomed) and is now one of the top affordable U.S. honeymoon destinations, period. Music fans can hit up tours galore (puh-leeeeze go check out the Ryman, home of the Grand Ole Opry and legends ten-fold), and anyone looking for a good time can have a field day down Broadway (Robert’s Western Wear is a personal fave). FYI: You can’t actually go into the Batman building. Someone on staff tried.

cocoa beach

Cocoa Beach, Florida: The question is not, “What can I do in Cocoa Beach?” The question is, “What can I not do in Cocoa Beach?” Because I’m pretty sure Cocoa Beach has it all if you are fond of water activities: kayaking, surfing, great food, mini golf (don’t even play like it’s not fabulous), affordable lodging (heyoooo), and, of course, the Atlantic Ocean. Bonus: If you’re a space nerd, you can geek out hard at the Kennedy Space Center (and maybe even see a launch!).

affordable international honeymoon destinations

isla grande colon panama

Panama: Everyone’s always all about Costa Rica (for good reason), but Panama is equally fun and gorgeous. Sure, it can be tricky to navigate (fun fact: street addresses just don’t exist), but the country is filled with lush jungles and unique urban cities, and is framed by both the Pacific and the Atlantic. In fact, you can drive from one ocean to the other in about 45 minutes. Definitely take the day trip to Isla Grande in Colon and spend the night if you have time.

photo of quebec city

Quebec, Canada: A lot of people love Quebec because visiting the city is like visiting Europe (but without crossing an ocean). And yes, cobblestone streets, historical and beautiful castle-esque architecture, and an abundance of art definitely lend the city a European air. Quebec is also filled with all kinds of delights, which make a unique and romantic experience.

mexico city mexico

Mexico City, Mexico: Mexico City is the hotbed of good food, music, and cultural experiences. The city’s architecture is incredible and museums abound, including the Museo Frida Kahlo, for the indoors-only set. If you’re looking to mix urban with sea, Acapulco is about a five-hour drive from the city. We also highly recommend reading up on eighteen unusual things you can do in Mexico City. Oh right. And eating, and eating, and eating forever. (The food, you guys.)

photo of peru

Peru: Peru is an amazing adventure, especially if you love living history. The Incan ruins are breathtaking, and each one has its own story (a good tour guide can really make your trip come alive). Machu Picchu is obviously not to be missed, but Pisac is equally enchanting. A word of caution: Peru can be a challenge if you have a fear of heights; all the good stuff is up windy scary roads. A hot tip: If you are looking for good weather, the best times to travel to Peru are in May through September (our winter is their rainy season).

cluj romania

Romania: Romania offers the experienced traveler the opportunity to mix adventure with romance and more or less do your trip the way you want to, full stop. If you’re not afraid of snow or cold, the country is downright fascinating. Fly into Budapest (in Hungary—trains to Cluj are easy to come by) or Cluj, and spend your time seeing Transylvania, Brasov, and Sibui. If you’re into skiing, head toward Poina Brosav. FYI: Much of Romania isn’t for anyone looking for the same kind of experience that you might find in other European countries, but the experience will be unmatched. Also, you can totally go to Bran Castle, aka Dracula’s Castle.

tourists in Marrakech, Morroco

Marrakech, Morocco: Marrakech is a place where time doesn’t exist. (Seriously. You can spend half a day waiting for food or a massage.) The colors are overwhelming. And you will not be able to stop shopping for carpets. And lamps. And wall hangings. And… okay, everything. Don’t honeymoon in Morocco unless you’re up for a serious dose of adventure and cultural overwhelm, but for the brave among you, it is truly unforgettable, and should top your list of honeymoon ideas. (And the food is just beyond.) You can see our full guide to a Marrakech honeymoon here.

wine tour honeymoon destinations

napa valley wine tour

Napa Valley Wine Train, California: Napa’s Wine Train tours let you choose from six tours in total, each of which will thrill just about every fan of wine. The train ride gives you the opportunity to try delicious meals, with the fun of hearkening back to a time when train was the dominant mode of travel for many.

wellington new zealand

March hare Bike and Pedal, New Zealand: If you fancy a trip to New Zealand (yes, please!), March Hare cycling offers self-guided tours in Wellington. You get a map and a bike, and you can choose to bike through toward your picnic destination, or to stop along the way and sample wines and local produce.

tuscany italy

Cellar Tours, Italy: Cellar Tours is one company that offers wine tours in a variety of regions: Tuscany, Piedmont, Bellagio, Rome, etc. A tour is one of the best ways to dig into the rich history of wine in the country, and depending on what else you want to see, you can tailor your trip to a variety of other interests.

camping + road trip honeymoon ideas

blue ridge parkway honeymoon

Blue ridge parkway, USA: If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed planning the journey, suggested itineraries are available for you. There are also a host of lodging options, be it via hotels, luxury cabins, or Airbnb, you can find something for every budget.

trans-canada highway honeymoon

The trans-canada highway (newfoundland to british columbia): This roadway is one of the world’s longest roads (8,030 km) and you’ll traverse all ten Canadian provinces, touch ground at both the Atlantic and the Pacific, and cross four islands. Want more info? You’ve got it.

yellowstone national park

Yellowstone National Park, USA: Adventures in Yellowstone are true marvels. The national park holds treasures such as the Prismatic Springs, geysers, and America’s largest buffalo herd. Yellowstone is a perfect honeymoon for those who treasure the mysteries of the earth and exploring the great outdoors.

yosemite national park

Yosemite National Park, California: Yosemite is a national park with a plethora of outdoor adventures such as hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, and much more. Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and El Capitan are just a few of the attractions that make Yosemite a unique experience. Lodging and camping make the trip extremely romantic and intimate for newlyweds with a bit of adventure.

best adventure honeymoon destinations

istanbul turkey

Istanbul, Turkey: Istanbul is easily one of the more sensual and romantic cities in the world, and also one that offers plenty for thrill seekers. While it may not top every list of best honeymoon destinations in the world, it probably should. Of all the places I’ve traveled, it is among my very favorite. Its combination of old and modern, east and west, make it unlike anywhere else on the globe. Plus the food is beyond.

iceland photo

Iceland: Iceland and its capital city of Reykjavik have been growing steadily as popular destinations for tourists and honeymooners, and it’s easy to see why. The island is jam-packed with tons to do, especially if you’ve got a rental car and an adventurous spirit. Many attractions are free (or require a nominal fee), and as long as you don’t mind a bit (okay, a lot) of chill, Iceland can be an incredibly romantic place to spend a week together. Plus, glass igloos, guys!

arches national park

Arches National Park: If a desert getaway is your idea of a best honeymoon destination, look no further than Moab, Utah. Arches National Park offers up breathtaking blue skies, searing pink vistas, and remote arches that lend themselves to romance. Bonus: You can spend a night or two at Devil’s Garden Campground, and watch the night sky set itself ablaze with stars.

ger camp in mongolia

Mongolia: Mongolia is known for its varying (and sometimes extreme) weather conditions, but that shouldn’t stop you from visiting one of the world’s most naturally gorgeous countries. If you visit in July, make sure to check out the Nadaam Festival (which is kind of like the Mongolian Olympics). If you want to have a truly Mongolian experience, you can also rent a Ger in Hustai National Park (and hang with yaks and wild horses!). If city life is more your speed, Ulaanbaatar is the capital and offers rich cultural experiences, museums, and delicious food.

queenstown new zealand

Queenstown, New Zealand: Queenstown is all about energy— so if bungee jumping and canyon swinging and ice climbing is what your honeymoon ideas are made of, this is for you. If the two of you are all about leaping from airplanes and buildings and hurtling toward the earth, Queenstown is your jam. If you’re feeling water life, parasailing and whitewater rafting are also options.

eco-friendly honeymoon destinations

rumi wilco ecolodge

Ecuador: While much of the entire continent hosts eco-friendly lodging, when it comes to South America, it just depends on where you want to go, specifically. Mindo, Ecuador boasts El Septimo Parasio, a property that blends rustic with swank and is about 90 kilometers from Quito. If you want to go deeper with your conservation, Rumi Wilco in Vilcabama, Ecuador, offers the chance to use your stay to help biodiversity and conservation efforts in the region.

wildernest goa

Goa, India: The Wildernest in Goa is surrounded by so much nature it’ll make you cry (truly). It also offers nature walks and all eco-friendly and/or organic shampoos and soaps, has a ban on plastic, and all construction on-site is done with eco-friendly measures.

ridgewood alaska wilderness lodge

homer, alaska: The Ridgewood Wilderness Lodge in Homer, Alaska, boasts easy access to miles of beaches, salt water estuaries, and the Harding Ice Field. The lodge was designed and built by the owners, offers vegan and vegetarian meal options, uses biodegradable cleaning supplies, and sources food locally. They’re also big fan of area wildlife conservation, in addition to water and heat conservation.

Where did you go for your honeymoon? What Do you think the Best honeymoon destinations are right now? When you start daydreaming of travel, what are your honeymoon ideas? What advice would you give a couple who is planning their own honeymoon right now?

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. She has written two best selling wedding books: A Practical Wedding and A Practical Wedding Planner. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in Oakland, CA with her husband and two children. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit MegKeene.com.

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  • Sarah S

    Romania is beautiful!! So glad to see it on this list! Cluj and Sibiu were my favorites. Mountains, skiing, ancient castles, not hordes of tourists- what more can you ask for?

    • Sarah E

      A friend of mine was in Romania over the summer and also very highly recommended it.

    • Sarah

      I seem to be the only one who didn’t like Romania. I went to Bucharest on a 1.5 week trip to visit a friend doing Peace Corps in Bulgaria. Highlights from my Romania trip include: being dropped in the middle of town by cab driver from airport, told my hotel was 1 block walk down a pedestrian street, but really I was 1 mile and several hours being very lost; my friend being robbed at knifepoint in train station; and some really ugly Eastern Europe statues.

      • Mer

        Bucharest… I did not enjoy. Totally with you there. I did think Brasov was lovely, same with Timisoara (I think?) But for the most part I’m with you. I would not highly recommended Romania. If you’re gonna fly to Budapest to get there just stay in Budapest. Love that city.

      • Shirley Schmidt

        With you on the Bucharest loathing. It really suffered from Ceausescu and I disliked it even before I got my camera stolen by a kid going down into the metro.

        LOVE Transylvania though. Brasov and Sighisoara were beautiful and much more friendly.

        Where did your friend stay in Bulgaria? I spent a week there on the same trip and vastly preferred Sofia to Bucharest.

      • Sarah S

        Oh man, that’s really awful! I am so sorry! I wish it had been better. From one Sarah to another.

