Was Our Honeymoon Romantic Enough?


Getting by with the essentials

by Lauren Fitzpatrick, Contributor

Visions of rugged paradise danced in my head when we booked an affordable little rental house in Miloli’i for our Big Island honeymoon. The Internet indicated that the views were spectacular and all of the reviewers raved about how secluded it was, perfect for a romantic getaway. We made a reservation without giving it too much thought and tucked it away as something to look forward to after the wedding.

When we pulled up in the driveway, it was clear that the place was exactly as depicted in the photos. There was the wooden sign carved with pineapples, the sweeping overlook of the ocean in the distance, and that spa nestled in the corner of the lanai. All of the elements were there, yet it felt like something was missing. We hadn’t really paid attention to the fine line between seclusion and isolation—we were halfway down a hill, miles from the nearest grocery store, and our neighbors were few and far between. Then there was the fact that the house had been built on an old lava flow, which managed to double as an optimal breeding ground for mosquitoes.

“This is our honeymoon,” I reminded myself, trying to conjure up feelings of romance.

“Get inside, quick,” Jared said. “Or the mozzies will eat you alive.”

We stood at the screen door, admiring the view through the safety of the mesh. I was impressed with what I saw, but silently concluded that perhaps we had missed our chance for a justifiable luxury holiday. Did it count as a honeymoon if I smelled permanently of OFF! and wore the same two t-shirts for a week straight? It seemed a lot like backpacking dressed up as something fancy. We’d planned our honeymoon just as we plan most of our trips, and I secretly wished we’d gone a touch more upscale.

Hawaii, of course, was still in our favor—it’s hard to feel like you’ve missed an opportunity when you’re on a tropical island. However, the feeling that a honeymoon was supposed to be SUPERSPECIAL still nagged at me. If it felt the same as our other trips, were we doing it right? That night we sat on the stiff sofa, smacking stray mosquitoes as we flipped through a guidebook the owners had left. We talked through a loose budget, made a grocery list, and discussed whether or not we’d need to put petrol in the car the next day. Once the sun went down and chased the bugs off, we took a couple of cold beers to the hot tub. It felt romantic at first, but then we started talking about how much of a hassle it would be to have one of these in your house. It was my first inkling that maybe we’d actually planned a honeymoon that was true to who we were as a couple after all.

The next morning we drove down to sea level, where our guidebook promised that a fifteen-minute hike would lead us to a “secret” black sand beach. It was barren but beautiful, all perfectly curving palm trees and salt-and-pepper sand. I sat on a pile of lava rocks, trying to be present. We’ll have other trips, but we’ll never have another honeymoon, and I knew that it would be over before I was ready. In a week I’d be back at home, reminiscing fondly about that beach, wishing I were still there. During the wedding I had no problem being in the moment, but something about the honeymoon made me feel like time was slipping through my fingers.

Jared did not have the same concerns. He immediately selected a fallen coconut and set to work tearing off its husk. It was a laborious process, but after half an hour he broke through to the white flesh. He handed me a chunk of coconut meat and I gnawed at it, feeling very much like someone who was waiting for a rescue boat but happy all the same.

We weren’t alone on the beach; a smattering of other tourists must have had the same book. A woman in her fifties had been watching Jared with interest and eventually charged over to see what we were up to.

“Did you just break open a coconut? Holy cow, it’s like Survivor over here!”

It was like Survivor. My honeymoon was like Survivor.

Jared offered her a piece of coconut, which she accepted gratefully. “I gotta try it,” she said. Her enthusiasm was contagious, and she nearly burst when she found out we were on our honeymoon. I wasn’t shy about telling people we’d just gotten married, because I was acutely aware that we’d never be able to say it again and I wanted to indulge in it.

“I can’t believe it! Here I am, part of your honeymoon.”

She waved at her girlfriends. “These guys are on their honeymoon!”

We learned that she’d been married for thirty-six years. Her husband was at home in Idaho or Iowa, I can’t remember which. She was here, enjoying life and everything it had to offer.

“You know what one of my favorite things about marriage is?”

When people find out you’re freshly wed, congratulations are sometimes followed with advice. Sometimes it’s a tired reference to letting a woman believe she’s right, but most of the time the words of wisdom are well intentioned. Our new beach friend put her hands on her hips and laughed at what she was about to say.

“My favorite thing is that after thirty-six years of marriage, we have so many great inside jokes. We just lie there in bed and laugh and laugh. There’s nobody else you can do that with in the same way. I just love it.”

