So, you're about to exchange vows, place a beautiful wedding ring onto your soulmate's finger, share a kiss, and then it's time for the fun part — the honeymoon! The period leading up to your wedding and the big day itself can be famously busy. Once the party is over, it's time to decompress and spend some quality time together, just the two of you. But how can you have the honeymoon you'd always dreamed of in the midst of a pandemic?
The honeymoon of a lifetime is definitely still possible. To get you inspired, we spoke to eight professionals including honeymoon experts, travel agents, and hotels, who have shared their best tips for planning your honeymoon during the pandemic.
*Travel advice in this article was correct at the time of writing. Please check for local updates or speak to a qualified travel agent for the most up to date information.
Before You Book
Image Credit: Annie Spratt
Couples normally spend time planning and researching their honeymoon, but this is even more important at the moment. Before you commit, here are some things to consider.
What Kind of Honeymoon do You Want?
The starting point is to discuss what type of honeymoon you both want. While your dream destination might not be accessible right now, there may be plenty of options that will give you the same type of experience.
"If you envisioned laying by a beach in a tropical location, you shouldn't have too much trouble making that kind of vacation happen," says Jennifer Stein, Editor in Chief at Destination I Do Magazine, a national magazine covering destination weddings, honeymoons, and romance travel. "Mexico is open for business and the U.S. has some of the best beaches in the world!"
Boat sharing platform Click & Boat agrees. "While your honeymoon may not be in an exotic location like French Polynesia or the Maldives, staying in the United States offers many stunning sailing destinations like the Southern Californian Coast or the Caribbean-like Florida Keys."
If your dream honeymoon is a trip to a world-renowned city, all is not lost. "You could plan a long weekend on a tropical beach for now and on your one-year anniversary, go for the extended trip to Paris or New York," says Jennifer Stein from Destination I Do Magazine.
A qualified travel agent is your best friend
So many of us have become used to booking our own travel online, but the arrival of the pandemic means we need to take advice from the experts. "Travel agents are diligently tracking the entry requirements for each destination and will help you navigate the constantly-changing protocols," says The Wedding Guys, who showcase inspiration for couples through editorial and events.
The team at Cruise Planners, an American Express Travel Representative with over 25 years of experience agrees. "At Cruise Planners, our travel advisors can take all the time, hassle, and stress out of planning, and they are also knowledgeable about COVID-19 travel restrictions and safe destinations to visit," they say.
Understand current local COVID restrictions
Whether you plan to have a staycation honeymoon in the U.S. or head overseas, you will need to stay up to date with the evolving situation where you are going. "Research is key to any couple looking to take a honeymoon within the next 12 months," says Hitchd, the honeymoon gifting website.
"The best way to monitor the coronavirus pandemic in another city or country is to scope out the local news sources," they say. "Many are publishing daily updates and covering local politicians and public health officials who will impose lockdowns and restrictions on indoor dining and non-essential businesses."
Are there any quarantine or testing requirements?
You will also need to consider your return strategy. "Many countries and even some states and cities, require residents to quarantine for 14 days following a return from COVID-19 hotspot," says Hitchd. "For those working from home, this probably won't make a difference, but for those who must return to work immediately, quarantining for two weeks won't be an option."
Cruise Planners advise that most countries that are open to American tourists require proof of a negative COVID-19 test before entry. Perfect Honeymoons also recommend knowing what COVID-19 testing requirements might be in place before you book. "People are getting turned away at the border because they have taken the wrong test, so it pays to familiarize yourself before you depart," they say.
Will you feel safe there?
Image credit: Silverado Resort and Spa
Your honeymoon is a special experience you will likely only enjoy once. Feeling stressed throughout this trip is not the memory you want to take away!
Hitchd suggests shortlisting your ideal locations based on how much risk you're willing to take. "Driving is safer than flying or riding a train, and renting a home on Airbnb is safer than a hotel room," they say. "Of course, having a staycation is easily the safest option, but even then couples should be wearing masks and washing their hands when returning home."
"Many hotels, airlines, and restaurants are taking dramatic precautions to make the experience safe and comfortable for guests, so the silver lining is — this is probably one of the safest times to travel," says Perfect Honeymoons, a boutique travel agency who has been curating honeymoons since 1989. "Couples will most likely have the entire place to themselves, so this might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit some of these places without the crowds!"
A responsible hotel will be happy to share their specific safety measures with you to give you total peace of mind. Silverado Resort and Spa in the Napa Valley has introduced the NapaPURE program, which is dedicated to the safety and wellness of every visitor, associate, and member.
"In response to COVID-19, we have increased the frequency with which our public areas, guest rooms and facilities are deep-cleaned and disinfected, using hospital-grade disinfectants. The resort also oﬀers hand sanitizer throughout the property and all resort employees have completed enhanced COVID-19 prevention and preparedness training," they say.