  • Ashlah

    Can I claim part of this comment section to get destination suggestions for a non-honeymoon? We get cheap tickets from Alaska Airlines once per year (the $99 companion fare through their credit card), and we don’t want to let it go to waste. But we don’t have a lot of money saved up, we can only go for maybe 4 days, and I’m pregnant. Where might you all suggest we fly from Oregon for a long weekend that isn’t too expensive, doesn’t require too much physically demanding adventuring (pregnancy has been easy so far, but I don’t know what to expect later on), and is free of Zika? We’re open to both city explorations and nature experiences. We’ve considered Vancouver/Victoria Island or maybe Vegas to take in a couple shows and a day trip to Zion? Most places we think of, we want more time and money! I would love about places you’ve enjoyed visiting!

    • Amy March

      Palm Springs looks like so much fun, and several of my pregnant friends have picked it because no Zika. Santa Fe also looks amazing, and I think either 4 days would be enough time to feel like you’ve really seen it.

      • lamarsh

        Seconding Palm Springs! My whole family fell in love with it when we visited last Christmas. It was sunny every day (though obviously would be a bad summer destination), there is so much to do if that’s what you’re feeling (dessert hiking, swimming, spas, mid-century architecture tours(!)), but also it is a perfect vacation if all you want to do is sit by the pool and read.

    • Sara

      This is a little bit of a weird one, but I really enjoyed going to Mt. Rushmore this past summer. If you like nature, there are the badlands and the black hills. And you really don’t need more than a weekend to see everything there. You’ll feel like you’ve seen everything you needed to! You would fly into Rapid City SD.

    • AP

      Hmmmmmm….If you’ve never been to Arizona, I highly recommend flying into Phoenix, possibly spending a night doing the city thing, then renting a car and exploring the surrounding area. Within a 2ish hour drive north are Sedona (incredible red rocks) and Flagstaff (which is more forest, very different from the desert areas but also awesome.) A little farther north is the south rim of the Grand Canyon. All doable in a 4 day weekend, but you could spend all 4 days in Sedona and not get bored.

      • Alyssa

        Upvote for this. My grandparents lived in Sedona for many years and it is beautiful!

      • Ditto! I absolutely love the Phoenix area and there’s a lot to do/see.

      • Laura

        I live in Phoenix and it really is an underrated gem. Sedona and Flagstaff are both great, and definitely worth more than a day trip!

    • C

      Santa Fe!

      If you’re art people, spend a day browsing Canyon Road or at one of the many many museums in town.

      Meow Wolf is an art installation/real life video game. We spent four and a half hours there and felt like we probably missed some stuff.

      Bandelier National Monument is very cool and easily accessible on foot, if you want to get out in a little nature without actually having to climb a mountain. The Valles Caldera is a short drive away and is stunning. Aspen Vista is also an easy low-grade hike off the ski basin road in Santa Fe.

      There are also hot springs and cool stuff to do in Taos and sigh I want to be on my honeymoon again….

      • AP

        Taos is so fun! And I’m bookmarking your Santa Fe suggestions for our trip out west in May- we haven’t decided where we’re stopping on our way to Moab, but Santa Fe is on the list.

        • Quinta2

          Yes yes yes to New Mexico. So beautiful, underrated, and pretty affordable (especially outside of Santa Fe).

      • K.

        Ohhhhh, New Mexico is incredible. I’m biased because I lived there for 6 years and we plan to move back, but even Albuquerque can be super cool and beautiful. Santa Fe is another world of incredible. It can definitely be pricey, but there are good deals to be found on VRBO casita rentals.

        Also, Ten Thousand Waves is one of the coolest, most beautiful spas I’ve ever been to and it’s shockingly affordable for a day pass to their zen room and tubs. I’ve actually never had a real spa treatment there (looks like typical pricing), but my now-husband and I used to go all the time when we were broke college students and we felt like royalty, ha. :)

    • westofhere

      How we have used our Alaska $99 companion fare from PDX:
      – Santa Rosa Airport (stay in Mendocino area)
      – Phoenix
      – Nashville
      Vancouver / Victoria Island would also be good. Austin, TX.
      I agree with Santa Fe below, but if I recall correctly, you would need to fly into ABQ.

  • louise danger

    guys this is so timely. our honeymoon keeps undergoing renovations and i’m so overwhelmed (i considered every one of those european destinations at the beginning, except greece). plan three completely different weddings? easy, bring it on. plan one week-ish long vacation? TOO MUCH

    help?

    original plan was the NC500 – sort of like Rte 66, but in the far northwestern Scottish Highlands (sheep! weather! mountains!), but we didn’t have the time/budget to do it justice and so bumped it to the back burner for a first anniversary trip.

    then, we thought we’d do a getaway-type long weekend thing to san francisco – stay in an airbnb, be tourists but not too touristy, get the low-down from friends out that-a-way, etc. and that was looking great (we have enough miles that we could fly first-class roundtrip for nothing out of pocket)!

    but then i saw a deal on facebook late last week for four nights in paris, with hotel and R/T flight included, for $500/person. and now i’m like “UGH BUT PARIS THO.”

    thoughts? help? we’re looking at traveling sometime between mid-october and early november, if that helps.

    • Amy March

      First class for a domestic flight always seems like a waste of miles to me. Go to Paris! Unless this is like trip 5 to Paris or something

      • louise danger

        first international trip for both of us (except for a couple Niagara Falls trips and one to Nova Scotia) :)

        • Amy March

          Omg Paris then do it.

      • Em

        Agreed! Paris all the way. Make sure you go to the Musee de la Orangerie – it has this series of Monet’s waterlilies displayed how he wanted them displayed, and it is literally the most beautiful thing I have EVER seen.

        • I love that museum. It is definitely one of my favorite museums in Paris. Also loved the Rodin museum, especially the outside gardens, and hanging out and eating a baguette sandwich at the Jardins de Luxembourg and going to Shakespeare & Co, and then getting yummy crêpes at the little crêpe kiosks (esp. my favorite one at the foot of Montmartre)…

    • Alyssa

      I vote Paris, but I’m biased because we’re doing our ceremony there (pop-up and picnic- style, so really not as uppity as it may sound) and honeymooning in Nice. But if you do go to SF, give me a holler! It’s my hometown area and there’s lots to do.

      But I second your notion “UGH BUT PARIS THOUGH.” Indeed. That’s why you should go! Plus, Oct/Nov is supposed to be a great time to go, as it’s not tourist season there.

      • louise danger

        yeah we’d be doing it on a fairly shoe-string budget (picnics and deals as much as possible), so my current conundrum is “how to shoehorn enough clothes for three days [in the most fashionable city on the planet UGH] + two travel days into one teeny suitcase” LOL. i have packed for similar trips so it’ll just take some creativity

        but

        yes paris :s

        • Amy March

          In Oct-Nov? You need like a pair of jeans, 3 tops, one jacket which you can wear on the plane, and maybe a dress if you like them, a scarf, gloves, and a pair of boots or stylish sneakers for day walking and a pair for nights. Easy!

          • louise danger

            hooray!

        • Alyssa

          You can totally do it! My fiance and I went to France together for a month in 2013 and we each brought nothing but international-size carry-ons AND we managed to not look like the “American” stereotype. It’s totally possible. Wear your bulkiest items on the plane, bring lots of black (or items that mix and match easily), and comfortable walking shoes, and roll all your clothes to fit in as much as possible. Pick items that are flattering — French style is more about what’s flattering than what’s trendy (at least that’s what I noticed there).

          • Alyssa

            Also — French picnicking is TOTALLY the way to get through Paris on a budget. Plus it’s way more fun and a more “local” experience than going to restaurants constantly. Bread, cheese, wine, meat, jam — you can get it all at their little supermarkets and just park yourselves by Canal St. Martin… or any park of your choosing. You can’t go wrong.

          • louise danger

            we’ll be staying in that neck of the woods yes :3

          • Alyssa

            OMG YAY!! That’s where we stayed when we went and are specifically going back there because we liked it so much. You must go to Les Deux Amis (restaurant) and Marche Au Crepe (hole in the wall crepe place) when you are there!

          • louise danger

            my friend did study-abroad in paris and stayed in that neck of the woods, he sent me a note on facebook the other day “STAY HERE” we’ll be near the gare de l’est :3

          • Alyssa

            Oh YAY that is wonderful! Wow, so Paris is a go for you! I love that you went from indecisiveness to going for it on APW. Awesome :)

        • Kara

          Ohh Jean of “Extra Petite” has some great packing tips :).

          http://www.extrapetite.com/2016/05/travel-style-how-to-plan-cute-outfits.html

          (It won’t matter if you’re petite or not, her tips are solid :)).

        • Vanessa

          This is how: http://lifehacker.com/301435/pack-like-a-pro-with-the-bundled-wrapping-method. Way better than rolling your clothes. Just beware if you ever use this method with a suitcase larger than carry-on – you are able to pack so many clothes together/save so much space (and fill the space with other stuff) that I’ve gone over the 50lb weight limit several times.

        • jammers

          Heyyyyy you can get away with wearing basically anything in Paris. It’s a big city, and everyone’s looking at their smart phone anyway. Focus on how many croissants you can fit in your mouth, instead!

        • …most airlines give you a free checked suitcase to international destinations…

          • louise danger

            this one doesn’t; you get a personal item (handbag/laptop bag). carry-on-size bag is an upcharge, and a checked bag is a bigger upcharge.

          • Eenie

            I would just pay for the carry-on. One between the two of you would give you some extra room. Especially on the way home, I like souvenirs!!

        • Wear a lot of black and just keep washing and rewearing? :)

    • C

      For that price? Paris!*

      I don’t know how regularly you look up flight prices from the US to Europe, but for a little context- my sister’s flight for her study abroad program in Paris cost *twelve.hundred.dollars* and I feel like usually minimum flights begin at 700ish.

      • louise danger

        that’s been the feedback from travel-savvy facebook friends, yeah. and the airline (WOWair) is sort of the international-flights version of Spirit – you get a seat on an airplane and pay for anything beyond that – but…. paris. (we were also considering it for our scotland trip, since they fly from our local airport which makes connections on this end simple.)

        • Lisa

          I am so jealous. If I lived somewhere with WOWair, I would be planning all kinds of long weekend trips just for fun. I miss living somewhere with a big, well-connected airport because all of the great flight deals are usually out of those places.

          • louise danger

            BWI is definitely the redheaded stepchild of well-connected international airports (poor kid is sandwiched between Dulles, Philly and JFK), but every now and then there are some gems!

          • Lisa

            My current airport has like 10 gates so anything is better than this! (Though I will say for it: we can be from our front door, through security, and at the gate in less than 20 minutes. I could never in my wildest dreams plan for anything less than a 45 minute trek to Midway or O’Hare.)