In thirty-six years, I have no idea what Jared and I will be laughing at, but the woman on the beach is probably right. There will be things that nobody gets but us. There’s a good chance that in 2050 (!) one of us will turn to the other and say, “Hey, remember the Survivor lady on our honeymoon?” and it will make us smile. We can get luxury at any point in our lives, but that moment, the finite period of time where we could honestly say we just got married? We can’t get that back. Being pampered would have been nice, but the only essential parts that made up the honeymoon were the two of us, and the right time automatically made it the right place.

Lauren Fitzpatrick

Lauren graduated from Indiana University with no idea of what to do next, so she got a working holiday visa for Ireland. Over the next ten years she worked her way around the world, picking up a Master’s in travel writing and an Australian fiancé along the way. She is now based in Newcastle, Australia, and still doesn’t understand what “settling down” is supposed to mean.

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  • Nicole Brown

    THIS. We honeymooned in Prague, and I don’t think either of us has ever felt worse than we did when we first arrived at our hotel in the cold, pouring rain in August, jet-lagged, not speaking any Czech, and both thinking that this was such a horrible and expensive decision. It continued to rain nearly every day that we were there, which was unusual for the region. All in all there were high points and low points throughout, and we made a lot of incredible memories as we tried to make the best of the bad weather and tourist-choked streets. We tried to learn Czech, accidentally found ourselves in a brothel, and danced to American oldies in a dance club with a bunch of internationals. We’re only a few months out and I’m already thankful we planned a honeymoon that was “us”, the memories are incredibly rich and sustaining. Though maybe we’ll choose something a little more traditionally relaxing for our next trip…and sunny… ;)

    • joanna b.n.

      But wow, you have such a hilarious story to refer to for the rest of your lives together! :)

    • Meg Keene

      I’ve never taken a international trip where I didn’t sob hysterically upon jet lagged arrival. Never. OH WAIT, yes, one. The one with a one year old. On that trip my standards were lowered enough, plus I was so tired I could sleep anywhere, so it was easier. But mostly we just plan for it now.

      • Nicole Brown

        Ha! I love it. This will normalize it for me when we travel internationally in the future (we are not well traveled…yet) because I thought I was just a crazy, exhausted bride who should’ve waited a week before jumping on a plane for 11 hours

  • Jessica LK

    YEP. Worrying about making our honeymoon more special than just any other trip was something we thought about a fair amount during the planning process. We travel a lot, and a down side of that is most places don’t feel all that exotic, or special. Which, is fine, and we enjoy feeling comfortable pretty much anywhere in the world. BUT for our honeymoon we wanted something unique. So we went the luxury option. We planned everything through a bespoke travel company (truffle pig-a fantastic company). And, it was perfect. Nothing went wrong, everything was taken care of, everywhere we stayed was gorgeous. And…it was weird. I mean, I loved our trip, it was amazing. But because it was way out of the usual for us, we felt a bit disconnected. Having everything so carefully accounted for meant we spent a good portion of the trip feeling like we were observing the country from behind air conditioned tinted glass-which, we were a lot of the time. Our favorite memories from the trip are actually when we snuck away after our guides dutifully dropped us at our hotel. I don’t know that I would change anything, we were pretty tired after the wedding, and having things taken care of was great. But we learned that luxury travel isn’t nearly as incredible as it seems (at least, for us), and that there was no way the honeymoon would feel just like another trip, because it was naturally it’s own unique experience, traveling together for the first time as a married couple. And, if it had been a trip more typical of our style, we would have loved it just the same! Which is to say, trying to force a trip to be special didn’t really work for us, it was special because it was our honeymoon, not because I could raise my hand and have a martini in it moments later (though, I’d never pass that up).

  • Emma Klues

    Nailed it.

    • scw

      I swear, I was coming here to comment exactly that!

  • Inmara

    Oh, yes! Exactly like our honeymoon (delayed from May to November because of work; the only thing that I could think of was flying from Europe to Florida and having 2 week round trip). It was supposed to be over the top romantic, right? Not sleeping half of nights in tent because of costly hotels, not the non-stop rain in our last day in Keys, not going to bed 7 PM because there is nothing else to do in campsite… Well, it was fun anyway! We tried to do what people are supposed to do in their honeymoons, but found out that we are not the beach bar-crawler type (even though some beaches were ideal spots for this!), found out that November nights are too cold for any romantic activities on the beach (ahem…), basically we found out that we are boring low-key guys and we love that! And, most important, this was our first multi-day foreign trip together, and we survived it almost without fights. I guess it’s accomplishment itself!

