It’s safe to say that this past year saw the fewest number of honeymoon travelers in recent history. As the pandemic upended nearly every single aspect of life, there were countless honeymoons that were postponed along the way.
“What started out as a two-week shutdown to flatten the curve ended up being a twelve-month rollercoaster that left resort doors shuttered, borders closed and an endless number of flights cancelled,” explains Kayla LeClerc, owner of Whimsical Wishes Travel Concierge. “Couples who had planned honeymoons or destination weddings also suffered as their once-in-a-lifetime trips were cancelled. And in some cases, their money remained tied up with tour operators that were trying to survive.”
The Future of Honeymoon Travel
The good news is that we’ve come so far, especially in recent months. Thanks to an impressive mass vaccination effort, the future of travel (even international travel) looks very bright. “We are now finding that fully vaccinated travelers have more options and more freedom (with little or no quarantine). Non-vaccinated travelers have different protocols with more restrictions and longer quarantine,” says Teresa Belcher, travel agent and founder of Honeymoon Islands, Inc.
The demand for travel is at an all-time high. Couples are looking to re-book the honeymoon plans that were cancelled. You also have newlyweds looking to finally have the honeymoon of their dreams. The tricky part for travel agents is making up for a year of hardly any business during such a busy time. “Those who were forced to cancel or postpone travel plans pivoted to 2021,” says Belcher. Now it’s a challenge to find availability for couples planning for the first time.
Stephanie Goldberg-Glazer, owner of Live Well, Travel Often, has both planned and cancelled countless trips during the past year. “One couple, who was supposed to go to Europe in 2019, had an emergency medical issue and had to cancel, so we rescheduled for 2020,” she explains. “Now, we have rescheduled them for this summer in Hawaii.” Another one of her couples, who married in November 2020, planned a domestic getaway to New Mexico and Arizona right after their wedding, but really wanted to go to Tahiti and New Zealand. “We planned the big Tahiti and New Zealand trip for late this year, hoping that New Zealand will open their borders in time,” she says.
Where to Honeymoon Next
Planning your honeymoon and have yet to decide on a destination? Consider these hotspots that travel experts are recommending to their clients.
If you’re looking to stay in the United States but want a beachy destination that is off the beaten path, consider Hawaii. “Packed with gorgeous beaches and breathtaking sights, Hawaii will be more popular in the next two years because it’s still considered domestic travel—no passport required,” says LeClerc. “The ability to hop between islands is unique to Hawaii. It’s important to note, however, that the islands vary in terms of what they offer travelers. For this reason, LeClerc recommends working with a professional travel agent who can help guide you in the right direction.
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This tiny little archipelago in South Asia has long been in-demand for honeymooners. It’s tropical, loaded with 5-star resorts clad with overwater bungalows and has incredible weather year round. Because overwater bungalows are ideal for social distancing, Goldberg-Glazer highly recommends this spot for 2021 travelers.
Ranked safe for traveling by the World Health Organization, this city and emirate in the UAE, has vaccinated more than 85 percent of their population, notes Belcher. “You can combine Eastern and Western Culture with a Dubai city known for great restaurants and unique shopping at bargain prices with a 2-3 night stay in the desert,” she says. “While in the desert, experience glamping, sandboarding, riding camels, a romantic dessert tent dinner, etc.”
This island in the Eastern Caribbean was a popular honeymoon destination before the pandemic. LeClerc anticipates that it will continue to be post-pandemic. “The landscape in St. Lucia is what makes it so attractive to honeymooners—soaring mountains, sweeping rainforest, coral reefs and volcanic sand beaches,” she says. Since you’re likely flying into Hewanorra Airport (UVF), on the southern tip of the island, when most of the most popular resorts are located on the northern tip of the island, she recommends skipping the two hour shuttle ride and booking a helicopter transfer. “You’ll soar above the island and will likely get to your resort in 15-20 minutes,” she adds.
“Similar to St. Lucia, this was a destination that was booming for pre-pandemic honeymooners,” says LeClerc. Now that Greece is fully open to vaccinated travelers, she thinks couples will feel confident planning their travel there in the next year or two. “I find that most of my couples are enamored by the islands, which are known for their vibrant nightlife and beautiful beaches,” she says. She recommends planning to visit and stay on at least two islands while you’re there. “They’re not all the same and you’ll have different experiences; packing up and making the move is worth it,” she adds.
If you’re open to a honeymoon destination that’s a bit off the beaten path and doesn’t involve a tropical beach, Iceland may be a great option for you. In fact, it continues to be extremely popular and is gaining interest by honeymooners, according to Goldberg-Glazer. “There are so many wonderful adventures,” she says. “Hiking on a glacier, snorkeling between the tectonic plates, the Blue Lagoon, and more. It is a perfect trip for adventure seekers”. Bonus: Iceland is currently open to vaccinated individuals.
For honeymooners looking for a romantic European getaway, Italy has always been a top choice—and people are itching to go back! Goldberg-Glazer predicts that Italy will continue to be super popular with honeymooners looking for a part city-part beach, or part city-part wine country honeymoon. “Really, is there anything more romantic than a Tuscan sunset with a glass of wine in hand overlooking a gorgeous vineyard?” she asks.
This gorgeous country situated between central and eastern Europe on the coast of the Adriatic Sea has long been a popular honeymoon destination. “Croatia has a little bit of everything—a stunning coastline, national parks, and a rich culture,” says LeClerc. “Couples who want to lay on the beach and snorkel, hike a mountain or gorge, and take a historical tour on their honeymoon can do all of it in Croatia.” Currently Croatia is open for fully vaccinated travelers, which is another reason why travel agents are recommending it to their honeymoon clients.
Ready to book your honeymoon? Here are some words of wisdom from travel pros
Hire a professional planner:
“Traveling isn’t as easy as it used to be, even domestically,” says LeClerc. “My number one priority as a travel advisor is to listen to my couples. I get a clear vision of their honeymoon and I help them bring it to life.”
Book your honeymoon early:
Belcher urges couples not to assume that flights to their desired location will be cheap and available whenever they’re ready to book it. “It’s very difficult to find availability because we are dealing with two years of travel crammed all in one year,” she says. She recommends booking as early as possible to score the best deals.
This was something that most travel agents recommended their clients do prior to the pandemic, but now it’s mandatory, according to Belcher. “Many countries are requiring you to purchase cancellation insurance that also covers medical expenses should you contract covid during your vacation,” she says.
If you’re planning to take your honeymoon in the next 6-8 months, LeClerc says couples should still be flexible. “Things are still changing. CDC guidance is being updated almost weekly. Destinations are working on their entry requirements. And as of today, COVID tests are still required for a return to the U.S. when traveling internationally,” she says. “This is another plug for working with a travel advisor. They’ll keep you up-to-date on everything and make sure you’re prepared to travel when the time comes.”
The bottom line? If you’re hoping to go on a honeymoon in the next year, start planning now. There are so many wonderful places out there that are yearning for tourists. And really…aren’t we all ready for a giant vacation?!