          • louise danger

            i know that feel. I had similar feelings about the airport in Des Moines, but even that one was huge compared to one i flew through in Nova Scotia last May: two gates that share a waiting area, eight flights per day.

          • Lisa

            That sounds similar to the airport where my friend’s parents live! She said at her parents’ place there is one employee on-duty who serves as the front desk ticketer, the security person, and the gate agent. I can’t even imagine!

  • Kaitlyn

    So timely since honeymoons are on my mind! We’re seriously contemplating Koh Samui in Thailand after it was recommended to me in HH last week. I found a resort that stole my heart and includes breakfast, but we’re on our own for food and drinks.

    For those that have visited, how much do you think is reasonable to budget for food and drinks each day? We’re thinking a 10 day honeymoon (and would be contemplating spending a day or two in Bangkok) and we do consume a good amount of alcohol, so I want to make sure I’m keeping that in mind as I budget.

    • Alex K

      I honeymooned on Koh Samui in July 2016. Our breakfast was included but nothing else was. We probably spent about 100 USD a day on food/drinks. You could definitely do it cheaper, but we really like food. The one thing that really got us was we needed to take a cab most places on the island and that really adds up. Also- we had one of the most amazing meals of our lives in Bangkok- the place was called Nahm and it was pricey but worth it.

      • Kaitlyn

        This is definitely helpful! Would you mind sharing where you stayed? I’m currently infatuated with Tongsai Bay, but would love to hear more suggestions.

        • Alex K

          So we had to change hotels last minute as the first hotel we stayed in was filled with 12 geckos (so gross and not relaxing). We ended up at the Vana Belle. The beach was very pretty (and we did not get bugged by beach vendors too often) and the pool was great. The included breakfast was one of the most decadent things I have ever experienced (champagne, oysters, and iberico ham every day). That being said – it was a bit removed from town (hence the cabs) and definitely felt like a big hotel.

          • Kaitlyn

            Ooh that’s good to know, thank you!

        • savannnah

          I took my parents here: http://www.baanhaadngam.com/index.html it was great for them and I think would make an awesome honeymooning spot right on the beach. There are many awesome restaurants on the beach nearby and outdoor massages my mom and I got on the beach there were beyond amazing.

          • Kaitlyn

            This is great, thanks!

  • Sara

    I’ve already got a severe case of wanderlust so this isn’t helping :)

    I would also highly recommend the website HostelWorld.com . I’ve used them for booking trips a few times and the reviews by members for all the locations are great!

  • lamarsh

    I would second Panama as a reasonably-priced honeymoon destination. My now-fiance and I went there when we were first dating. We had 8 days and spend half of it in Panama City, which is delightful and full of culture, and the other half in a grass hut on an island in Boca del Toros. Once we got to the island, there was no cell service or internet and it was so incredible to completely unplug (and also to tell my bosses that I would be unavailable to answer any emails…haha).

    I would also highly recommend Hamanasi Resort in Belize if you are looking for an eco-resort in Central America. It gives you access to diving, snorkeling, waterfall hiking and Mayan ruins — one of my favorite vacations!

  • Lisa

    Another fun tip: if you’re just looking for something within a certain budget, you can go to Kayak’s web-site and search “Everywhere” as the destination for a set of specific dates. That could help you find a cheap destination if you’re open to location ideas!

    Stephanie, if you’re out there in the comments, do you mind sharing your Paris airBnB with the world? Husband and I are going to be there a couple of days in April, and I would love a recommendation!

    • emmers

      I love this tip! Fun adventuring!

    • Google Flights will also let you do this.

    • HannahESmith

      I highly recommend using the same feature on Skyscanner. You can even search for “cheapest month” for a time frame.

    • JulietteG

      Hi Lisa, when I was there last summer we stayed in a hotel called Les Tournelles. It was in the Marias, which I loved, such a great district for bars and restaurants. The room wasn’t particularly big, but it was beautifully decorated and we thought the hotel was lovely.

  • Sara C.

    Oh god. Please don’t ride the wine train. Please. We received a ($300!) gift certificate for our wedding, and even though we spent nothing on the trip, we still regretted even wasting a gorgeous day on it. The food was terrible, we were stuck sharing a tiny booth with another couple, the views are mostly the backs of industrial lots, AND THEY DON’T EVEN INCLUDE THE WINE IN MOST PACKAGES.

    Napa is lovely. Sonoma and other less touristy parts of wine country are even better. Go outside.

    • Jane

      Thanks for the heads up. What a bummer.

    • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

      This is so disappointing.

    • Jess

      Aw, that’s a bummer, I am planning a Napa trip and was like, “this seems cool”

      Got other recommendations for places to stay/how to get around?

      • Lisa

        Rental car or bike. My SIL once commented that some people rent limos and are chauffeured around to the wineries all day so they don’t have to worry about who’s driving.

        • Alyssa

          Yes, I was just going to write about the limos. I live in the area and most people I know who have done the whole wine-tasting thing in Napa do this. Also — I bet there are some companies with smaller cars that will chaffeur as well if you dig a bit. Also, maybe Lyft is an option?

        • Jess

          Yeah, Rental car seems like the best option right now. That or it looks like some B&B’s do tours.

        • Jools

          Yes, we booked a day tour from a company called Terrific Tours, they picked us up in San Fran and drove us around for the day. Lots of similar options out there.

      • Alyssa

        Healdsburg is cute! And fairly central, I believe.

        • Jess

          Thanks! I will look into there.

          • Alyssa

            Sure! I have a lot of family that live in Sonoma and that would probably be a good place to look too. My brother got married in Sepastopol which is maybe 20 mins away from Napa, but super cute too.

    • Juliana

      As a frequenter of Northern California, wineries I would suggest skipping the Napa/Sonoma region altogether. The scenery is indeed beautiful, but you’re gonna pay $20+ to taste at each winery and they will be crazy packed. Give Livermore (my favorite), Lodi (Zin country), or Clarksburg (20 minutes from Downtown Sacramento) a try. Beautiful scenery, tastings ranging from $0-$10, less crowds, and the people pouring are happy to chat with you and even provide some wine education if you’re new to tasting. Relaxing on a beautiful patio, leisurely sipping wine is the true California winery experience in my opinion.

      • Lisa

        My husband’s family lives really close to Lodi and are members of several wineries in the area. I love going to all of the cheap tastings, and then buying a bottle to cork at the winery with a picnic!

    • Rachel

      I second this. I’ve ridden the wine train and it was fine, but I’d
      personally skip it for a honeymoon. In fact, I’d probably skip Napa
      altogether and do Healdsburg, Calistoga or Sonoma. If you can swing it, I’d go to the Kenwood Inn for a honeymoon, we went for our mini-moon. It’s not inexpensive but it is gorgeous, relaxing and kid-free.

    • westofhere

      A late vote for Boonville / Mendocino County area (not far from Healdsburg)

  • morningbell0902

    I just want to say that “Swahili” is NOT an ethnicity, tribe, or race. It is a language, and the people of East Africa who historically spoke (and currently speak) Swahili also spoke their own tribal/regional languages. Swahili is a lingua franca. So, the 12th century “Swahili village” is a misnomer. I’d be interested to know more about the place, and who lived there.
    That being said, I’m sure it’s a lovely place to honeymoon and I encourage anyone who wants to visit to learn some Swahili phrases. It’s a fairly easy language to learn. :)

    • Meg Keene

      Thanks for catching that, we will edit.

      • Mambo vipi

        Heyyy fellow Swahili speaker! I’ve actually been to Gedi and
        it’s interesting, it is commonly referred to as a Swahili Village (not an
        ethnicity, tribe, or race, but a type settlement) in the materials at the site,
        by the guides, etc. My understanding is that like the language that
        spread, Swahili was used to refer to Bantu people who intermingled with Arab
        traders, creating their own culture and power structures, as well as language.
        There are stones around Gedi that have Arabic writing on them, but it’s not
        thought to be an Arabic settlement. Its a point in time along the evolution of
        Swahili language and the interaction of people that created that, perhaps. I
        think there are a lot of unknowns when it comes to East African archaeology and
        definitely a lot more specifics to learn about groups of people and how they
        identify themselves (as opposed to how others identify them). It’s such an
        interesting place!

    • Meg Keene

      Thanks for catching this, we’ll edit.

    • stephanie

      Hey! So I wanted to follow up on this, because I put that part of the post together. The National Museums of Kenya website (http://www.museums.or.ke/content/blogcategory/22/28/) states: “Gede ruins are the remains of a Swahili town, typical of most towns along the East African Coast” and when I cross-referenced, I found a few definitions of “Swahili” that I think are relevant:

      “1. a Bantu language widely used as a lingua franca in East Africa and having official status in several countries.
      2. a member of a people of Zanzibar and nearby coastal regions, descendants of the original speakers of Swahili.”

      also adjective: “relating to Swahili or to the people who are its native speakers.”

      And in reference to the language itself, “Swahili, also known as Kiswahili, is a Bantu language and the first language of the Swahili people.”

      Admittedly, that last part is from Wikipedia. I’m more than happy to be corrected on this, but in this instance I’m not sure I should be.

  • Alli

    We’ve already planned our honeymoon, but this post is still great timing. My best friend and I were just like “I’m tired of working let’s start a travel instagram and get sponsored by coconut water companies.” Obviously we’re never going to make money off this jawn, so I’ve been trying to think of how I can take a bunch of trips each year with my very limited time off. And where I’d even want to go!

    Here’s my list of my top trips in the next couple of years:
    Barcelona
    Dublin
    Edinburgh
    NOLA
    Somewhere in Mexico
    Morocco
    Somewhere else in Africa (Aside from this article I never see suggestions for Africa. It’s a huge continent there’s got to be some hidden gems there!)
    Disney World

    • Lisa

      I am here to support your Disney World efforts and answer any questions you have about Disney/Universal. My family went A LOT when I was young, and I’ve been at least a few times as an adult. We’re headed back this June to celebrate my dad’s 60th birthday!

      • Alli

        Thanks! FH and I actually went to Disney for our first dating anniversary and it was on a SUPER tight budget. Like we drove 18 hours, showed up at 5 am, napped for 3 hours before jumping into our first day, spent 4 days in the parks and drove 10 hours to a relatives after a full day at Epcot. We’re not exactly high rollers now but I’d really like to not put myself through that again! It’s a wonder our relationship survived that trip.