  • Lindsey d.

    It’s definitely a reality check when you discover that your honeymoon isn’t all magic. For me, it was waking up on the plane to discover I was drooling on my husband’s shoulder. And the same irritations and exhaustions of travel still creep up, but with extra guilt that maybe the thing you insisted on or the apartment rental you picked won’t be great; what will he think then? But in the end, the best day was getting drunk over paella and a bottle of wine in a restaurant overlooking the Mediterranean, him piling you into a cab to get you back to said apartment and spending the rest of the afternoon cuddling. It was as magical as it was supposed to be.

  • 39bride

    Yup. For us, what made it our (very modest) honeymoon was not where we were (and for how long), but who we were with. Would’ve loved to go to some exotic spot and get pampered for two weeks, but I wouldn’t trade those 4 days in a cheap bed & breakfast on Catalina Island (just 120 miles or so from home) for the world. The other day I saw a photo of my then-new husband at breakfast, and all the wonderful feelings of being together there washed over me again.

  • Mary Jo TC

    Worrying about making your honeymoon more special than just any other trip is only an issue if you’re lucky enough to get to take a lot of trips in the first place. I guess one of the upsides of being too poor or tied down with work to travel frequently is that just being out of town is a treat.

    (Don’t mean to sound bitter or mean. Just wish I could rough it in Hawaii. And it’s Monday morning.)

    • K.

      Obviously, it’s a privilege to be able to travel often and I’m sure Lauren recognizes that. I think this piece can still be relevant even if you don’t go on a lot of trips. In fact, it’s probably even more difficult if you don’t and things don’t go perfectly or weren’t what you envisioned, since then there’s even MORE pressure for it to be The Ideal Honeymoon™.

      • Mary Jo TC

        Sorry to be harsh. You’re right that this piece is super-relevant even for non-travelers because it somehow matters more when that opportunity is rare. Of course Lauren isn’t an over-privileged whiner. I liked the ending about claiming even the mishaps as part of your story.

        • Marie

          No worries. Monday mornings are the worst. :)

    • Marie

      Way harsh, Tai. She’s just sharing her personal experience and it doesn’t come across like some major whinge. Frankly, the fact that she’s so concerned about it being special shows she recognizes how special it is.

    • Meg Keene

      I will say that the years when I basically didn’t travel, but then got to take a single trip (which was most of my life), I put WAY WAY more stress on the trips that I did take. I’d say this essay is way more relevant to the bulk of my life when traveling was basically not in the cards. For the small fraction of my life that traveling has been more possible, the pressure to make each trip super special has really abated.

      I totally get that Monday’s suck, and it can really suck to hear about other people’s awesome trips when the reality of taking a trip is near zero. But as always with APW, let’s try to allow the space to explore (or ignore if exploring isn’t good for us that day) other people’s experiences shared thoughtfully. This story is no more or less valid then stories of not being able to afford a honeymoon (or hell, then the bad ass $2K wedding we’re also running this morning.) We run all kinds of stories and all kinds of weddings, and the whole point is that no one is more valid than the others.

      • Mary Jo TC

        Of course this story is perfectly valid. I don’t think I said it wasn’t, or that I was shutting down any space. I’m sorry if I came off that way in my bitterness.

        I guess I’m at that place where hearing about others’ awesome trips is a particular sore spot for stirring up jealousy. It’s hard to ignore when social media hits sore spots and reminds you of all the awesomeness your life currently lacks. Sorry I wasn’t big enough to rise above my pettiness this morning.

        • Dawn

          For what it’s worth, I don’t think your initial comment came across as a shut-down. Hang in there :-)

  • Kelsey

    This is perfect, Lauren!

  • macrain

    The airline lost my husband’s luggage for half of our honeymoon. When we arrived in paradise with only one bag (mine) and boarded the shuttle to our resort, I sat there and cried. It wasn’t even my luggage! I had it in my head that leaving for our honeymoon meant entering a stress free zone, and this was yet another thing to deal with. It seemed pretty unfair. I gave myself a pep talk with the following- there’s no hurricane. No one’s passport is lost. Our flight was not cancelled. It still took a few days for me to relax and get over it.

    I also had some pretty high expectations in regards to romance and sex, and looking back on it I’m not totally sure if that’s what I really wanted or what I felt I was supposed to want.

    • laddibugg

      Next time, pack half your luggage (or at least an outfit or two and undies) in each other’s bags. If both get lost you’re SOL anyway, but if only one bag is lost at least you have options.

