Author Topic: My $2,250 Honeymoon Experience  (Read 3910 times)

ReadySetMillionaire

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My $2,250 Honeymoon Experience
« on: August 07, 2017, 12:21:58 PM »
I just returned from my honeymoon and the pile of shit on my desk isn't as enticing as the internet, so I figured I'd share a little from my recent experience.

FYI, the average couple spends approximately $5,100 on their honeymoon, and the vast majority of this usually comes from airfare and hotels.

We chose Portland (ME) and Boston, mostly because we did the west coast last year and wanted to flip coasts this year.

This isn't anything revolutionary, but to those of you getting married and still looking to have a good time on your honeymoon:  as far in advance as possible, use credit card reward points to take care of airfare, hotels, or both. I'd recommend SPG for hotels and Southwest for airfare, but do your own research.

We stayed five nights in Portland and three nights in Boston. These hotels were right in the center of downtown with great views and luxury amenities, and averaged $375 per night. That alone is $3,000.  Instead of paying that amount, we racked up our SPG rewards points for about sixteen months and used all of them for both cities. We ended up paying a net total of $354 for all eight nights.

The next big cost saver was driving instead of flying. Flights totaled about $800 for both of us.  We instead elected to drive and spent about $95 on gas, but did spend approximately $280 to have my car stored for all eight days.

In summary,

What we could have spent just on hotels/airfare: $3,800
What we actually spent: $729.

This opened the floodgates to us guilt-free treating ourselves for eight days. We ate out for every lunch and dinner. We ordered wine at every dinner. I lost count how many times we had steak and lobster. We took cruises in the Casco Bay and Boston Harbor. We paid $150 to go on a "wine sail" in the Casco Bay on a 250 year old sailboat. We saw the Indians-Red Sox game at Fenway Park. We took trolley tours of each city. We paid to get into museums. All in all, we spent about $150-200 per day.

I totaled this when we got home and learned that we spent about $2,250 for the entire trip (or about 40% of what the average Americans spend on their honeymoons).

Of course, this isn't a brag about my frugality or anything. This post is geared towards those planning their honeymoon and looking to not have frugality overwhelm having a memorable experience. In regular life, you can get way ahead by being cognizant and trimming your biggest expenses (mortgage/rent, car payment, groceries, etc.). Similarly, on a honeymoon, if you trim hotels and airfare to basically nothing, that opens the floodgates to you doing almost whatever you want.

I know this isn't anything groundbreaking or revolutionary, but just wanted to document my experience so others could hopefully find my experience and enjoy a similar path--because our honeymoon was outstanding. Cheers!
« Last Edit: August 07, 2017, 12:46:13 PM by ReadySetMillionaire »

nottoolatetostart

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Re: My $2,250 Honeymoon Experience
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2017, 12:43:31 PM »
Congrats on your wedding and your honeymoon sounds lovely! Just awesome. Thanks for sharing!!!!

chemistk

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Re: My $2,250 Honeymoon Experience
« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2017, 06:10:00 AM »
Congrats on your wedding! And a honeymoon-on-a-budget is just as good or even better than some exotic destination!

My wife and I got married in 2014 and i think the grand total spent on the honeymoon was just a hair under yours.

We drove (casually) from Central PA to Northern Michigan, stayed in a VRBO, and spent most of our days touring around the area. On our way back we stayed a night in Sandusky to go to Cedar Point.

No airport concerns, no jet lag, we never saw any other honeymooners, and almost zero tourists.

We did have friends who, last year, went to Thailand for their honeymoon for maybe $500 more than what we spent, and we were jealous, but both of us agreed that we were very glad to not have gone to any of the "standard" destinations. 

nara

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Re: My $2,250 Honeymoon Experience
« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2017, 06:16:21 AM »
We did sort of a staycation for our honeymoon (stayed at a B&B a few hours away from home for a few nights). But we had also just gotten back from a year abroad & a 3 month backpacking trip through Asia and were moving across the country--so we were kind of spoiled.

CapLimited

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Re: My $2,250 Honeymoon Experience
« Reply #4 on: August 08, 2017, 08:41:36 AM »
Congratulations!

