Getting married is romantic, exciting, and fun — but it’s also expensive. The average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is $33,391, according to The Knot 2017 Real Weddings Study. That’s a lot to shell out, especially if you have student loan debt and other expenses.
Oh, and you can’t forget the honeymoon, right? Well, couples spend an average of $4,466 on that on top of the wedding, according to a 2018 study by TripSavvy. That’s three times the amount of an average vacation. And if you want a luxurious postnuptial getaway, you’re looking at spending nearly $10,000.
But if you don’t want the possibility of years of financial headaches for a week of marital bliss, you should look at some more budget-friendly honeymoon options. Here are five amazing trips all over the world for less than $3,000. And don’t worry, they’re still luxurious and packed full of romance.
1. United States
Total cost: About $2,155
Uber-exotic honeymoon locations tend to be uber-expensive. Why venture far away when you have so many incredible options to choose from in the U.S.? Take Charleston, South Carolina, for example.
The historic city oozes romance with cobblestone streets, iconic plantations, and Instagram-worthy sunsets on the harbor. After all, there’s a reason “The Notebook” took place here. But it’s also an affordable honeymoon option.
There are quick and affordable direct flights from major airports starting at about $116 round trip, according to Expedia’s data from April 25, 2018. That’s $232 for two people.
For as low as $229 a night, couples can book a romantic two-story town-house suite at the historical Andrew Pinckney Inn. That’s about $1,375 for six nights, including breakfast, which will reduce your costs.
Speaking of meals, it wouldn’t be a trip to the South without barbecue. Charleston has plenty of delicious and affordable options. No matter what you’re craving, some spots have menus for around $10. You could spend less than $300 for a week’s worth of dining if you go out for meals twice a day.
Travel back to Old Charleston by exploring the gardens of Magnolia Plantation ($20 entry fee) and browse the shops along famed King Street for free. Peruse the stands at Charleston City Market and the grounds of the haunted Battery Carriage House Inn for no cost, or take in a panoramic sunset aboard a Schooner Pride sailboat cruise for $54 a person.
Even if you did all those things, you’re spending just $148. Let’s be generous and add in another four activities for roughly $25 each, and you’re spending about $250 total for a week.
Total cost: About $1,840
Vacations to Europe hit both ends of the budget spectrum, from super expensive to dirt cheap. Yes, you could backpack and stay in hostels to save money. But that’s maybe not exactly what you had in mind for your honeymoon.
So, where’s a good spot to go that’s romantic, beautiful, has lots to do, and won’t break the bank? Lisbon, Portugal. The capital city is filled with pastel-colored buildings, castles, great food, and water views.
Flights from the U.S. to Lisbon between June and September cost an average of about $515 a person round trip.
We tapped the folks at HomeToGo to find out some of the best budget accommodations available. HomeToGo found that you can stay in stunning homes and apartments in the heart of the city starting at $31 a night. Even top-rated accommodations (4.5 stars or higher) started around just $60 a night. A luxury studio apartment near Castelo de Sao Jorge goes for around $73 a night. So, you’re looking at spending between $186 and $438 total for six nights.
According to HomeToGo’s data, a meal at an inexpensive restaurant such as Tasco do Vigario costs about $9.50 per person. Or you can spend $36 for two people for three courses at a midrange restaurant such as Mercearia do Seculo. If you had one inexpensive meal and one midrange meal a day, you’re still only spending about $330 for six nights.
You could spend a week walking around gazing at the architecture and quaint streets. But you also have the option of taking a free city walking tour, lounging in Jardim do Principe Real, and taking in spectacular views from Miradouro da Senhora do Monte. Spend about $22 a person for a hop-on, hop-off boat tour.
Total cost: About $1,550
Like Europe, Asia is home to some of the most expensive cities in the world — and some of the cheapest. While going on a weeklong trip to Japan might be out of your budget, traveling to beautiful Thailand might not.
Plus, it’s home to some of the most stunning beaches in the world, an insane culinary scene, and tons of culture. No wonder it’s a top choice for many honeymooners.
Flights from the U.S. to Bangkok between June and September cost an average of about $490 a person round trip. And you’ll want to spend some time at the beach. So add a flight to Phuket for as low as $24 a person round trip, and you’re paying $1,028 total for flights.
