Honeymoon Insider Tips

By Amy Newman

Your first trip as a married couple should be unforgettable. And getting free upgrades or incredible deals, whether securing a bump up to first class or a deluxe ocean view suite, could mean the difference between an ordinary vacation and a truly luxurious experience. To help increase your chances of scoring upgrades and other perks on your honeymoon, follow these tips from the travel pros.

Use a travel agent. “You wouldn’t cut your own hair, so why would you book something as memorable as a honeymoon yourself?” asks Tonya Hodgson, ACC, LCS, of Cruise Holidays of Alaska.

Using a travel agent not only saves time – something in short supply for couples planning a wedding – but gives you the benefit of their connections as well. Travel agents have established relationships with vendors who are more likely to upgrade the couple who booked through an agent versus an online travel site, Tonya says. “It’s in (the vendor’s) best interest to upgrade my client over somebody else who doesn’t have a good relationship with them,” she adds.

Christina Foster, a local travel consultant with Allure Travel by CTM, has used her connections to get couples a variety of extra amenities – a bottle of wine or champagne in the room, drinks or meals at the hotel bar, extra credit on a cruise or day trips – all at no additional cost.

“It depends on the property and on availability,” she says. “But if someone just booked it on their own, they wouldn’t get that.”

Stretch your travel dollars. Extra leg room. Wine served in real glasses. Everybody wants a first class upgrade, but with a long line of MVP and other elite mileage members ahead of you, the chances of that happening are slim.

“The short answer is – forget about that,” says Scott McMurren, travel columnist and publisher of Alaska Travelgram.

Instead, Scott advises couples to find ways to stretch their travel dollars, such as acquiring a credit card that offers a companion ticket or airline miles or points with every purchase (just remember to pay the balance in full each month), and taking advantage of airfare wars and mileage deals being offered for your destination.

Planning ahead is another way to guarantee the best airfare. Scott posts airfare and mileage deals on both his Twitter feed and in his newsletter. There are also apps that can help. Gretchen Ruhl, franchise owner/travel specialist with Cruise Planners in Anchorage, likes Hopper (hopper.com), which tracks airfares for your specified itinerary and lets you know whether it’s a good time to purchase your ticket.

Honeymoon during the shoulder season. If your dates are flexible, Gretchen recommends honeymooning during your destination’s shoulder season, which falls right before and right after the high season. You’ll enjoy everything the resort has to offer, with fewer people and better deals.

“You can get really good deals, but still get the full experience as if you went during the height of the season,” she says.

Try something new. Being the first to stay at a new resort or travel a cruise line’s newest itinerary not only makes you a trendsetter, but opens you up to big rewards, Gretchen says.

“Sometimes they’ll have a really great deal just trying to get people to come in and experience the resort,” she says.

They also may be more willing to offer a free upgrade or other perks to generate good buzz, Tonya adds.

Take advantage of your employee status. Government employees may be able to take advantage of government rates, even on non-business trips. When my husband and I traveled to Maui, we booked a one-bedroom ocean view suite for less than the resort’s standard rate for a one-bedroom garden view suite. Just make sure to confirm at booking that the rate applies to leisure travel, and bring your government identification.

Flaunt your newlywed status. Sometimes, the only thing standing in the way of a free upgrade is walking up to the person in charge and asking for one. So flaunt your newlywed status, whether it’s wearing a brightly colored sash that reads, “I’m the bride!” on the plane or informing the hotel at booking that you’ll be on your honeymoon.

“I have seen flight attendants give (couples) free drinks just because they were a honeymoon couple,” Tonya says. “Of course that’s up to the flight attendant, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask.”

Christina tells the cruise or hotel when booking that the couple is on their honeymoon. If space is available when the couple arrives, they’ll often receive an upgrade, she says.

Because upgrades and perks aren’t guaranteed, be sure to treat them as little extras you weren’t expecting, not something you were relying on to add luxury to your honeymoon. That way, regardless of whether you receive loads of fabulous freebies, you can focus on enjoying your honeymoon with the person that you love – and that’s the real perk.