In my last post, I gave (what I intended to be) a quick overview of how you might go about planning a strategy for using reward miles and points to take the honeymoon of your dreams, no matter your budget.
Unfortunately, it quickly ballooned in size as I thought to add more and more information, eventually becoming the monster post it was.
I got some feedback that it was waaaay too long, and would be more readable (and more useful) in shorter form.
So, I’m going to start over. Instead of one ginormous post, I’m going to have multiple merely large posts. I can’t help it, I like to go into detail.
For this series of posts, I’ll go through the major parts of that last post, and revisit them by themselves – which will make for less ‘wall of text’, and also allow me to go into a little bit more detail where I felt I had to be too brief before because of how long things were getting.
This first post in the series will focus on picking your honeymoon destination – what kinds of things might go into the decision, as well as a few of what I think are the top picks based on popularity as well as how easy they are to achieve with rewards.
How to get your dream honeymoon with rewards:
- Deciding where to go – picking a honeymoon destination
- Picking an airline program
- Picking a hotel program
- Your earning strategy
Where will you go on your honeymoon?
Some couples know where they will take their honeymoon as soon as they are engaged. They have the exact island, or maybe even the exact resort they want to go to. They have been dreaming of this for as long as they can remember.
For many others, the decision can be one of the toughest parts of planning. It can be overwhelming to try and figure out something else on top of all of the other wedding planning you’re already doing!
Speaking for myself, I find that when I have to decide between a seemingly infinite number of options – I can get hung up on trying to find the absolute best option, and that ‘analysis paralysis’ keeps me from ever making a decision.
However, if options are more limited – the decision becomes that much easier. Rather than pretend that I have to find the absolute best, I can focus on finding something that is just better than the others – or even just good enough.
We use the same mentality for making a lot of our wedding decisions, and it has been incredibly helpful!
Don’t worry about making the be-all, end-all, absolute BEST decision – just make a good one.
For almost everything in our wedding that isn’t incredibly important to us like the flowers, the cake, stationery – these things get a little bit of thought and comparison – then we just make the decision and move on. Since these are things that we don’t care as much about, we know that if it isn’t absolutely perfect, we’ll still be happy on the big day.
Of course, there are some things that are very important to us (like who we are marrying!) that get more of the obsessive decision making treatment.
But I have found that for us the best way to maintain our sanity during this process is to learn how to not worry as much about those details that aren’t important to us. And I know for me, what those details are has also changed during the process.
It is the same way with picking a honeymoon destination.
Now, I want you to have the absolute best, most amazing honeymoon of your dreams – but what if you don’t know what those dreams are?
You want your honeymoon to be relaxing – a chance to unwind after all of the wedding stress and finally get some real alone time with your new spouse. And to be honest – it really doesn’t matter a whole lot where this happens! That isn’t to say you should just pick a destination at random – just remember that the difference between St. Thomas and St. Maarten probably isn’t going to be the deciding factor in whether or not you have a great honeymoon. You’ll be there with your love, you’ll have fun things to do and experience – and it is really the two of you enjoying a place while so in love that makes the honeymoon so special – everything else is just decoration.
So relax, and enjoy the process!
Especially with miles and points, the whole world is open to you for travel – but ‘the whole world’ doesn’t help you decide where to go on your honeymoon.
Here, I’ll present three of what I think are some of the best honeymoon destinations (broadly speaking) that are easy to get to with points, and a brief overview of what you can expect there.
Hawaii is an incredible honeymoon destination, and consistently among the most popular – for good reason. In fact, if you are a young couple visiting the islands everyone just assumes you are on your honeymoon (an interesting experience when my fiancée and I visited there shortly after we started dating)!
Hawaii has something for everyone – whether you want to spend your time between a beach chair and a resort spa or backpacking across mountains and through the rainforest, Hawaii has it all.
If you have never been to Hawaii, I think it is a perfect place to go for your honeymoon – especially since it is very accessible as a rewards destination!
In my opinion, I find that the flights to Hawaii are very doable in coach (and I get pretty uncomfortable in coach since I’m 6’2″ and can have back issues from an old injury), especially since there are pretty much no ‘first’ class offerings that fly to the islands that are worth the additional points.
Getting to Hawaii with points
|American||35,000 / 45,000||75,000||95,000|
|Alaskan||40,000 / 60,000||80,000||80,000|
You’ll notice I didn’t put Delta in the table. That’s because unless you already have a ton of Delta miles, it isn’t worth going through the trouble of earning them, since it costs so many miles to use them. If you have enough to get you to Hawaii, great – but if you are starting from zero, you’ll have much better results going with one of these other programs.