      • KC

        Yeees. Have done this, would endorse. Have *not* done this on some trips, would not endorse results. (also, always pack some undies in carry-on. Yes, you might get them pulled out for the world to see by security. But if you get stranded in an airport for 24 hours without your luggage, clean undies can help make you feel more like a human being again.)

        • laddibugg

          I have clean undies everywhere lol. In my car. At the boyfriend’s house. In my carry on if I fly (and even when I took the train in case me and my large bag got separated) In a bag in my desk at work (haven’t needed that last pair yet). I have never really needed them because of …accidents or anything, just hate putting the same ones on after they’ve been off for more than a few minutes.

          • The extra pair I kept stashed in the car was awesome when we had to leave the hotel we were trying to have a nice weekend at pre-baby at midnight because my water broke and we needed to go to the hospital. Also nice, just tossing that pair when we did get to the hospital.

      • Jules

        This is genius!!!!!

        I have traveled many, many times and have never had lost luggage. For our anniversary trip I decided to forgo my usual “tote bag emergency kit” (including contact case, toothbrush, underwear). What happened? THey lost our luggage, of course (mis-routed it, so it showed up about 24 hours later).

        They showed us! But it was also a rather hilarious experience, arriving in Vegas with nothing but ourselves.

      • Meg Keene

        OH SMART. This is a hack I’ve never heard!

      • Guest

        I’ll take your hack and raise you one. In every single purse larger than my hand, I keep a spare pair of underwear. You’d be surprised the number of times it’s come in handy. Particularly in a city where torrential downpours are common.

    • snf100

      I packed the fancy lingerie that I got from my bridesmaids as gifts in preparation for fancy married sex and it never left my suitcase, instead we had sex like normal and it was awesome just b/c he is my husband and knows how to make sex awesome just in general. I did however have my moment of freaking out internally that married honeymoon sex is supposed to be different and involve props and extras, I calmed down once I realized I like our sex life and I’m glad our honeymoon wasn’t different

      • Meg Keene

        Hahaha. Who… has the energy for props on a honeymoon? After just completing the big show of a wedding, I’m not sure I could possibly make every night a… different kind… of show. <3

      • Jules

        I love this, haha. Last night my fiance said I was responsible for picking out his wedding underwear, in the colors of the wedding (he was joking), so I asked him if he was gifting me lingerie. He just started giggling and really just didn’t see the point since it would spend most of its time on the floor.

        So I guess I know what kind of honeymoon sex we’ll be having.

        • snf100

          the good kind ;)

          • Jules

            The kind where I’ll be ripping off his manly, peach-colored undies, that’s for sure. :D

        • I asked my husband what he was wearing on our wedding night and he said, “I don’t know, a pink polyester leisure suit with furry lapels?”

          He found something else, but if we ever find a pink polyester leisure suit with furry lapels in his size I’m definitely getting it for him.

  • Laura C

    We got off the plane in London and realized that our honeymoon planning had basically stopped at making hotel reservations and a few restaurant reservations. The big thing that hit us was how dependent we are on our phones to help us navigate the world, and we landed without having written down the address of our hotel, let alone directions to it. Luckily, I remembered the street name and a nearby landmark and we were able to get there, but it was an interesting realization to have while exhausted after an overnight flight.

    In retrospect, I’m really glad we did the three-cities-in-10-days honeymoon we did. I had thought it might be nice to have a super relaxing beach vacation, but I think if we had, I would have spent a lot of time worrying about whether it was living up to expectations. As it was, I didn’t have time to do that.

    • Lindsey d.

      I don’t think I will ever be able to travel internationally without a short-term international data plan. I’m way too dependent on Google Maps and being able to search the things I barely remember. Also, you can map public transit!

      • Laura C

        Yeah, we always meant to do that and then we just … didn’t. Too much else going on and we let it slide.

        I don’t know how we would have managed without a few things, but in the end it was surprisingly doable. It definitely helped that my husband has a good sense of direction and is fairly familiar with the two bigger cities we visited. But also, keeping my iPhone in airplane mode but with wifi on, my GPS usually worked. We couldn’t search for a location and make a map, but we could see where we were. And we could always drop into a Starbucks or whatever, get on their wifi, and actually search and map.

        • Inmara

          I have been die-hard paper map person even when everybody else was already using navigation in their smartphones. For last trip I purchased cheap app (less than 10$) with offline maps (Open Street Map) and it was the best decision, because it put navigation-related issues to minimum. Nevertheless, I still had printed GoogleMaps directions and maps for all hotels on hand, just in case!

