Home and refreshed after our honeymoon, Sean and I have reflected on the incredible time we had on our ten day trip adventuring through Italy from Venice to the Amalfi Coast to Capri. It was truly the best vacation we’ve ever had, and while it wasn’t completely seamless on the first day (cue American Airlines detouring us to Lisbon, Portugal for a day, which is a whole story for another time), everything fell into place beautifully once we had arrived in Italy. Your honeymoon is a milestone vacation — one that you will look through photos of when you’re feeling nostaglic, share stories with your children from your travels, and overall cherish the memories from forever. So when it comes to planning your honeymoon, the stakes can feel quite high!
In my life I’ve always had a little method that I stick to when I travel: put a general and tentative plan in place first, and then be spontaneous second. When planning a honeymoon abroad like we did, I highly recommend putting this same method into place. Spontaneity is definitely not something to be cast aside — you’ll find the best hidden gems, that tiny restaurant that you’ll return to at least twice during the rest of your travels, the perfect spot to capture a photo of you as newlyweds, and overall have the best impromptu adventures when you are being spontaneous. But a general idea of what you’re doing and where you are going during your precious number of vacation days will allow you to fit everything in that you’ve dreamed of, save you time and spare you the frustration of getting lost or missing the boat (figuratively and for some literally).
On our return flight home from Venice, Sean and I thought about all the things we did that ensured our international honeymoon was a success, as well as the mistakes we made (only staying in Capri for one day), and together on the plane we came up with a list of our top Dos and Don’ts to hopefully help all those couples out there who are about to plan or in the process of planning their own honeymoon across the world. Our hope is that with this list, you will plan an epic, remarkable and magical honeymoon filled with all the very best things it can offer!
Treat Yourself! This is your honeymoon, and if you ever were going to splurge on a hotel, this post is giving you all the green lights and permission to do so! Do yourself a favor and book a four or five star hotel, resort or inn with a plethora of services for at least part of your trip, especially if you’re transferring hotels during your visit. Allow yourself to be pampered and refresh after all the excitement of your wedding! Breakfast in bed, dinner on your terrace with full room service, a full spa at your disposal, concierge services that book and manage once in a lifetime excursions on your behalf, and access to the beach right outside your patio door will make your honeymoon that much more stress-free and magical. And, make sure to mention it is your honeymoon when booking your hotel! When our hotel La Scalinatella in Capri learned it was our honeymoon, they upgraded us to their deluxe suite with an ocean view, and it turned out to be the most magical part of our honeymoon.
Travel Insurance: Do you need it? Eh, probably not. But for peace of mind, you’ll want it. As with any type of insurance you’ll likely be on the fence about getting travel insurance. While you don’t absolutely have to obtain travel insurance, I recommend purchasing it for a honeymoon — after all, this is a milestone vacation. Be sure to insure your flights AND the estimated value of your vacation. Insurance is one of those things where if you get it you likely won’t have to use it. Hint: for my friends who plan to travel during hurricane season and live in an area or are traveling to an area effected by hurricanes, I HIGHLY recommend you at least look into travel insurance for your honeymoon.
Power Adapters: Buy two or three universal travel adapters. I love these from Samsonite in particular. I’m so glad Sean and I both had our own adapters on our trip. Remember, you likely have more than one phone, a computer, curling iron, etc to charge at one time.
Credit Cards: At least two months before your honeymoon, get a credit card that earns you the most amount of points for mileage or gives you the most amount cash back or points for spending. Be sure to get one free of foreign transaction fees and is accepted everywhere. American Express, Venture, and airline Visas/Mastercards are all great options. Avoid Discover Card as it isn’t accepted in most places (I learned that the hard way on our honeymoon). Ideally get this credit card while you are planning the wedding and use it for wedding expenses to help you pay for your flight through points — your catering invoice alone could cover the entire cost of both of your flights round trip!
Inform Your Bank + Credit Card Companies: Call your credit card companies and inform of your travels so your purchases do not get flagged as suspicious activity while abroad and ultimately have your accounts frozen!
Phone: Consider a travel plan with your phone company, or at the very least install WhatsApp. iMessage, wifi calling and FaceTime can be used from iPhone to iPhone when you are connected to wifi at your hotel. My favorite tip? When you land, turn off your roaming and cellular data usage for your phone and ALL apps, and put your phone on airplane mode. Leave your phone in this mode until you land back in the USA. This will prevent all sneaky phone carrier charges (remember that one time you accidentally called your mom while carrying too much luggage to the taxi), from showing up on your bill after you get home. AND most importantly, this trick will allow you to actually unplug from the rest of the world and focus on being with just one another while on your honeymoon.