In addition to getting to/from the mainland with miles, it is easy to add on one-way flights between islands for relatively few miles. Doing this makes it really easy to visit multiple islands while you are over there.
For example, when we flew out to Hawaii on points, we initially flew into Oahu, where we spent one day and night, doing some sightseeing and hiking (Diamond Head, Makapu’u Lighthouse). Then, we continued on to Kauai, where we spent most of the week before flying from there back to San Francisco. Of course, since it was an award trip, we were able to then also spend several days in San Francisco seeing the sights there as well!
In addition to being able to fly to Hawaii for next to nothing on awards, you also have a lot of flexibility in your routing by not paying cash.
* Singapore airlines is a Star Alliance member, and as a result is a partner of United and has access to their award inventory as well. Pretty much any award flight you can book on United through United you can book through Singapore Airlines using their miles – but it costs you fewer points! Singapore is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Member Rewards, and SPG! So it is relatively easy to get miles into an account from other sources to use for award flights.
Staying in Hawaii with points
Practically every hotel chain has properties in Hawaii, so there are lots of options no matter what program you choose.
I think that i you are starting from scratch with no points, your best option for staying in Hawaii on points is with Hyatt. They have hotels on Oahu, Kauai, and Maui, are a transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards, offer cash+point bookings for any stay, have a good credit card signup bonus, and the ability to upgrade to suites with points. I am a big fan of Hyatt hotels, and I think taking a look at what they have to offer in Hawaii is a great starting point if you want to get your hotel stays with rewards as well.
Caribbean / Mexico
The Caribbean and Mexico combined might be more popular than Hawaii as a honeymoon destination, with their abundance of all-inclusive resorts, and considering how easy it is to get there from more of the country than Hawaii.
Getting to the Caribbean / Mexico with points
|Airline||Coach||Business / First*||First**|
* First class in a 2 cabin plane
** First class in a 3 cabin plane (hard to find to the Caribbean)
Like Hawaii, I think most flights to the Caribbean are not going to be long enough to warrant the additional cost in points (at least for me). This also takes into account the fact that in most cases, you will be getting a domestic first class experience in a premium cabin, which isn’t that great.
Staying in the Caribbean / Mexico with points
One of the biggest draws to the Caribbean and Mexico for honeymoons (aside form the beautiful beaches and waters) is the numerous options of all-inclusive resorts. These are very attractive for couples that want the simplicity they offer, both in terms of reducing the number of things to plan as well as how it makes budgeting easier when you know that everything is included.
Most of the major all-inclusive resort powerhouses in the Caribbean (like Sandals) are not available through points and awards since they are private chains without the same kind of reward programs as hotel chains, but some of the major hotel chains do have all-inclusive resort options that are available as through the reward programs. For example, Hyatt, Hilton, and IHG all offer at least one all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean or Mexico that is bookable with reward points.
Europe is another great destination for your honeymoon – whether the romantic lights of Paris at night or the relaxing views of Tuscany – Europe is full of experiences that you will remember for a lifetime.
Getting to Europe with points
|American||40,000 / 60,000 (off/peak)||100,000||125,000|
|United (United / Partner)||60,000 / 60,000||115,000 / 140,000||160,000 / 220,000|
Keep in mind that award flights on British Airways (the largest European partner of American and US) charges huge fuel surcharge fees on flights they operate – even award flights – so you should probably avoid flying on British Airways if you can. Iberia (owned by BA) also charges fuel surcharges on award flights, though they tend to be a lot lower than BA surcharges.
Also keep in mind that United charges a lot more for awards on their Star Alliance partners, so unless you are flying in coach, you might be better off using American or US Airways miles.
Staying in Europe with points
There are tons of options for staying in hotels with reward points in Europe, though generally you will have the most options in large urban areas. Especially in expensive cities like London and Paris, award stays can be an incredible opportunity to save lots of money on your honeymoon – leaving you more for extras like food, wine, and sightseeing!
Getting around Europe with rewards
One of the best ways to get around Europe in my opinion is with the extensive train system throughout the continent.
Train tickets costs can add up fast, but with a card like the Barclaycard Arrival+ you can use the rewards from the card for statement credits on those train tickets – stretching your honeymoon budget that much farther!
In the end, I think one of the best pieces of advice I can offer to any other couples that might be struggling with deciding where to go on their honeymoon is this: remember that the most important thing about your honeymoon is who you will be spending it with. Everything else is just a bonus.
No matter where you want to go, rewards miles and points can help stretch your honeymoon budget, and make the honeymoon of your dreams a reality!
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