How (and When) to Plan Your Honeymoon

No more last-minute scrambling—follow this handy timeline to take the stress out of honeymoon planning.
by The Knot
Honeymoon planning timeline
photo by iStock

The honeymoon is your hard-earned reward after months of wedding planning. But don’t forget, you have to plan that too. Here's our guide to organizing each piece of your trip at the right time (read: not at the last minute), so you have one less thing to stress over.

Six Months or More Ahead

  • Set a budget.
  • Start trading dream honeymoon destinations with your fiancé. Where do you want to go? What do you want to do? Start researching possible locations online, talk to a travel agent and poll friends for ideas.
  • Find a travel agent who specializes in your destination, activity (maybe sightseeing, hiking or diving) or mode of transportation (like a cruise specialist).
  • If the price tag on your ideal trip is out of your range, brainstorm ways to save money. Investigate what your frequent-flyer point balance can buy you and research honeymoon registry options like Honeyfund or Zola, which let your guests gift money toward your travels.
  • Research hotels, check room availability and reserve a room.
  • Book your tickets, get seat assignments, order special in-flight meals and check luggage allowances, especially if you're carting skis or scuba gear. If you hope to cash in frequent-flyer miles for a trip or upgrade, purchase or transfer points (if necessary) and make your ticket request from the airline as soon as possible.
  • Reserve a rental car.
  • If you're traveling abroad—and feeling ambitious—sign up for a foreign-language class or download a language app on iTunes and start practicing at home or on your way to work.
  • Ask your travel agent or visit the CDC Travelers' Health Site to check whether certain vaccinations are recommended or required before visiting your destination. (Some programs need to start months in advance of your trip.)

Three Months Ahead

  • Obtain your passports and visas, if necessary.
  • Consider signing up for travel insurance if one of the following apply: one of you has health issues; you're concerned about your safety; or the weather threatens to wreak havoc on your honeymoon (hurricane season, for example). Research travel insurance coverage offered by your credit cards, travel agent or an independent agency; secure additional coverage for your specific concerns if necessary.

Two Months Ahead

  • Buy a camera (if you don’t already have one and want higher quality photos than your phone will provide) and nice luggage—or register for them before your wedding shower. Practice using your camera to make sure it's working properly.
  • Research and book tours, theater tickets, hot restaurant seats and any other activities that require advance reservations—earlier if you're traveling during peak season—through your travel agent or soon-to-be hotel concierge (get their name and tip them when you arrive).
  • Get certified to scuba dive or begin lessons for any other activity you hope to pursue on your trip.

One Month Ahead

  • Make a packing and shopping list.
  • Reconfirm all reservations.
  • Make kennel reservations or contact your house, pet or babysitter to make sure they're available.
  • Exchange about $50 (or at least enough to get you to your hotel from the airport) into small bills in the currency of the country you'll be visiting. There is usually an exchange counter or ATM at the airport, but it can be nice to have cash in hand (it will also help you get used to the exchange rate).

Two Weeks Ahead

  • Pick up airline tickets and all applicable vouchers from your travel agent. Read all materials carefully to make sure the information is correct. If not, your travel agent can correct it.

One Week Ahead

  • Arrange to have mail held at the post office during your trip or have a neighbor pick it up.
  • Stop newspaper delivery.
  • Make two to three sets of photocopies of your passport, credit cards, insurance, wills—basically any paperwork people would need if your wallet were stolen or something happened to you (better safe than sorry). Give one set each to a parent and/or a relative or friend, pack one set in your luggage and leave one set in your safe at home.
  • Download any helpful travel, budget or guide apps (like Guides by Lonely Planet, Chefs Feed, Mint or Tripcase).
  • Ask stores where you've registered to hold orders so gifts don't pile up on your doorstep, or ask a relative to collect packages.
  • Set out clothes to pack and buy what you need. Feeling techy? Download DUFL, which will store, ship, pick up and clean your travel items, so they’re waiting at your hotel and back home when you arrive (aka no more hauling your suitcases everywhere).
  • Make sure you have extras of everything you can't live without: migraine tablets, allergy pills, asthma inhaler, glasses or contacts and so on. Carry all medications in their original prescription bottles to avoid questions at customs.
  • Touch base with your house, pet or babysitter to reconfirm when they'll be coming over, hand over the keys, give them a copy of the vet’s and/or pediatrician’s number and your contact info.
  • Call your cell phone carrier to get an international travel plan if you’re traveling abroad.

Three Days Ahead

  • Reconfirm overseas flights.
  • Order champagne to be waiting for you in your hotel room (okay, not a necessity, but a fun welcome).
  • Buy or download any books and magazines for the trip.
  • Confirm and sync all important contacts in your phone and any other devices you’re traveling with (in case something happens to your phone). Go a step further and keep a notebook with handwritten contacts, just in case. Transfer the addresses of friends to whom you'll want to send postcards plus important phone numbers (babysitter, doctor) into a little travel-sized notebook or journal.
  • Make arrangements for your rides to and from the airport.
  • Email or leave a copy of your itinerary and a set of house keys with a relative or close friend in case of an emergency.
  • Check weather forecasts for your destination (it may affect your packing list a bit).
  • Change your voicemail and set an email away message at work.
  • Prepare your house or apartment for your departure—eat or dispose of perishable food, water plants, set timers and security alarms, and turn off recurring clock alarms.

One Day Ahead

  • Reconfirm flights.
  • Make sure your luggage (carry-on and checked) is labeled both on the outside and inside with your name, hotel address and phone number.

> Browse stunning honeymoon destinations here.

> Get your master honeymoon packing checklist here.

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by The Knot