Print Hardcopies: Before you leave, print out reservation confirmations, tickets and walking directions from Google Maps from your hotel to key destinations and back. Remember unless you invest in a cellular travel plan and have great service while roaming, you likely won’t be using Waze and Maps to find your way throughout your destinations like you would at home. And while having all of this information on your phone is great, if you can’t access without wifi you’ll be frustrated at every turn. Also, take photos of your passports and credit cards and share them with your emergency contact before departing in the rare event that you lose them on your trip.
Be Prepared for Weather: While we were on the Amalfi Coast, it poured the day we traveled from Positano to Capri. Imagine the Walters trekking down 600 steep stone steps along the cliffs in pouring rain to reach the ferry boat to Capri. BUT we had our raincoats and umbrellas and were much better off than the rest of the people making the same trek! Pack for different types of weather when going abroad — yes, you probably need sneakers, an umbrella or raincoat and a few extra pairs of socks :)
Be Early: When flying from the US to your destination, get to the airport 2 hours in advance and you’ll be in perfect shape! When flying back to the US from your destination, get to the airport 2.5-3 hours ahead of time. If this is your first time abroad, coming home is more involved than leaving from the US. 2.5-3 hours allows enough time for you to go through check in with the airline, Customs if you plan to purchase any luxury goods and claim your taxes (Louis Vuitton Neverfull, anyone?), regular airport security, border police security, and duty free (for last minute gifts for your loved ones).
My Secret to Checking Luggage: If you are checking luggage, this tip will give you so much peace of mind in the unfortunate event that your luggage is delayed while on your honeymoon. In a bag that will fit under your seat, pack a makeup bag, your jewelry, travel documents, chargers, travel adapters, an extra pair of shoes, a pair of jeans, a top, a sweater/jacket and any medicine you’re traveling with. This will ensure that you have all of the necessities and things of importance should you need to wait 1-2 days for your baggage to arrive to your destination. A big hiccup will be downgraded to a minor frustration with this tip.
And now for the Don’ts
Don’t Exchange All Your Money in America: Prevent overpaying for currency exchange by waiting to get most of your foreign currencies at an ATM at your destination. Unless you have to pay in cash for an expensive transfer from the airport to your accommodations upon arrival, exchange just $200 of USD at your bank before departure. Get the rest of your cash upon arrival at an ATM where the exchange rate is likely to be the best and closest to exactly what the actual current exchange is. Hint: Most banks do not carry foreign currency in their registers at all times, so you will want to order the currency from your bank about a month before your honeymoon. This is very simple and can often be done through mobile banking.
Don’t Withdraw Money in Small Increments: When taking money out at an ATM, avoid withdrawing in increments (ie: $25-$100) —you will pay a foreign transaction fee AND bank fees, which can equal up to $20+ per withdrawal PLUS the exchange. When you go to the ATM, estimate how much money you will need for taxis, porters, gratuities and small shops (who likely don’t take credit cards). I recommend taking out $400-$600 worth of currency at a time.
Don’t Keep Your Cash in One Place: Leave some cash in the safe in your hotel room, keep some on you and some with your spouse. Remember to keep wallets close to your body at spot where only you can access. In the event that your wallet or purse is lost or worse stolen, you will have cash readily available no matter what.
Don’t Bring Your Passport Out with You: Your passport is the most important document you will travel with on your honeymoon, and keeping it in a safe place will prevent so much worry! Take a photo of your identification page of your passport on your phone and then lock the passport in the hotel safe or a put in a hiding place in your luggage. Also, if you plan to purchase luxury goods (handbags, shoes, suits, etc) while abroad, you absolutely must have a photo of your passport with you to provide your passport number and information to make the purchase and for tax purposes.
Don’t Be Tempted to Overpack: I know the feeling — you want to bring your Louboutins for a special dinner in Paris you have been dreaming of for months now. But you might want to leave them behind in you’ll only wear them once while away. When traveling abroad, it’s easy to pack your suitcase to maximum capacity and weight, but transferring from city to city and hotel to hotel with so much in tow can be a quite difficult and a process. Also, you want to leave room for any items you plan to purchase while away. Leave yourself about 10lbs of wiggle room in your suitcase if possible (hint, you likely only need a total of three pairs of shoes when traveling). Oh, and take the hotel up on their luggage transportation and porter services!
And to reiterate what I mentioned earlier, remember that this is your honeymoon and a once in a lifetime experience as newlyweds. Treat yourself a bit, have that extra scoop of gelato, allow yourself to unplug from the world and focus on soaking up every second of your adventures together. We hope that you find this list of advice, dos and don’ts from our own honeymoon incredibly helpful. And as always, if you have any questions at all or would like to add any of your own tips and tricks to the conversation, please share in the comments below.
Until next week!
Keri & Sean