Whenever I pick up a bridal magazine, I read about hotels that are part of amazing spas and have wonderful restaurants and you have a personal charter boat at your beck and call at all times. And while normally I would say that the magazines are insane and no normal person would stay there (like how I think nobody would spend $300 on a white t-shirt that is in the Vogue fashion spread), when I read about normal people going on their honeymoons, it's usually on an amazing trip; for a longer time, something elaborate, something you wouldn't usually do.
I've started to think the honeymoon industry takes a lot of our wedding attitudes over to our honeymoon - it has to be a fantastic, out of this world, once-in-a-lifetime trip. It has to be the perfect romantic place. First of all, you must leave the country. You must stay in an all-inclusive resort or go on a cruise that is romantic and relaxing. You should go on tours that other people plan for you, so you don't have to do any work. You should go out to eat all the time - you are on vacation!
I have a problem with this attitude, because I think it makes people feel like their honeymoon should be a certain way. I think you should do whatever works for you and your partner for your honeymoon. Mark and I are not going on a "typical honeymoon", for a few reasons.
One reason is the simple fact that we travel a lot. We go on dive trips, family trips, spur-of-the-moment trips, camping vacations, etc. Since we have been engaged, we have gone to Chicago, England, the beach, Toronto, Bonaire, Long Island, and Hershey Park (it was my post-bar trip and it was awesome). We are unbelivably fortunate to be able to travel (both in that we are in good health, and that we can sort-of afford it.) We also travel pretty cheap - hostels, priceline hotels, cooking our own meals, budget dining, splitting meals, signing up for a discount card at a grocery store because it got us 2-for-1 admission to the aquarium.
The way I see it, because we're not going to stop traveling, we should spend not-a-lot on our honeymoon and then be able to spend more on other trips later. We could spend $5,000 on our honeymoon, or we could spread that out over 3-5 trips. And since for our honeymoon, we can't possibly hit Spain, Egypt, Hawaii, and Australia, saving some money to be able to spend that on additional trips makes sense.
I also like our style of traveling. There is no better way to get to know a culture/place than to head down to the local grocery store, buy food, and prepare it. It's usually still exotic and different, but it's cheaper and cooking togther in a strange place is a great bonding experience. I like taking public transit and staying in hostels where there are other people to hang out with. I like doing laundry on trips so we don't have to pay to check bags. I like walking everywhere. I like getting discount tickets to attractions. I like taking a picnic lunch with us instead of stopping at a restaurant to eat. I am lucky that Mark likes our style of traveling too, and we have found a way that works for us. (I am aware that a lot of people do not want to figure out what the Italian word for baking soda is. There are also people who do not want to travel a lot, and that's totally up to them.)
In the high-dollar world of honeymoon traveling, our style seems foreign. There is a lot of pressure to not travel in a budget or culture friendly kind of way. Arguments are plentiful as to why an exception should be made - it's stressful to try to stick to a budget, to travel as cheaply as possible; for some people it is their first trip together so they don't know how they travel together; it's your honeymoon, you shouldn't have to worry about stuff; the wedding is so stressful you will just want to relax; and my personal favorite - you only get one honeymoon.
The only difference so far with our honeymoon is that we thought we could use it as a reason to take a longer than usual trip. That wound up not being the case, and we're taking a week. We've set a low budget, we used a free Southwest coupon for half our airfare, and you can bet we'll be figuring out the cheapest way to get into all the museums and aquariums.
Another reason we're being a little more budget minded about our honeymoon is that we can be - although some people might get a little judgy, we don't really care. For our wedding, if we try to get cheaper food and it doesn't taste good, or our refusal to rent nicer chairs results in one of our guests breaking a folding chair, it will hurt our guests. If for one night of our honeymoon we wind up staying at a crummy hotel somewhere because we didn't want to spend a lot of money, the only people it really bothers is us.
When I hear my parents, or people of their generation, talk about their honeymoons, they all seem so much simpler. My parents went out to the Southwest and traveled around, camping and staying in $6 a night hotels next to train tracks. I know at least one of my aunts went to a cabin in West Virginia. I have some friends who have gone on simpler honeymoons as well - honeymoons within driving distance, etc. The only disadvantage I see of these is that you are not out of cell phone range. I think the answer is to leave the cell phone at home. Some people might call a short trip somewhere local a "minimoon", because if you can drive to it, it can't possibly be a honeymoon. I don't like that term.
Are you treating your honeymoon like a regular trip or like a special, no-holds-barred exercise in luxury traveling?