Passport to paradise

HONEYMOONS

Once you’ve spoken your vows, and the excitement of the big day is over – not to mention all the stress which comes with planning a wedding – the honeymoon will be your first chance to really unwind and spend quality time together. While the type of trip you choose needs to suit your style as a couple, remember that it should, above all, give you the time you need to relax and enjoy each other’s company.

Consider what you love as a couple (such as nature, food, art and culture, sports or adventure), what your getaway goals are (relaxing, indulging, exploring, or a little bit of each), your favourite type of setting (rural or urban, beach or mountain, tropical or alpine), and the best time of year to visit your dream destination. Remember that while travelling off-season can save you money, it may not be worth it if you have to put up with unpredictable weather.

If you’re choosing an exotic location, make sure it’s not too remote … unless of course you have loads of time on your hands and don’t mind long-haul flights. After you’ve factored all the travelling time into the equation, not to mention the associated jet lag, it might well be better to choose some place closer to home.

Your budget is another important issue. Does it allow for a multi-destination European tour, a weekend at a wine farm, or somewhere in between? If strapped for cash or time, why not take a ‘mini-moon’ and save up for a real honeymoon later on? When booking a destination do let them know that you’re going to be travelling as newly-weds. There are lots of resorts offering budget deals, upgrades and other extras to honeymoon couples.

Honeymoon locations

Top trending honeymoon destinations for 2017, according to Harper’s Bazaar, include Morocco, Uruguay, Bermuda, Greece, Mexico and Provence (France), as well as India’s lake city of Udaipur, which is known as the ‘Venice of the East’, not to mention the closer-to-home options of Botswana and Mauritius (which came in together at number 2 in the rankings). There are also stunning locations here in KwaZulu-Natal, such as a mountain retreat in the Drakensberg, a beach holiday at Kosi Bay or a bush break at one of the Elephant Coast’s world-class game reserves.

Consider looking for eco-tourism destinations which promote responsible travel that safeguards the environment while improving the wellbeing of indigenous populations. You’ll find a comprehensive list of resources, from participating organisations to top eco-destinations, on the website of the International Ecotourism Society: www.ecotourism.org.

South Africa is a popular and affordable destination for overseas couples as well, with many international travel and tourism agents offering romantic honeymoon packages to our magnificent wilderness areas. This might include a safari expedition in the Kruger National Park, an urban adventure in the cosmopolitan city of Cape Town, or a winelands experience around Franschhoek and Stellenbosch.

An all-inclusive holiday is a great idea. If you’ve already paid for everything upfront you’ll be able to relax without having to worry about the price of everything. Just be sure to check what’s included; for example, local beverages might be part of the deal, but not imported drinks such as wine.

Unless you’ve specifically asked for cash donations as an alternative to items on the wedding registry, don’t count on receiving monetary contributions towards your honeymoon. If you do, let those amounts rather pay for an extra excursion or dinner in a five-star restaurant.

Travel advice

Those in the know suggest using a travel agent. Having someone else to take care of all the booking arrangements will give you less to worry about in the days leading up to the wedding. In addition, if anything does end up going wrong, you’ll have someone to call.

If you’re travelling outside the country, check that your passport is up-to-date and organise visas, if required, and travel insurance. Many countries now require passports to be valid for six months from the date of entry. If you’re traveling to an exotic destination, it’s best to find out from your doctor whether vaccinations will be required.

Sort out your foreign exchange needs, such as credit cards, prepaid travel cards and cash. Prior to departure, be sure to put your mobile phone on international roaming (limiting this to text messages is more affordable), pack an overseas adaptor, and don’t forget the chargers for your phone and camera. Put nametags on all items of luggage, and don’t leave home without your e-ticket and itinerary.

Make photocopies of all cards and travel documents, vaccination certificates, prescriptions, medical aid cards and medical or trip insurance documents. In addition, leave contact numbers and copies of your itinerary, wills and life insurance documents with a friend or relative. Alternatively, you could store copies of documents on your smartphone, or access copies via Google Docs from anywhere in the world.

Even if you’ve booked an all-inclusive vacation, covering accommodation, all meals, drinks, activities and transfers, take more money with you than you think you’ll need. There’s nothing worse than wanting to book a special tour or spa treatment only to discover your credit card has reached its limit or you’ve run out of cash.

It’s better not to book an early departure if you’re leaving the morning after the wedding. If there’s absolutely no alternative, then try to pack your suitcase a few days before you leave. Once you’ve made sure that you have essentials such as passports, currency, cameras, phones and medication safely stowed away, don’t stress too much about forgetting one or two items … most destinations will be able to provide you with basics such as toothbrushes and suntan lotion!