Honeymoon hopefuls are finally having their moment, taking full advantage of loosened COVID-19 restrictions—including the recently announced removal of masks on airplanes. After a few false starts, it finally seems the return to normal we’ve been promised could be here. Yet despite this, those eager travelers who delayed honeymoons or opted for minimoons closer to home during the pandemic, are re-entering a honeymoon landscape unlike any other.
Fueled by, well, the recent fuel cost increase and incredibly high pent up demand, flight prices are up nearly 13% since earlier this year and hotel rates are up almost 40%. With things looking a bit more competitive and complicated at the moment, your honeymoon could require a little extra planning. So, we spoke to a few travel and honeymoon experts to help you prep for your big trip in 2022—and beyond.
Honeymooners Are Planning Well in Advance
Honeymooners are starting their planning process sooner than before the pandemic, says Dr. Terika Haynes of Dynamite Travel, a luxury travel and media consultancy. She notes it’s likely due to so many weddings and honeymoons being rescheduled during that time.
As a result, there is a much higher demand currently for honeymoon travel, but also for more exclusive experiences once travelers arrive at a destination. This means planning farther in advance is not just advantageous, it’s becoming the norm. Otherwise, honeymooners risk missing out on the best flights, hotels, restaurants, events and activities as they sell out or become booked. A good rule of thumb is to book out at least three months or more if you can. But, do your research. Some hotels and experiences now need to be booked with even more lead time.
Local Honeymoons Are Here to Stay
Over the past few years, many honeymooners decided to celebrate their ‘mini-moons’ as international borders remained closed. But, despite the reopening of top international honeymoon spots and loosening restrictions, domestic travel continues to trend for these trip-takers, says Sam Jagger, General Manager of Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows. “We’ve tracked more stateside honeymooners in Los Angeles than in previous years,” Jagger adds. A hotel like Fairmont Miramar makes a lot of sense for couples who’d rather travel domestically and avoid risking their honeymoon dates—which can quickly become a moving target should a new wave of COVID-19 crop up and disrupt international travel.
Being in a city is another draw for many travelers who have tried to avoid urban crowds during the pandemic when standing six feet apart was the norm. “With travelers eager to explore and see new things, we’ve noticed honeymooners are less inclined to focus solely on R&R,” says Jagger, noting that they are requesting more activities and adventure during their stay, including surfing, hiking, wine tasting, and more.
We’ve all heard of “renewing vows”, but some post-pandemic couples are putting a spin on this by renewing their honeymoons. “Some couples had their honeymoon cut short or replaced with a staycation due to the pandemic. Others want to reignite the romance after 30-plus years, celebrate a momentous wedding anniversary, or re-do a trip that just didn’t hit the mark the first time around,” says David Ox, Managing Director at Winged Boots, a personal travel management company. Like upgrading your engagement ring, couples are spacing out a second honeymoon trip after a few years of alternative, low-key getaways so that they don’t miss out on that bigger, dreamier trip they had originally planned prior to the pandemic.
Combined Weddings and Honeymoons
Another trend many of our experts are noticing is that couples are choosing to host their weddings and honeymoons in the same destinations, Kenroy Herbert tells us. As President of Leviticus Lifestyle & Travel, a concierge brand specializing in luxury villa and upscale charter rentals, he’s seen an increase in destination weddings that are more intimate and smaller in size with couples who rent villas for their ceremony and reception. Then, newlyweds remain in the villa for their honeymoon, while guests stay at nearby villas or resorts. Combining a wedding and buddymoon-style trip, this epic combo is exciting for both the couples and their guests who have felt pent up during the pandemic.
Splurge Moons Are the New Norm
Whether you’re “renewing your honeymoon” or taking it for the first time, the top trend for couples on a lovey-dovey trip is to drop some cash for something more lavish, luxurious, and one-of-a-kind. “Couples are choosing quality over quantity and we’ve seen a tremendous demand for experiences," says Herbert. "For example, private yachts and powerboats are being rented for the day to island-hop.” Requests are also being made for private notable chefs, fire dancers, and in-villa massages.
