How do your values influence your honeymoon or destination wedding choices?

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With Megan in Fiji this week, the time is perfect to discuss honeymoon destinations — specifically, how your ethics and values might play into the decision of where to go.

Fiji is a destination with some challenging political issues, and it's in good company when it comes to tourist destinations with sticky ethical challenges for visitors. Do you want to go to Mexico, knowing that your tourism dollars are going into a war zone controlled by the drug cartels? (Then again, are you punishing the local economy for the drug lord's crimes? Do sanctions work?) Do you travel to gorgeous Vietnam, with its child labor issues? What about lovely Thailand, and its sex trade? Irie Jamaica, with its homophobia? Maybe you go to colorful India, choosing to overlook its child beggers. You have to wonder if, during the Bush years, there were Europeans who opted against honeymooning in the United States. The mind boggles with the issues: does going on a cruise or staying at an all-inclusive resort even count as travel? Is all travel inherently wasteful? Should you just stay home?

As with many wedding decisions, where you go for your honeymoon boils down to a question of your personal priorities and values. For my honeymoon, I wanted a balance of international travel and cost … and so we went to the destinations (France and Spain) where we could couchsurf. We flew there (ignoring our carbon footprint) because we prioritized low-budged cultural exchange over our environmental concerns. We compromised.

For you, your priority might be on eco-tourism, so you head to a destination where you can make a low impact while learning about a lush local ecology. You might be super green and feel like flying anywhere is too wasteful, and so you and your parter plan a staycation where you bike between local wineries and lakeside towns. Your priority might be finally getting to explore a culture you've been curious about for years, whether it's Argentina or Portugal or Indonesia.

Then again, you might be a Type-A control freak who DIYed every single fucking thing for the wedding and for just once, for this one time, you want to take it easy. So you go for an all-inclusive package at a place where your only concerns are whether you want to have your froofy cocktail at the swim-up pool bar or on the beach. Sanity might be your priority. I totally respect that.

These priorities can get extra sticky when you have competing values — trying to balance your politics with your budget; your ethics with your need for relaxation; your dreams with our world's realities. Do you compromise a bit on your budget for the international destination you've been dreaming of? Do you compromise your environmental concerns to get in the cultural exchange you're craving? Only you can know which compromises feel right for you. (Balancing these competing values totally went into the decision to accept the Fiji trip. We totally respect that some of you might've made a different decision based on your personal values, and that's awesome.)

Rick Steves has a great perspective on balancing your values when selecting travel destinations, as excerpted from his book Travel As A Political Act:

I didn't go to Iran as a businessman or as a politician. I went as what I am — a travel writer. I went for the same reasons I travel anywhere: to get out of my own culture and learn, to go to a scary place and find it's not so scary, and to bring distant places to people who've yet to go there. To me, understanding people and their lives is what travel is about, no matter where you go. I have long held that travel can be a powerful force for peace. Travel promotes understanding at the expense of fear. And understanding bridges conflicts between nations.

Read the full excerpt

Only you know your values, and so only you can know what your specific priorities will be. We support our readers having a range of values and priorities, and totally respect everyone's ability to make their own decisions accordingly.

So, now I'm curious: how do your values play into YOUR honeymoon travel decisions? What are your personal priorities?

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Comments on How do your values influence your honeymoon or destination wedding choices?

  1. Quite honestly, with the wedding and paying a mortgage we can’t afford a honeymoon (plus we’d have to put our dog up in a boarding kennel, which gets pricey after a few days). I don’t like traveling and I have too much to do here at home. We aren’t taking one. We might take a “special vacation” in the fall (the wedding is in April 2011) but more than likely we’ll just skip the whole thing.

    It’s hard enough for me as it is to justify paying as much as we are for the wedding (which is mere pennies compared to most people!) I’ve always been uncomfortable paying a large amount of money for something that’s not a necessity, so I’m just having a hard time in general. Like I said, maybe in the fall we’ll take a large vacation, but with money being the issue I think I’d rather be able to maybe get a nice massage or something after the wedding rather than pay for a trip and go through the stress of traveling.

  2. Option B (the DIY control freak who opted for an all-inclusive package) described my honeymoon to a T. My husband and I are both more down & dirty travelers – camping in national parks, couch surfing in Europe, stuff like that – but Pete wisely suggested that we opt for a totally-unlike-us, culturally inauthentic Sandals resort because we’d be too tired and wound up to backpack, sightsee, and seek out local eateries. And he was right.

    I don’t know if I’d ever go to a Sandals again, but for the purpose of bonding and relaxing, our decision-free, super mellow honeymoon was perfect. I read five books on the beach, drank about a million fruity drinks and glasses of champagne, and generally felt warm, fuzzy and chilled out as hell.

    • psst – thanks for linking. Ours was in St. Lucia, but it hardly matters because they’re kind of the same everywhere. Hah!

  3. I love to travel. I would have love to exposed my husband to somewhere new since he’s never really gone anywhere. I would have loved to go back to Xalapa in Mexico, to London, or to Toronto, but we didn’t have the money so we went to Ocean City, NJ. And we had fun! We’d always gone with family, but we’d never been there together, so it was awesome to just hang out there for a few days. We have years and years to save and travel.

  4. I wanted to drink mother-f*cking whisky, after a year of wedding planning, so we went to Scotland.

    Also, I wanted to make a little statement to ourselves that, right this second, travel is more important than a downpayment. Because, really, do we need to buy an apartment and pay triple our rent in a mortgage for the exact same thing? Not right now. Right now we need whisky.