Travel hacking is the best.  We didn't do quite as well as you -- we found a couple of one-way first-class Delta tickets from DC to San Francisco for around $1100, but thanks to the IHG card sign-up bonus/free night/spending and the bonuses from two Amtrak Guest Rewards cards, we had nine nights in a comfortable Holiday Inn in downtown San Francisco for our honeymoon and a free Amtrak trip from San Francisco back to DC in a sleeper car.  We actually eloped to the beautiful San Francisco City Hall, so wedding outfits, bouquet, photographer, hotel, transportation, sightseeing (including Alcatraz and a Segway tour), and all the fine dining and good wine we could stand, came in at around $4500.

researcher1

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Re: My $2,250 Honeymoon Experience
« Reply #5 on: August 08, 2017, 10:48:04 AM »
use credit card reward points to take care of airfare, hotels, or both...
Instead of paying that amount, we racked up our SPG rewards points for about sixteen months and used all of them for both cities. We ended up paying a net total of $354 for all eight nights.

I don't see how you can consider 16 months worth of accumulated CC points as "free money" without some dollar value which would count towards your trip costs.

Those CC points could have been used pay bills, reduce your CC balance, ect. had you not used them for your honeymoon.
The dollar value of these points needs to be added to the honeymoon if you want to calculate the true cost of your trip.

For example...
I use several various cash back CCs (1.5% - 6% cash back) and redeem the points as statement credits.
Over the course of 16 months, let's say I could have used those points to reduce my bills by $1500.
Instead, I cashed those points in for a vacation, and claimed the trip cost me $0.
In reality, my vacation actually cost $1500.

charis

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Re: My $2,250 Honeymoon Experience
« Reply #6 on: August 08, 2017, 01:34:21 PM »
use credit card reward points to take care of airfare, hotels, or both...
Instead of paying that amount, we racked up our SPG rewards points for about sixteen months and used all of them for both cities. We ended up paying a net total of $354 for all eight nights.

I don't see how you can consider 16 months worth of accumulated CC points as "free money" without some dollar value which would count towards your trip costs.

Those CC points could have been used pay bills, reduce your CC balance, ect. had you not used them for your honeymoon.
The dollar value of these points needs to be added to the honeymoon if you want to calculate the true cost of your trip.

For example...
I use several various cash back CCs (1.5% - 6% cash back) and redeem the points as statement credits.
Over the course of 16 months, let's say I could have used those points to reduce my bills by $1500.
Instead, I cashed those points in for a vacation, and claimed the trip cost me $0.
In reality, my vacation actually cost $1500.

If you accumulated points for the sole purpose of travel hacking, I disagree.  You could have used the money for something else, but it still didn't "cost" you anything out of pocket.

researcher1

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Re: My $2,250 Honeymoon Experience
« Reply #7 on: August 08, 2017, 01:59:11 PM »
If you accumulated points for the sole purpose of travel hacking, I disagree.  You could have used the money for something else, but it still didn't "cost" you anything out of pocket.

Regardless of what you earmark those points for, they have some "cash" value.

Not including that value when using those points is an inaccurate accounting of your true costs.

Saying it didn't "cost you anything out of pocket" is like playing a shell game with the money and tricking yourself into thinking a vacation cost you less than it really did.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: My $2,250 Honeymoon Experience
« Reply #8 on: August 08, 2017, 03:13:49 PM »
If you accumulated points for the sole purpose of travel hacking, I disagree.  You could have used the money for something else, but it still didn't "cost" you anything out of pocket.

Regardless of what you earmark those points for, they have some "cash" value.

Not including that value when using those points is an inaccurate accounting of your true costs.

Saying it didn't "cost you anything out of pocket" is like playing a shell game with the money and tricking yourself into thinking a vacation cost you less than it really did.

The only "cash" value my points have is to use them to buy Amazon (or other online retailer) gift cards and, according to several blogs, this is the least optimal way to utilize points.

Our cards essentially give us a point for every dollar we spend. We put everything on these cards and pay them in full at the tend of the month. The cost of these cards is my $95 annual fee. You cannot use these points for any of the things you suggested; i.e., in terms of a cash value, there is no reimbursement program like the one you seem to have.

TL;DR: we have different cards that work differently, so I don't know why you're imposing how your card works onto your theoretical "true cost" assessment of my card.

MrSal

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Re: My $2,250 Honeymoon Experience
« Reply #9 on: August 08, 2017, 03:57:26 PM »
My wife and I, we spent about $3500 together, on our honeymoon.

Our honeymoon, consiste of 5 weeks around Europe, where we hit Berlin -> Dresden -> Prague -> Krakow - > Budapest -> Vienna -> Bratislava -> Bled -> Hallstatt -> Innsbruck > Marseille -> Barcelona -> Madrid -> Algarve

Traveling through trains... we used the nightrails to save on time while traveling and sleeping on it. Bedrooms in trains in Europe are usually cheap. 40$ for a whole 2 bed room in the freakin train!

