picture perfect honeymoon

After the stress of planning and having a wedding, the honeymoon is the reward. It’s an amazing time to connect with your partner. There are easy steps you can take to plan a picture perfect honeymoon on a budget.

Planning a honeymoon

When you’re planning a wedding, there’s a lot of back and forth with the vendors. You visit the reception hall and go over every last detail. You know what to expect that day and know how everything will look. While your wedding day is a big moment, the reception you planned for months only lasts a few hours. The weeks that follow are just as important. Your honeymoon lasts more than just a few hours. It can last more than a week. Yet, you plan it without ever visiting and often without ever speaking to anyone. You’re at the mercy of others to make sure every detail is as perfect as you ever imagined. So, here’s my tips to a picture perfect honeymoon.

Research every detail of your honeymoon

We planned our honeymoon entirely on the reviews of other honeymooners and travelers on TripAdvisor.  It’s my #1 travel site, and I check it all the time for hotels in the United States or resorts in another part of the world. You know the worst thing that may happen on your trip, and you know the best parts of the resort or hotel.

Our wedding. Destin, FL.

We originally booked our honeymoon to Antigua. It was a small resort, and got good reviews. When you’re planning a wedding, you want to get the big details planned as quickly as possible. We saw a sale for the resort we were considering, and booked it early on. We were very excited and even told people we were heading to Antigua.

A few months later, the excitement faded. As we researched what we would do during our time in Antigua, we realized there may not be enough activities to keep us busy. Funny, considering we did very little on our honeymoon. When you’re planning, you still have energy and can’t imagine sitting on a beach for a week even though that’s exactly what we needed after months of planning.

We explored other honeymoon options and saw a review of top honeymoon islands. St. Lucia topped it. We began looking at the island, and we were sold. There are volcanoes, nice beaches, snorkeling, scuba, and culture. It ranks as one of the most romantic islands.

Our haste to book our honeymoon cost us $50 to cancel our reservation to Antigua. Not a big deal considering the amazing time we had in St. Lucia. It was the best choice possible. My advice to you: don’t rush into a decision. Your honeymoon is a big detail, but it’s small enough that it can wait until you have time to truly explore and decide on the best option for you.

St. Lucia honeymoon

So many people are looking for something different on their honeymoon. Some people take short trips, others long. Some people want to explore, others sit on the beach. First, decide your wants and needs. Then, search for that perfect destination.

We settled on Jalousie Plantation in St. Lucia, and had an amazing time.  Beyond the accommodations, you need to consider the food. I’ve stayed at some budget resorts, and the food gets old real fast. At Jalousie, it was amazing night after night whether you ate at the high-end restaurant or the budget one by the beach. All inclusive is the way to go. The last thing you want to worry about on your honeymoon is money. You should order the entree, or two like my husband did one night, that you want rather than the one that fits your budget.

Do your research. Don’t assume your resort has good beach access. Some have amazing views in St. Luica, but they don’t have a beach. At our resort, they bussed in other hotel guests. They were relegated to a small part of the beach without bad chairs. If they wanted a good one, they had to pay handsomely. They were on such a small part of the beach, we wouldn’t have known they were there if we didn’t see them all walking down the mountain from the drop off point at the resort every day.

real st lucia toursWe saved a ton of money because we did our research before we left. We found an amazing tour company, Real St. Lucia Tours. Their tours are custom and half the price of our resort. We booked a custom tour to chocolate plantations, volcano, mud bath, nearby fishing village, etc. for six hours for $85. That’s so cheap considering it costs me $15 in a cab to drive less than ten minutes in the United States. The driver also showed other points of interest and made it a day we’ll always remember. Do your research and skip the tours at the hotel.

If you don’t plan ahead, you’re stuck guessing which company to choose when you arrive. If you don’t want to go with the hotel, taxis are your other option. They are expensive. When we asked the hotel how much it would cost to go anywhere, the answer was $40. Even if it was 10 minutes down the road. They know you don’t know that it’s that close, so everything costs $40. A lot of tourist pay this price because they don’t have another option because they didn’t do their research before their trip. When we went out with Real St. Lucia Tours to some of the chocolate plantations, I couldn’t believe other tourists paid $40 to visit them because they were so close to our resort.

If you want to head out on the water, you need to look beyond Real St. Lucia Tours. They only offer land trips. You can take a water taxi, but they are expensive. We heard some travelers who used them and enjoyed their trip, but they are pricey adventures. You can wheel and deal with the water taxis that sit on the shore all day waiting for a customer, but they don’t discount their rides that significantly.

We only took one water tour and felt a bit ripped off. We hadn’t done our research, so we booked it through the hotel.

Jade Mountain St. Lucia

View from room at Jade Mountain

Through our research, we also knew where to spend all our money. We wanted to splurge one night, and did just that at Jade Mountain. Based on the reviews on TripAdvisor, we knew we would have amazing views and a night to remember.

If you’re headed to Europe, I would use TripAdvisor. We’re using it to book a trip to New Zealand. However, I’d also grab a travel guide book like Fodor’s. It will be your Bible for your entire trip as you’re traveling. Those books never left my hand when I traveled through Europe. You need a quick guidebook for last minute questions, accommodations, and sights to see when you are on the go in Europe.

You need to review traveler comments with a bit of skepticism. A traveler is more likely to leave a negative comment than a positive one. However, they offer insight we didn’t have ten years ago. Reviews should not be underestimated. They are priceless tools to help you book a trip. TripAdvisor happens to be my favorite. Which one is yours?