As anyone who's read our previous article, Life Hacks to Leverage Your Credit Card Rewards, can tell you, airlines and hotels give away insane amounts of reward points simply for signing up for their credit card programs. If you use that article's tips to game the system, you can cash those points in for free luxury travel and upgrades all over the world.
Hey, in most cases the flight is the most expensive single purchase of your honeymoon. If you can get that going for free, you're off the a good start.
Luxury hotels see nothing but dollar signs from honeymooning couples, because those are the suckers who will spend out the wazoo for a "bridal suite," which usually includes nothing more than a little extra square footage and a big bathtub. Here's a better idea: take your business to a bed and breakfast. It's cheaper, the people are nicer and you get some free deviled eggs out of the deal, too. Just make sure you do your research on TripAdvisor, first.
3. Road Trip It
Honeymoons don't have to be held at resorts on the beach. The only real qualification for your big trip should be this: Make it completely epic. If you ask me, nothing's more epic than driving across a country or even a continent, making your own rules as you go. Route 66 is calling, and I guarantee that photo album is going to look way better than one from a trip to Club Med.
4. Go International
It's simple. If you want to stretch your dollar, then go to a country where the dollar is literally worth more. Take a trip to, say, Thailand, where the best food you've ever eaten can be found for three bucks. And, if you managed to make your flight free using the reward card tip we mentioned earlier, all of a sudden your honeymoon will be practically free.
Wedding registries are great. Where else would couples get their cheese plates and Lenox gravy boats? But (and stay with me here) what if you managed to get by with just a regular plate and sauce bowl like a normal person? Then, you could fill your wedding registry with honeymoon items like hotel upgrades, activities and food credits.
Wow, wedding gifts that you'll actually use! How about that?
6. Eat Where the Locals Eat
If you look around at a restaurant and see nothing but tourists in those seats, I'm sorry but you're doing vacation wrong. Do some research before going and find out where the local hotspots are. The food will be authentic, the prices way cheaper and the company better.
Who says your honeymoon has to begin on the day after your wedding reception? Honestly, that sounds really exhausting. Instead, work your deal magic and figure out when would be the best time for your wallet.
Yeah, some people might balk at waiting a month or two before going on their honeymoon, but you know what I think? If that allows you to afford an extra day or three on vacation with your new wife/husband, what more could you want?
8. Don't Trust the Package
Lots of websites will tell you to save money by booking "all inclusive" vacation packages. Aside from the fact that these pre-planned vacations are cookie-cutter and super boring (I thought we agreed your honeymoon was going to be epic!), most of the time they simply don't save you any real money. Why? Because you're paying for things you didn't even want, like dinners at the hotel's crummy restaurant or access to their mildewy day spa.
Seek out the things you actually want to do, and price out what it'll cost. Most of the time, it'll be a lot cheaper and way more special than whatever the all-inclusive rate boasts.
9. Groupon Is Your Friend
All the time, people go on trips and get things like those $200 mediocre massages from room service. Have you checked Groupon lately? There's probably, like, eighty, half-priced massage places offering deals in your city alone right now. So, change the Groupon location to your honeymoon destination, and start searching for deals.
This doesn't just end at massages, either. Use those daily deal sites to find restaurants and activities in your destination city, too. Just skip the oil change promos. Your rental car should be good on that.
10. Mention You're on Your Honeymoon for Free Upgrades
It's an open secret in the service industry: If somebody mentions they're on their honeymoon, the staff will go out of their way to make their stay special. Now, does that mean you should expect to get bumped up to first class on a $300 ticket? Of course not. But, maybe you'll score some drinks out of the deal, or a nicer hotel room, or maybe some massage passes.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying to beg for giveaways; that's tacky. I'm just saying to begin most of your sentences with, "Well, you see, we're on our honeymoon..."
Don't have the money to fly business or first class? I feel ya. But, if you're looking at a long layover in a major airport, don't slum it with all those non-honeymooners out in general boarding (Ew...).
Instead, pick up a single-day lounge pass, which most airlines sell for $50-100. Or, even better, when you sign up for those airline reward cards we keep talking about (you haven't done that yet?!), pick one that offers free lounge access for you and a guest.
This is your honeymoon, people. You should travel in style, even when flying coach.
Lots of websites offer great "Best Rate Guarantee" programs for one simple reason: Nobody ever takes advantage of them. Well, it's time for you to break that chain of indifference.
Take Expedia's program, for instance. If you find an identical room for a cheaper price after booking, they'll match the rate AND give you an extra $50 for your trouble. So, what should you do? Shop around and find cheaper rates than Expedia BEFORE you book. Then, one second after hitting that "purchase" button, fill out a Best Rate Guarantee form. You'll have that $50 in your account within a day.
Trust me, it works. I've done this literally dozens of times.
Got one of those reward cards that gives you inflated cash back bonuses on grocery purchases. Then, pay for as much of your trip as possible via gift cards purchased at your local grocery store's gift card mall. Most major airlines offer them, as well as many hotel chains and restaurants.
Some people call this "manufacturing spending." I call it "saving a bunch of money."
14. Buy Travel Vouchers on eBay
You know how people sometimes get free and discounted flights as payment when airlines bump them off a flight? Well, many of those credits are transferrable. So, if you've got your airfare all priced out and ready to book, check eBay before hitting "confirm." Somebody might be selling a round-trip for less than what you're about to pay. What are you, a sucker or something?
Do you have a family member who's a travel agent? An old roommate who lives in Prague? Your sister-in-law was friends in high school with a guy who now owns a condo in Hong Kong? It's now or never on these connections.
Let's be real: You're not going to take a bigger vacation than your honeymoon, so start reaching out to anybody who could be able to help you plan or might be local to your destination. For instance, during one leg of my honeymoon in Chiang Mai, we stayed for free in the vacation condo of a guy I hadn't spoken to in fifteen years.
All I'm saying is...I sure was glad I asked. Now, good luck, newlyweds!