Choose a sturdy suitcase, zip it open at least a few weeks prior to departure, and get packing. Unless the honeymoon is for one or two nights and therefore requires only a toothbrush, little black dress, bathing suit and flops, go for the big, checkable bag.
If you’re mad for a soft, stylish classic carry-on, treat yourself to a Vera Bradley or Vuitton.
Remember that most airlines allow two carry-ons: one that squishes under the seat in front of you and one that’s jammable into the overhead compartment. Most airlines charge ($20-$25) for (regular) baggage check.
WAIT! PINPOINT THE PLACE…
A slew of online wedding data indicates that on average B&Gs book an 8-day honeymoon four months prior to their wedding date. More than 60% pay for this $4.5K honeymoon vacation themselves.
Do travel homework online; and then do actual bookings with travel agents who can assist at any time if in case of travel and accommodation snafus or situations. A little planning is powerful in getting what you want. Travel pros at the Travel Haus St. Louis will ask honeymooners:
- How much do you want to spend?
- Where have you traveled already?
- What do you want to do during the day?
- How important is food?
- What countries intrigue you?
- Are you a sunrise or sunset person?
- A beach or a mountain lover?
- Like to wake up to the sun or do you prefer to see the sun set?
- All-inclusive or a la carte?
- Adults only or family/across-the-board venues?
Pursue early and don’t forget because paperwork and “shots” take time. Approached early, there’s no stress and no extra fees paid for overnighting paperwork.
Vaccinations: Honeymooners headed to the Caribbean or Europe typically do not require vaccinations. Verify, however and carry proof of any needed. Read up with the CDC who offers excellent comprehensive health & safety travel info: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/vaccinations.htm
Passport: Carrying around a birth certificate doesn’t work. Apply at least 6 weeks prior to your departure date and get a passport. All countries, including Mexico and Canada, will require it. It’s also a one-size-fits-all as a photo ID. Check with the Kirkwood Public Library, various St. Louis Post Offices and online venues that process passports.
Itinerary Copies! Leave a list of flights and accommodations with family or friends, and carry a copy along in accessible carry-on bag.
Prescriptions: Ideal to take them in original (script) packaging.
Sign up now! Reserve the hard-to-get activities at the honeymoon destinations. Your travel agent can assist. If you’re desperate to swim with the dolphins, sign up before you even get there. Camel rides on the beach? Also intensely popular. Sign before you go.
Check on use and charges regarding all the services on your cell phone and e-tablet prior to leaving. Call provider or read contract carefully. Not good to get smacked with $50-a-minute internet use.
Decide: Where (in what and in which bag) will you carry your passport, license, tickets, and important phone numbers?
Currency: What’s widely acceptable where you’re going? Euros, pounds, American dollars? Have some in hand, along with your credit cards.
Phone numbers: Have travel agent phone in your list/speed dial. They are direct line to making anything that might be “wrong”
PAPERWORK, PART 2…
Travel insurance deserves more than a glance.
• It allows trip cancellation for a host of reasonable reasons.
• Ultimately, it may allow re-scheduling a trip for a typically nominal ($99 person) fee.
• Read carefully. Read fine print. Ask questions. Ask the pros (travel agents).
• Get mani/pedis and haircuts before leaving to hit the beach or the boulevards ready to go. (If honeymoon directly follows wedding, this is likely not necessary. Truth: Resort spas have allure; so book even before trip departure.
• Ponder the pre-tan. Best to take sunscreen and avoid the whole issue.
• Practice fitness before leaving. A strong core helps when carrying luggage, and overall fitness/toning is advantageous for those jumping on jet skis, climbing cathedral steps and skiing the Alps.
• Promenade in new footwear! Try on and wear any new shoes. Test out the new hiking boots before packing those 5-pounders. Things like blisters (and sunburns) are honeymoon no-no’s.
Even though returning honeymooners often confess they over packed, do not think about that now. Load up. The suitcase can be edited the last few nights before departure. And what are you throwing in that suitcase? Shop now, stateside, to save big bucks. Hotel gift shops and those cool contempo hospitality vending machines with everything in little envelopes like aspirin, stain removers, hair pins and nail files are handy, but can be pricey. Zip lock bags, yes really, are great for packing. Not only are they waterproof but allow complete visibility. You (and the TSA) can see what you have at a glance.
Little must-haves that take up no space:
- Sunscreen and lip balm.
- Aloe vera lotion—because you didn’t pack the sunscreen!
- Sunglasses – several pair.
- Crushable sun hat and baseball cap, for both of you.
- Insect repellent wipes and Band-Aids.
- Pain reliever, antacid and antihistamine; also motion sickness med.
- Deck of cards: Great pastime when a flight’s delayed, for camping evenings or beachside huts…just because. No batteries needed.
- Empty canvas tote– for shopping, carrying stuff to pool/beach and getting souvenirs home.
- Stain stick to spot clean your favorite threads, immediately!
- Scotch tape– as lint remover, to hold up a hem or tape love notes all over the bathroom mirror.
- E-readers, books, and magazines: One saves you space, the second can stay behind in hotel library, and the third? Who doesn’t travel without a hot-off-the-press magazine?
- Chargers! All of them: for phone, iPod, camera, e-reader.
- Evening wrap: sweater, shawl, pashmina. Cool nights often follow warm days. The wrap can dress up an outfit. See “accessories.”
- Lingerie, undies (get ‘em coordinated) and nightwear.
- Bathing suits AND cover-up which allows walking through lobbies/ dining areas.
- Accessories – jewelry, belts, bags – for changing basic style.
- Little black dress and sundresses.
- Jeans, shorts, tops and tees. Coordinate “outfits,” then roll and pack ‘em.
- Evening purse, day tote.
- Sandals, flops and old sneakers to ruin in rain forest mud or rocky mountain streams.
- Packing for him, too? He needs at least polo, shoes and khakis, for dining.
Relax. Most resorts are versatile and accommodating. Some will have hair dryers, umbrellas, sewing kits, carryalls, games, books, and CD and DVD libraries. If you cannot suitcase all your trip needs, your resort accommodations likely will have everything from toiletries to towels available.
PACK OTHER NEEDS, NICETIES
2 – 3 Cameras – Cell phone camera. Point-and-shoot camera with SD card and charger, and what about an underwater camera, available in disposable format?
Cash – for off-site vendors and side trips.
Guidebook – because you’re not taking your laptop to look things up.
A journal – because you’re not taking your laptop to write things down.
A (small) candle – for atmosphere, celebration.
Small gift/token for him.
POINTS FROM THE PROS TO CONSIDER…
On sleeping: “The honeymoon is not the average vacation nor is it something you can do over, so we recommend getting the best room that the budget will allow…the honeymoon couple should have a room that is romantic, unique, memorable and totally stress-free,” Mike Schellhase at the Travel Haus St. Louis said. So if it comes down to spending on a fabulous room and therefore cutting your stay one night shorter, do it.
On cash: Get $100 in the currency of the country you’re visiting to cover a cab, maybe a meal, a quick coffee. Debit and credit cards work for in-country cash, dependent on rate of exchange that day. A little cash can goes a long way when bargaining at the market.
On safety: Resorts have security. Like anywhere however, be attentive to surroundings at night.
On getting around: Investigate car rental. In some countries, it’s cheaper (and avoid getting lost) to hire a driver/taxi.
On drinking water: Out-of-country, drink approved water only. Ask its source and what your greens were washed in.
On language: It’s worth brushing up on the language(s) of your host country. While you may not be fluent, your polite efforts are appreciated. Note that English speakers are found in even far flung places.
PONDER, before squishing the suitcase closed…
Now what did I forget?