        • Lisa

          Holy cow! That sounds like what my parents had planned for their honeymoon. However, my dad’s car was stolen the week before their wedding so they ended up staying at a hotel in their college town instead because they couldn’t afford a rental car. Their first Disney trip ended up being with 2.5-year-old me in tow 10 years later. :)

    • BSM

      A few suggestions re: Africa, I’ve been to Kenya and Tanzania to go on safari, both of which were totally incredible. Highly recommend. My brother went to South Africa a few years ago, where he also did a full safari, visited Robben Island and did a few historical tours on apartheid and Nelson Mandela, and checked out the World Cup stadium. A former boss went to Namibia in 2015 which she really loved; they have some awesome photos of sledding on huge sand dunes from that trip. My coworker’s husband is Ghanaian, so they traveled to Ghana last year to visit extended family, and she said visiting the Gold Coast (major hub of the slave trade) was one of the most powerful experiences of her life.

    • C

      Re: Africa: consider Cairo! I went in 2015 and had the best time. I knew someone who was living there but we also went down to Luxor for a few days on our own and that was great too.

  • Alyssa

    Ugh, so much wanderlust.

    We’re doing our ceremony/honeymoon in Paris and Nice, and my AirBnB tip for Paris is to PLAN EARLY. We got cheap studio rates for June this year solely because we booked all our lodging a year in advance.

  • JC

    I have known people who have gone to Cape Town and seen penguins, but it never actually occurred to me that “I could go to Cape Town and see penguins!!!” I’ve even been to South Africa (Johannesburg is quite far inland), and this is blowing my mind.

    • Meg Keene

      I have done it, they are crazy cute. I found Cape Town troubling… their race issues are obvious, and I was pretty frequently implicated in various white people’s racism in a way I didn’t feel equipped to respond to (I was much younger). But the penguins are A++.

      • JC

        I can sympathize. I went on a church business/voluntourism trip when I was eighteen, and looking back, there were aspects that are extremely troubling now that I just didn’t grasp. (Not the least of which was voluntourism itself.) But I’m still in it for the penguins.

        • My boyfriend told me the other day (inspired by this post) that we could see penguins in Argentina. So now I am excited about that idea and it’s on our travel list…

      • Notreallytrevor

        I was completely gonna jump and say something along these lines. I thought boulders beach was an odd call. Simon’s town, the closest town, has so many race issues. Up until 15 years ago only white people could live in town! I am 30 and not equipped to deal with the racism I encountered and the white privilege I benefited from. It put a dampener on my whole time there. Only go if you are prepared for this. Although the whole area is gorgeous with amazing things to see and do and the penguins are adorable.

  • Lana

    I second the frequent flyer miles method. We searched for credit cards that had sign on offers for bonus 50,000 miles if we spent $2,000 on the card in the first three months. That deposit for the wedding venue took care of it quickly…
    I recommend this method with a level of financial sensibility. Know your credit history, know your own finances and what’s feasible, read the fine print on the credit card (eg steep annual fees), search the flights and the mileage points needed to get there, and book it early (we did 6 mo in advance).

    • savannnah

      Ditto to this- My fiance and I work the loyalty programs (rentals, hotel, flights) pretty hard and credit cards done smartly, are the way to go to really make these programs go from nice idea to lets book this. We also both travel for work and get to claim our miles/points to our personal accounts which does help some but planing is the key. For instance we researched what brand of hotel we were going to stay at for our honeymoon and then got a partnered credit card with that brand before making any big wedding purchases. It also meant going with the florist who takes a credit card than the one who doesn’t as we are channeling all our wedding cash though two credit cards in order to save up for the flights and hotels.

    • Alli

      I should be getting my 40k southwest points any day now, and I just signed up for the chase sapphire preferred to put our catering payments on and get that sweet 50k points. I may be dinging my credit right now but I’ve already got a house and a car so I’m not super worried about it.

    • I was really keen to try this, but apparently UK cards are really stingy with what you can get for your points (it would take several years and a lot of switching to hit up all the specials offers to get anything more than an upgrade on a flight no one else wants to take). I still considered it, but actually the effort of juggling various cards and balance transfers wasn’t worth it.

  • AmandaBee

    We are the idiots who did not work a honeymoon into our wedding planning/budgeting process, so 7 months later we still have not gone on one. BUT I finish my PhD this June, start a tenure-track position in August, and am freaking determined to go on a real honeymoon in the summer.

    So, our plan: we’re vising family in Santa Fe/Albuquerque, New Mexico in July, and are thinking of road tripping our way through the southwest (grand canyon!) and up the California coast (I’ve always wanted to do Route 1), and MAYBE hit Yosemite before flying home from…somewhere in northern California. Timing/details are TBD – we could spend 2-3 weeks just driving around, pending our ability to sucker someone into watching our pets that long.

    So this is to say: anyone have tips for road trips (this will be our first)? Or suggestions for places in the Southwest and California we should not miss?

    • Amy March

      Think about your style. Do you want to cover serious miles one day and have a full day off to explore the next? Would you rather be driving a more modest amount daily but always making progress? Do you want the freedom of stopping wherever or the certainty of having reservations (you won’t want to be in Big Sur in summer without a reservation for example, lodging is limited and will be fully booked). Is the point being on the road or being different places?

      • AmandaBee

        Good questions! I’ll have to run these by my husband.

        I know we need at least something in the way of structure/reservations, because without structure my husband tends to get lost (and end up doing nothing) and I tend to get antsy. Whereas if we semi-plan it out, we can hit a balance that works for us. Plus, reservations.

        But we’re still in the beginning stages of figuring out how we want to do this, where we want to go, etc. My guess is the point is probably more about being in different places – how long probably depends on what said places have to offer.

    • Alyssa

      NorCal Destinations might depend on how long you want to drive/where you want to fly out of. If you fly out of San Jose or Oakland (Oak is my fave airport, so easy to maneuver), Highway 1 is close-ish to the bay area airports if you go up through Santa Cruz (where I live!) and go over 17. If you go up Highway 1, definitely go to Big Sur. If you’re into science stuff I’d recommend the Monterey Bay Aquarium because it’s amazing, and if you have time (and you’d have to see what time of year you’d be going), but whale watching has been pretty awesome the last couple years in Moss Landing (between Monterey and Santa Cruz).

      More out of the way but just as worthwhile if you’re not from CA, head to Lake Tahoe is you end up flying out of Sacramento! I think it’s about 2-ish hours from the Sac Airport, and it’s just gorgeous in the summer.

      • AmandaBee

        We don’t have a strong preference for where we want to fly out of. I suggested Bay Area because I visited once and want to go back, husband wants to see Tahoe though. He actually grew up near there but hasn’t been back in the past 10 years so, that’s an option. We probably need to figure out how much time we can realistically spend on this, and go from there. Just reading through stuff though is super exciting and I kind of want to do all of it (whales! the aquarium! an ocean!). I’m from the midwest so any sort of body of water is like an exciting experience :)

    • AP

      We do a lot of road trips, and my best piece of advice is to plan your route and do a lot of research on the surrounding areas BEFORE you go. You don’t have to have every minute planned, but have a general sense of how many days you want to be on the road, where you’ll stop for each night (ideally have your lodging booked ahead of time or be prepared to spend $$), how long you want to spend in each place. Our best trips are when we’ve studied the maps and the areas and both have a solid sense of our route and the attractions/ lodging options along the way. Get guidebooks and paper maps, don’t just rely on GPS. Our worst trips have been the ones where we either didn’t have time to plan well or changed our plans at the last minute due to weather or unexpected circumstances. In those cases, what starts out as “yay, we’re spontaneous and fun” very quickly becomes frustration and arguing as we try to find last minute places to camp or stay, spend way too much time on interstates and highways, and realize we don’t have the right clothes/gear for what we want to do. A few years ago we drove and camped from Mississippi across the Southwest and down the Baja Peninsula. To this day it’s the best trip we’ve ever taken together, and I attribute that to the months of planning and anticipating we did beforehand.

      I’m not sure road tripping the Southwest *and* the California coast is doable unless you have a significant amount of time, because there is so much to see and do in both of those areas that you may find yourself spending more time in the car than you want as you rush to fit it all in. And they’re farther apart than most people realize (especially if you want to get off the interstate at all.) After coming home from trips wishing we’d spent more time enjoying certain stops and less time in the car, I’d recommend picking one geographic area of like 300-500 square miles to explore.

      So excited for you!

      • gipsygrrl

        That’s a really good point re: travel time. I was thinking about that when I read the original post. I’ve done lots of living and road-tripping in the western states over the last decade and you kind of forget until you’re on the road how BIG these states are! Plus you can have loooonngg stretches of flat nothing-ness forever (Hello Utah and Nevada), mixed with scary mountain driving (Love you, Tahoe!) mixed with city traffic (California, this is you)… planning can go a long way ;)

        • AP

          One day we will move out west so we don’t have to allot 2-3 days on both ends of a road trip just for crossing Texas! Our 2 week trip this summer to AZ and UT is really more like 8 days of actually being there.

      • AmandaBee

        Thanks for your input! We are definitely much calmer people when we have a plan, so will take your advice re: planning a route to heart.

        Yeah, we’re not sure about the geographic area either. I could take or leave much of the Southwest – we’d already planned on heading to New Mexico to see family for a few days, but are more excited about the California Coast than the Southwest.

        • AP

          Then I def vote for the CA Coast! Last summer my husband and I looked at flying into San Francisco and renting an RV for a week, but at the time it was more than we wanted to spend. It’s a bucket list trip for sure!

    • Oh gawd, IF YOU DO NOT GO TO WHITE SANDS, NEW MEXICO I WILL BE GREATLY UPSET.
      Personally, quite upset, lol.
      Possibly the most magical place I’ve been in the ‘States…

      There’s also Sedona, AZ which is very beautiful, if a bit touristy. And we really liked Tucson (the BioSphere! Saguaro Cactus forest!). All nice options.

    • My recommendation for Hwy 1 is Point Reyes National Seashore! It’s about an hour north of San Francisco, and absolutely gorgeous with sandy beaches, dramatic cliffs, tons of amazing wildlife (including whales, depending on the time of year), and cheese! It’s also within easy day tripping distance of Sonoma/Healdsburg for wine country and there are lots of amazing, farm to table restaurants in the area. It’s actually where we’re getting married this June! I live in the Tahoe area, so have lots of recommendations there too, if you’re leaning that way.

  • Lisa

    For my own honeymoon, we went to southern Germany over Christmas for the holiday markets. It was a magical, fairytale, winter wonderland, and I would highly recommend it if you are more of a culture tourist than a beach person.

    • gipsygrrl

      I would love to do that someday. When did you go – and did you stay through Christmas?

      • Lisa

        We flew from Badtown Airport to Frankfurt on 12/22 and then took a train to Munich from the Frankfurt Airport. We stayed in Munich through 12/25, and on 12/26 we went to Fuessen/Neuschwanstein (aka the Disney Princess castle). We passed through Stuttgart for a night on 12/27 on our way to Baden-Baden and stayed there for a few days checking out the bathhouse and the BB market. We did NYE in Frankfurt and flew out on NYD.

