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?

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

  1. We are traveling to California for the first wedding and honeymooning in Sonoma. I find the TSA’s new grope search policy offensive to my privacy (health no low level x-rays thank you), but we booked those tix before the policy and we’re still going.
    Using those examples of where people shouldn’t go because the destination has some wrong then I guess one should never go to Chicago (vote early and often and even after you’re dead). What location without sin gets to throw the 1st stone?

    • I was just reading about the scanners earlier – someone tweeted about http://wewontfly.com/ which has lots of information about the policies and how you can opt out of the scanner (but that they will have to essentially frisk you and will pressure you into doing the scanner.) Scary stuff, but it helps to be informed!

    • Chicago gets such a bad rep for politics! I’ve only ever voted once in every election, honest! 🙂 One could rule out South Carolina and Louisiana for the same sort of political corruption.

      No destination is perfect. I think if we base everything on politics or human rights or whatever it is, no one would go anywhere – including the USA. There are plenty of poor people here in the US who need shelter, not just foreign countries that we think of as vacation destinations.

  2. So far, the plan is to take the train to Montreal. I just couldn’t stomach the thought of the carbon generated by flying – it would basically undo our efforts to reduce our footprint in other aspects of our lives. Plus, I love travelling on trains – the forced relaxation aspect really appeals to me.

    Resorts make me uncomfortable. I would just rather donate money.

    • As a Montrealer, I approve of your honeymoon plan ;D It’s a great city and my only “regret” about my upcoming wedding (in quotation marks because it’s too harsh a word) is that I’ll have to move away! I’m sure you’ll have a blast.

  3. Honestly my dream honeymoon was 4 months in Asia, politics be damned! I dreamt of visiting architectural wonders I have only seen in books by the architects I admire (Tadao Ando, etc)..now with a baby on the way and me going on Maternity leave until after the wedding, plus trying to get my grad school applications done, plus the cost of the wedding… honeymoon is a no go.

    Financially viable needed to be reality and it was the honeymoon that was the ultimate sacrifice. I don’t regret it and I plan on travelling throughout Asia (perhaps after grad school), as well as Europe, Russia, etc. I don’t travel (or not travel), because of political issues within a country…we all do wrong..I’m there to experience the culture and my own political beliefs take a backseat to the culture I get to experience.

    Granted, I do intend on taking a large percentage of my travel time and dedicating it to volunteer work (Architecture for Humanity, Global Volunteer Network, etc).

  4. I think people who travel are doing it to see other countries’ cultures, people, customs, food, landscape, languages, and everything else that a country may have to offer.

    And here’s the deal:

    Every country is going to have it’s dirty laundry. Every country. And to not travel to that place specifically because of that bad aspect is not respectful of that country or it’s people who are trying to turn that part around for the better.

    Does that mean I’m not going to go to Japan because of it’s restrictive social heirarchy? Or go to Germany because of the Nazi’s and Hitler? Or go to Cambodia because of the Khmer Rouge and ongoing poverty? What about the US because of the Bush years? Or Canada (where I live) because of the seal hunts and oil? Or Australia in with their discrimination towards the aboriginals? Should I never see the Great Wall of China because of the strict communist regime?

    If that is the case, then I can never go anywhere.

    I think we should travel where ever we want, and to have a knowledgable backround of what that country’s “dirty laundry” is, and if there is anything I should avoid or contribute to in order to help.

  5. Honestly, I did not even think about anything but ourselves. I feel bad now! The year and a half of DIY just about killed me so we wanted/NEEDED sun and alcohol and fun and just being together. I did think about just the ease of the USA vs trying to figure out what people are saying and what the hell are we eating?! Also we did not want to sight-see. We wanted to just be together, enjoy each other and NOT worry about anything or timelines or other people. This is pretty much the only time in your life that you can do this (unless you are super lucky wealthy) A week in Maui and a week at Disneyland was perfect.

