Honeymoons that won't break the bank


With the average wedding now costing more than $28,000 (per TheKnot.com), it's easy to see why newlyweds would be on the lookout for deals when it comes to planning their honeymoon.

Luckily, a romantic getaway doesn't have to be an expensive one. To help out budget-conscious brides and grooms, we turned to Budget Travel executive editor Robert Firpo-Cappiello, who shared some tips for when to book, where to stay and how to save.

Booking Tips:

-Book airfare eight weeks before your departure date, Firpo-Cappiello advises, since that's usually the sweet spot before ticket prices begin to rise. And set an alarm for 3 p.m. on Tuesdays -- a study by FareCompare.com finds that that's the best time to book flights, because of how airlines time the release of their promotional fares.

-Instead of booking a hotel, consider a vacation rental. While it might not be as easy for couples to save money on rentals as it is for larger groups, it's worth exploring websites like Airbnb.com, VRBO.com, HomeAway.com and Villasintl.com to scope out prices.

-For hotels, use websites like BackBid.com or Hipmunk.com to track prices. If a room goes down in price after you booked it, those sites can alert you and you can ask for a better rate.

-You're on your honeymoon -- let everyone know it! When you make a booking, head out to dinner, a bar or a nightclub, telling people you're just married could score you discounts, freebies and overall cushy treatment, Firpo-Cappiello notes.

Where to Go:

While no two couples are alike, Firpo-Cappiello says honeymooners tend to gravitate toward a few different types of trips:

Big City: If a couple likes good food, wine and culture, this could be the best option. While New York and Paris offer unparalleled opportunities in those categories, consider finding a more intimate city you can remember as "yours." One of Firpo-Cappiello's recs: Savannah, Ga., which is "affordable, steeped in history, and is perfect for strolling hand-in-hand among friendly locals."

Adventure: Two words, one country -- Costa Rica. Couples can explore the rainforest, visit a live volcano, or climb and bike as much (or as little) as they please. The country also has some reasonable all-inclusive resorts for less than $200 per night.

Beach: If you're looking for sand, surf and serenity, the answer is a beach getaway. In the U.S., affordable destinations include Myrtle Beach, S.C., Laguna Beach, Calif., and the shores of Waikiki in Honolulu. For those who crave the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic is still a great bargain, Firpo-Cappiello says, with all-inclusive deals that let couples be as adventurous or relaxed as they want.

Food and Wine: Foodies can find bargains in Sonoma and Napa, Calif., but you'll have to look hard for those deals, Firpo-Cappiello notes. Another option is heading to an up-and-coming wine destination like New York's Finger Lakes. There, you'll find a mix of water sports, hikes, wineries and restaurants.

Countryside: Before you cross France or Italy off the list for budget reasons, scope out some off-the-beaten-path towns such as Villeneuve-lez-Avignon in Provence and Monte San Savino in Tuscany. You could find hotels for under $200/night or even a weekly villa rental for $1,000.

Worth-It Splurge: Overwaterbungalows.net is a good source for couples set on a water villa or bungalow, according to Firpo-Cappiello. One relatively affordable option is the Maldives, which has water villas that can go for less than $300/night.