A newlywed honeymoon escape is sometimes even more eagerly anticipated than the wedding itself (no in-laws or seating plans to worry about once you’re through international security…).
However, don’t let that ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ blind you – it’s a scary thought, but sometimes even honeymoon plans go wrong. Even the most well organised trips turn into honeymoon ‘hot-mess’ stories. My honeymoon was ‘picture perfect’ but it didn’t all go as planned either!
To avoid disappointment, consider these honeymoon fails, and preventative steps to avoid them, to ensure a bump along the road doesn’t spell disaster.
Honeymoon horrors before you’ve even set off
What’s in a name?
Though you can use your husband’s surname as your legal name from the moment you sign the marriage certificate, your honeymoon flights must be booked in the name your passport was issued in.
Many international hotels also seek a copy of your passport as ID on check-in, so if you book the hotel in your married name, you may not be able to use your passport as identification. I’m happy to admit that I made this exact mistake, trying to check into Maui as “Megan Hutchison” when my passport said Lynch, and I hadn’t mentioned Blair on the booking.
Surname fail fix: when you make your bookings, be it flights, visas, accommodation and travel insurance, book all of them in the names on your passports.
One poor bride ended up taking her honeymoon with her father after her husband’s passport failed to arrive on time, and if you one of you hasn’t renewed your passport in time, you too could face the same fate.
Passport expiry fail fix: It usually takes 10 days to obtain a passport in New Zealand, or you can pay extra to have an application dealt with urgently in 3 days. N.B. these dates are based on you already having all the relevant documentation and passport photos, so don’t leave it til the last 3 days regardless! (Your little white book will prompt you on this – so you can’t forget!)
Acts of ‘God’…
Whether it’s wild weather within New Zealand, or a freak storm at your international destination, there are many reasons for which your travel plans can be delayed or disrupted.
AOG fail fix: Just like on your wedding day, there’s no way to control the weather – but at least when it comes to travel, at least you can insure against it. Always check Safe Travel before booking your flights to any destination that could be classified as a risk, and then get on to booking your travel insurance – make sure it’s immediately after booking your flights, I’ll explain why shortly. Your little white book will, of course, remind you of this, it’s too important to get wrong!
Illness, death, accident… and other cheery thoughts
If anything were to happen to you or your partner, or a close family member falls ill prior to or during your honeymoon (for example), you might want or need to cancel or delay your travel plans.
It’s impossible to prepare for such unexpected events, but this is one of the less-understood benefits of booking travel insurance. If it isn’t reasonable for you to take your honeymoon as scheduled, your travel insurance may cover you to cancel and rebook.
Not booking travel insurance early enough
Many people don’t even think about it, and of those who do, many misunderstand what they’re covered for– with only 39% of 18-29 year olds understanding their insurance policies, and 30% of respondents finding their policies too complicated.
For example, travel insurance is sometimes perceived to be useful only while you’re overseas. This is a misconception – travel insurance is essential for so much longer than just the period you’re away.
For example, if you wait until a month before your flight to book your travel insurance, but your honeymoon destination experiences a natural disaster six weeks prior to your travel, you’re not covered for a cancellation or rescheduling – which you would be had you booked your travel insurance at the same time as your flights. It usually costs no more to book travel insurance immediately and be able to rely on it in the months leading up to the honeymoon, yet so many people leave it too late.
Insurance fail fix: Book your travel insurance at the same time as booking your flights and accommodation – it costs no extra but it’ll save you in the long run. Of course, the little white book prompts you to check your passport, visas and travel insurance well in advance!
While it would be nice to think that even the best airline in the world wouldn’t cancel a flight, it can happen to anyone, anytime. Sometimes it just means a long wait in an airport without your checked-in luggage while your flights are reshuffled, but other times you could be disrupted for days and have to find accommodation and fund your own disruption.
Lost luggage, too, happens to even the most seasoned traveler. Our luggage made it all the way to Vancouver with us last year, only to be mislaid by the airline flying us just an hour further to Seattle.
Flight fail fix: I’ve learned from travel experience and always carry spare underwear, a t-shirt, a phone charger and moisturizer in my hand-luggage, for a longer than expected stay in an airport or longer without my checked luggage. For longer delays, your travel insurance company may reimburse you for necessary spending (hotels, meals, clothes, etc). When I arrived in Vancouver with none of the above after 16 hours of travelling, shopping was the last thing I wanted to do, but at least I knew I’d be reimbursed for a new outfit!
When you arrive at your destination
Being unprepared or underestimating costs
When travelling overseas, there can be a lot of hidden costs. Whether it’s taxes not being included in marked prices at shops (this always gets me in the States), having to tip every man and his dog, or the fees your credit card charges when you use or withdraw funds overseas, it’s easy to underestimate. You don’t want to be reaching for a tip for your shuttle driver and find you’ve only got $20 bills, or not realise the price of your meal excludes GST and gratuity (up to 20% in the US for dinner).
Cost fail fix: If you’re visiting a country that has gratuities built into its culture, have small bills available for taxis and porters; be prepared to do mental math on prices before you get to the counter; and most importantly, respect and understand the culture of your destination before you go.
Food poisoning, illness etc
Not every country is as easygoing as New Zealand when it comes to medical treatment. From food-poisoning to broken bones, private medical treatment can come at a crippling financial cost no pun intended, not to mention cost the enjoyment of your honeymoon.
Honeymoon horror fix: When I go overseas, I like to take my local choice of painkillers, anti-nausea pills, immodium, plasters, sleeping pills, eye-drops, etc. In many instances, your travel insurance will be able to help – in some cases you won’t even be able to get treatment without it.
Last year an Australian family faced a $715,000 bill for their daughter’s overseas medical treatment. Thankfully, their $180 insurance policy covered it.
Lost passport fix: Take a photocopy of your bookings, visa, insurance and your passport, incase of a loss when you’re away. Email copies to yourself, so that you can access them wherever you are. Keep your passport in the hotel safe wherever possible. If your passport is mislaid, call the New Zealand embassy and the local police, and notify your travel insurer as soon as possible. If you’ve got other destinations to continue onto, you may need to renew visas as well as your passport.
Wherever you’re going, or whatever your honeymoon fail, travel insurance is the single most important thing to take with you on your overseas travel (yes, even more important than keeping a honeymoon diary in the little white book!). With any luck, you’ll never need to use it, but it could save your life, or at least save you a lifetime of debt.
I can’t bear the thought of someone’s honeymoon being ruined, for whatever reason, and then not having travel insurance to respond.
If you have travel insurance and your honeymoon is an epic fail, you may be able to reorganise your trip for a later date, or at least be compensated for your loss. As a lawyer (and one who’s worked in insurance law) I take a considerable personal interest in this,
Of course, like regular insurance (you insured your engagement ring immediately, right!), going on your honeymoon without checking the terms of your travel insurance is another honeymoon fail. Like regular contents insurance, you’ll have to notify your insurer if your ring is worth more than the standard insured value under the policy. Always read the policy and know what circumstances you’re not covered for.