BY ANNA SACHSE
Indulging in a post-I Do's dream trip doesn't mean you have to start your marriage off deep in debt. Here's how to have your honeymoon and afford it too..
Airfare alone for traveling overseas can put a healthy dent in your finances, says Kristin Koch, senior editor for TheKnot.com. Simply stay within the continental U.S. and you should save significant dollars. Plus, all it takes is a little research to find "nearby" locales that may have the same perks as your faraway picks. For example, adventure-lovers might enjoy Yellowstone or Glacier National Park, whereas couples who desire sunny beaches should try the Florida Keys or the barrier islands off the coast of Georgia and Alabama, such as the Golden Isles. For major romance, Koch recommends renting a cottage or a room at a B&B along the coastline of North Carolina's Outer Banks, or staying in a lovely old-fashioned hotel on California's Catalina Island.
According to the TheKnot.com/WeddingChannel.com 2010 Honeymoon Study, the average getaway costs $4,466, says Koch. But she also has these great tips for two foreign hotspots, both under $2,500:
Enjoy old world luxury at the Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel, an 18th century castle only 20 minutes from the city center. Rooms start around $200 per night, but a romantic stroll over the famous Ha'penny Bridge is free.
Indulge in a one-hour steam massage for only $77 at The Hammam Spa "1001 Nights." Then, treat yourself to an amazing cheap lunch from an eating stall at the top of the famous marketplace, or visit the elegant Cafe Arabe, where main courses are only $10 to $16.
Prefer some tropical time-off? Renee Meyer, founder of UnforgettableHoneymoons.com, recommends Bali for the affordable touring, shopping, meals and accommodations (stay in a classy villa at the Munduk Moding Plantation on the top of a mountain for only $170/night), the secluded Las Brisas Ixtapa resort on the Mexican Riviera, and Fiji, where honeymooners can both luxuriate and immerse themselves in the native culture but the U.S. dollar is worth double.
You also can find great deals on popular destinations by taking advantage of "shoulder seasons," says Koch. A location's high season (e.g. winter in Mexico or Hawaii) typically means crowds and high prices, while the low season is cheaper but may mean rain or cooler temperatures. "Shoulder seasons, however, are right on the cusp, so the prices are more reasonable because there's far less demand, and yet the weather is still appealing," Koch says. Check out various resorts' websites for online-only specials during the shoulder and off seasons, Meyer adds.
In addition, Koch recommends cashing in your frequent flier miles (get a credit card with miles and use it to pay for all your wedding expenses!), considering a Honeymoon Registry like TravelersJoy.com or HoneymoonWishes.com, and/or working with a travel agent. Agents usually have leads on affordable hidden gems or can finagle elaborate packages that aren't available to the general public.
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