          • Lindsey d.

            My problem with that is a poor sense of direction. I never know what direction I’m facing! So when we start walking, I have to check the little blue ball on Google Maps to make sure we are going in the right direction!

          • Laura C

            Ooh, I am getting that app before our next trip. Although our next trip may be to India to visit his family, where we will never be allowed out on the streets to just explore.

        • Lindsey d.

          I literally added the plan while sitting on the tarmac at JFK before our flight across the Atlantic. Not much more last minute than that.

    • Meg Keene

      Yes, this. Our London/ Scotland honeymoon kept us moving and trying to figure out what was going on enough that I didn’t have a ton of time to worry about how perfect it was. Just to wonder if I’d adjust to jet lag and ever sleep again ;)

      • You might be approaching Hawaii the “wrong” way– Honolulu is my partner’s hometown, and let me tell you, it is a worthy Asian food mecca. I’m not a huge beach person, but I am definitely a mountains-hiking-food person. And Hawaii is amazing for that.

      • Basketcase

        We debated Hawaii and Vanuatu for our honeymoon, but Husband was all “what would we do all day?” (Hawaii not as bad for non-swimming / non-lazing options as Vanuatu).
        So instead we went to Tasmania. Definitely no swimming in the ocean there.
        And we stayed in a different town almost every night – booking only a night or two in advance as the mood took us. It was awesome. There are definite places I need to go back to.

      • Alyssa M

        Awww… we are the nicest cheap hotels! :) and we’re EVERYWHERE.

    • Ashley

      You’re totally right about not having time to worry. We spent two weeks on a road trip through California for our honeymoon, and I loved having something different to do nearly every day. If we had stayed in the same place for a few days, even, I know we’d have ended up zoning out on our phones in the hotel, wondering if we would regret it when the honeymoon was over. (There was still a little bit of that, but going new places certainly helped!)

  • MC

    PERFECT timing (and great writing as usual!). We just got back from our two-week honeymoon, half of which was spend on the caribbean. I imagined that we’d spend may relaxing hours laying on the beach, drinking Coronas and margaritas, getting couples massages, etc. Turns out, Husband gets bored easily laying on the beach, and being in the sun for too long makes me feel sick, and we both wanted to do more adventurous things like swim in cenotes and explore Mayan ruins. So our honeymoon was maybe not as relaxing and pampering as I thought it would be but it was still worth it to travel internationally together for the first time and get excited about future travel opportunities!

  • joanna b.n.

    Also… we went back to the same place we had our honeymoon a few years later, and we realized then how much pressure we had put on the honeymoon. In fact, we had kind of worn ourselves out making it AMAZING – i.e. going out to eat a bunch, doing all the activities, etc.. In comparison, when it was just married vacation, we were much more comfortable kicking back, doing some things, and then just letting the time go by. Which, you know, each had their charm, but yeah… it’s hard to come down from the intensity of the wedding, AND it’s hard not to feel like you have to make it AMAZING. Luckily, you have the rest of your life to settle in. The honeymoon is kinda just a practice round on married vacation. :)

    • Meg Keene

      It’s so interesting, our experience was the opposite. We were lucky enough to go somewhere amazing for our honeymoon (it was my third time leaving the country, and my first time where I could afford… um… hotels… so I was DETERMINED to make it happen. 18 months of planning somehow gave us time to prioritize that, and I felt over the moon lucky because this hadn’t been possible most of my life, so that obviously helped.) But the trip itself wasn’t a trip where we put extra pressure on it… but it was still just… magical. Totally, hands down, the best two weeks of my life. The wedding was nice, but not the best anything. The honeymoon was. And un-replicatable. But it was just something about that buzz of “we just got married!!!” that made it so amazing, not anything we did.

      By which I obviously mean we got in a screaming match on our next vacation because it was nothing like our honeymoon.

      • joanna b.n.

        Heee and we had our screaming match on the drive home, probably from all the built up tension of IS THIS AMAZING ENOUGH??

    • MC

      “The honeymoon is kinda just a practice round on married vacation.” LOVE this, we talked about this on our honeymoon – now we know our travel style better and can plan for even more awesome trips in our future together!

  • Meredith

    Definintely something I’m struggling with! We have been debating Bali (my vote) or Vietnam and Cambodia (his vote). As we talked through potential itineraries for V&C, I kept saying, “That sounds like a lot of fuss” or “That doesn’t sound relaxing at all”… but we’ve never taken one of “those” relaxing vacations. We’re adventurers. I want to find a way to merge my vision of “the honeymoon” with the kind of travelers we are and the adventure we love. It’s really hard for me to let go of what most people envision when they think of a honeymoon… relaxing, romantic, luxurious. Not 14 hours on the back roads of Vietnam. (Though that does sound fantastic for so many other reasons!)