    • I had to read this to my fiance who has Scottish genes, and he felt it to be the “holy gospel”… you cracked us both up! X-D

  5. Our values played a huge role in our honeymoon choices. I refused to go to any resort where I would be sipping Mai Tais while the majority of people outside the resort struggled for food, potable water, sanitation, safety and a living wage. I was only willing to relent on this point if we spent at least half of our honeymoon volunteering in the community but we weren’t spending a whole week on our honeymoon so when researching, I couldn’t find any volunteer opportunities that were flexible enough to fit our travel schedule.

    I also refused to take a cruise because of the immense toll that cruise ships take on the environment.

    These were really the only non-U.S. destinations in our budget so we decided to stay stateside. We drove to New Orleans. It was close enough to avoid flying and it was a city that we both loved. I volunteered there after Hurricane Katrina and I often heard from locals that while they appreciated my time, what they really needed was tourism dollars. We stayed at a local b&b, ate local and entertained local so I could be sure that the money I spent there stayed in the community.

    Unfortunately, my hubby and I both contracted the swine flu and the majority of our honeymoon was ruined, but we both hope to go back and relive it soon. 🙂

  6. I love to travel, and very happily would have done a trip to Europe (specifically Ireland, where my family is from- and where we could surely get some free room and board for a few nights :)). See historic sites, meet new people! But my husband is more of a fun-loving homebody, and while I knew that he’d go for me, I knew he wouldn’t enjoy himself as much. So we went to Disney instead for their Food and Wine Festival. We got engaged at Disney a few years earlier, and while I know what some people think of The Mouse, they ARE really good at treating their guests well and making sure they enjoy themselves. And we still drank around the world! 🙂 So really, what mattered the most to us was going somewhere we’d have a good time together, being the little kids we are, and we still got to experience something new!

    • We also got engaged at Disney and only had three days to spend there when we did (it was a surprise birthday/anniversary/Christmas gift to me since they all fall around the same time and that was the biggest chunk of time i had off from work that my fiance could plan it around. He’s sneaky like that lol.) We are so incredibly excited to get to do all the things we didn’t get to do because of time constraints last time. I agree that some people mightnot choose the same thing, but for big kids like my fiancé and myself, it’s perfect. I hope you both had the best time, congrats and many blessings in your marriage!

  7. Holy cow, I am dealing with this right now. I’m leaning toward a cruise (because I’ve been planning EVERYTHING) but cruises are SO. F-ING. EXPENSIVE!

    So I haven’t answered the question yet on my honeymoon. But I’m glad I’m not alone.

    • personal recommendation here: use once you’ve found a cruise you think you want to go on. various travel agencies can offer you different perks, be it cheaper fares, upgrades, cabin credits, etc. Not all cruise lines let TAs set prices, but you can definitely profit if you do some work!!

      • Thanks so much for posting this! I just created an account and submitted a request for the exact cruise we have in mind. I am very appreciate of your sharing! 🙂

    • I freaking LOVE cruises. Been on 4 so far. Did Hawaii for the honeymoon and 3 times around the Caribbean. I don’t know if I’m allowed to put a website in here but, always has some pretty great discount deals. They can get pretty expensive, but it’s pretty much like a floating Sandals type thing. They’re awesome if you just want to veg out and sit at the pool with a frou frou drink, then spend the evening having fancy dinner and seeing a comedian or something. But the cruising to various locations part gives you the option of being a little adventurous in port (or, ya know…more lounging around). I highly recommend them 🙂

  8. my biggest trouble with the honeymoon isn’t ethics or money or politics. it’s letting my control-freak nature go and giving my fiance the free reign he’s begged me for to plan it himself.

    • ENJOY IT! That’s one of the wonderful parts of being married — having someone who you trust to make decisions as awesome (and sometimes even better!) than you’d make yourself. Relax and enjoy the ride!

  9. Agreed completely. My point was less “Thailand is evil” and more “Every destination (including the United States) has its share of ethical challenges for visitors.”

  10. The hubby and I went to Southeast Asia, Vietnam and Cambodia specifically for our honeymoon. We went here because we knew we wanted to travel for awhile, the weather would be nice and warm, we had always wanted to see these countries after visiting Thailand, and most importantly, it allowed our dollar to stretch the farthest.

    Yes, there are LOADS of issues with poverty and exploitation in places like these. However, there are also LOTS of opportunities to make a positive impact with your travel.

    We stayed at only small local inns, nothing fancy. We ate many of our meals at local restaurants that supported projects for street children. We bought our souvenirs from markets and shops that support fair trade and disabled artisans. We shopped at local farmers markets. We may have gotten a couples massage, but we did so from an NGO that supports work for the blind.

    We had a fantastic time, and left feeling like we had learned from the local culture and contributed our fair share to the local economy in a positive way. The people we met were excited to have the business and we were happy to support them.

    • I am planning a Vietnam/Cambodia honeymoon and would love to know what resources you used to plan yours. How did you find out about the NGO, local inns, etc.? Thanks!

      • You will be able to find the NGO stuff in Vietnam and Cambodia really easily. They are all over the place and always seem to get a mention in the lonely planet etc. You can even do yoga at an NGO in Phnom Penh.

        By the way, anyone planning a trip to Cambodia before the wedding, think about having your dress made here. There are some seriously talented local designers and you’ll get a custom fitted gorgeous silk dress for less than $500. I did 😉

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