Can you enjoy all the facilities?
Image Credit: Rabbit Hill Inn
Even if you can travel to your dream location or stay at your favourite resort, you may not be able to enjoy the full experience due to restrictions. Check this out before you go to avoid disappointment.
Jennifer Stein from Destination I Do Magazine encourages couples to ask some important questions like, "Will the resort you're going to have all their amenities available to you? Will the spa be open? What about the restaurants? Do you need to make reservations ahead of time for things you normally wouldn't like a spot by the pool?"
The team at Rabbit Hill Inn, a luxurious full-service inn in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom echoes this advice. "Although there are plenty of options available, do not assume that everything is running as usual. This will help you plan your getaway without any unexpected disappointments," they say.
They also share another valuable warning. "Speak directly with the lodging establishment to assure accurate information, because online details may not be updated and can be misleading."
Honeymoon Ideas During the Pandemic
Image Credit: Dino Reichmuth
With some proper planning, a bit of compromise, and a touch of creativity, you can still enjoy an incredible honeymoon. From road trips to luxury hotels and setting sail on a boat, there are plenty of stunning options for your special holiday.
Hit the Road
Just picture it — the open road in front of you, your loved one by your side, and the wind in your hair. Due to COVID, road trip honeymoons are having a major moment. "We have seen a huge uptick in requests for destinations within the U.S.," says Perfect Honeymoons. "Anywhere remote and scenic that people can reach by car is a great option," they say. Some of the most popular destinations include Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Northern California, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the Smoky Mountains.
Even though this is a more casual option, you'll still need to be extra organized. "A fun-filled and safe road trip can be a fantastic honeymoon experience during a pandemic, but advance planning is key — this is not the time to wing it," says Rabbit Hill Inn. Whether you hire a classic car or pack up in an RV, there are plenty of ways you can experience the best of the U.S. while staying safe.
Have a Staycation
If you want to avoid flying and the hassle of quarantine, a staycation is your best option. "A staycation honeymoon is a great opportunity to explore your backyard and enjoy each other's company in the process," says Silverado Resort & Spa.
The United States is home to so many beautiful places that planning your honeymoon in your own state can still be a wonderful experience. Whether you book into a resort, go glamping, or hire a really special holiday house, a staycation can feel special with a few romantic touches.
What could be more romantic than sailing off into the sunset with your soulmate by your side? Thanks to boat-share companies like Click & Boat, hiring a boat for your honeymoon is easier and more affordable than ever. "A boat rental allows the couple the freedom to set sail and explore at their own pace. It is the perfect moment to disconnect from everyday life and take advantage of one-on-one time," says the team at Click & Boat.
"Couples can personalise their honeymoon aboard, from the destination to the type of boat and the duration of the rental. If you and your partner want to spend your sailing holiday sitting back and relaxing — that's not a problem. Captains are available for most charters, so you can take advantage of their local knowledge to explore secluded beaches and dreamy anchorages."
The other benefit of a sailing honeymoon is that you won't have to worry about coming into close contact with other people. "Steer clear of your typical crowded beaches and instead find your own secluded cove, only accessible via boat," they say.
Pro Tip: If you are the type of couple that really enjoys activities, be sure to rent a boat with additional equipment including paddleboards, tubes, dinghies, water sports equipment, and snorkeling and diving gear.
If you want to get back to nature and stay at a safe distance from others, but aren't keen on "roughing it", glamping could be a great option for your honeymoon. There are fully equipped glamping sites in some of the most breathtaking locations around the country, from California to Colorado. Just imagine sleeping under the stars and waking up to the sound of birdsong, all while enjoying the comfort of a warm bed and a hot shower. It doesn't get much better than that!
Book a Fancy Hotel
You don't have to travel out of state or overseas to feel special. Why not book a room in a luxury hotel near you? Many hotels have great offers due to the pandemic and if you tell them you're honeymooners, you might even get an upgrade! "Booking a suite feels very special as they may come with a butler and concierge service," says Cruise Planners.
Travel to Mexico or The Caribbean
Image Credit: Alex Bertha
An overseas honeymoon is still possible right now. Some destinations are open to U.S. travelers including the Caribbean and Mexico (This was correct at the time of writing - please check for current local updates). "An over-the-water bungalow at Sandals Royale in Montego Bay, Sandals South Coast in Negril, or Sandals Grande Saint Lucian would be an amazing option," says Cruise Planners. "Our travel advisors can help you choose the perfect destination and help you navigate cancelation policies."
Plan a Latermoon
If you're firmly set on a honeymoon in one of the many destinations that are currently closed to U.S. travelers, a "latermoon" could be your best option. This is a honeymoon at a later date when it's safe to travel. But it doesn't mean you have to miss out in the short term either. You can plan a "minimoon" — a short trip like a long weekend straight after the wedding, then have your proper destination honeymoon when borders are open.
