7 Tips for Honeymoon Hacking

The countdown is on. Only five weeks until the wedding day, and I couldn’t be more excited. In addition to all the wedding planning, the past days have been filled with an even more enjoyable planning session: honeymoon planning.

Norway had long been my ideal destination. I wanted to introduce my fiancée to the people and the places that I loved enough to write a book about. However, we also wanted to go somewhere that would be a new adventure for us both. It was thus time for a little “honeymoon hacking.”

Honeymoon hacking is nothing bad or evil. Instead it is just like travel hacking, making the most of your honeymoon while spending less. With my friends in Tromsø, Norway we did a few airline searches on what a ticket would cost from our home airport in Sioux Falls to Tromsø. Ouch. Over $1600.

We knew we could see more and pay less, so we started using some honeymoon hacking technique. Using these tricks will help you when you’re traveling, whether for a honeymoon, work or pleasure.

1. Alternative departure cities

My nearest airport, Sioux Falls, is obviously not the hub of international travel. Thus, looking to alternative departure cities helped us find cheaper flights and more direct flights. Note however, the two are not always connected. You may find cheaper flights from Rochester, MN via Minneapolis than from Minneapolis directly, so give your local airport a chance.

For our honeymoon, I have the opportunity to speak at eduWeb in Boston, so we thought, let’s try to use Boston as a hub and start our honeymoon after the conference. That opened up new flight opportunities for us, including flights with IcelandAir that are not available from Sioux Falls and more expensive from Minneapolis.

To get started looking at possibilities, I highly recommend going to Wikipedia and typing in the name of the airport you could depart from. That will show you the destinations and airlines you could use.

2. Use layovers

Layovers are usually a pain. You have to stop in a random city and wait hours in a crowded space to get to where you want to be. Instead of staying cooped up in an airport however, these layovers provide an opportunity to see another city, or country, for free. Some airlines, like IcelandAir, allow you to take multi-day layovers.

Instead of flying through Iceland and waiting in the airport for a connection to Norway, we get to see Iceland and spend a few days among the Blue Lagoons and electronic music. I’ve done the same on travels through Amsterdam, Madrid and London. Airports that are near the city are great options if you are leaving the airport and returning the same. Obviously, make sure you have enough time to make it back for your flight.

3. Multi-city tickets

A multi-city ticket enables honeymooners to see more while making fewer travel stops. We normally think of tickets as arriving and departing from the same location. Multi-city tickets however fly in to one city and out of another.

For our honeymoon, we’re able to fly in to Stockholm, Sweden and out of Oslo. That means we can travel overland or with a discount airline between the destinations and don’t have to pay for a return flight to Stockholm just to catch a return flight to the US.

Breaking a travel itinerary into separate pieces enables you to find the leg that is more expensive. In our case, the flight from Boston to Oslo was expensive so we decided to save money by going to Stockholm and then just fly out of Oslo. You can see more, often for less, with a multi-city ticket.

4. Combine overland travel

Booking international flights or flights to smaller destinations often leads to incredibly expensive tickets such as my $1600 ticket to Tromsø. Consider traveling to a cheaper destination and use overland travel to get to your final destination. This could mean flying into a hub and driving or catching a train or bus to your final destination.

In Norway, we will combine a coastal cruise on the Hurtigruten with cheaper domestic flights to arrive to Tromsø for less than a flight directly from the US to Tromsø. Plus we get the experience of seeing the fjords and coast!

5. Use rewards

Signing up for promotions throughout the year and having reward accounts for hotels, airlines and on your credit cards can easily generate one free flight a year. Sites like CardsForTravel.com and the Travel Hacking Cartel (of which I’m a partner and affiliate) will alert you of the best deals on an on-going basis.

These rewards can help extend your honeymoon for less. For example, we recently signed up for a promotion through the Radisson that gave you a free night stay with your first stay at a Radisson. My fiancée and I both signed up and about a month later needed a hotel when visiting friends in Minneapolis. The first night we booked the room under my name, the second night under her name and now we’ll have two luxurious nights at a hotel in Iceland for free. Since the points you earn in a cheaper hotel, like Minneapolis, often transfer to more expensive hotels, like Iceland, you get more bang for your buck.

There are many opportunities for gathering points to redeem when it’s time for your honeymoon.

6. Alternative accommodations

While free hotels are great, they are often the most expensive part of any honeymoon. Instead of throwing down $200 a night, consider alternatives.

If you’re visiting a country like Norway, you can take advantage of beautiful landscape and inexpensive cabins along hiking trails throughout the country. If you are more adventurous, you can camp for free.

AirBnB is a great site to use to book your own accomodations directly from home owners. You rent their house for less than what a hotel usually costs and have the benefit of having your own kitchen and local space with the privacy a honeymoon demands. This can cut down on food costs and give you a taste of the local culture by putting you right in local neighborhoods and away from the commercial zones.

My favorite site is still CouchSurfing which allows you to stay at someone else’s house (often on the couch) for free. While it might not be the best for a honeymoon, it could help save for a night or two if you want to meet locals and are less worried about privacy.

7. Know when to spend

Saving money is great, but you also need to know when to spend it. It’s your honeymoon for Pete’s sake. You have to enjoy yourself! Research what adventures, guides or tours look most interesting to you and which cities you want to spend more (or less). Set your budget and enjoy when the time comes.

You can still save money by hiring a local guide through Vayable or contacting locals via social media or CouchSurfing for recommendations on specials or the best places to enjoy.

Happy honeymooning

I’m incredibly excited for my honeymoon. The fact that we took a little time to do some “honeymoon hacking” means that we’ll be able to have the trip of a lifetime that we can actually afford.

Photos: causalien, Today is a Good Day, Switchback Travel

Posted on June 18th, 2012 in Norway, Travel