Couples spend an average of around $5,000 on their honeymoon, according to multiple recent surveys. That's a lot of cash to shell out for a single vacation -- even if it's the most romantic one of your life.
So if you're not interested in paying several grand for the honeymoon, check out these six tips for slashing your honeymoon costs:
1. Plan your honeymoon first
Well before you fully launch into the wedding planning process, take time to plan your honeymoon. Planning your honeymoon before the wedding-planning craziness takes over can help you do several things. For one, it'll help you set your wedding date in a season when you can get good honeymoon deals (see tip #2 below). For another, it will ensure you book your flights, hotels, and other important matters early enough to get the lowest possible price. Waiting to plan your honeymoon can leave you scrambling to get tickets and reservations - and paying more for them because of it.
2. Pick the right time of year
Choosing the right time of year for your honeymoon is crucial to saving money - even if it means planning your wedding date based on your honeymoon location or postponing your honeymoon for a few months until after the wedding.
The ideal time to travel depends on where you want to go, but your goal should be to travel in the shoulder season. For instance, choose October for a European honeymoon or March for a honeymoon to Florida. In the off-season, many attractions and hotels in tourist-heavy areas will be closed or limited. But in the middle of the tourist season, prices will be at their peak.
3. Use the right credit card
Most likely you've got a lot of wedding expenses coming up but you lack the cash to pay for them now. You can use a travel credit card to cover those expenses and get some rewards in return that you can apply toward your honeymoon.
Budget properly for your wedding so that you can pay off the card ASAP, and avoid overpaying for rewards in interest. If you plan to travel overseas, don't forget to check out credit cards with no foreign transaction fees. Otherwise, you'll pay an extra fee with every swipe of your card.
4. Look into all-inclusive packages and cruises
All-inclusive packages and cruises can make the honeymoon-planning process easier, and they may even make your honeymoon cheaper. Oftentimes, these packages are more affordable than putting together a honeymoon piecemeal.
Consider using a travel agent, who may have access to the best deals. Also look into Groupon's and LivingSocial's travel-related coupons, which often include vacation packages for exotic and domestic locales.
5. Look into alternative accommodations
Just changing your accommodations can make a huge difference in your overall honeymoon spending. Instead of opting for a five-star hotel, choose one that's slightly cheaper but still has nice rooms. Or stay in the five-star hotel but downgrade your room a little bit. In the big picture, the size and beauty of your hotel room doesn't matter all that much (as long as the bed is comfortable).
If you really want to save money, go against the honeymoon norm. Bed and breakfasts are often cheaper and homier than hotels - plus they come with at least one meal. If you're an adventurous couple, consider renting a cabin in the woods, or backpack parts of Europe while staying in hostels.
6. Go local
One of the best ways to save on your honeymoon is to simply avoid tourist traps. Ask locals where they go for dinner, drinks, or night life. Chances are they'll let you in on some hole-in-the-wall places that are sure to be cheaper - and more fun - than tourist-oriented restaurants, bars, and clubs.
You can take this to the extreme - and save extreme amounts of cash - by avoiding tourist destinations altogether. For instance, if you want a romantic French honeymoon, avoid tourist-ridden Paris and visit Amiens, home to artisan bakers and a gorgeous cathedral that's bigger than the Notre Dame.
By following these six tips, you can come home with plenty of memories - instead of plenty of debt. Remember, plan ahead, spend wisely, and then have a great time on this once-in-a-lifetime vacation.
Follow Charles Tran on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CreditDonkey