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Travel

Save Money on Your Honeymoon

You don't have to skimp on luxury to cut costs on your first post-nuptial vacation.

A honeymoon is a once-in-a-lifetime event (hopefully), and newlyweds are prone to spending a fortune to make the trip as special as possible. When The Knot surveyed 12,000 just-married couples in 2010, the wedding-centric company found the average cost of a honeymoon to be nearly $4,500.

But you don't have to break the bank to make your honeymoon memorable and luxurious. All standard travel budgeting advice applies — see 21 Secrets to Save on Travel and 23 Best Travel Sites to Save You Money. Plus, here are a few honeymoon-specific tips to help you save on your first married getaway:

1. Add the trip to your wedding registry

With sites such as TravelersJoy.com, HoneyFund.com and HoneymoonWishes.com, your guests can chip in to your honeymoon fund as their gift to you. Just like a more traditional gift registry, you create a list for your well-wishers to shop from. Your desired items can range from small gifts such as a couple of cocktails at the beach bar, to bigger extravagances such as airfare, a hotel room or rental car. You can break down the cost of big-ticket items and request that guests contribute smaller amounts to go toward them.

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A couple of drawbacks: You won't reap the full value of the cash contributed to your honeymoon. These registries collect fees, ranging from 2.5% to 10% of the gift amounts, to cover their services.

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Also, some of your guests might find a honeymoon registry garish, even though etiquette gurus at the Emily Post Institute say it's perfectly acceptable. Anne Banas, executive editor of SmarterTravel.com, agrees: "I don't think it's any more or less offensive to set up a registry for travel than it is to set up a registry for anything else." You might talk to close friends and family to gauge how they feel about the idea, and still register for traditional wedding gifts to give your guests options.

2. Try a travel agent

You already have enough wedding planning to do, so why not leave the travel planning to a professional? "If you don't have the time to do all of the price comparisons and Internet searches yourself," says Banas, "that's one of the situations where I would recommend getting a travel agent to help you."

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Especially for an upscale trip like you might want for your honeymoon, a travel agent may be able to find you better deals than if you tried to book on your own. Just be sure the professional you choose understands your budget and doesn't encourage you to upgrade beyond it, says Banas.

The price of working with an agent depends on the trip you book. A cruise may come with no additional charge to you because the agent may get a commission from the cruise line, while a flight may cost you a $30 fee. Some agents may also charge an hourly or flat rate.

3. Fly on Wednesdays

Flying on less trafficked days is always a good way to save on airfare. Adam Goldstein, chief executive of travel-booking site Hipmunk.com, notes that Wednesdays come with the cheapest tickets. Tuesdays and Saturday afternoons are also good bets for a bargain flight. And taking a few days after your weekend wedding to unwind from the festivities and pack for the trip will save you some stress, as well as dollars.

4. Choose an affordable destination

Paris or Hawaii might have topped your list of honeymoon destinations. But other places can provide a setting that is just as romantic for a fraction of the cost. For an alternate beach vacation, Tim Leffel, author of The World's Cheapest Destinations, recommends Amergris Caye, Belize, or Zihuatanejo, Mexico (yes, where the heroes of "Shawshank Redemption" find their happy ending). "Both are easy to get to from the U.S.," says Leffel. "And you get a lot more value for your money."

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But if you're married to the idea of honeymooning in Hawaii, Maui may be a more affordable destination than Honolulu this summer. In May, the average flight to Honolulu from the mainland is $782 while flying into Maui costs just $599, on average, according to Hipmunk.

And if you're in love with Paris, Goldstein suggests flying in and out of London instead. "The price difference between flying into Paris versus flying into London is actually so high that, in a lot of cases, it's cheaper to fly into London and then take the train into Paris," he says.

5. Flaunt your joy

You'll already be bursting to tell everyone about your newlywed status anyway; you might as well try to leverage it toward some travel perks. Getting a congratulatory upgrade on your flight is not likely, as airlines often reserve that luxury for frequent fliers. "Where you're going to get the best luck is at your hotel," says Banas. "Let them know when you check in that you're on your honeymoon, and your chances of getting your room upgraded can be pretty high. And it never hurts to ask."

Even if you don't score a better room, the hotel may at least provide you with a bottle of champagne or another complimentary perk. Many restaurants might also wish you well with some yummy freebies.

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