Thursday, July 17, 2008

Honeymoon remorse

A long time ago, I decided I didn't want a relaxing, beach honeymoon. We have beach access pretty much any time we want it, and my idea of a vacation is generally to tour new countries, not to lie on a beach and read. Eric went along with my thought, and we brainstormed places to honeymoon.

We wanted it to be somewhere that neither of us had been before; that knocked out Italy, London, Paris, parts of Spain, Brussels, as well as Hong Kong and Taiwan. We also didn't want to have to deal too much with a foreign language, so that knocked out most of the rest of Asia. I can get by in French, but I'd feel badly for both of us if I had to be translating menus for a whole trip, so I crossed other parts of France off the list as well; the same went for Eric and Spanish. The thought of me actually having to rely on my Chinese for an entire vacation was just headache-inducing, so that was off the table from the start.

Scotland was a good contender (and actually, I've had it in the back of my mind as a honeymoon destination for a while; I ripped out a feature on it from a 2004 issue of Modern Bride I got while helping to plan my friend Karen's wedding). We both have Scottish in our heritages (we both have Scottish last names), and I thought it would be cool to go explore a country that we both have ties to, as well as spoke English.

I kind of figured it would be expensive, but we also don't need to live in the lap of luxury for the entire honeymoon, so I figured there would be ways to cut corners here and there. I really liked the idea of renting a car and driving all over, exploring the lochs and the highlands and the lowlands. We could stay in a castle (maybe even a haunted castle!), and relax if we got sick of driving on the wrong side of the road.

Then I set up a honeymoon registry, on Honeyfund. I put a link to it on our wedding website. I set out to think of cute honeymoon activities to register for ($50 for Holly to try haggis; $100 for squeamish Eric to try it; $40 for a meal at McDonald's when both of us got sick of haggis). I registered us for GPS for the rental car so we wouldn't get lost while driving on the wrong side of the road; I calculated what a tank of petrol would cost. In doing so, I came across this blog, in which the blogger had already calculated petrol costs. It's over $8 a gallon. YIKES!

Then I even went so far as to buy plane tickets from Skyauction.com, a site I have used regularly in the past that has great deals. Back in April, I won an auction for 2 tickets on Virgin Atlantic for $1522. Woohoo! It was roundtrip from NYC to Heathrow (and we could leave from DC instead for only a small fee). I figured there would be an easy way to get to Scotland from London, and everything would be fine.

Then I got buyer's remorse. At that time, more than a year before the wedding/honeymoon, I couldn't even check plane ticket prices to see if I was truly getting a deal. I would have to wait until at least the middle of June, if not July (some airlines won't post tickets more than 11 months in advance). Oh my god, what had I done? Where had this sense of urgency to book tickets come from?

Luckily, in the weeks since, gas prices have only continued to climb, and I became confident that there was no way a plane ticket to Europe next May could possibly be LESS expensive than one this May (and I had gotten a good deal compared with this year's prices), so at least that was good.

But then, I got not just buyer's remorse, but honeymoon remorse. After spending a month in rural Kentucky, then driving to Philadelphia, flying to Brussels for a week, and freaking out about studying for Step 2 of my boards, applying to residency, and figuring out what I'm going to do for the rest of my life, I realized that sitting on a beach really isn't all that bad. I asked Eric if the whole "touring a new country is better than sitting on a beach" thing was his opinion as much as mine, and he confessed it wasn't. Sitting on a beach is just fine with him, as it turns out.

And think about all the cool places with beaches that still offer tourism opportunities: Thailand, South America, Africa, the South Pacific, the Galapagos Islands. The list is quite extensive. A friend recommended Thailand. Another recommended Honduras. Two of my cousins have gone to the Maldives for their honeymoons and can't stop gushing. Miss Coconut on Weddingbee yesterday posted about Costa Rica, and I checked out the hotel she was staying at, and it looks great. But how to get out of our plane tickets to London!?!?!?!?

I emailed Skyauction a couple weeks ago, and asked what their refund policy was. I wasn't too optimistic, but I figured I could always explain that it was going to be a honeymoon trip and the honeymoon wasn't happening. I wasn't above breaking out the big guns and crying over email that the wedding was off and I didn't know what I would do if they wouldn't refund me my money, either.

In the meantime, it became possible to check ticket prices to London. It turns out that for our prospective honeymoon dates next May, NY to London on Virgin Atlantic costs between $800 and $1050/person roundtrip. So we did get a deal! It would still be a hassle to get from London to Scotland, but whatever. Our original-but-now-backup plan was acceptable, if not ideal.

Skyauction got back to me this morning, though. They can withdraw me from my auction (because while I had paid, I had never completed the process by submitting dates and receiving tickets) with only a $95 cancellation fee.

Normally, $95 is a lot of money to me. Especially for stupid shit like cancellation fees. But this morning, it might as well have been 95 cents, because that's how relieved I was. And no crying and fake "the wedding's off" stories needed, to boot!

The honeymoon registry link has been removed from the wedding website (I'm not convinced it's the best idea for us anyway, even once we decide on a honeymoon location). Scotland isn't completely off the table, but wouldn't it be nice to book a plane ticket that leaves from Louisville and lands in Glasgow, without us worrying about how to do all the in-between stuff ourselves? I'm pretty sure I want to go somewhere more interesting than the Carribean, but I've also never been to the Carribean, so maybe I shouldn't be so quick to judge.

So now the brainstorming begins all over again. Any suggestions?

3 comments:

Alissa said...

What about Belize? I watched an episode of House Hunters International in which a guy was looking for a house there and it was GORGEOUS.

The only real advice I can give is DON'T GO TO JAMAICA. And based on what others have told me, the other northern Caribbean islands are skippable, although I know two people who love San Juan, and the food is supposed to be very yummy.

I've heard wonderful things about the Cabo San Lucas area in Mexico and know two people who stayed at the Riu resort and loved it. I've also had two friends thoroughly enjoy their honeymoons in Costa Rica. One friend spent time on both coasts and said it was the ultimate honeymoon -- beach relaxation, nature adventure-type stuff, good food, varied surroundings, etc.

The ABC islands are supposed to be gorgeous -- I've had friends that have enjoyed both Aruba and Bon Aire.

If you go to a beach locale, make sure that there are a lot of things you can do in the surrounding area. That was the most sucktacular part of Jamaica. I'd planned to go to some of the restaurants and clubs in the city of Montego Bay, but those plans got scrapped when we drove through town on the way to the resort and saw a dozen police officers standing around with huge machine guns.

hwong14 said...

Oh wow, I didn't know that you went to Jamaica (or maybe I forgot) or that it sucked. My mom suggested Jamaica a few months ago, and Eric shot it down on the basis that they're not nice to gay people there (in fact, they are hostile), and he didn't want to support a place like that. I had no idea about the homophobia issue, and I also had no idea Eric had such strong convictions on the matter, but it's good to know.

I went to the Dominican Republic a few years ago to a beach resort, and it was very relaxing, but after a couple days, I was so antsy. Thank goodness my friend and I took a tour of Santo Domingo, otherwise I would have drowned myself in the ocean on purpose -- and that's my #1 concern about beach vacations, so I'm definitely looking for places that have other things to do/see.

Belize sounds intriguing; we have some research to do! Thanks!

Lauren said...

Definitely look into Thailand - I've heard its one of the most gorgeous places in the world - and crazy cheap to boot.

I've been to the Virgin Islands on a cruise, twice and if you've never experienced a beach like that - definitely consider it. I've never seen water that clear, and though it seemed cliche and I probably wouldn't have picked them for myself (both trips were actually free) - today I definitely would and I would love to go back.