If your post-wedding travels were changed, postponed, or cancelled altogether due to the pandemic, you’re not alone. According to a recent study conducted by travel app Expedia, a whopping 97% of honeymoon plans were impacted by COVID-19, meaning nearly every just-married couple had to forgo or alter their original trip over the last two years. With weddings back in full force, though, people are ready to travel again — and they’re going bigger than ever. In fact, as Expedia’s survey states, this has led to the rise of the “mega-moon” trip: “More than half (53%) [of those polled] plan to spend more on their honeymoons than they originally budgeted and 59% are more interested now in going to a bucket list destination,” reads the brand’s report.
What exactly does that look like? “Coming out of the pandemic, couples are clearly determined to have an epic honeymoon,” said Christie Hudson, head of U.S. public relations for Expedia. “For many couples that will include flights, luxurious accommodations, and even romantic in-destination activities.”
Yet, while these are the elements that will make up many mega-moons, the destination is up to you. This is a time to get creative and personal, and dream up the ultimate journey for you and your partner. If you’re already planning one, chances are you have a few ideas of your own. But if you’re overwhelmed by choice? TZR has tapped a few travel experts to find out where they’d go if they were planning an epic honeymoon of their own. Here are their ideal itineraries, so that you can follow along if you choose.
A Journey Through Morocco
The Places: Jennifer McClymont, travel expert associate at Naya Traveler, says her mega-moon would have to include the bespoke travel planner’s La Route du Sud, or Southern Route journey, in Morocco. To make your trip unforgettable, she recommends arriving in Marrakesh and driving to the Ourika Valley (one hour away) for two nights in a kasbah or lodge. “You then begin your six-night Southern Route journey that finishes in the Skoura Valley at the Dar Ahlam residence. I would then suggest staying two to three nights in Marrakech before departing back home.”
The Activities: For McClymont, “the dream” would be “spending one night in a bedouin desert camp under the dazzling, star-lit sky, letting emotions and romance blossom.” She also suggests watching the sun rise in a hot air balloon or taking a desert camel ride in Marrakesh for other epic experiences. And last but not least? “Certainly, it is a must to end your honeymoon with the ultimate Moroccan hammam experience designed to refresh and rejuvenate body and soul.”
The Accommodations: “The private residences on this trip are traditional red brick houses and adobe castle-like mansions that overlook large valleys and are located in small Berber villages; a very authentic experience,” says the travel expert. McClymont again mentions Dar Ahlam, which she says offers “very cozy chambers with harmonized ambiences and exquisite activities.” And, she continues: “I would end this trip relishing the blend of Moorish traditions and colorful modernity in the riads in a medina or Villa des Orangers in Marrakesh.”
A European Exploration
The Places: Oleema Miller, co-founder of swim and resort brand MIKOH, says she just returned from a whirlwind trip in Europe (which is also where she got engaged). Thus, she says it would feel most fitting to return there for a mega-moon. “Even though we traveled through France and Italy for three weeks, we barely scratched the surface of all that Europe has to offer,” she tells TZR. “Discovering more of the South of France, the North of Italy, Greece, and the countryside of England are all still on my bucket list and would be the ultimate honeymoon adventure.”
The Activities: Miller says that for her, a combination of relaxation and adventure is the perfect mix. “There is nothing I love more than a quiet day at the sea, an afternoon in the spa, and a sunset rosé to then be followed by a day full of excitement on a boat.” Miller also shares that, being a lover of antiques, one of her favorite things to do is scour markets and shops for gems. “Having these special mementos to bring back allow you to relive your memories day after day when you’re able to enjoy them at home.”
The Accommodations: “Not going to lie, I love myself a beautiful hotel, especially one with an ocean view,” says Miller. “I am constantly cleaning, organizing, and moving things around at home so being able to be in somewhere where I can relax, breathe, and have a big fluffy clean bed to crawl into every night after stuffing myself with the local fare — nothing beats it.” Some properties she recently loved? Le Sirenuse in Positano, Italy and Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc in Cap d'Antibes, South of France are both favorites.
A Trek Across Continents
The Places: If you’re a serious adventurer, you’ll love the dream honeymoon plans of Dr. Terika Haynes, owner of Dynamite Travel. She tells TZR that for her couples trip, she would pick “five different continents to symbolize the number of years we've known each other,” and spend a week in each one. Those would include Asia (the Philippines), Africa (Cape Town, South Africa), South America (Peru), Australia (Cairns), and Europe (Cinque Terre, Italy).
The Activities: Dr. Haynes shares a different activity she’d like to do in each destination of this epic honeymoon. In the Philippines, she would visit Palawan to explore the underwater river at Puerto Princesa. In South Africa, she says she would engage in voluntourism with iKhaya Le Themba, a non-profit organization based in Hout Bay that has holistic after-school care programs for children in need. For the Peru leg, Dr. Haynes would take the Andean Explorer, a Belmond Train, to see Cusco, the Andes, and Lake Titicaca. Once in Cairns, the travel expert would snorkel the Great Barrier Reef. And finally, in Cinque Terre, she’d charter a luxury yacht.
In addition to those plans, Dr. Haynes has a few activities she’d incorporate in every place. Those include bringing dice to decide what and where to eat, hiring a photographer in every destination, leaving elements of surprise for her partner to see their true excitement, and including one out-of-the-box activity in each destination to get them out of their comfort zone.
The Accommodations: Dr. Haynes has accommodation preferences for each location. The luxurious Amanpulo would be her choice in Palawan, and in Cape Town, she’d stay at One&Only Cape Town. When in Peru, she’d head to the Sanctuary Lodge; when visiting Cairns, she’d check into Lizard Island; and in Cinque Terre, she’d choose the Portovenere Grand.
An Italian Adventure
The Places: Janine Seale, co-founder of recommendation-based travel app Out of Office, says her mega-moon would entail spending a month in Italy visiting some of the places she’s never been. “I’d spend part of the honeymoon in Tuscany, visit Sardinia and the nearby islands, and round it out with time in Puglia,” she explains.
The Activities: Seale’s activity list is simple. According to the co-founder, her itinerary would include a mix of beach, relaxation, and wine. “All of my favorite things,” she says.
The Accommodations: When it comes to hotels, Seale knows exactly what she wants. “I’d love to stay at Castello di Casole, A Belmond Hotel in Tuscany and Masseria San Domenico in Puglia,” she shares. “Both are supposed to be amazing and perfect for a once-in-a-lifetime mega-moon.”