        The Munich and Baden-Baden markets were both lovely though the latter was much smaller. I’ve heard really good things about the Nuremburg market and the city, but we didn’t have time. Salzburg is nearby and also apparently has a market. Berlin’s is apparently quite large as well, though the tradition is more southern, I think. 1-2 weeks would definitely be enough time to hit 3 or 4 cities and markets in the area!

        • savannnah

          The Berlin markets (there are a few of them scattered about the downtown) are what made me initially fall in love with Berlin and Germany as a whole. They are magic and the southern ones even more so!

        • gipsygrrl

          Great info – thank you for sharing!!

          • Lisa

            You’re welcome! It’s a wonderful trip that I highly recommend.

    • emmers

      That sounds amazing! I love the Chi christmas market, so the real deal would be incredible.

      • Lisa

        Chicago’s Christkindlmarkt was the inspiration! I loved the one there and went at least once a year when we were in the city. My husband wanted to do a beach honeymoon, but I couldn’t think of a better place to spend our first Christmas together. Plus we got to buy our tree topper there, which is a lovely souvenir to pull out each holiday season.

    • sofar

      Love Germany and still haven’t made it during Christmas time. A travesty, in my opinion, which I MUST rectify!

      • Lisa

        I keep saying it, but it was soooo magical! The first snow of the season happened on the day we went to visit the King’s Castles, and it was like a dream. There’s a reason Germany is the land of fairytales!

  • MrClean

    Why is no one hopping on the Spain Train?! We went for the second time this fall and just like before I was blown away with how affordable and gorgeous that country is. Beautiful hiking on Mallorca, goats wandering through the vineyards, bluer water than you thought could’ve ever existed. And then Barcelona, where wine is cheaper than water and art is everywhere you look, and right outside the city, Montserrat, a monastery on top of a mountain covered in CATS. We rented whole apartments for $40 a night. I kind of want to shout it from the rooftops but maybe it’s better kept a secret :)

    • Lisa

      Spain is beautiful, cheap, and one of my favorite places in the world. I’ve also heard great things about Portugal. The Iberian peninsula is something special!

      • Alex

        Agreed! I’ve also heard good things about Portugal and it’s on my list for a hopefully-near-future trip :)

        • Lisa

          I am trying to convince my husband to go, but he is hesitant about any country where he can’t speak the language. We’re going to France in April as part of a school trip for him, and I’m hoping I can change his mind about the language barrier!

          • Jools

            We went to Lisbon last year. We speak some Spanish and French between us but no Portuguese. It was fine! A huge amount of English is spoken there. It was wonderful, very good value and great wine!

          • Amy March

            We went speaking only “thank you” in Portuguese and it was totally fine. Everyone spoke enough English for us to get by.

          • Em

            I actually think Portugal is easier from a language perspective than Spain – from what I picked up from a lady waxing my eyebrows at the Benefit Bar in Sephora in Lisbon, all Portuguese kids have to learn two of English, Spanish or French for 10 years, and most pick English as one of their languages, so basically everyone in a tourist-facing industry seems to speak great English. We loved Lisbon (and Sintra is a beyond incredible day trip from Lisbon) and Porto was just incredible. We also spent some time on the beaches down south, which were stunning (but crowded given that we were there during school holidays).

    • CharlotteJ

      Montserrat!! Maybe my favorite place in the world now. Or maybe that title goes to Sites. So gorgeous. And you know what I miss? Cava Sangria. So cheap, so delicious. Actually I miss everything about Barcelona. Can’t wait to go back.

      • MrClean

        There’s nothing like walking into a bar that’s in a neighborhood that’s hundreds of years old and seeing prices listed for sangria – 2€, house rioja – 1€, and then realizing there’s no way a bottle of water is cheaper than that so you know what your afternoon’s gonna be. Also, the free tapas with EVERY DRINK puts the sad little peanut trays in some US bars to shame! We’d go out for a few glasses of wine after dinner and get a whole second meal for free – pan con tomate, tortilla de patatas, endless olives, and yup I am officially drooling on my keyboard…

    • Alyssa

      Ah, been dying to go to Spain but couldn’t talk my fiance into it for our honeymoon (we’re doing Nice instead, which I’m not complaining about though). But Art + Cats + Wine = Bliss.

      • People always underestimate Spain, I think. Spain is a surprisingly wonderful trip. Laid back, food-focused, and just drop dead gorgeous. It’s definitely worth a go.

        • Alyssa

          Yeah, fiance knows French and has never traveled internationally except to France, so I think he panicked a little at the idea of traveling through a country where he didn’t know the language… and France has meaning for us and there’s plenty to see, so I had no complaints about sticking with France, although Spain is still on my bucket list.

          BUT he did just tell me yesterday that he wants to go to Italy with me (I know Spanish and Italian), so he’s slowly branching out! If nothing else, I will enjoy the cat mountain solo with my wine (and a good friend or two) and that might suit me just fine :)

          • I always love the fear of going somewhere where you don’t know the language. I spent 12 weeks in Japan, and [still] never spoke a real word of Japanese. It adds a bit of a hassle to everything, sure, but it’s nothing to fear!

            Southern Spain. The Alcazar in Seville (should look familiar to GoT fans), the festivals at Cordoba, Alhambra in Granada, the white villages like Ronda, and maybe even a beach or Picasso’s hometown Malaga or Marbella…Oh, so many great options!!!!

          • Alyssa

            Okay okay okay fine! I will go to Spain! Ugh it just sounds so lovely :) and I’m a total art nerd so anything art-related will sway me. The Guggenheim in Bilbao is on my wishlist too.

            Yeah it was a bit of a shock the first time I traveled to a place where I didn’t know the language, but I found it really humbling and kind of integral to the travel experience — you figure it out and people are usually more than happy to be helpful, in my experience!

          • Margaretethomas

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          • Lisa

            I think my husband has similar reservations about going places he doesn’t know the language. (I will admit I haven’t been anywhere yet where I could speak at least the basics since I’m conversational in five languages.) However, we’re going to France this spring, and I’m so hopeful it will change his mind about needing to be intimately acquainted with the language!

          • Eenie

            Oh same. I know three foreign languages and my husband knows Latin. He wants to go somewhere English speaking for his first international trip. Which I can get behind since you will miss things if you don’t speak the native language, and he doesn’t want his first time out of the country to be horrible.

          • Lisa

            That’s totally fair. My husband had been out of the country to the UK and China as a kid/teenager, and I think his experiences in China colored a lot of how he views international travel. (He really didn’t enjoy it.) He was very worried that he would end up disliking Germany, one of his bucket list countries, because we were going in the winter, which is his least favorite season, but instead he loved it! I’m hoping that we’ll slowly get over some of his hesitations, and he’ll turn into a travel buddy/warrior to keep up with me. :)

          • Eenie

            My response is always “BUT SPAIN!!!!!!!!!” One day. He really just needs to learn more languages! My father in law recently went to Vietnam and used Google translate on his phone to have a conversation with his MIL for the first time ever. Definitely makes travelling a little easier!

          • Lisa

            Plus if he knows Latin, the rest of the romance languages should be pretty easy! Husband has a working knowledge of German, which doesn’t translate that well into most other European languages.

            Also, technology is amazing. I’m waiting for little earpieces that can filter and translate everything automatically without the need for a phone!

          • Alyssa

            Yes! Glad to know my fiance is not the only one and I too hope to take him to another country and help him get more comfortable with the concept of not knowing the language. Also, after traveling with him through France where he was solely responsible for communicating for the both of us, I want to take him to a country where I can show off my Spanish/Italian and play that role for a bit.

            I’m so excited you will be in France in the spring! We found the French extremely friendly, especially if you know even a little more than “bonjour” and si’l vous plait”, and most of them just start speaking to you in English anyway. But it’s like you said further down the thread, if you’re comfortable with Latin languages, you will do just fine in France — I wasn’t able to speak or understand it really, but I took comfort in the fact that I could at least read the signs/menus!

          • Lisa

            That is so good to hear! My French is definitely rusty, and I need to brush up. I went to Paris for a couple of days about 8 years ago so I’m really looking forward to going back. The festival/school trip is in Normandy so I’m hoping we might have a couple days there and a couple in Paris. It should be a fun trip!

          • Alyssa

            Oooh! I will probably circle back and ask you for recommendations, especially if you’re going to be up in Normandy!

          • Lisa

            Definitely! I have to see the festival, but I’m hoping to rent a car and hit the D-Day beaches and maybe go out to Mont St.-Michel. I’m super jealous of your Nice trip; will you be there over the summer to go to the lavender fields?

          • Alyssa

            That’s so great, I’d love to go to Mont St. Michel and after reading All the Light we Cannot See, I really want to see St Malo too.

            Yes, I think Nice will be fun! I think we’ll be just a little early for the lavender fields which is a bummer, but I read that it’s red poppy season when we’ll be there (Mid-Late June), so I am looking forward to that! We’ll be there for 4-ish days right after our ceremony. We wanted a place easy to get to from Paris that had the option of beach lounging but could also go do cultural-type things, and I think Nice ended up being the perfect option for us! I’m excited to visit Villefranche sur Mer and see the Chagall and Matisse museums (in travel I’m highly motivated by a good art museum). And I’m particularly stoked because we decided to splurge and book a night at Hotel Negresco so we can live out our inner 1920’s French-American socialite dreams for our first honeymoon night!

          • Lisa

            That sounds so lovely! Red poppies will be a good compromise for the lavender.

            I really need to read All the Light, but I’m still trying to power my way through HP before London. That will have to be next!

          • Alyssa

            What a great reading list you have going on! Despite how long it is, I think I read All the Light within five days or so because I enjoyed it so much (and was on summer break). I hope you like it!

          • idkmybffjill

            Ugh I’m obsessed with you – which five languages? I’m proficient in Spanish and conversational in French – I want to learn Italian next!

          • Lisa

            Well, five if you’re counting English. ;) It’s the opera singer in me–I can speak conversationally in French, German, and Italian. Spanish was my second major in college because I love languages. I can do basic pleasantries in Russian and Japanese, but I don’t count those since I can’t get beyond the “Hello, how are you?” stage.

            If you’re proficient in Spanish, Italian is super easy to pick up. When I was in Italy, 9 out of 10 times, I conjugated Spanish verbs in an Italian way, and the Italians usually understood what I was saying. You could try Duolingo, but I feel like it’s been better for me to brush up on the languages I already know instead of learning a completely new one. I need to start working on my French before April!

          • idkmybffjill

            I’m v obsessed with duolingo – but yes I agree re: better for languages I already know. I figured it was your opera background!!