    • LMBA

      We went to Bali for our honeymoon! We had a great time completely by accident (literally picked out which beach town we would stay in while sitting in the Hong Kong airport, waiting to board our flight to Denpasar). We didn’t have anything booked and totally lucked out… We were actually in Indonesia for about 4 months (work+vacation), so I might be able to give some recommendations depending on what kind of travellers you are… Knowing what I know now, I will say that there are very different experiences possible in Bali, depending on where you stay and when you go. What time of year are you planning your trip?

    • KC

      I think for a lot of people (but probably not all), immediately after your wedding you need a bit of unwind time, just because of all the stress/buildup/last-minute stuff (and then double that for introverts having a Lot Of People at their wedding). But otherwise, planning a honeymoon that is like you rather than not like you but like Hollywood Honeymoons seems like a better plan. (just, heads up on the “you may need more naps than usual to remain emotionally stable” thing)

    • Jenny

      So we are both adventurers, and my idea of a vacation is up at 7 bed at midnight, seeing all the sites and eating all the “right” food, having the right experiences. But I knew that after planning a wedding, I didn’t also want to plan an awesome vacation, research the sites and hotels and all that (which I really love doing mostly). So we went on a backroads trip. It was perfect, it was active (we did a multi sport trip), biking hiking and rafting in Banff and Jasper national parks. The company takes care of everything, we just needed to book flights and a shuttle, plus we did some siteseeing in Calgary. The hotels were awesome, the days were structured so that you could spend time with the group, or not, and it was so perfect. We managed to get the adventure and activity we love, without a lot of the hassle and stress that goes into planning a major trip. http://www.backroads.com can’t recommend them enough.

    • Emily

      Vietnam is definitely also somewhere where you can do the relaxing/luxurious thing-there are some lovely resorts around Hoi An, which is a beautiful UNESCO heritage listed town on a river. So you can combine adventure/exploring type holiday with resorts!

    • Sarah

      We did Vietnam and Cambodia and LOVED it. We want to go again. Highly recommended. You will have adventures but you can also have luxury. It’s the best of both worlds, and you can control how much of each you have.

    • Emma

      This was a much smaller trip, but the first “vacation” my boyfriend and I went on we spent the weekend at a lodge in a state park rather than camping (which I was pushing for, I thought it was silly to spend so much extra money). During the day we were hiking and seeing amazing waterfalls, then we went back to our nice room with a beautiful view and treated ourselves to fancy dinners at the lodge restaurant. It was a perfect combination and outdoors/adventure+relaxing/fancy!

  • Kayjayoh

    I’m reading this and pondering mosquitoes and suddenly wondering if my decision to book us into a cottage on the north end of Grenada was a better idea than in one of the beachy resorts in the south. Well…we’re already booked. I’ll just be sure to pack the deet and some soothing lotion for my husband. :)

    • Kayjayoh

      I think, technically speaking, we already took our honeymoon right after the wedding, which was a week in northern WI (also mosquito territory) partly with friends and partly on our own). But we were calling that a “mini-moon” and this our honeymoon, because we wanted to go somewhere warm for out honeymoon and that made more sense in the cold weather than in June. :) Technically speaking, then, this is just our first big fancy vacation. But since we can still get away with calling this our honeymoon, I’m going to do that. There’s something about being able to say “we’re on our honeymoon” that makes (many of) the people around you smile. It’s like when you are out to dinner and can say “it’s my birthday.” (Some) people like knowing/feeling that they are seeing you at a special time. (And some people just want to gag and tell you to shut up about it. It takes all kinds, after all.)

    • Reading this made me add “google mosquitoes at potential honeymoon locations” to my checklist. :)

      • Lauren from NH

        I would just bring some travel size bug spray to be safe. When we went to Jamaica there were tiny little sand gnats (that bothered even me, who is usually pretty immune to bug bites). But with the spray we did okay. They make it better these days, less oily and smelly than when I was a kid. Just pack it and forget about it ;)

        • I’m a mosquito magnet, though, and most bug sprays don’t work well on me. I’ve been known to cover up every inch of skin during mosquito season (unattractive much?) and then they manage to bite me on the tip of my nose. my partner and i have already spent some of the first romantic nights in our lives staying up and slapping mosquitoes (they love me, but never touch him.) buuut we’re thinking about iceland which (as google just told me) happens to be a mosquito-free country! i think it’s a sign. :)

          • Lauren from NH

            Oh goodness! If you are one of those tasty people ;) I think Iceland is a sign!

