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MARRIAGE MONDAYS | PLANNING A VACATION AS NEWLYWEDS Guest Post by: Sarah Roberts

February 5, 2018

Hi friends, Jill here!  We are almost at the end of my full leave and over the next few weeks, I will be transitioning slowly back into some work hours. I cannot wait to share a bit more about our new little man and the past 8 or so weeks, but for now, Sarah is back with another amazing Marriage Monday post– I have been loving her perspective as a newlywed (which makes me feel so old….married almost 8 years and all ;-))!


Whether it’s right after the wedding or a few month later, almost every newlywed couple plans to go on a honeymoon.  Most couples generally flock to the beaches for the all-inclusive resort vacations (which sound amazing!!), but Jacob and I opted for Camden, a quaint harbor town in Maine for our honeymoon.  Because we didn’t do the all-inclusive resort we had good practice at planning each day of our trip (lodging, food, travel, activities, etc.).  This experience planning our honeymoon was SO helpful in preparing us to plan our future vacations together.  Our next vacation on the books is to England + Scotland to celebrate our two year anniversary!!

We are at the tail end of planning this vacation so I figured it would be the PERFECT time to discuss our mindset when it comes to planning vacations:  compromising/prioritizing, budget , and determining the pace of the vacation.  (You’ll notice that these three points are a common theme in each of my posts so far, because they are huge pain points that are generally addressed in the first year of marriage).

Compromise/Prioritize

Like with everything in marriage it all comes back to compromise.  Before we began planning the vacation we went through a giant list of places we have wanted to go and we settled on England and Scotland (we both had these countries on our lists and it ended up being an easy agreement!!).  To make it easier for us to know how to plan and to get an idea of what we even wanted to do, we both wrote a list of our “must-see” places and our “if we have time” places.  I’m grateful that Jacob and I tend to have pretty similar interests in things such as history and culture, but our interests do vary when it comes to vacations—I would love to do an entire tour of England based on locations of Jane Austen novels but that would be Jacob’s worst nightmare!!! We compared our lists and narrowed down the similarities of which places were our absolute must-see places–whether it’s as specific as attending a church service in Westminster Abbey or as general as going to the Isle of Skye in Scotland.  Every must-see place that popped up on both of our lists automatically went on our itinerary and then we discussed each place that wasn’t on both of our lists to see if we would have time for it as our travel schedule became more concrete.  Based on our shared interests we agreed that we want to spend the majority of our time in Scotland in smaller towns staying in bed and breakfasts, hiking, and touring historical landmarks.

Once those priorities were established all we had to do was  focus on filling in the blanks—what will we do on those off days when we aren’t in Scotland or on those days in London when we don’t have a set plan but have a lot of options?  Would we want to prioritize touring? Relaxing? Going out to eat? People watching? Honestly, apart from a few places, we still don’t know exactly what we are dying to do in London for those couple days and we might just play it by ear when we get there!!

Budget

It seems like its common sense, but vacations add up fast.  FAST!!  That is one benefit of choosing an all-inclusive resort vacation because you spend a certain amount up front and then (apart from a few random expenses) you don’t need to worry about paying for dinner, drinks or other activities because it has already been paid for.  You know the set amount it will cost and that’s it.  With vacations like we’re taking, it isn’t all-inclusive and we are responsible for airfare, lodging, meals, activities, travel—and it can be very overwhelming seeing how it adds up.

Because we started out by prioritizing parts of our vacation, that directly played into how we planned our budget.  We are very fortunate to have found a great deal on airfare in which we essentially got two round-trip tickets for the price of one.  Obviously there isn’t much you can do about the price of airfare, but we have been wanting to go on this trip for a very long time, and have waited for a good deal to pop up.  Everything else was arranged around that deal!

(Side note: I know this doesn’t always apply, but I encourage you to save up any travel reward points you have to use on future vacations!! We saved up several hotel points through Marriott and were able to find hotels in London where we could use those points for almost two whole nights!!).

Because we are very much the type of people who need a plan and need to know which town we’ll be in when and what we’ll do each day, this made it easier for us to have a lodging budget established up front because our plan was set from the get-go (obviously with some wiggle room!). Since lodging and travel expenses are a non-negotiable of vacation (you have to get where you need to go and you need a roof over your head), we wanted to be sure we had that set in stone before we left for vacation so we would: 1) so we wouldn’t have to worry about it each day while we are on vacation; 2) how much we needed to save up to take care of those things ; and 3) know how much we felt comfortable spending on things such as eating out, activities, shopping, etc.

We always try to plan our vacation for several months so we can space out the payments and then have time to continue saving for the “fun” parts of vacation once the necessities are paid for!!  While it makes for a VERY long wait and definitely tests your patience, we are so happy we started planning far in advance and that we have as much as we can planned and paid for before we leave!

The Pace

As you can probably tell by our planning, we are the type of travelers that like to have as much pre-planned as possible rather than the type of travelers that like to “go with the flow.”  But that is something you need to discuss with your spouse before planning a vacation.  Do you want to have everyday jam-packed with events and tours, and know where you’re staying each night and what restaurants you’ll eat at for each and every meal?  Or are you more the adventurous type that would rather get to your destination and just figure it out as you go, wake up when you wake up, and go see specific places if you have time that day?  Or do you just want to enjoy your time off of work and go lay out on a beach while drinking mojitos? (That does sound nice, doesn’t it?!).

We always like to have a nice mixture of going with the flow and having everything planned out ahead of time. By nature I am a very anxious person, so in order for me to enjoy our vacation (and not drive Jacob insane!!), I need to have all of our transportation and lodging settled for each day that we’re on vacation.  Are we staying in a B&B? Are we traveling by sleeper-train (which we are, and we are super intrigued!)? And I always like having a general idea of what we will want to do in each town on each day, but am okay if those plans end up changing based on our mood when we get there or if we happen to find something else we’d rather do.  If these “foundational” plans are already decided, then I can truly enjoy the fun parts of vacation like choosing which restaurants to try out, going off the beaten track when we have time, shopping, exploring, learning, and simply just being in the moment!!!

It probably seems like common sense, but it is so important to actually discuss what you want the pace of your vacation to be like, because that’s when you can truly start to plan all of the details (or not plan, if that’s what you’d rather!!) of your trip.  If you and your spouse are butting heads (one wants a super relaxed vacation and the other wants to maximize their time in each location with a jam-packed schedule) I would definitely encourage you to consider doing half of your vacation at a relaxed pace and the other half very scheduled OR consider if you want to have this one vacation be very organized and then plan another vacation for the following year that would be more relaxing like an all-inclusive resort!!

Whether you are a planner or a go-with-the-flow type of person, planning a vacation as a newlywed can be stressful when there is so much money involved and you’re dealing with two different personalities and priorities.  I hope these tips will help those of you who are planning a vacation (or honeymoon!) in the near future.  Either way, just remember—the most fun part of a vacation isn’t the destination but rather the journey!!

Happy Planning and Safe Travels!!!

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