          • Lisa

            I keep joking that singing and Duolingo have poorly prepared me for the real world. I can talk all about the moon shining in your eyes or tell you about how the horse is eating the duck, but I can’t have conversations about current issues or culture!

            I will say they did come in handy at the Christmas markets because we were trying to buy an tree topper, and I was like, “ALL OF MY TRAINING HAS COME TO THIS MOMENT. I can say colors and know words for celestial beings!”

          • idkmybffjill

            Pahaha that’s perfect!!!
            I always write scripts before we travel so I can practice. Like I think of every experience we might come across (roughly) and write down little conversations to study, lol. Makes me feel so much more confident!

          • I love Duolingo too, and I’m currently using it every day to refresh a language I already know but haven’t used in YEARS. Looking forward to going back to the country where that language is spoken next year maybe…

          • Tracylmcglothlin

            Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours and have longer with friends & family! !mj155d:
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    • K.

      We did San Sebastian for our honeymoon! Not necessarily a cheap option since it’s a big luxury spot for Europeans too (especially in the summer/early fall, since there’s a big jazz and film festival), but it’s a foodie paradise with great road trips all around the Basque region (I dream of Rioja wine tours and cider houses. Also La Concha Beach definitely isn’t too shabby! It was the relaxation we needed.

      Sevilla is also stunning if you want the more affordable, classically *SPANISH* city feel. Don’t go in the summer like we did, though. The heat got so bad while we were there that it was almost hallucinatory (it was like walking through a hair dryer on the hottest setting) and we still wax poetic about how *amazing* the department store El Cortes Ingles was, entirely because it had air conditioning and we could walk around it in the afternoons. But it’s a GORGEOUS city and has pretty easy access to Andalusian beaches too.

      • Alex K

        My husband and I are thinking of taking a trip to the San Sebastian area in the late fall. Did you visit any of the neighboring areas to San Sebastian? Did you rent a car? We are still trying to figure out the logistics of our trip.

        • K.

          If you’re comfortable driving in Europe, I would probably recommend renting a car. It would be a lot easier!

          A lot of hotels have driving services or access to taxis, which are good if you’re going just a little out of town (like the cider houses, which are about 10 minutes into the foothills). The cost adds up fast, though.

          We did buses to Hondarribia (little fishing town with amazing architecture), Getaria (beautiful seaside town), Bilbao (for the Guggenheim), and to the town where Asador Etxebarri is (can’t remember the name because the town was nothing special, but it was one of the best meals of our entire life). Overall, it would have been easier to have our own transport because the logistics sometimes were more headache than it was worth, especially to the restaurant. But the buses are cheap at least!

          We also did a winery tour from our hotel through the Rioja region – unless you have a car, a structured tour is really the only option. I would not recommend trying to use buses or a driver to do this, but I’m also not very patient.

          But really, the San Sebastian area is GORGEOUS. No matter what your itinerary looks like, you’ll love it.

          • Alex K

            Thanks! This is super helpful.

    • HannahESmith

      I LOVE Spain. I went on a trip there with girlfriends, and it was incredible! So underrated IMO.

    • Alex

      I AGREE SO MUCH!!! And Spain is SO cheap! My husband’s father is from Spain, and we were there for Christmas and went to Cordoba and Sevilla and oh my, such good food and it was so beautiful AND it was SO affordable. Our 4-star hotel a 10 minute walk from the historic city center in Cordoba was $55, including taxes. I’m sure it would have been $400 in NYC or $250+ in non-super expensive areas

    • Kelly

      Going to Spain this Friday :) Viva Madrid y Barcelona

      • Lisa

        ¡Que te diviertas mucho! :)

    • In the middle of planning our Spain honeymoon right now! Cannot wait. Currently planning on starting in Madrid then heading to some towns in the south like Grenada, Sevilla and Antiquera. And then a quick ferry to Morocco for a night.

      • MrClean

        While you’re in Madrid, definitely go to Mercado de San Miguel. It got a little hectic because we went at lunchtime but it was soooo cool and a fun introduction to tapas! If you don’t speak a lot of Spanish, it’s also easy to just point at whatever looks delicious (hint: everything) and order that way rather than having to start out with “Quisera una…” etc.

      • Em

        Omg Grenada and Seville are both amazing – so much great food and amazing scenery and history. I would add Ronda in there for a truly amazing experience – it was incredible. We rented this incredible Airbnb on the edge of the gorge there and it was just so so great. We rented a car and drove around Andalusia for a few weeks in August/September – happy to give you tips! Although driving into Spanish cities can be a bit nervewracking (because the roads are super narrow), Andalusia is a great area to drive around – the ‘white villages’ in the hills are just so beautiful.

        • Thanks so much. I will definitely add Ronda to the potential itinerary. It looks amazing.

    • idkmybffjill

      That’s where we went and it rulllllled. WINE IS SO CHEAP.

  • savannnah

    My fiance and I are one of those couples that has super miss-matched travel experiences and opportunities so planning a honeymoon has been somewhat difficult. I’ve lived abroad half my life in big cities in both Asia and Africa and he had never been outside of the US when we started dating. I would love to take him to my beloved Bangkok or perhaps Zanzibar but we decided it would be better if it was a totally new place so we are going to morocco for 3 weeks next December. Really looking forward to the desert, oceans and hectic markets along with shopping and seeing the ghosts of Jewish north African life.I think its going to be a lot for my fiance but hes planning most of the trip and really looking forward to getting away for 3 weeks. we may do a stopover in Spain or Paris depending on our flights as well.

    • Lisa

      My husband is a relaxed, go-with-the-flow traveler, and for me, part of the joy of travelling is reading up on the destination and planning the whole trip before I go. I’ve definitely tamped down my planning to try and meet my husband halfway, and he’s begrudgingly admitted that he sees and tries a lot more with me than he would by himself. (See: the reef-snorkeling and the kayaking to a tiny island in the Florida Keys)

      • savannnah

        Yeah- I exist somewhere between the two of you on the travel spectrum but my main concern is knowing enough of where you are going to not miss anything huge and to not spend a ton if you don’t have to, while my fiance would like to just explore whatever whenever even if it means missing a train/plane etc.

      • I am totally a researcher and planner too. However, I backpacked across Europe without any advance hostel reservations and was totally fine with that years ago. I have become a more research-loving planner as I age, ha!

    • Cleo

      Hey! I did a trip to Morocco in law school. My school had a 2 week study abroad program where you spent the semester learning about legal issues in 3rd world countries, then chose a focus and learned about it from experts during the trip. My team chose minority issues in Morocco, so we looked at the Jewish and female populations.

      All this to say that there is a Museum of Moroccan Judaism in Casablanca and the curator is an excellent resource! Website: http://rickgold.home.mindspring.com/museum_of_moroccan_judaism.htm

      Casablanca itself was not my favorite city, but they do have a Rick’s Cafe there (inspired by the film :) ), so I’d advise to stay in Rabat (which is like Casablanca’s cleaner, more picturesque twin), and do a day trip to Casablanca – maybe tour a mosque, go to the museum, and then Rick’s for dinner.

      Other Moroccan tips, because I just can’t help it…

      Rabat is very nice. It’s the capital, so there might be fewer touristy things to do, but they do have a Casbah, which is so fun, and also the ruins of Chellah, an ancient Muslim city.

      Marrakech is the must-do city (make it out of the old part of the city and tour Yves St-Laurent’s house!). You can spend days in the souk, eat street food at night, all in the square. And try to stay in a Riad (The one we stayed in served Moroccan mint tea at 3pm ish every day, with cookies).

      Fez has great ceramics, but is sort of disappointing once you’ve seen Marrakech. It’s the most modern of the cities I visited (and the only one that had a McDonald’s, haha, and their meat is excellent there because it’s all halal).

      Try to do a night in the Sahara, camping in tents, led to campsite on camels, by Berbers. They cook you an amazing tagine and the dunes are unreal…pictures don’t do them justice.

      Ifrane is a small town you should try to do a couple hours in — it looks like a village in the Swiss Alps. It’s unreal and mindblowing.

      Ouarzazate is kind of fun for a couple hours too. It’s an oasis in the middle of the desert that’s the center of filmmaking in Morocco. The area around Ouarzazate has doubled for various middle-eastern nations in film.

      And, if you finish in Tangier, take the ferry to Spain. It’s a beautiful 8 mile trip, during which you pass the Rock of Gibraltar. Then, on the other side, you’re in Grenada and can tour the Alhambra, an amazing palace/architectural wonder.

      Let me know if you have any questions. Hope my rambling is helpful!

      • savannnah

        This is great! Its actually hard to find info on Morocco that’s somewhere between all inclusive resort and 17 year old backpacking tips so this is super helpful. With three weeks we are looking at flying into Casablanca and doing the large circle of imperial cities plus chefchaouen, ample time for desert sleeping and then a few days on the beach somewhere!

        • Cleo

          Sounds amazing! Where are you beaching? Essaouira is the place to go (I’ve heard, we didn’t have time to stop there).

          Try to make a spa appointment at at least one of the places you’re staying (especially if you’re in a riad). Argan oil is no joke – you get washed, massaged, exfoliated and oiled up, and emerge with the softest skin you’ve ever had.

          And two random pieces of advice:

          If you can, one or both of you/your fiance should take some time to learn French or (Moroccan) Arabic (it’s a different dialect there) – basic words/phrases that you’d need to haggle on prices or order food.

          I speak French and when I and my Arabic-speaking classmates shopped in the souks independently of each other, we’d end up with better prices than our classmates who only spoke English.

          Also – take a look in a lot of the shops, some of them will have menorahs and seder plates on the high shelves (beautiful silver working). If you see them and mention them, then mention you’re Jewish, sometimes the shopkeepers will insist on you paying less on whatever unrelated item you’re looking at (this happened to me a few times).

          • savannnah

            We are looking at Essaouira for sure- and yeah my French is terrible and what Arabic I have isn’t good in Morocco so we are brushing up on a few phrases and just assuming the prices will be for Americans. Good point on the judaica, I didn’t even think about that.

          • Em

            I also spent 2.5 weeks with my FH in Morocco in August (which was beyond hot at that time of year). Loved Marrakesh, liked Casablanca (the Mosque there is awesome and Rick’s Cafe is fun – it’s also a good way to ease yourself into Morocco), loved Chefchaouen (this amazing blue village in the mountains). Fes was kind of exhausting and overwhelming and not my favourite at all, but we loved visiting the Roman ruins at Volubilis, which you can do from either Fes or Meknes (or potentially from Casablanca, but it would be a long day). We did a great cooking class at the Clock Cafe in Fes which was great, but there is a Clock Cafe in Marrakesh too, so maybe try to do it there instead!

