Ah, travel! I am starting to feel like it will truly become safe and enjoyable again soon. Not yet, though—even though some borders are reopening to tourists, many of those places are immediately regretting it. A lot of Americans who are already jetting around the world have promptly ruined things for everyone with vile, reckless, aggressive, and disrespectful behavior that not only raises disease risk but creates a hostile and possibly even unsafe environment for other American tourists who follow. Trust me, I’ve been to places where Americans were despised by the locals, and it is scary to the point of becoming traumatic. So before you embark upon an journey to someone else’s homeland, be sure to check your attitude and do your research to find a quiet, unspoiled location or one that is definitely accepting of the kind of partying you expect to do. Go in peace! Go in love!
One of the pandemic's gifts has been making people aware of all the overlooked and hidden "getaways" that are close to home, within a short and safe drive. Here in Michigan, we're surrounded by the Great Lakes, which offer the most breathtaking and pleasant freshwater seashores in the world. To me, there's nothing more romantic than a beach bonfire.
But as vaccinations accelerate, so do our travel options! Soon, budget brides and anyone else looking for a meaningful and adventurous beginning to a new marriage can start to use the tips below to choose your own adventure.
Finally... after the big ceremony comes the honeymoon! The Luna de Miel! The Month of Honey! ...Or the week, or the long weekend, or whatever you can take off from your four part-time jobs. Every couple deserves a fabulous honeymoon, and there are options that can be fit into any schedule and budget. If you married the right person, you'll have a good time no matter where you end up, but the right setting can make your time together extra special. Here are some low-cost, high-enjoyment ideas...
Hole up in a cabin in the woods. Do you have a family member or friend who has a vacation home? Even a tiny, rustic cabin makes a perfect love nest. If you don't have a cabin connection, check into renting one (way cheaper than a hotel) or pitching a tent deep inside a national forest. Cuddle next to the fire. Paddle out on a lake to watch the sun set. Go hiking and gather berries. Share a sleeping bag... You get the idea.
Stay in town and order room service. Cut out the cost of travel, and you can afford to stay in the honeymoon suite in your hometown. Soak in the hot tub and sip champagne. Order a massage. Have room service in bed. Lounge by the pool.
Find an alternate tropical or subtropical locale. Beach resorts can be overhyped and overpriced. There's plenty of coastline and sunshine for everyone, though. Look into accommodations outside of big cities.
Book a room in a quirky town such as Tarpon Springs, Florida (a Greek settlement with a history of sponge diving, great food, and a fun shopping district on the water) and rent a car to visit nearby attractions such as Busch Gardens and big cities such as Tampa and St. Petersburg. Go on silly, low-key tourist adventures like snorkeling at the sponge docks or riding a pretend pirate ship.
Spend pesos, not dollars. Craving something more exotic? Book an affordable flight to Mexico. Your dollars will stretch farther than they do this side of the border. Skip Cancun--this is your honeymoon, not Spring Break! Check out the intimate private beaches on the Baja peninsula or the more Eurocentric Playa del Carmen.
Feeling adventurous? Explore the interior of Mexico. Central Mexico has inexpensive hotels near hot springs, deep in the jungle, high in the mountains, and in the centers of beautiful, cosmopolitan cities such as San Luis Potosí.
My husband and I stayed on the top floor of the Hotel Panorama, the only modern hotel in San Luis Potosí, for under $80 a night. The Hotel Panorama mainly caters to business travelers, but it had a lovely French cafe on the lower level, a lagoon-like outdoor swimming pool, and a gorgeous view of the city and surrounding mountains.
Many of SLP's official government buildings, museums, and shopping malls are housed inside buildings crafted in the style of European Renaissance palaces. There are also spectacular cathedrals and university buildings.
At this rooftop restaurant along the Plaza de San Francisco, we ate gorgeously aromatic dishes, drank $1 beers doctored up with spices, salt, and lime, and watched fire dancers perform near a fountain. During the day, there was always something going on in the plaza--parades, Mariachi bands, hippies creating and selling jewelry on the roadside.
The night life is vibrant... and cheap, by U.S. standards! At Club Play, this group of us bought a night of bottle service (vodka, soda, and ice) by some sharply dressed servers for under $75 total. Even the bathrooms were fabulous--huge and decorated with natural stone surfaces.
If you go somewhere with less tourist traffic, it's generally safer. You're less likely to get ripped off, scammed, or robbed than in a place where criminals can make an easy living off hapless tourists.
If you plan on traveling to a foreign country with an official language other than English, brush up on the local language first. Along with online or in-person lessons, rent movies filmed in the language you want to learn, and watch them two or three times each. The last time, watch without English subtitles, and repeat some of the lines you hear. This is a fun way to prepare and build excitement about your travel destination!
No matter where you decide to go on your honeymoon, squeeze all the value you can out of the experience. Stay relaxed and flexible, and remember that the main purpose of the trip is to enjoy each other. Everything else is secondary.
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