For the best that money can buy, without actually spending all your money.
If your engagement has been even the least bit stressful, you will be wanting to plan your honeymoon in the most efficient, straightforward and cost-effective way – while also making the most of all the travel perks and honeymoon hacks you possibly can.
Because planning a wedding only gets more demanding and time-consuming the closer to the date you get, I suggest you don’t leave your honeymoon planning til the very last minute. By getting organised in advance, you’re also best placed to take advantage of the best offers, reward schemes, and all the little honeymoon benefits (hotel and flight upgrades + bonuses) your once in a lifetime trip merits.
How to choose your honeymoon destination (with the best chance of an upgrade!)
While Lonely Planet and Conde Nast come out with the ‘best’ honeymoon destinations each year, your idea of the best honeymoon destination will differ widely from others, so don’t feel constricted to sticking to well-trodden paths. How far your honeymoon budget will go, and your chance of getting a flight upgrade, or the best room at the resort will largely be determined by availability, capacity and demand.
Whichever destination you choose will have a peak/off-peak rate based on its season/temperament, the visitors it attracts, and the peak holiday times those visitors take. If you choose to visit a family resort in Hawaii during US school holidays, it’s much harder to get upgraded to a better room – nevermind whether you even want to be at the resort at this time of year.
It can be hard to choose a honeymoon destination, when literally the entire world is on offer, but take into account the length of your trip, how far you’d like to travel in that amount of time, whether you’re prepared for a language barrier, intrepid travel, a culture shock, complete relaxation or a more bustling, busy trip of exploration. Some travel websites include suggestions based on the type of trip you’re booking, such as Booking.com, where you can search according to “Romance” in Europe, for instance. In fact, that’s exactly what Blair and I are booking right now, as we fly into Berlin next month to begin our Euro-trip, so I’m browsing hotels which specifically cater to child-free adults.
How to get the “Honeymoon suite” Upgrade
An uber indulgent honeymoon suite is a guaranteed cure for all those Pinterest headaches, weekend wedmin woes, and possibly even a few sleepless nights. For the best in post-nuptial R&R, don’t leave it to chance:
- Filter by Freebies! Hotel reviews are always essential, but discovering the ability to filter hotel reviews by ‘Freebies’ life changing – this is a feature of Booking.com via the tab “Verified Guest Reviews” (all 119 million of them!). These reviews in particular can tell you how a hotel deals with any issues which arise, but also what exactly they may able to do for you. You can show reviews from couples only (or families, solo travellers, etc) which may give you an idea of the experience of other honeymooners, or filter by ‘views and surroundings’ which will let you know what kind of room to request, for example pool or beach facing.
- Stay at a brand new hotel: Besides the perks of being among the first to stay, a brand new hotel is likely to:
- Give you a great deal on a room; and/or
- Have better rooms available.
- Book well in advance: again, the key is availability, and as rooms get booked out and others become scarce, hotels don’t need to discount rooms to ensure capacity. We learned this the hard way one year, not booking our San Francisco trip in full to keep our options open, and having to spend a fortune over the Christmas and New Year period to extend our stay in the CBD.
- Go beyond the weekend: if you’re looking at just a Friday and Saturday reservation, you’re likely to be paying the top rate, and there’s less chance of getting a great deal. Many hotels also have a stay 4, pay 3 scheme, but if you’re only staying 2 nights, try to schedule one on a weeknight.
- Leave a note: when you first make your reservations, whatever room you can afford, mention that you will be on your honeymoon. This doesn’t have to sound like you’re scrounging for a discount, but rather, for example “As we are celebrating our honeymoon, we would love to be placed in a quiet area of the hotel, away from the pool/kitchen/carpark if possible.” Even if your request doesn’t turn into a nicer room, usually a hotel will do something small if they can, such as a fruit platter, chocolate, or bottle of bubbles.
- Don’t request an early check-in. As above, the key with room upgrades is availability. If you request an early check in, there will be fewer rooms available, and the staff won’t yet have a clear picture of what rooms may still be available.
- When you check in, if not informed that you have been given an upgrade, you can politely ask “What room upgrades are available” and you will most likely be given either of:
- the cost for each room upgrade;
- a discount for a room upgrade; or
- a free room upgrade!
- Check in is also a good time to remind the staff that you’re on your honeymoon, and check whether you were able to get the beach view/quiet room/balcony, etc, or query “What romance packages do you have available?”
It’s all about direction! How to get bumped and “Turn left for Business Class”
As the chances of us actually flying together are slim, I’ll share what I know.
- This is not the time for a ‘Just married’ t shirt (as much as I applaud you if you can convince your new husband to wear that…) – the most convincing thing you can do to get bumped up is look the part. Of course, you also want to be comfortable while travelling, so dress in a white shirt and jeans, with a t-shirt underneath and a pair of leggings in your carry-on. For men, just add a jacket to a smart ensemble.
- Mention it at check in – while asking for an upgrade won’t usually do the trick with an airline, it may be worth asking if there are any exit-row seats available, and slide in that you’re honeymooning at that point. Again, you don’t want to sound like you’re scrounging, but it won’t hurt to ask.
- Travel on a Saturday. Business and elite travellers are less likely to be flying over the weekend, meaning your business class upgrade is more attainable.
- Treat the crew with respect. I’m sure you would anyway, but your patience and respect for check-in staff and flight crew will you give you the best chance of flying perks.
- The main reason you’ll receive an upgrade on a flight is because they’re overbooked, i.e. they’ve sold all their economy seats and would otherwise have to bump someone off the flight. Unfortunately, this may mean they only have room for one, or you won’t be sitting together. For your honeymoon, this may not be ideal.
- Join the Airpoints scheme. Crew are much more likely to be able to upgrade you if you’re on their rewards programme, and/or you can often use points to upgrade too. I and collect points every time I spend money on my credit card I book a hotel.
If you don’t get the flight upgrade, don’t fret, at least you can fall asleep on each others’ shoulders – Business Premiere isn’t designed for romance. Now’s the perfect time to fold down your tray table and start filling out the ‘Honeymoon’ diary of your little white book, and get started on the ‘Wedding’ part of I still do!
So long as you’ve got a nice hotel room to look forward to, you’ll soon sleep off any long-haul aches!
Little things that make a difference
When booking your rental vehicle, book well in advance while you have the choice of vehicles, and book a compact car (the cheapest). Once you arrive at the destination, you can choose to upgrade, or if they have sold out of all compacts, they will have to upgrade you.
When making a reservation for a nice meal, don’t hesitate to tell them you’re on your honeymoon and would love a table with a view overlooking the [pool/beach/balcony] – if they can, staff will most likely oblige, and if they can’t, you may be offered a glass of bubbles on the house.