We were pretty satisfied with how little we spent even though we went on trips, museums, dining out, etc.

We didn't stay at hotels. We stayed at hostels for the most part which was awesome.

We did rent a place for ourselves in Budapest and also in Hallstatt where we had a 4 bedroom house on the lake just for us (we didnt even need 4 bedrooms but it was jsut about all we could find and given how cheap it was ... we didnt care)

Bracken_Joy

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Re: My $2,250 Honeymoon Experience
« Reply #10 on: August 08, 2017, 04:08:51 PM »
Sounds awesome! We had a very cheap Honeymoon, but I imagine it's not what most people would enjoy. A week and a half of camping through Western United States! I think we hit 7 or 8 states by the time all was said and done. Spent like $650, most of which was gas, since we drove the truck. (We camp in the back).

Wedding itself was ~$8k, but by the time we resold things we had bought or made, it dropped to like $5k!! Some of the stuff I did to save a buck (collect mismatched China and assemble the whole set together with a theme) we ended up reselling for WAY more than we paid for it, haha. People just don't want to put in the legwork I guess. And some was unintentional geographic arbitrage of used markets. The advantages of being married somewhere other than where you live I guess.

charis

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Re: My $2,250 Honeymoon Experience
« Reply #11 on: August 08, 2017, 08:29:42 PM »
If you accumulated points for the sole purpose of travel hacking, I disagree.  You could have used the money for something else, but it still didn't "cost" you anything out of pocket.

Regardless of what you earmark those points for, they have some "cash" value.

Not including that value when using those points is an inaccurate accounting of your true costs.

Saying it didn't "cost you anything out of pocket" is like playing a shell game with the money and tricking yourself into thinking a vacation cost you less than it really did.

I'm not tricking myself into anything. I'm perfectly capable of wrapping my brain around the concept of travel hacking and the cost of things. And you are entitled to think about your points in any way that you choose, as are the rest of us.
« Last Edit: August 09, 2017, 07:48:10 AM by jezebel »

AccidentialMustache

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Re: My $2,250 Honeymoon Experience
« Reply #12 on: August 08, 2017, 09:48:40 PM »
+1 for reasonable honeymoons (and weddings... and engagement "rings"...). My DW isn't a big fan of flying, so for ours we pointed our car east and drove. There was a list of stops -- an uncle in Indy, the Air Force museum in Dayton, some of the old glassmaking vendors still in existence in eastern Ohio/WV, then the Cass scenic railroad, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, and eventually a loop back with a *fancepants* historic hotel on the WV side of the Ohio river. I think we made it straight from WV home -- long day but it was stupid to stop so close to home so we just finished it.

I have no idea what it cost (2005) but I doubt it was much. It was pretty much only hotel costs, and a lot of those places aren't exactly expensive locales, even if you stay in a nice place.

A couple years later we went to Wisconsin with a similar plan and it was again relatively inexpensive and full of awesome.

I look forward to the kid tolerating a long car trip well enough that we can start doing them with him soon.

Dicey

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Re: My $2,250 Honeymoon Experience
« Reply #13 on: August 08, 2017, 11:57:26 PM »
DH and I went to Orlando for a week, on our "honeymoon", which actually happened about a year after we eloped. (We did NOT go to the Mouse House, lol!.) We bid on and won a week's stay at a fancy-pants Marriott timeshare condo at a charity auction for around $500, not realizing it was that inexpensive because it was for a specific week. My cousin works for Jet Blue and gave us Buddy Passes, which cost about $110 each in taxes. We got a deal on a rental car (Hertz + AAA discount) and shopped at Aldi for groceries on our way to the condo. We checked out the gift card section at Costco and splurged on 2 for 1 at I-Fly, which is an indoor skydiving place. The rest of the time, we just did whatever we felt like, without much regard for price. All in, we spent under $2k. Sure, we got a deal on the airfare, but we could have used Southwest Points had we not been gifted the Jet Blue Buddy Passes.

I'm writing this not for the above, but for this tip: At another charity event, someone mentioned that her dad is always coming up with deals on getaways. There's a site called Bidding for Good, which is where non-profits holding fund-raisers can list the items they're offering. Apparently her dad watches the site and occasionally scores great deals. Might be worth checking out if you're planning a honeymoon or vacation. A quick glance reveals that a lot of this stuff is pricey, but I imagine occasionally there are deals to be had.

https://www.biddingforgood.com/auction/biddingforgood.action