          • MC

            When we were in Mexico I got a mosquito bite on my earlobe, that was a first. Just like you, the mosquitos love me!

          • Inmara

            Have you looked at portable mosquito repellents, like Thermacell? They work by evaporating repellent chemicals, and you don’t have to put anything on you. Some people say they don’t work, but I use one for my fieldwork (especially in forest) and really love it!

          • looking into thermacell right now. thanks for the tip!

          • Alyssa M

            Man I feel you on the mosquitoes. I’m now SO GLAD we chose the trip we did (leaving on Thursday to cruise up the Rhine, there can’t be mosquitoes in Europe in December). I get GIANT welts from mosquito bites. I have ordered my husband to slap me on the face if he ever sees one there. Iceland sounds awesome!

  • Annie

    “My favorite thing is that after thirty-six years of marriage, we have so many great inside jokes. We just lie there in bed and laugh and laugh. There’s nobody else you can do that with in the same way. I just love it.”

    My husband and I have only been together for about 10 years (married less than half of that time) and this is one of my favorite parts of our relationship. Sometimes we call back jokes from when we first started dating and still laugh. Maybe it’s not the kind of thing they make romantic movies out of, but it’s romance for us.

    • joanna b.n.

      If that’s not romance, I’m not interested. :) Laughing all the time we’re together is the way I knew my guy was “the one.” (if “the one” is a thing, which I dunno… but you know what I mean)

    • I love not only the inside jokes, but the highly-inappropriate-have-to-be-inside-jokes-because-our-mothers/children-would-die-if-they-ever-found-out jokes. Those ones are my favorites.

  • Alexandra

    We had our honeymoon in Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island! But we live on Oahu, and both of us have been to the Big Island many times, so it wasn’t a big spectacular thing. Oh my gosh I loved our honeymoon, though. We didn’t have the money to do a big resort honeymoon. We stayed in a little vacation rental with a hot tub. The National Park was closed because of the sequestrations, but we just read lots of books and enjoyed each other, and made inside jokes that we’ll never forget.

    Thanks for giving me a reason to enjoy that memory. That lady on the black sand beach was spot on.

  • Emily

    Similar to the WIC, I think there is a lot of pressure for honeymoons to be something that is impossibly Hollywood-romantic and blissful. Lauren, thank you for writing so honestly about reality.

    We climbed a 14ner in our backyard for our honeymoon. It was wonderful and exhilarating and nerve-wracking (the weather didn’t cooperate) and exhausting. It would have been those things even if it wasn’t our honeymoon. But it also had the added joy of us playing with calling each other “wife,” “husband,” “spouse.” It gave us time to soak in the fact that we were married. He cooked for me and I cared for his sore feet. We got to be together in the same old way, but also in a new way.

    • laurasmash

      That sounds awesome!

  • snf100

    we traveled the way we mostly travel, with the exception we splurged for the deluxe wrap around balcony room for the cruise portion of our honeymoon, but otherwise it was exactly how we always travel, we got off on each island and rented a car and found good food and fun stuff to do, some of it the biggest touristy things around and some of it less so but all amazing and all us, I did wonder if this was the way a honeymoon was supposed to be or if I was missing on the crucial elements of honeymooning. In the end I can reflect back on our honeymoon as the amazing trip that we so desperately needed (we got married during tax season and mid semester, my husband is a professor and tax lawyer, and so our honeymoon was pushed back a few weeks and then I was dealing with family crazy and so when it finally happened we were so ready to have the time to ourselves out of cell service and no internet access)

  • Molly P. Kopuru

    Coming from someone whose honeymoon involved packing boxes and moving across the country (aka, not a honeymoon) I’d say your honeymoon in Hawaii sounds pretty amazing, even if it wasn’t as magical as you were expecting. I guess it comes down to not letting the WIC definitions take over and just enjoying your time with your new husband. Sounds like yall got to do that so in the end, it was a success.

    • Meg Keene

      That’s what my parents honeymoon was (moving from CA to Florida) and they still talk about how wonderful it was! I think honeymoons are about… the time together, really. The location… well… Hawaii is nice, but you never know. I’ve moved across the country with David and been to Hawaii with him, and moving across the country was 10X better. Really. Life is weird like that sometimes.