  6. We are planning on going to Maine for our honeymoon. Neither of us want to go to some big resort or hotel- we would be more comfortable at a bed and breakfast, though we are probably going to be very picky about the one we choose. We’ll probably be taking the train up, since he is uncomfortable with flying (and we’re in the northeast- not too long of a ride!)We would rather support a local business/restaurant/inn/bed and breakfast than something owned by a multimillion/billion (whatever the big number is nowadays…) dollar corporation. On top of which, both of us are uncomfortable in hotels. Most of them remind both of us of hospitals/mental hospitals. So, our decision was slightly based off of values (supporting smaller businesses), slightly off of comfort (Ew, hotels!), and slightly because he wants to stay in the Northeast, and slightly because we both like Maine.

    • We just went to there for our first anniversary! Maine is beautiful, and Portland’s a great foodie town (try Grace if you’ll be there!)

  7. We initially thought we would go to the Maldives for our honeymoon. It was far enough away that our adventurous spirit got the better of us, but close enough that we still knew the language, could get back to somewhere we knew about (namely Europe) if all else failed. Then of course, what happened next? Yup…the pirates started hanging out in the Indian Ocean. In lieu of that, we did opt for Fiji. We’re outdoorsy people, and I’m obsessed with surfing, so it was one of those “we’d never get back here if we didn’t just do this now”.

    Our ignorance didn’t know about the political climate until we got back. The 2nd place we stayed on Viti Levu had some political tension surrounding it. The main islands are raught (I think that’s right) with political tension, largely due to the vast amount of poverty that emerges. We did what we could, supported the local merchants, ate local cuisine, etc. We did our best to support the local villages, despite the so called resort that said we should just stay there. 4 days of rain will promote anyone to get out and about. When you’re out on the islands though, that’s a completely different experience. It was completely and I mean COMPLETELY self contained, and there was nothing, not a thing you could do except get airplaned off the island if you had a medical emergency, something happened violently, etc. You’d have to just swim for it. It sure was beautiful though. The Fijians frown upon tipping, but we did when we felt like the service was exceptional. I think the people appreciated it.

  8. I think being aware of global issues while traveling is important, whether it is a honeymoon or a family vacation. Especially if you are wanting to embrace & experience the culture. Instead of being shocked by statistics or allowing research to scare, you be an influence. Roll up your sleeves while you’re there. A honeymoon is a chance to relax but giving back even for a few hours to country that has welcomed you will not only put a smile on your face but show love that goes beyond the Newlyweds.

  9. I live in Tucson. We have human trafficing, sex trade of any and all kinds, probably slavery, certaily intentured slavery with illegals, drugs, murders in the streets, water waste, and most likely terrorist ties and money that goes to some meany. So, as far as I am concerened, if going to the supermarket is supporting all that, anywhere else in the world would probably be less damaging to the world.

  10. We are going to Madeira (Portuguese island out the coast of Africa in Atlantic Ocean).

    I try to be concious on how/where we go on holiday, especially the means of transportation. I feel flying is not right for pleasure, because of the carbon foot print. So usually when we go on holiday by train and foot (or we go sailing, wind energy rules!). But our honeymoon is in the winter, which means snow/cold all over Europe. We talked about taking the train to Budapest, but realized we really wanted to see the sun and nice temperatures. You can only fly to Madeira. So yes, we are flying. Flying to celebrate this huge step in our lives with a relaxed, sunny vacation.
    I hope it is worth it. And that our lifestyles will permit this one time splurge.

    • I highly recommend the Portuguese Islands. I haven’t been to Madeira, but São Miguel is gorgeous, and it’s something like a four hour flight from the East Coast of the US and two hours out of Iberia. And everyone I met there was paid a living wage. The one problem I foresee is that if you don’t look at all Portuguese, you might get stares. My tall, blonde friend was stared at a decent amount both on the islands and the mainland.

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