            I wouldn’t prioritise Tangier (there wasn’t much to see there!) but I hear that some of the beach resorts on either side are nice, and I’m still sad we didn’t get to visit Essaouria. One thing I would advise is that if you do a desert tour, it is definitely worth splurging on it – we did not, and it was very underwhelming and uncomfortable.

            To be honest though – although we liked some parts of Morrocco, and are both experienced developing world travellers, we were both quite relieved to get on the ferry to Spain – the intensity of being hassled on the street (in the sense of people wanting to sell you things or offering to act as fake guides, etc) really got to us after awhile, as did the heat, but that will be less of an issue for you in December. So I would definitely recommend spending some time in Spain either before or after – we found getting the ferry to Algeciras in Spain from Tangier to be quite straight forward, and from there it’s easy to go to either Seville or Granada (both of which we LOVED so so so much.)

          • savannnah

            Thanks for the response- I am definitely aware of some of the hassling issues with regard to travel in Morocco and I’m trying how to minimize them the best ways possible- one is that we are going to spend time in Essaouria, which I might not normally hit up if we were travelling on a regular trip/budget. We are also splurging on the dessert trip since my friends told me that you really get what you pay for on that experience. I’ve heard really mixed things about Fes and Marrakesh, people love one and not the other so we’ll just have to see! We never use a guide for any travel but are considering it knowing it will make life a little easier-Additionally having traveled to Egypt and India as a solo female I’m hoping it wont be too bothersome, esp. as a couple. I’ll have to report back!

    • Jessica

      Madrid has really cheap flights to Morocco, it might be worth flying into Madrid, taking a day or so to adjust to the jet lag, and then taking a separate flight to Morocco. Plus Spain is awesome, as the comments above have mentioned. (You could also take a ferry across the strait of Gibraltar!) I’ve been to Tangier and Marrakech, and liked Marrakech a LOT more. The Marrakech trip was 10 years ago and the Tangier trip was 7 years ago (gaaah) so maybe things have changed, but Tangier was more touristy and a bit overwhelming — lots of people wanting to “show us around” and bring us to specific restaurants, etc. There’s also, like, a McDonalds in Tangier, and we didn’t see one in Marrakech (although I think we stayed more in the central city, but that was also possible in Marrakech in a way that it wasn’t in Tangier). tl;dr Marrakech > Tangier (and I’ve heard that Casablanca and Tangier are similar w/r/t tourists).

  • K.

    Another fantastic, affordable Mexico option is Oaxaca. You’ve got access to one of the coolest little cities in the world (it’s SO romantic and lovely), a gorgeous valley filled with interesting sights and indigenous culture, and 8 hours from there (or a quick cheap flight), AMAZING beaches. Mexico City is great, but it can be super overwhelming. Oaxaca is a good choice if you like old school romance, culture and gorgeous nature. (I sound like a travel agent! But seriously, it’s one of the best trips I’ve ever taken.)

    It is not Zika-friendly if that matters to you, but the overall whole state is seriously an underrated gem of Mexico. There’s also quite a bit of political unrest, particularly with teachers’ unions, but that’s honestly most of Mexico. Just stay informed and use common sense around protests, and you’ll be fine.

    • K.

      RTA: The main city is commonly called just “Oaxaca” or officially Oaxaca de Juarez. And when we were there for 10 days, our full budget was $3k including flights… and we seriously splurged on accommodations, food (OMG THE FOOD), and we also had a personal tour guide for 4 whole days.

    • Alyssa

      OOOH this sounds awesome. I’ve always wondered about Oaxaca because I love Oaxacan wood-carved animal figures but you definitely sold me!

      • K.

        We went to one of the two towns that specializes in alebrijes and spent time at the home of a master carver (not a special thing for us or anything; they’re happy to do it because it’s a big part of their business).

        It’s an astonishing art form and when you see the process from start to finish (it can take ~2 years for the most intricate pieces), it’s totally awe-inspiring. I forgot that we definitely went over and above our budget on all the different crafts, ha!

        Seriously, Oaxaca is awesome. :D

    • BSM

      Omg, Oaxaca has been on my mind for the past few days! We watched the Chef’s Table episode on Enrique Olvera last week, and now I’m dying to go. We’re TTC right now, so so many amazing places in Mexico/Latin America are no-goes for us at the moment, but definitely on my list.

      • K.

        Yeah, I’m 18 weeks pregnant and we were JUST on the right side of being there 6+ months before our positive so I didn’t have to get tested by the state. Especially in the coastal area, it’s no joke. We won’t be going back until our kid is quite a bit older but I dream about it all the time.

      • Jessica

        I think the city of Oaxaca (Oaxaca de Juarez) would be safe from Zika, as it’s pretty high up in the mountains.

        • K.

          It’s actually not :-/ The elevation isn’t quite high enough, according to my OB. Mexico City is though!

        • BSM

          Perhaps, but this isn’t really something I want to chance, ya know? I can visit Oaxaca/Mexico next year.

  • We did a mini-moon in New Orleans right after our wedding and now I tell everyone that it’s the way to go! I’d never been to NO and we had such a great time. We also found a LivingSocial deal for the cutest B&B (The Canal Street Inn which is fabulous!) and the streetcar stop right out front made it so convenient for us to get around. It was so great to get a couple of days to get away right after our wedding, and not break the bank.

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  • emilyg25

    We did a combo of nature/adventure and city—two nights in the Adirondacks and three nights in Montreal. In the Dacks, we stayed at this luxury all-inclusive campground called Camp Orenda. Definitely not something we’d do every day, but it was our one splashy thing. So much fun! Also, totally worth it to not have to worry about a damn thing after planning and pulling off our DIY wedding.

  • Her Lindsayship

    This doesn’t add much to the discussion but I just want to shout to everyone I meet that we’re planning our honeymoon in JORDAN! We’re definitely culture and history oriented in our vacations, with a bit of adventure thrown in, and this just seems perfect. Plus a friend already gave me a recommendation for a beautiful hot spring resort to stay in if we need a day or two to just chill. So. Excited.

    • Laura

      Ahhh, we went to Jordan last summer!! One of my favorite vacations ever.

      Favorite part: we got the two-day ticket for Petra. On the second day, we got up really early in the morning so we could be there when it opened. We figured there would be at least some other people thinking the same thing, but we had the entire place to ourselves. Walking through the Siq is amazing at anytime, but when you have the place to yourself in the lovely morning light? Pure magic.

  • gipsygrrl

    We did a honeymoon registry instead of a gift registry for our wedding, and for us it was the best decision ever. I know people go both ways on that, but for us it turned out wonderfully and we loved starting our married adventure together with a memorable travel adventure. We started in Switzerland and then headed down through the Piedmont region of Italy, ending up on the Italian coast. Three years later, our honeymoon memories are helping us keep our chin up through a period of time where we’re a little less mobile (hello, baby)!

    • “I know people go both ways on that, but for us it turned out wonderfully…”
      It’s usually the guests who go both ways. You don’t usually (or ever?) hear complaints from the couple about a honeymoon registry…

  • Sarah

    I’ve been to a bunch of these. The Mexico City idea is a fantastic one for a cheap, more authentic Mexican experience. We stayed in the most awesome Hampton Inn I’ve ever seen in my life for 10,000 Hilton points, which is worth about $35 in the States. If you are taking a week, I’d pair it with a trip to San Miguel de Allende for a few nights. They have 1st class buses that run between the two cities about 4 hours apart. The seats on the buses are like 1st class plane seats and they pretty much go directly there. San Miguel has tons of art galleries and awesome restaurants. Total for the week we spent $1200+ used hotel points for 4 nights, and we ate at NICE restaurants, took Uber everywhere we wanted, did all the tours we wanted (horseback riding, fancy food tour, Pyramid tour) and stayed an awesome 4* hotel the other 2 nights. Plane tickets into Mexico city can also be found for $250 from most big US cities.

    • Amy March

      I’m thinking of a San Miguel trip this summer- enough to do for 4 days?

      • Sarah

        We spent 3: 1 day early bus ride up. Nice lunch. Afternoon by the hotel pool for a couple hours. Evening food tour. Day 2: Spent wandering down little streets and ducking into art galleries. Attended a random Christmas concert we saw advertised around town. Day 3: Full day horseriding and farm tour. It was beyond fun.

        I could have spent another day there, but spending 4 days would be pretty relaxing.

        • Amy March

          Thanks!

  • Mermaid Phantom

    Not getting married anytime soon, but I’m getting wanderlust pretty bad here right now! A tropical getaway sounds great right about now! ♥

  • Call Me Penny

    We did a minimoon of four nights on the Amalfi Coast (the perks of living in the UK!) just after our wedding in September, and in May are heading off for a longer trip. We start with three nights in Iceland and then have ten days driving around Nova Scotia before finishing off with four nights in Boston. We just got the last of our accommodation booked last weekend so now the most important research needs to kick in – the food!

  • Laura

    I would like to second the Istanbul suggestion. We went to Turkey for our honeymoon and had the loveliest time. There are a ton of other places within the country worth seeing…Istanbul is obviously the most popular but just the tip of the iceberg. And Turkish people are so damn nice.

    We’re actually planning a trip for this summer. I’m defending my dissertation in May (….maybe….I’ve been spending an indecent amount of time on travel websites rather than analyzing data and writing), it’s our 5th anniversary in June, and my husband’s 30th birthday in July. Plenty of reasons to celebrate. Our original plan was to go to Iran, but President Trump seems to have thoroughly destroyed that possibility.

    Right now, the plan is to return to Turkey. Check out the ruins at Ephesus, do a bit of Greek island hopping, fly to the northeast of Turkey to check out some sights there, and then cross into Georgia (gorgeous mountain scenery + the birthplace of wine). Of course, other hypothetical plans include Morocco/Spain/Portugal, South Africa, Namibia, Vietnam/Laos, or Indonesia. Too many places, not enough time.

    • I did study abroad in Turkey a looooong time ago. And I saw so many of the things. Such a fantastic country. The food! Oh man, the food.

      – Efes has the best/most ancient Greek ruins you’ll ever see. Inside or outside of Greece, I’m pretty sure.
      – Troy is near Gelibolu, if you’re into ANZAC day and/or ancient mythologies.
      – Pamukkale – and swimming with the collapsed columns there, Walking up the calcium white travertines. YES. It is the middle of nowhere, of course.
      – Kapadokya. Because, of course.
      – Olimpos, near Antalya. The treehouses in orange groves! A gas-filled mountain that lights on fire! Climbing cliffs, wild fig trees, dance bars with ceilings open to the sky.
      – Van, Mt Nemrut, Urfa, etc. etc.
      – I need to get to the Black Sea sometime. Never made it.

