With the average wedding in America costing around $33,000 (according to The Knot’s most recent Real Wedding Study), the last thing many newlyweds want to do is empty their pockets to go on a lavish honeymoon. Thankfully, with some careful planning and creativity, you can soak in wedded bliss on a budget. Below, U.S. News explores five ways to save money on honeymoon travel – and still make memories that will last a lifetime.
Honeymoon Within the U.S.
For many couples, endless photos of exotic destinations on social media may make it seem like traveling abroad for a honeymoon is the only option. However, you can find some incredible spots right here in the U.S. Topping our ranking of the Best Affordable Honeymoons in the USA is Yellowstone, which covers 2.2 million acres across Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. You and your new spouse can enjoy breathtaking rivers, geysers, canyons and waterfalls during the day, followed by evenings spent staring up at the twinkling stars visible from all areas of the national park.
Search for lodging in a nearby town to save some extra coin, or consider setting up camp on a secluded mountaintop if you’re looking for some adventure. Other top affordable honeymoon destinations in the U.S. include Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts; Monterey, California; and Outer Banks, North Carolina. These havens all offer small-town charm, ocean views and unbeatable food and drink, guaranteeing a laid-back and romantic trip.
Fly on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday
If you marry on a Saturday, it may feel most natural to leave for your honeymoon the next day. However, Sunday is one of the most expensive days to travel domestically, and international flight prices usually peak on the weekends. Instead, consider flying during the week for international flights or on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday for domestic journeys (three of the cheapest days to fly, according to a FareCompare.com study).
Hanging around for a few days after your wedding will also give you the chance to spend one-on-one time with family and friends or allow you to start your honeymoon early by seeing the sights near your venue. Another plus: You’ll avoid feeling rushed. You’ll have time to make sure you’ve packed all of your essentials, drop off your wedding dress or tuxedo at the dry cleaner, finalize arrangements for any pets to be lodged during your trip and more.
Similarly, returning home from your honeymoon on a Saturday instead of a Sunday will save you money, give you a full day to recover from jet lag and allow time to get your life in order before returning to reality on Monday.
Pick an Under-the-Radar International Destination
While you may be tempted to honeymoon in a tried-and-true international destination like Tahiti or Paris, consider exploring off-the-beaten-path locales that offer many of the same perks. For example, instead of planning a post-wedding getaway to Santorini – which can cost thousands of dollars for airfare and lodging alone – consider the Greek island of Corfu. Corfu boasts miles of picturesque beaches and the same turquoise waters as its better-known counterpart, but for a fraction of the price. You can visit old fortresses and museums in the center of town, and one-of-a-kind attractions like the Paleokastritsa Monastery (located on the top of a cliff with prime ocean views) and the Corfu Donkey Rescue will leave you with unique stories to tell your family and friends back home.
Another great option? Spend your honeymoon in Antibes, France, instead of Nice or Cannes. You’ll enjoy the same French Riviera experience and some of the country’s best beaches, but with a more manageable price tag. In fact, some hotel rates in Antibes drop as low as $60 per night during the peak summer season.
Opt for a Bed-and-Breakfast Instead of a Big Resort
If there’s one thing you’ll want after a year (or more) of planning a wedding, it’s a bit of pampering. While all-inclusive resorts are the typical go-to for a luxury experience, bed-and-breakfasts offer just as much romance and relaxation. Because these properties typically welcome a small amount of guests at a time, common areas will be much more private and intimate than those in megaresorts. Examples of some top-rated bed-and-breakfasts include The Palmwood in Kauai, Hawaii, which has three rooms overlooking the secluded rolling hills of Moloa’a on the island’s North Shore; Port d’Hiver Bed and Breakfast in Melbourne Beach, Florida, a 10-room property with a dreamy bougainvillea-lined courtyard; and The Governor’s House Inn in Charleston, South Carolina, which boasts 11 rooms and suites that may come with private sitting areas and balconies.
As a plus, some B&Bs provide special perks for guests, such as complimentary evening wine and cheese tastings. It’s also worth pointing out that many bed-and-breakfasts don’t disappoint on the “breakfast” front. For example, The Caldwell House Bed & Breakfast in Salisbury Mills, New York, offers guests a three-course meal every morning.
Save Your Honeymoon for a More Affordable Time of Year
More and more newlyweds are opting to take a break between their weddings and honeymoons, which allows extra time to plan and opens up their travel calendars to more affordable times of the year. Before booking your trip, keep in mind that low season varies for different destinations. For example, flights from North America to the Caribbean are typically at their lowest between June and November, meaning you can often snag surprisingly reasonable rates (just make sure to invest in travel insurance to protect your funds from the risk of hurricanes). Alternatively, European destinations often cost less during colder months like January and February, perfect for those who dream of snuggling by a fire and watching snow fall outside.
If you choose to delay your honeymoon, you may want to consider taking a quick “mini-moon” somewhere nearby for a few days right after your wedding to decompress before jumping back into regular life. For example, if you live in (or near) Florida, take a short road trip to Naples or nearby Marco Island to indulge in a couple of days of white sand beaches, world-class golf and romantic oceanfront dinners. Those who live near New York City can disconnect for a few days in New Jersey’s Cape May or the Catskill Mountains south of Albany, both of which are less than a 160-mile drive from the Big Apple. Or, if you live near Chicago, spend two or three days in the quaint small town of Galena, Illinois – around 165 miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city.