HomeToGo helped us again to find some honeymoon-worthy accommodations that started at an incredible $19 a night. Even a luxury property with a pool started at $20 a night. Spend two nights there before heading to Phuket’s beaches, and you’ll spend just about $40 total.
Once in Phuket, you can find accommodations from $21 a night. A two-bedroom private pool villa is only $39 a night. That’s $156 for a four-night stay, or a total of $196 for a week in Thailand in two cities.
A meal at an inexpensive Bangkok restaurant such as Hung-Sen costs about $2.50 per person, or it’s $27 for two people for three courses at a midrange restaurant such as Le Du, according to HomeToGo’s data. In Phuket, you’ll spend about the same on cheap eats at spots such as The Sweet Restaurant, or about $22 total at a nicer spot such as Thong Dee for three courses.
An inexpensive meal and one midrange meal a day means you’re only shelling out about $192 for food for a six-night trip.
Wandering around Bangkok could keep you busy for weeks. But you’ll want to see some highlights such as the Temple of Reclining Buddha, which costs about $3 a person to enter, and The Grand Palace, which is about $15 a person.
In Phuket, you’ll probably want to lounge by the pool or on the beach. If you do feel like venturing out, you can visit the Big Buddha for free or take a half-day snorkeling trip for about $50 per person, according to HomeToGo. That’s still only about $136 for a week of activities.
4. Central America
Total cost: About $2,840
For the adventurous couple looking to start their new life together with a thrilling bang, a nine-day Costa Rica trip will do it. Yup, we found a trip through STA Travel that hits all the major highlights, such as relaxing in the thermal hot springs at Arenal Volcano, a coffee plantation tour, and zip lining.
Oh, and it only costs $899 a person.
Note: This trip is no longer offered by STA Travel.
Flights from the U.S. to Costa Rica between June and September cost an average of about $295 a person round trip.
Since the trip is all-inclusive, you won’t have to worry about finding your own place to stay. The company said you get eight nights in two-star accommodations.
Only one lunch is included in this trip, so you’re looking at spending about $25 a person per day for nine days. That comes to about $450.
The best part about this trip is that all your activities are covered in the $899 price. You’ll get to experience the Monteverde Cloud Forest, go horseback riding, and kayak at Manuel Antonio National Park. That sounds like all the makings of a perfect honeymoon.
Total cost: About $2,300
After a hectic few months of planning a wedding, there’s probably nothing you want more than to relax on the beach and not think about an itinerary. Well, a cruise to the Caribbean checks both those boxes. Everything is planned for you, it’s all-inclusive, you get to visit multiple beach destinations, and it all starts at around $549 a person for seven days on Norwegian Cruise Lines.
Although the cruise is all-inclusive, flights are not calculated in the price. But it only adds a couple of hundred extra dollars to your honeymoon cost. Many Caribbean cruises take off from Miami, and the average round-trip flight is about $112 per person. That’s only about $225 total for two people.
An interior stateroom is included in the $549 price, but you’ll have to pay more if you want to upgrade to an ocean view, balcony, or suite. But upgrading could save you money on other details such as shore excursions, specialty dining, and port fees, which can be more than $300.
Opting for a midship ocean-view room for $999 a person gets you an unlimited bar tab and a $50 shore excursion credit at each port of call. Plus, you don’t have to pay the port fees.
You have more than 25 dining options available as part of your all-inclusive price. Specialty dining options cost more, but there’s plenty to choose from without it. You will also have to pay for alcoholic beverages if you don’t upgrade to a package that includes them. Even if you each have two cocktails a day for around $10 a pop, that’s only $280 for seven days of dining.
The ship is packed full of experiences for which you don’t have to shell out extra money, including five water slides, a sports complex, and a Broadway show. On the shore, you can just relax on the beaches in Belize, Mexico, and Honduras. Or you can opt to buy excursions, which range in price. Allocate an additional $200 each for activities, and you’ll still keep costs down.
A budget (but luxurious) honeymoon is possible
It might seem like you have to spend a lot of money to make a dreamy honeymoon a reality. But you don’t.
There are plenty of options available around the world where you can enjoy your first few weeks as newlyweds without the financial burden. With a little research, planning, and flexibility, you could have a luxury getaway without the luxury price tag.
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