Congratulations! You’ve taken the plunge, tied the knot, sealed the deal and exchanged the garlands. You’ve well and truly earned some downtime with your new Mr or Mrs. But despite what the movies would have you believe, honeymoons aren’t always without their stresses. Here are our top tips for avoiding honeymoon pitfalls and making your getaway the trip of a lifetime.
Schedule in some downtime
You’ve just thrown the biggest party of your life. You’ve people-managed warring family members, negotiated hard with scores of suppliers, and spent entire evenings deciding how it should all be done. You’re pretty much a multi-tasking superhero. But even superheroes need to recharge their batteries now and again.
So even if you’re both full-on adventure junkies, don’t plan to rush headlong into a jam-packed schedule of activities, especially if you’re in a new city where you haven’t found your feet. Trust us: leave the first couple of days fairly free. Acclimatise, get to know one another again in a pressure-free zone and bask in all those wedding memories. Your brain will thank you for letting it catch up. Then chuck yourself into the fun feet first.
Resist the ‘should’ brigade
A two-week beach break doesn’t quite float your boat? Don’t feel you have to cave to others’ expectations of what a honeymoon ‘should’ be. Make no mistake: the wedding business is a booming industry, and there are plenty of people chomping at the bit to profit from your love for one another. If what you both truly desire is an all-inclusive trip to a far-flung white-sand wonderland, go for it to your hearts’ content. If the idea of lying on a beach for longer than five minutes makes you break out in a rash, don’t sweat it.
Stats show that more couples than ever before are looking for adventure and activities on their honeymoons. They’ve figured out what the packaged holiday companies don’t want them to: that romance is whatever you make it, whether that’s a dozen roses, a canyoning day trip, a windy clifftop walk, or (ahem) screeching Pulp’s Common People at each other at the tops of your voices in a private karaoke booth.
Make your budget go further
If you’re on a tight budget, the idea of throwing caution to the wind and treating yourselves can be a major source of stress. Consider setting up a honeymoon-funding wedding list. Not only will it take the pressure off your finances and let you splurge guilt-free, but it’s a wonderful way to incorporate those you love into a very special trip. Set up your list to allow contributions to specific activities: your guests will feel they’ve given you a tangible experience (especially if you add a personal touch and send them a photo of you enjoying their gift), and you can toast each present-giver as you go and feel almost as though they’re with you on your trip.
A touch of luxury is well-justified on a honeymoon, but don’t forget about the budget options too. You may well find it’s at street stalls you find the best, most authentic meals, and in the most pedestrian of experiences that you meet the most genuine people and create memories that last a lifetime.
Watch out for decision fatigue
You’ll probably have made a lot of decisions in the course of your wedding planning. Colour scheme, clothes, venue, menu, flowers, dance numbers… It’s exhausting to even think about. And if you jet off on honeymoon straight after the wedding, it can lead to an extreme case of Decision Fatigue Syndrome (DFS). It’ll hit you at the oddest times: you’ll be happily exploring, not a care in the world, when all of a sudden you’re faced with a simple choice – ‘will it be beer or wine?’ – and BAM. Your mind empties. Your eyes glaze. You don’t know. Wine’s nice. Beer’s nice. Choose one? You couldn’t possibly! What do you want? Beer. No, wine! No, beer! Your palms become slick. You can’t. Panic.
This is entirely normal. We recommend that your partner stays on the lookout for symptoms of DFS so they can step in, calmly and quietly, to save the day. Be mindful that you may both have to act as the rescuing party at different points, so it pays to choose wisely for your partner at this point. (And, for the record, if you’re the rescuing party in this instance, play it safe and order both.)
Embrace the bicker
‘Nothing worth having comes easy,’ goes the saying. Travel, just like marriage, is a test – of ourselves, our limits, our beliefs and our perceptions of the world. It’s worth remembering this (of both travel and marriage) when you’re both hopelessly lost, without a map or data, exhausted, hangry, and arguing for all you’re worth about how to find the hotel. And how, frankly, you did say bringing the map would be useful, but, you know, whatever…
Conventional wisdom tells us that honeymooners should spend every second gazing lovingly into one another’s eyes. We politely call conventional wisdom out on this one. Bickering is not failure: it’s how we learn to understand each other better. Chances are you aren’t used to spending 24 hours a day with your new spouse, and no matter how well you get on, being thrown into constant company with each other can ignite irritations, especially in the challenging environment that travel inhabits. Despite – or because of – those challenges, travel makes us better people, and you’ll be a better couple for it, squabbles and all, as long as you can laugh about it afterwards.
Don’t forget the best bit, either: making up…
Coping with the comedown
It can be a monumental crash back down to earth in the weeks following your honeymoon. The wedding has been and gone, the honeymoon is over and you’re back, with the best party of your life and the trip of a lifetime behind you (along with most of your disposable income for the next decade). You may find it helps to push rosy retrospection to one side at this point and remind yourself just how free you are from planning, well, anything. Those countless evenings spent making wedding favours and cursing the day you agreed to this circus? They are all behind you, my friend.
And when that isn’t enough? Simple: book another trip! OK, so you’re probably feeling more cash-strapped now than ever before, but it doesn’t need to be a blow-out adventure. Book a weekend break, together or with friends, or even just designate a staycation to look forward to. ‘Travel is a state of mind,’ Paul Theroux once wrote. So make that state of mind a condition of your lives together, get dreaming about the next big trip, and you can’t go too far wrong.