There was no way I was going to get married without a honeymoon to follow. At the same time, I knew from sources like Wedding Wire that the average cost of a honeymoon trip is about $4,000. That’s a lot of money to throw down after paying for a wedding.
My husband and I didn’t have anywhere near that much money left after our wedding. Nor did we receive that much in gifts. However, as I said, a honeymoon or vacation to celebrate our marriage was a must for me.
Thankfully, we found a way to book an all-inclusive trip to the Caribbean for less than $400 for both of us combined. That was like drinking Champagne when you actually paid for beer.
But it didn’t just drop into our lap — we planned our honeymoon on a budget.
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Using Credit Card Reward Points
To minimize the cost of our trip, my husband and I each signed up for two credit cards in order to receive the sign-on bonuses and apply them to our travel expenses. If you're looking for similar deals, Credit.com has a list of credit cards that are great for earning cashback and travel rewards.
Most credit card companies will offer bonus points when cardholders spend a certain amount of money or buy specific things. These bonus points can be used for cash rewards and gift cards or applied to travel expenses.
For example, you may receive 50,000 bonus points for spending $2,000 on your card during the first three months. Those 50,000 points can translate into $500 of travel money that may allow you to fly for free or book a few nights at a hotel with points instead of paying cash.
While my husband and I don’t consider ourselves major credit card churners, we do use cards wisely.
We figured we should give this strategy a try, since we needed to spend money on our wedding, anyway.
We didn’t want credit card debt after the whole ordeal, so we decided to use our cards only to cover necessities and wedding expenses. This would help us meet the sign-on bonus requirements.
If an expense wasn’t something we were planning on spending money on — or if we didn’t have the cash to pay the credit card balance off right after purchase — we didn’t use the cards for fear of going into debt.
We spent just enough in order to receive the bonus points after three months. And since each of us had two cards, we received enough points to cover both our flights in full, as well as most of our hotel stay at the all-inclusive resort.
We still had to pay taxes on our flight. But overall, we spent less than $400 to fly and stay in the Caribbean for a week. We even ended up with extra money for souvenirs and a tour away from the resort.
We’ve compiled a list of sites and apps that will help you get the most bang for your buck, no matter where you want to go.
- Kiwi —For the cheapest flights, trains, and buses.
- Cheap Caribbean — The clue is in the name. Need we say more?
- Booking.com —For all your bed and board requirements at the best prices.
- Hotwire — For hotels, cars, flights — you name it!
- Flixbus — Who says you have to fly? Take the bus!
- Last Minute Travel — Just because you’re getting married doesn’t always mean you’re totally organized . . .
- Flight Hopper — Track those ever-changing prices on flights you really want, and book through the app.
- Kayak — Compares hundreds of travel sites for you. It couldn’t be easier.
- Orbitz — Cruises? Cars? Flights? Activities? This is a one-stop shop.
- Priceline — Even more options to choose from on flights, hotels, cruises, and more.
- TripAdvisor — Find deals not just on flights, cruises, and hotels, but also on restaurants and fun activities.
Choosing an All-Inclusive Resort
All-inclusive resorts are the best, in my opinion. Basically, your hotel stay, on-site amenities, food, and sometimes even drinks all fall under one flat nightly rate. You can’t beat that.
The last vacation I had with my husband a few years ago was fun, but it wasn’t all-inclusive. To pay for the extras, we kept a fixed amount of cash with us and held on to it for dear life.
This time, though, we didn’t want to be stressed about what we could or couldn’t do. So we chose an all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean that included all meals and snacks, alcoholic drinks, a pool, and a private beach, along with nightly entertainment and nonmotorized water sports.
We laid out at the pool, walked along the beach, did some kayaking, and ate and drank as we pleased. This was all without spending another dime after we initially booked our stay.
Normally, the all-inclusive resort we visited charges a minimum of $200 per night to start. This would typically add up to at least $1,400 for a weeklong stay. We paid less than a third of that price thanks to our reward points.
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More Tips to Have a Honeymoon on a Budget
I know using credit card reward points isn’t for everyone, though. It’s strictly for those who have control over their spending and the ability to make payments on time. Here are a few other ideas that can help you cut down on your honeymoon budget:
- Book lodging via Airbnb, VRBO, or Booking.com to save money.
- Plan your honeymoon during the off-season, or fly out on the cheapest day of the week.
- Take a local trip to a nice attraction in a neighboring state to cut out the cost of flying. Who says Yellowstone Park in the dead of winter can’t be romantic?
- Set up a honeymoon registry instead of a wedding gift registry so that you can pay for travel expenses in cash.
- You don’t have to fly out the day after the wedding. Give yourself some time and research the best dates to leave from your area.
- Tell everyone you’re honeymooners. You’ll be surprised what offers can come your way when people know newlyweds are making the request.
- Ask for an upgrade when you check into the hotel. You never know ’til you ask!
- Try not to do every single location at once. This is just the start of your life together — there will be time to see the world.
- Book a package deal with everything included so you know what you’ll have to spend before you go.
- Consider taking a cruise. They usually offer the package deal listed above, and you’ll hit many major cities with one vessel carting you all the way.
- Make your own minibar in the hotel to avoid the temptation of raiding your room’s — often smaller cities have much cheaper alcohol in liquor stores than the hotel will offer.
- Research currency exchange for everywhere you’re planning to go. Don’t let a poor exchange rate cut your wallet size in half!
- Talk to the locals in your destination. They always know the hidden (and usually cheaper) gems.
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