Despite being eight months out from the wedding, our honeymoon is basically completely booked. The itinerary includes a one-night stay at a luxury oceanside hotel in South Beach, a port-side balcony cabin on a four-night Caribbean cruise, and four nights in a cabana on an all-exclusive private island in Belize.
Yeah, it’s gonna be fierce. Not to mention, fairly pricey.
Recently, a friend of mine took a peek at my vacation registry, and did some quick mental math. She was aghast—not at the total price tag, but that it only covered a nine day trip. For the amount we’re spending, she pointed out, we could easily take a trip twice that length, by simply downgrading our accommodations and resisting the add-ons like dining in the specialty restaurants and spa treatments.
“Why wouldn’t you want to maximize your honeymoon?!” she questioned.
I dismissed her inquiries by pointing out that nine days is all we could really swing in terms of days off from work (which is true, for the most part). But the real truth is that even if we did have unlimited vacation time, I would choose a shorter luxury vacation over a longer, more modest vacation every time. To me, that IS maximizing our honeymoon.
On our cruise, for example, we don’t plan to eat at the included-in-our-price buffet. We’ll do room service breakfast, lunches in port, and specialty restaurants for dinner. Nor do we plan to skip the spa, the casino, or the bar–all of which are in addition to the “standard” price. And I can’t wait!
But an attitude like mine is routinely mocked over on the travel boards I’ve been reading lately, like CruiseCritic.com. The people on those boards will often book an 8- or 10-day cruise, then eat only at the included restaurants, walk around in port cities but avoid paying to join any tours or see any attractions, and smuggle on their own liquor to avoid paying the cruise line’s prices. I just don’t get it: it’s not like booking the cruise itself was cheap, so why would you turn into such a penny pincher the second you set foot on board?
For me, there’s just something about being treated like a VIP—and you can’t get that level of service by hoarding your nickels along the way. Yes, we could easily add a couple days of sitting on the beach and doing absolutely nothing to our agenda, had we opted for an inside stateroom cabin. But when I look back in 20 years, what am I more likely to remember? An extra beach day, or the champagne toast we share on our private balcony at sailaway?
Then, there are also the perks. Being that we’re already a balcony cabin, we’re much more likely to get upgraded to an even higher class of stateroom. Since we’re in the honeymoon cabana on the private island, they’re throwing in a snorkeling with sea turtles excursion for free. If we gamble enough in the casino, we’ll get the onboard free drink card. And on, and on, it tends to go with the travel industry.
But since I’m a little concerned I’m starting to sound like a Romney supporter, let me clarify that there’s nothing wrong with being frugal — Carl and I keep a very tight budget week to week in terms of eating out, shopping, etc. I just feel like one’s vacation, and certainly one’s honeymoon, isn’t the place for such hardcore thriftiness.
Shorten your vacation time. Go some place with a better exchange rate. Look for deals on Groupon and Living Social. Just don’t force yourself into a vacation situation where you’ll be too broke to splurge a little once you get to wherever you’re going.
In short: being a highroller for a few days is better than being a nobody for a few weeks. And that’s just my vacation philosophy.