    • Laura

      Another Laura chiming in to recommend Istanbul. Truly one of the most special places I’ve ever been. The people were so friendly and hospitable! Loved the food, and it was very inexpensive. I wish I’d seen more of Turkey than Istanbul, but it was a great place to start. :)

  • alovelyday

    Montreal! it was amazing and so affordable compared to most places. We road tripped up, stayed at an airbnb and loved every minute.

    • I looooooooved Montreal as a kid. Excited to be moving to New England, where it’ll be more accessible!!

    • Katharine Parker

      I love Montreal! That was the first vacation my fiancé and I took together. We did a lot of wandering around the city like fools in love. Highly recommend! Also go to the Nordic spa in a boat on the St Lawrence. So cool.

    • HannahESmith

      So romantic! We did Montreal for our honeymoon, and it was amazing! We flew, but we also did Airbnb, which was a great option.

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  • jammers

    Whereeeee in the world has pleasant weather in August? My dream honeymoons are Savannah, GA or Paris but OMG THE HEAT in August! My fiancé would like to get out of New England, but where is there beautiful weather in August other than coastal New England?! We like history and lounging…

    • Amy March

      Paris is often not that bad in August- about like NYC, maybe you’ll get a heat wave, maybe not. You could do Paris a few days and a French beach resort the rest of the time. The Ile de Re is basically Frech Cape Cod. Edinburgh is at its best. Copenhagen, Stockholm, Vancouver, most of Canada, Salzburg and the Alps.

    • Katharine Parker

      For history and lounging, I’ll plug Cartagena. It may be hotter than you want (it’s on the equator, so it’s pleasantly 85 degrees every day of the year) but it is a beautiful city with exciting history, great food, and nearby beaches with lots of hammocks. Colombians love hammocks. I’d recommend either hotel de las americas for beach resort or the Sofitel or Silvia Tcherassi’s hotel for beautiful architecture.

    • CMT

      The PNW, but I don’t know that it’s quite interesting enough for a honeymoon? Particularly if you like history and lounging.

    • EF

      England. Ireland. Scandanavia (looooong days).

      Though London can be uncomfortably hot in August, so mileage may vary

      • Actually. This is a good point. Scotland. Edinburgh is a fantastic city. And Inverness is full of live music. And the Isle of Skye / Highlands!! Isle of May has puffins in ~July…August has the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, too. And so much Scotch. So much. The smoky peaty stuff. Yes.

        • Though you’ll want to bear in mind the UK school holidays cover most of august, so it’s more expensive and hotels/attractions/public transport will be very busy.

    • E.

      We did Ireland and Iceland in July and it wasn’t warm, but it wasn’t terrible. We just wore lots of layers and the trip was amazing!

    • Eenie

      August in Peru was sunny and 70 when I was there. Lima was cloudy but everywhere else was sunny. Lots of history and lots of lounging available.

    • Em

      Australia! It’s winter for us in August, but the end of winter (which is pretty mild anyway by most standards) and it’s a great time of year to visit the Northern Territory (amazing scenery) and the Great Barrier Reef!

    • Shirley Schmidt

      Paris is eminently doable in August! Sure, it can get hot, but that’s about 30-35 degrees (Celsius) hot so bearable (signed, someone who worked 2 summers at Disneyland Paris). There are also plenty of parks (Buttes-Chaumont if you want to sit on the grass) and Versailles is lovely that time of year with the gardens and the canal. Oh and the Potager du Roi in Versailles which is an amazing kitchen garden. Some of my favourite memories are summer nights eating Vietnamese or going to the open air cinema (Cinema en plein air). Highly recommend.

  • All I gotta say is: screw Santorini. Crete is where it’s at.
    Do you want to see where the Minotaur lived?
    Do you want to visit beaches that aren’t crawling with tourists/backpackers?
    Do you want free hard liquor and sugar-syrup cake with every meal?

    Crete.
    That’s all.

  • Katharine Parker

    Honeymoon planning is my favorite part of wedding planning. We’re going to Croatia and Montenegro, new places for us both. I’m excited for a mix of beaches and history and beauty.

    For anyone in the upper Midwest, Bayfield (or Madeleine Island) would be a nice honeymoon place on Lake Superior. In winter you can do the ice caves, in summer kayak or sail around.

    • Call Me Penny

      Oh Montenegro is top of my list to visit next, it looks so beautiful

      • JulietteG

        We visited Croatia and Montenegro a couple of years ago – we did a trip to Belgrade, Sarajevo, Dubrovnik and Kotor. It was wonderful! Such an interesting part of the world to see.

    • sofar

      We went to Croatia last year (not honeymoon) but OMG, it was the most romantic place!!! We rented a huge apartment for cheap, and the walk home from dinner every night, the walks to the farmers markets in the morning, and, heck, even the DRIVING through Croatia was heaven. My fav was a day cruise we took out of Split on a sailboat.

      It’s such a dressed-down country, too, so a sundress and salt-soaked hair was totally acceptable dinner attire. :)

      It was one of those places that I left thinking, “I need to come back here asap.”

      • Katharine Parker

        I love hearing this!! I cannot wait.

    • Laura

      Croatia is absolutely delightful. The people, the places, the food… it’s all great! And very inexpensive, too.

    • LindseyM

      Our favorite Island in Croatia was Vis

  • HannahESmith

    We did Montreal, and it was glorious! I highly recommend. Also, while I have mixed feelings about Bali, I can vouch for Nusa Lembogan, especially if you love to snorkel or scuba. The reef there is unreal.

  • Mary

    All of South Africa should be on this list, not just Boulder Beach! You can do a combo adventure/wine trip easily and it’s fairly affordable. You can go on a safari in the eastern part of the country then fly to Cape Town for wine country. Kruger is the most popular park, but my husband and I went to Nambiti Game Preserve, which is much more affordable. On the Cape Town side, I would recommend a side trip to Franshoek – it’s about an hour from Cape Town – there’s a great wine tram to see several of the local wineries, and it’s a great little art town with phenomenal restaurants. Cape Town itself has a ton of stuff to do!

    • JulietteG

      Agreed! We did something similar for our honeymoon – Cape Town, wine, Jo’burg, safari. We also made a quick trip to Zimbabwe to see Vic Falls. It was amazing!

  • elliejay23

    We honeymooned in October in San juan, Puerto Rico and it was amazing! It was a little risky with the whole Zika scare and it being hurricane season, but we crossed our fingers and hopped on the plane and it all worked out so well. We stayed in a cute Airbnb studio apartment two blocks from the beach for less than $70/night, explored the city, hiked in a tropical rainforest, danced with locals, and dined like royals for SO CHEAP!!! It really was a week in paradise.
    Side note: I would totally recommend a honeymoon registry as a way to help defray travel and activity costs. Our family and friends loved that they could help us have fun as newlyweds and we could share photos of the activities they gifted us with afterwards! It was a total win-win. :D

  • Jessica

    New Zealand!! It was amazing.

  • WestCoastraveler

    We did a Glacier – Yellowstone – Teton Nat’l Park tour for ours last fall (late Sept to mid-October) and it was a great combo of still-enjoyable-weather with less crowds. Enjoy the National Parks while you can! (They might not be around in the next 4 years sadly :(

  • Arie

    I’m throwing in another – we stayed a few nights at several different Colorado hot springs for our honeymoon, and it was awesome. For us it meant we didn’t have to fly (a requirement for me after the wedding). But especially for those getting married in the fall/winter and not wanting to travel internationally, this is a good idea. You sit in a natural hot tub surrounded by snowy mountains, and eat food. Optional hiking.

  • rg223

    Gonna do my little plug for Japan as it is underrepresented as a honeymoon destination! Another positive about Hakone is that it’s pretty central between Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka, so you can pop over to those cities as well. I highly recommend Osaka – it has much less of a tourist feel, the food is phenomenal, and it’s a great blend of traditional Japan and modern.

    • sofar

      We got engaged in Hakone! Cute restaurants, lovely nature, onsen soaks. And an indoor water park with scented pools (coffee, tea, sake, milk, wine etc.). Our Ryokan was inexpensive and so lovely, although romance on a futon is kinda difficult. But we made it work. :)

      • rg223

        Ahh that is awesome, I am jealous of your engagement! I looooooved the onsen we visited (though it did not have scented pools, gonna bookmark that for later!).

        • sofar

          Here is a link! http://www.hakone-kowakien.com/english/

          The scented-pools area was more of a kitschy water park (they literally dump wine on your head in the wine pool), so less romantic, but I had a blast. :)

  • Bsquillo

    We went to Kauai for our honeymoon, which was magical- it’s probably not underrated in the same way the Big Island is, but it is possibly the best Hawaiian island if you’re looking for something laid-back, adventurous, and nature-y. My very pale husband, not really a beach guy, greatly appreciated that all the beaches had built-in shade from big trees.

    And so glad to see Arches included on here! Moab is a truly magical U.S. destination, and can be done for pretty cheap, especially if you’re within driving distance. We went there last spring and stayed at the most incredible bed and breakfast, Even though I’m not a camping expert, it struck me as a great camping destination because 1) no bears and 2) mild temperatures in the spring or fall.

    We’re trying our best to get to Glacier National Park this summer!

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  • really beautiful place perfect for new couples Hebrings

  • I second Quebec City as a recommendation. Montreal is nice, but I’ve lived in both cities and definitely prefer Quebec and suggest it over Montreal for people who want a European-like vacation without going to Europe. Last time I was in Paris a few years ago, I realized that my favorite things in Paris at that point, after having been there multiple times, were all things I could ave at home in Quebec City… Baguettes, good coffee, cobblestone streets, really old and quaint buildings, the francophone culture, etc. And the Québécois tend to be pretty welcoming to tourists (and most all speak some English). Outside of town (and beside each other) are the Montmorency waterfall and Ile d’orleans (a beautiful island that makes for a fun day trip…apple picking, cassis tasting, the Les Ancêtres restaurant with a view of both the St. Lawrence River and the Montmorency waterfall, etc.). There’s also skiiing (downhill and cross country) and snowshoeing in winter, and of course Carnaval, which is now. (But it’s really cold here in winter, so I’d suggest summer or fall more, unless your favorite season is winter.) But it’s pretty before Christmas (and there’s German market too). Anyhow, I think Quebec City is a great choice for a trip, and if anyone needs tips of what to do here, let me know!

  • Jennifer

    I’d like to offer a small correction – the glass igloos you pointed to are actually in Finland, not Iceland. I’ve been eyeing a trip there for a really long time!

    That being said, my husband and I honeymooned belatedly in Iceland last year, and it was wonderful. The sights are pretty touristy at this point, but I’ll forever remember our long aimless drives with mind-boggling scenery set to the soundtrack of Amy Poehler and Aziz Ansari. (We have a problem with books on tape.) We had one of the best meals of our lives at Tryggvaskáli Restaurant in Selfoss.

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