When my friends used to fantasize about their dream weddings, whether we were in 3rd grade or pushing 30, I often found my mind drifting off, past the dream wedding to the dream honeymoon. Naturally, dream weddings evolve as teal goes in and out of style and people’s opinions on sleeves vary from “the bigger the better” to “completely non existent”. And just as my friends visions of their dream weddings changed, my visions of my dream honeymoon changed every time I flipped through a travel magazine.
Over the years I fantasized about this beach or that beach, this country or that cruise… but all of my dream honeymoons had a common theme: relaxing on a beach with my “soul mate” with umbrellas in our drinks.
We got married in August of 2014, and had a “report no later than” date for Japan the following month. This meant there was absolutely no time for dilly-dallying with drink umbrellas. (I do feel that I should point out that my parents surprised us with a little mini-moon in St. Petersburg, Florida for the three days following our wedding ceremony, which was lovely- but was also full of dinners with family and friends who had made their own vacations out of our wedding, so it was a little lacking in the romance department. We also spent most of it making to do lists for our impending move.)
The month that followed our wedding was intense. I helped one of my best friends deliver her baby, Dane packed up his apartment and my storage facility with such attention to detail that our movers didn’t know what to do with themselves except to lift perfectly packed and labeled boxes (I’m serious) and seal them in crates to be shipped across the Pacific. Before I knew it I was flying to Okinawa, Japan with a new name on my passport.
We affectionately called the whole process “honeymoving”. Luckily for me, I got to make the move with my brand new husband-buddy and our destination was a lovely little island in the middle of the Pacific- complete with beaches and drink umbrellas. I loved our honeymove, but nothing about the process was relaxing.
And there really hasn’t even been that much together-ness, which I’ve heard is kind of a thing for most honeymoons. Over the last eight months that we have spent in Okinawa, Dane has spent four of those months away. As I write this, he has spent only 14 of the last 90 days with me.
I’m not complaining (per se). I am madly in love with all things Okinawa, and I have managed to keep myself so busy that most of the time I hardly even have time to feel sorry for my husbandless-self, but it has certainly emphasized that a “honeymove” is no “honeymoon”. And because nothing about our story (which I love) went according to my childhood dreams (which didn’t include a proposal in a u-haul or a shotgun wedding to make it legal for me to move overseas) my husband is pulling out all the stops to make sure that at least we get that dream honeymoon I’d imagined as a girl.
A few months ago, after we were finally feeling settled, we started looking into honeymoon destinations. I had two requirements: I wanted to go somewhere I had never been and I wanted a beach. We had arranged for him to take leave. We had limited the list to Bora Bora, Fiji and the Maldives. We had even come to terms with the amount of money we were going to be spending. As someone who prides myself on my budget travel savviness, the idea of going somewhere where opulence is the goal of the vacation took me a little while to get used to. But we just couldn’t seem to pull the trigger. Something was holding me back.
Don’t get me wrong: I love petals in my bathtub. I get absolutely giddy when my bathrobe and slippers match. I think having a personal footman sounds just about as exciting as actually waking up as Cinderella, with birds twittering about as I brush my hair. But… I just wasn’t 100% in. It seemed like an awfully lot of zeros for a beach vacation, especially considering we’ve already been lucky enough to visit so many of the best beaches in the world.
However, I kind of had my heart set on an over-water bungalow (I was honey-moonstruck at this point). Every day we would email each other links to these amazing places. I just kept thinking… if we are going to be spending this kind of money… I need something more than a great beach! And then, one night over a glass (or maybe a bottle) of wine we started playing the “If you could go anywhere…” game. Suddenly it hit us: Africa. When we were dating we used to talk about the safari we would go on someday. We used to talk about a lot of things we would do someday. Could someday be now?
It met both of our requirements: I’ve never stepped foot on the continent of Africa and it’s been on my bucket list since the movie Cheetah was released in 1989- inspiring 4 year old girls everywhere. Dane’s been, but only to South Africa, and we had our honeymoon eyes set on Tanzania. Oh… and that cute little island right off the coast of Tanzania? That’s Zanzibar, and it’s home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, incredible diving, bush babies and best of all… over-water bungalows. In fact, we decided why stick with just an over-water bungalow when you could have an underwater one? Sleep under the sea??? Forget Cinderella and the birds… I’m going straight up Ariel.
All in all, the vacation is still stupid-expensive, but somehow adding a safari to the mix made it vastly easier for me to justify it to myself. That said… Traveling like this will never become a habit for us. For one thing, we’d go broke… but even more importantly, we really don’t want it to. I love the fact that I can backpack for four months and spend less than some vacationers spend in a week. I think some of the richest experiences I have ever encountered when traveling have been when I am on the tightest budget, and the travelers I respect the most can do the same, check out my best friend’s adventures here.
But with that said, this time, this one time, we are going to take our dream honeymoon and not worry about the fact that some of it is a little over the top. In fact, we are not going to worry about a darn thing for the full two weeks we are gone.We are just going to lie on that beach with umbrellas in our drinks.
…Unless a bush baby steals the umbrella. In that case we’ll just settle for the drinks and chalk it up to Africa.
In 2013, I quit my job and bought a one-way ticket to Thailand. After four months of backpacking I returned to the States and fell in love with a guy whose job sent us straight back to Asia. Nothing has gone according to plan... and it's been absolutely magical.