Friday, February 3, 2012

Planning the Perfect *Romantic Vacation

It can be one of the most fun vacations you'll ever take- just you and your woman. Here is a simple guide to planning the perfect *romantic vacation.

The view from our honeymoon beach on Orcas Island, WA
*Note: I really wanted to write about planning your honeymoon, but figured I'd lose most of the audience. For those of you who aren't sure if you actually want to finish reading this article- stick with it. There might be some good travel tips even if you've already taken your honeymoon. And I can almost guarantee your wife would love to take another one... So if you've already taken your honeymoon just substitute the words "romantic vacation" and carry on.

Nowadays wedding planning goes like this: woman plans the ceremony and reception, we are delegated with staying out of the way, licking envelopes, and planning the honeymoon. I told myself I would buck the trend and play an equal part in planning our wedding until I realized how far out of my skill set that actually was and re-designated myself to staying out of the way (unless asked for my input), licking envelopes and planning the honeymoon. But fear not- this is a task you can do well and knock her off her feet for your first week of marital bliss.

Your honeymoon can be as unique or cliche as you want, but planning this trip should be one of the most intentional vacations you've ever taken. Not everybody is sentimental, but that doesn't excuse you from not being thoughtful- especially not this week. Here's some questions to start asking yourself:

  • Should I keep the destination a surprise? By now, you should know if your woman can handle a surprise of this magnitude. If she's the kind that stresses about surprises- now isn't the time to press the issue. She'll be stressed out enough as is. 
  • Where to go? If she doesn't like surprises or you want her input anyway, take her on a date and make a list of all the places you'd like to go as a couple in your life. At the end of the date discuss which of those locations might work for a honeymoon. Obviously, what time of year you get married has a big impact on which destinations would work. 
  • What kind of activity level do we want? Once you nail down the location, you need to figure out what you'll be doing. (Aside from the obvious.) You'll need to plan things to keep you from getting bored. I use the word plan here loosely. My wife and I kind of like to wake up on vacation and decide that day what we feel like doing. We still did that on our honeymoon, but I had a pre-planned list of things we could choose to do each day. It was the best of both worlds- we got to feel the freedom of a schedule-free vacation without feeling like we didn't know our options. So no matter where you and your spouse-to-be fall in the spectrum of planned vacations, plan ahead and at least have well thought out ideas for diversions. A second note about activity level- how much you're willing to do vs. how much you want to be pampered. This will make a big impact on the pace of your week as well. If you're wanting to be totally relaxed, you can take advantage of an all-inclusive resort or cruise. If you're more adventerous and/or you want to be more secluded, you'll probably have to cook and clean for yourself. That's what we did- we rented a cabin on the ocean up in the San Juan Islands in Washington and cooked for ourselves. I was skeptical about how that would turn out, but we actually enjoyed that aspect of it. 
  • What can I do to give it that extra boost to really make her feel special? Here's where the bonus round comes in. The parts above are standard fare. If you really spend some time before you get on the plane for your honeymoon and plan this out, you'll be the talk of the town when you come back. You're more than equipped at this point in your relationship to give your woman a few thoughtful surprises. When making reservations- tell them you'll be on your honeymoon. A lot of places will go out of their way to throw in something extra for you that isn't normally offered to their patrons. Sometimes you'll have to pay for what they have to offer, but with others, it's on the house. On our honeymoon, I gave my wife a small gift each day- The most expensive one was $30, and some of them were free or less than $5, but each one was a hit. Some examples of the things I got my wife were: a Bible with her new name stamped on it with notes and passages underlined, a key to our apartment, and an email account with her new name- already filled with emails from me that I'd been writing over our engagement. Pray and ask God how you can overwhelm her with your love and you'll be surprised with the ideas he'll give you. As the main way your wife recieves physical love, he delights when you bless her with your thoughtfulness. 
Here are some of my secret weapons when it comes to vacation planning: I'm an engineer and my father's son. I read reviews for everything I'm going to drop some money on. This is a great resource for planning a vacation. It has reviews on lodging, restaurants, and activities for destinations all over the world. Don't forget to add your $0.02 when you get back from your trip. Great for knowing when to buy your plane tickets- their fare prediction gives you statistical backing on if you should buy your tickets now or later and shows you the cheapest fares.

Here's some ideas for adventurous activities you could plan for:
  • Getting on a day-sail charter
  • Kayaking/canoeing
  • Scuba diving/snorkeling
  • Whitewater rafting
  • Deep Sea Fishing

  • Hot Air Balloon Ride
  • Skydiving
  • Bi-plane Tours

  • Hiking
  • Climbing
  • Zip lining
  • ATV or Horseback Tours
  • Skiing/Boarding
  • Snowshoeing

Whether this is your first or fifth honeymoon, your bride is going to remember it forever when she sees how extravagant your love for her is.

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