  • Bsquillo

    We did our honeymoon in Hawaii too! (Kauai!) And ha, I relate to a lot of this. There were definitely romantic parts- super nice sunset dinner on the waterfront, helicopter ride over the island, boozing it up on the beach- and some not-so-romantic parts- yelling at each other when we first arrived and couldn’t find any food, wearing my husband out with a strenuous and sweaty hike through the jungle, and the super loud leaf blowers right outside our condo early in the morning. It wasn’t perfect, and it maybe wasn’t all-out luxury, but it was special because it was ours and we were married. And we have the rest of our lives for fancy vacations- one trip doesn’t have to be EVERYTHING.

  • HannahESmith

    I totally relate to this. My husband and I spent 5 days in Montreal right after our wedding. While it was a great trip, part of me wishes I had just picked somewhere nearby we could sleep and rest. Embarking on an international trip just over 24-hours after our wedding was stressful and exhausting. However, I really enjoyed so many things about that city and about the trip. Almost nine months later we went on a very luxurious cruise (a gift from his grandparents), and in about a week we’re headed to the big island of Hawaii (which will be very similar to Lauren’s honeymoon). We figure we can keep having different honeymoons.

  • Oh yeah. We went to New York for a two week honeymoon, and I definitely had thoughts of “Isn’t this just a vacation? What’s honeymoony about it?”, but then we ate amazing burgers and biked throughout the city and generally had a ball, and I got over myself.

  • Sarah

    We caught some well-meaning flack for our seemingly unromantic honeymoon, much of which involved killing fields and genocide museums, long rainy rides on crappy roads in a tuk tuk, lugging our backpacks through random alleys looking for cheap hotels, and almost getting kidnapped by rogue government officials. Oh, and heat rash in an intimate area. But honestly, is there anything more authentically romantic than sharing adventures with your partner, than overcoming challenges as a team, than still laughing and still finding ways to be intimate with each other no matter what is going on in the world around you, than creating those lifetime memories? Is that not what marriage is about? I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

    • krsa

      god this just made me miss cambodia so hard. i’d give anything for a tuk tuk ride right now.

  • laurasmash

    We are planning to go backpacking for our honeymoon! The few times I’ve pricelined a fancy hotel for us to stay at for a weekend, thinking we would do the luxury thing, we’ve not really enjoyed it that much (and I still feel terrible saying that). Whether it was feeling like we don’t belong around all the fancy people, or being annoyed by late night parties in the room next door when we just want to get some sleep, we’ve just never felt comfortable at fancy places. We are happier in our tent in the backcountry. Plus climbing a mountain or seeing unexpected wildlife or cracking open a coconut are my favorite kinds of travel stories!

  • Liane

    This article is a nice reminder :) I was just married 4 months ago and my husband and I are planning a honeymoon for this next summer. With all this extra time to plan it I feel pressure (from myself) to make it extra “magical” but within a tight budget. Thanks for the good read!

  • Valerie Day

    I had read something about adventurous dates being better for long term marital satisfaction than romantic ones shortly before our honeymoon. I repeated it as a mantra when we discovered our amazing five days was lots of adventure and very little romance (or privacy!) I was proud of us for being bad-a**. It’s like the honeymoon had a life of its own. We climbed the mountain most drive. Weve been making up for the lack of romance since our return and I am excited that we are ladies who adventure and bike and hike and swim and kayak.

  • Jacqui

    My hubby and I are the adventurer types when we travel. When we hit up a new city or a mountain- we tear it up walking/hiking for hours. We wanted to have that relaxed, luxurious honeymoon though too. It was hard coming up with a game plan. In the end we spent a week on an all-inclusive resort (which was new to us- we loved it btw) and then spent a week with no plans bussing around Mexico. Trip advisor is THE BEST for this. Literally show up and book a cute little hacienda/hotel for good deals as you go (we went in the off, rainy season- still awesome!) Rainy afternoons made for built in cuddle time! It probably won’t be our favourite adventure but it stands out for being the first of many…

  • Md Imran Hossain

    Going on a honeymoon especially during the touristy season can get really annoying sometimes, especially when you have to rush around with the other tourists, and not be able to get any quiet time with your partner. So on your honeymoon, I would suggest you to take it is a slow and relaxed pace. On my honeymoon with my husband, we want to Rome and Florence. We did all the regular sight seeing but it was getting quite tiring after a while. So one of the days we just spend the day strolling by the parks in Rome, and had a bike tour with one of the locals in Rome. She then suggested us to try out dining with BonAppetour