Luxury and exotic car rentals for the big trip are another trend our experts are seeing. “A luxurious convertible is quintessential for a honeymoon,” says David Sajasi, General Manager, Beverly Hills Car Rental. “It makes a bold statement when arriving at your destination."
Skip booking your trip online and instead book with a trusted travel company. They can make use of personal relationships with hotels, airlines and travel suppliers to ensure your honeymoon is personalized and that you score special treatment.
Couples Are Checking in for Longer Stays
“As a seasonal hotel set on the most romantic cliffside in Mallorca, we will meet couples this summer whose reservations have been on the books since 2020,” says Gianluca Priori, General Manager, Jumeirah Port Soller Hotel & Spa. “We are seeing newlyweds extend their stay for up to three weeks compared to the average one to two weeks previously, to have a longer and more elaborate honeymoon.”
Long haul travel is back, too, with many families opting for what Ox calls a “3G holiday,” or bringing three generations like your parents and grandparents along, too. This can make up for time apart during the pandemic or to mark a milestone that may not have been celebrated during that time.
With a bit more time on the ground in a destination, travelers are seeking out more highly curated, unique experiences that are local in nature and led by experts, Abigail Rivera, Corporate Director of Operations at Hamak Hotels tells. “Authentic popular expressions in art, music, and markets through a local lens is a great way for couples to create memories that are totally unique.”
Multi-Stop Honeymoons (Or Bust)
Longer time-frame trips also mean couples can make multiple destinations a reality, and do so in a relaxed way rather than rushing it. “With luxury hotels in some of the most prominent honeymoon destinations, our portfolio has developed what we are coining ‘stopover honeymoons.’ Due to the couple's uptick in spending more and staying longer, we’re noticing that they want to maximize their time and no longer limit their voyage to just one destination,” says Ermanno Zanini, Regional Vice President and General Manager at Burj Al Arab Jumeirah. Jumeirah has developed a honeymoon destination duo program that includes a two-night stay at the iconic Burj Al Arab Jumeirah in Dubai, followed by four nights at the new Jumeirah Maldives Olhahali Island resort.
Picking Under-the-Radar Honeymoon Destinations
Though picking your honeymoon destination is a very personal decision, there are a few destinations that are already up-and-coming with travelers this year. Since we’ve established there’s a lot of demand and competition in popular destinations, you may want to consider an alternative location if you’re honeymooning in 2022 or early 2023. Brian Kelly of The Points Guy suggests researching similar destinations to popular hot-spots: For example, book Kos, Greece instead of Mykonos; the Italian Alps instead of Switzerland; Tarifa, Spain instead of Ibiza; Guatemala instead of Costa Rica; or Sri Lanka instead of India.
For LGBTQIA+ travelers, Merida, Mexico is a spot high on Kelly’s list. “Repeatedly named Mexico’s safest city, Merida is filled with colorful classic Spanish colonials, shady parks, festive cafes, boutiques and galleries that are both sophisticated and relaxed,” he says. In Croatia, queer travelers will want to check out Hvar, the idyllic island known for annual cultural festivals, beautiful lavender, and fun wine harvests. The nightlife is a draw, too, with many outdoor clubs and bars in town along the breezy waterfront that cater to LGBTQIA+ travelers, Kelly says.
Eco-Conscious Honeymoon Considerations
According to a recent survey by Vacasa, a leading North American rental home management platform, 46% of consumers say that sustainable, responsible tourism is important when making travel plans, and that number is even higher for eco-minded Gen Z and millennial travelers. When planning for a honeymoon, couples can remain eco-conscious by considering greener ways to get to their destination, being mindful of their energy consumption while at their destination, and choosing eco-friendly activities.
Kelly also advises traveling “low and slow” by flying into one place and then traveling by train, foot or bicycle instead of taking multiple flights. “Book tours and activities through booking portals like Bookmundi, a platform that automatically offsets the carbon footprint generated by all tours booked through its website,” he adds.
Lastly, choose a lower-impact accommodation option like a vacation rental rather than a hotel. They use less water and power, and they're ideal for couples looking for intimacy and privacy on their special trip, too.