On the plus side, this will give you more time to save and plan your trip, and you're likely to get some very good deals on travel and hotels if you book well in advance. We all need something good to look forward to during these strange times and what could be more exciting than your honeymoon in a far-flung destination?
Tips for Your Perfect Honeymoon
Image Credit: Ben O'bro
Nothing about this year has been "normal" and your approach to planning your honeymoon will probably be a bit different too. Here are some expert tips for making this special trip the experience of a lifetime — even during a pandemic.
If this year has taught us anything, it's that we have to adapt to new situations. "Honeymoons are all about spending time together, so get creative. If it feels too stressful to make arrangements for the traditional international destination, save that for a post-pandemic anniversary and consider some local options," says The Wedding Guys. "Keep an open mind about what you're going to experience. The goal is to enjoy one another and celebrate the vows you just made – keep your focus on that," says Jennifer Stein from Destination I Do Magazine.
Perfect Honeymoons encourage couples to think outside the box. "If you like to ski or snowboard every winter, mix it up and head to a beach. If you love big cities, head to Utah and visit a national park. Consider renting an RV and forgoing a traditional hotel stay. Just be open to something new and crazy since 2020 has been new and crazy!"
Set up a honeymoon fund
This year has hurt many people financially, and if you've just contributed to your own wedding budget, you might need a little help with your honeymoon. "For couples looking to plan a dream honeymoon, a registry can make it happen. Honeymoon funds allow wedding guests to contribute to the couples' vacation of a lifetime and they make great alternatives for those who don't need another blender or toaster," says Hitchd.
Pre-Book Your Reservations
Rabbit Hill Inn recommend pre-booking your evening reservations. "All restaurants across the land—even casual spots—can be somewhat limited on availability. Don't leave one this to the last minute. Better yet, choose a destination that offers good food and a bar on site. This allows you to snuggle in all day, and all night if you so desire," they say.
Make it Romantic
Regardless of whether you're road-tripping or staying in a luxury hotel, those special little touches will make all the difference. "Opt for a place that caters to romantic adult getaways and provides all the special honeymoon touches like flowers, chocolates, champagne, in-room massage services, and any special requests," says Rabbit Hill Inn.
Use the Concierge Service
The best-placed person to advise you on local activities is the concierge. "Allow the concierge to help you plan your activities. If you wish to enjoy a day of kayaking, skiing, snowmobiling, ziplining, biking, or an in-room massage, the property's concierge service makes it so much easier," says Rabbit Hill Inn.
Switch Off Your Phone
One of the greatest joys of traveling overseas is switching off your phone and "disconnecting" from daily life back home. Just because you may not be honeymooning internationally, it doesn't mean you have to stay "online". "For couples doing a staycation or even a road trip to a nearby city, it's important to disconnect from technology. Avoid answering calls or text messages, and set phones on airplane mode when not in use," says Hitchd.
Plan Outdoor Activities
"Plan some memorable things together outdoors that are low risk, like a beautiful hike or learning to surf together," says Jennifer Stein from Destination I Do Magazine. Hitchd also suggests that "if outdoor dining isn't an option, couples should order takeout from restaurants instead of eating indoors."
Get Travel Insurance
In these uncertain times, travel insurance for your honeymoon is essential. Speak to your travel agent about the best options and make sure you're covered for all the important things. "You'll need solid travel insurance for things like COVID, cancelations, hurricanes, and illness, in case your travel plans get derailed for some unforeseen reason," says Jennifer Stein from Destination I Do Magazine.
Tell Them You're Honeymooners
The Weddings Guys encourage couples to tell accommodation and restaurants that they're honeymooners. "They will surely fawn all over you during your stay — everyone loves Honeymooners!" says Jennifer Stein from Destination I Do Magazine agree. "Make sure you tell your resort or the owner of your Airbnb that you're celebrating your honeymoon. They'll go out of their way to make sure you have a memorable stay."
Remember Why You're There
Finally, take a check of why you're there in the first place. "Neither of you will have fun if you let a closed restaurant or attraction ruin your time. The point is you're together, so start your marriage off on a positive, joyful note," says Jennifer Stein from Destination I Do Magazine.
Enjoying some quality one-to-one time with the person you love is one of the most important things you can do. Life can get busy with kids, careers, family and friends, but your honeymoon is one of those special moments which is reserved just for the two of you.
Being in the midst of a global pandemic means your honeymoon plans need to be flexible, but they by no means need to be canceled. Whether you hit the road together and explore your own backyard, spend a week in a luxury resort close to home, or set sail on your own private boat, there are so many ways you can make this an incredibly special and memorable experience that you'll be talking about for years to come.