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. I just wanted to say thanks for posting this. I was a little worried when I saw the post about the trip last week, and these questions have made everything all right in the off-beat world.

  2. If money were no object, my intended and myself would LOVE to travel to Sark, one of the Channel Islands. We never go anywhere and are so intrigued by their society. Tourism is also basically their entire economy and there is no where to stay but small local business. We would probably even save up for it even on our meager budget were it not for our puppy dog. He is a rescue, he is extremely attached to us, and we will never board him. We would not visit or move anywhere requiring a quarantine period for him. We also will never fly with him because he is JUST big enough to not be allowed in the cabin and there are too many horror stories about pets on planes. (Sidebar: In my opinion treating animals as cargo is unconscionable.)

    So, small road trip with the little dude it will be!

    We don’t think about carbon that much to be honest, but I do love train travel. If they allow dogs, we would go for that in a second!

    • If you’re interested in Sark you could stay in France and maybe just go to Sark for a day or two? The Channel Islands are very expensive and Sark is teeny weeny

  3. Here’s some honesty: My priority for the honeymoon is not political or financial or even completely emotional. It’s sexual. See, I plan on having sex on my honeymoon. Lots of sex. Sweet sex. Crazy sex. Painful sex. Sexy, sexy sex. So traveling to a different country and immersing myself in a new culture is rad and all, but we’d probably spend the whole week not leaving our hotel room anyway…

    So, we’re doing the staycation deal. Any money we would have spent traveling is being put into sexy time things, which include massage oils, delivery pizza, and video games. Like I said: sexy.

    • I had a (actually very conservative) friend tell me that it’s best not to go anywhere special for the honeymoon because you should spend that time having tons of sex 😛

      (She said to go somewhere special for the one year anniversary so you actually will be willing to leave the room :P)

    • Yes! I just got a bunch of blue-rays of his series from the library to try to get my fiancee as excited about the European honeymoon I want to do as I am. Those episodes are 80% of what made me want to see it.

  4. i’m marrying gay, and i am thinking a lot about our honeymoon destination. only this year i started seeing everything from a political point of view, and my travel (and therefore also honeymoon) plans are strongly influenced by that too. i wouldn’t travel anywhere where homosexuality is illegal, for instance. partly to not spend money in a country that doesn’t recognize me as a human being with rights like any other, partly because i can never keep my hands off my girl in public and i’d rather not be arrested in a foreign country for that. since we live and are getting married in sweden, we will be actually legally married, so for my honeymoon i’d very much like us to go someplace where our marriage will be recognized, or at least where homosexuals have the option of a civil union/registered partnership.
    with the budget restrictions, we might have to settle for a small honeymoon in sweden though. i don’t really care, as long as i get to make lots of love and relax with my lovely 😀

    • That’s a huge reason I didn’t want to go back to Jamaica. I went with a friend when I was 21 (her mom works for the Nature Conservancy and was there on business) and loved it, but immediately felt guilty because I know that my brother, for example, wouldn’t be able to go with a boyfriend if he wanted to. The whole of the Caribbean can be unfortunately iffy about the whole tolerance/acceptance issue. I hope you find the perfect honeymoon destination! (check out — they have tons of gay-friendly vendors, and I bet travel destinations are among them!)

  5. We’ll be going to Barcelona, Madrid and Granada. I went backpacking through Spain, solo, the first summer that Future Mr. Winterbymorning and I were dating. We decided to honeymoon there because I absolutely loved the trip and have been looking for an excuse to go back ever since, and he really loved my nightly phone calls describing all my adventures to him.

  6. Simply put, I’m terrified of flying (for more reasons than just heights, none of which having to do with terrorism). This instantly shortens our prospective honeymoon destinations. I think the only country my fiancé and I would have ethical objections to would be the UK or Australia/New Zealand, mostly due to his objections to their stringent gun laws. This pretty much leaves us with staying within the states so…

    we’re going to Vegas. 😀 We’re both pretty simple/cheap type of people, so just this once, I want to stay in a ridiculously expensive hotel room, order room service, and gamble recklessly. The bonus is we’d only be a couple hours drive from home.

    • That’s interesting, I’ve never thought that somebody wouldn’t want to visit the UK due to our gun laws, seeing as practically nobody here wants a gun (there are gun licenses, you can get guns for hunting though it isn’t popular).

    • This is ridiculously late, but I’m curious as to how stringent gun laws would be something that someone would have ethical objections to? I’m from New Zealand, and those very gun laws mean we have a very safe country.

  7. I am a Spanish teacher, so going to a Spanish-speaking country has been high priority, coupled with budget. Right now I’m looking at Puerto Rico (which, of course, is a territory, but you get the point), The Dominican Republic, and Mexico.

    • The dominican republic left me feeling conflicted as all hell. It was beautiful and the service was amazing. But if you had ten minutes to talk to your staff, you found out what kind of conditions they lived in. My family also took some mopeds through town, and it was poverty like you see in children’s funds commercials.
      On one hand, I felt like a total heel for having so much when they had so little. On the other hand, my bartender wanted me to know that he really appreciated every tourist, because most of the people in the country relied on tourism to make a living, and he found most people to be very generous. Everyone working at the resort was very happy, and it was true that most of them lived better than everyone else by having a job at the resorts. So there you are, feeling guilty for having the money, but feeling good that you went there and gave all your vacation cash to good people.
      And you can bet we tipped very very generously.

      • Exactly…even if you stay at resorts (we didn’t, with one notable exception), if you make a concerted effort to see that your dollars help those living locally, it’s far more than you can do if you never went at all.

        Those children’s fund programs and other charities, honestly, they’re great. But I prefer generously tipping staff, buying souvenirs locally, hiring local guides etc. – those people benefit immediately in salary and tips. That’s something…even if it comes with a side serving of guilt (which it does).

        I say this as someone who has lived in developing countries (India and China) and traveled to others without staying in resorts – I try to stay in locally run places, which is of course really hard to do in the Caribbean.

  8. This is really interesting.

    I’m in Australia and chose not to holiday in Fiji because of the political situation. I did struggle with the issue of denying the actual people on the ground my money, but equally, my money would be supporting the economy of a regime I cannot endorse.

    Instead, we went to Samoa, and it was delightful. Though we stayed in a resort we chose one in the capital (Aggie Grey’s) so that we could get out and about, and buy all our (non-breakfast) food from vendors outside of the hotel. As it turned out, we were there just two weeks after half the country had been hit by a tsunami. They really needed our money and I was happy to be parting with it.

  9. I always knew I wasn’t going to spend my honeymoon at a resort in a poverty-stricken country. I spent a summer in Mexico with my dad taking care of my sick grandfather a few years ago. After he passed away, we got in a car and drove along the coast to get away for a few days. We ended up driving into a resort town through the back way, and it was the most tragically heart breaking experience of my life. Spending so much money when there were so many people just a few blocks away who were barely surviving? You can hear about it all day long, but it is so much more real seeing it in person.

    Instead we are staying in the states. I know the government isn’t perfect here either, but at least it’s mine. We are going to Southern California and spending at least part of it with some of my family that won’t be coming to the wedding (yay free room and board).

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