1.13.2020

Choosing Our Honeymoon Destination


So this week on the blog will be a little different as I have a guest writer ;) joining me... and I think you're going to love it. Everyone welcome...

ANDREW!!!

Andrew has so graciously said yes to writing about our honeymoon for you all on the blog. I thought this would be fun for a couple different reasons -- first being he planned the whole thing. I told him I got the wedding and he is taking care of the honeymoon. I mean, we were planning both around the same time, and I didn't have much bandwidth to plan anything else, so he did it all (and what a fantastic job he did). Not to mention, my brain totally turns off when planning trips abroad. 

So I wanted him to write about the process. On Monday/Tuesday next week, I will post a full write up about our trip -- day by day, recommendations, things we liked/didn't/missed out on... everything! One will be for Australia (Monday), and the other will be for New Zealand (Tuesday). So this week is filled with Andrew's posts!

Today he's talking about how we ultimately chose to go on this trip (today's post), booking our flights and dates (tomorrow), booking our accommodations (Wednesday), and then a final round-up of the trip on Thursday. It's going to be so fun!! I had asked Andrew when we were in Sydney if he could write up how he did it all for a post, and then he turned to me on the flight home and said it was going to be more than one lol. So here we are!

The next reason I think it's going to be excellent to hear from Andrew's side of things is that this is all the backend, nitty-gritty stuff that I didn't share. And the things I did share will now be told from his perspective! Either way, I hope you are as excited as I am for the week ahead!

And with that, Andrew...
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When Krista and I first started discussing possible locations for our honeymoon, the list began and ended with Australia. We had both wanted to go for quite some time and figured there would never be a better excuse than our honeymoon. Considering our wedding was in September, it was going to be difficult to find enough time during the fall months to make a trip to the other end of the world worthwhile. We decided to push it into December to take advantage of the built-in week off I have from work between Christmas and New Year’s, and to visit during the beginning of summer in the southern hemisphere.

The where and when of the planning was the easiest part. The rest was more difficult. 

I began looking casually into potential itineraries shortly after we got engaged in July of 2018. We were still 17 months away from the time we wanted to travel, but I was flying blind. I had always had an obsession with all things Australia, but no real sense of how enormous the country is, or where the best places to go would be. I knew I wanted to visit Sydney, but other than that, I had no idea. When it came to New Zealand, I knew even less. It was such a mystery to me. So I looked into booking us on a lengthy guided tour.

When I was a child, I used to look forward every year to the day the National Geographic Adventures catalog would arrive addressed to my parents. Every trip looked magical, so naturally, I began my research by looking into their Australia and New Zealand itineraries. Unfortunately, there weren’t many, and the ones they did offer were prohibitively expensive.

Then I looked at G Adventures and Journeys. I found a 14-day Australia and New Zealand itinerary that I thought may work. I paused for a few days and came back to it, but wasn’t thrilled by the short amounts of time it afforded us in each location. It was chock full of travel and not so much leisure. This was our honeymoon, after all. I didn’t want to be on a clock.

Months passed by, and I hadn’t made any real progress. I was learning that booking a guided tour wasn’t going to work. I made the decision to become our own travel agent and began doing in-depth research and reading on the region. 

We knew we both wanted to do Sydney, so I decided we’d start the trip there. Krista had less knowledge of Australia than I did, so I was truly on my own to plan the rest of our time. I mentioned the Great Barrier Reef, and Krista agreed that it would be exciting to see and snorkel. The gateway to the reef is Cairns, the largest city in northern Australia, and the jumping-off point for many of the islands in the reef. I looked into various places to stay in Cairns and the more picturesque Port Douglas. I also found some islands in the reef that we may want to visit, like Lizard Island, Hayman Island, and Hamilton Island. Happy with the fact that we had chosen our second location, I put a pin in finding specific accommodations and looked for other places to go. 

I thought about visiting the outback and making a trip to the center of the country and Uluru, aka Ayer’s Rock. The scenery would be beautiful, but there wasn’t much else there. With time being our most precious commodity, I eventually removed the Red Centre from our plans. 

Ultimately, we had to get to New Zealand, so I figured we had time for one more location in Australia. It also had to be a city with a decent selection of international flights. It came down to Adelaide or Melbourne, and we chose Melbourne. I had read great things about the food and coffee scene in Melbourne, and that was enough to sell me.

At this point, I had a tentative plan for Australia: Sydney, the Great Barrier Reef, and Melbourne. I wasn’t sure how long this would take, and I still had New Zealand to plan.

New Zealand is comprised of two islands, the North and the South. The North has Auckland, its biggest city, and a better beach scene. The South is the home of adventure. Here you can find glaciers, fjords, vineyards, hiking, bungee jumping, lakes, and everything in between. From the research I had done, this was the best place to visit. The only issue is that there aren’t many cities on the South Island. The biggest and most recognizable is Christchurch. I figured we eventually had to end up in Christchurch so that we could get back to the United States.

Through my reading, I learned about Queenstown. I’m not sure how I hadn’t heard of it before, because it is known as the Adventure Captial of the World and the birthplace of bungee jumping. Set on a picturesque lake with the Southern Alps surrounding it, I fell in love. We would start our New Zealand journey here in Queenstown and eventually had to get to Christchurch. The good thing about New Zealand is that it’s driveable. While Australia is tremendous with flights of several hours separating the major sights, New Zealand could be seen via car. I decided we would rent a car upon touching down in Queenstown, and at some point, make our way to Christchurch.

Now I had the framework for our trip: Sydney to the Great Barrier Reef to Melbourne to Queenstown, then a road trip to Christchurch. Now came the hard part: making reservations and determining how long we would spend down there.

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