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. @ Gesche — come to NZ, we legalised gay marriage about 3/4 years ago 😀

    As for my honeymoon, it’s all about budget. We’re young, want to buy a house in couple of years, have many many bills … so we’re travelling to Kaikoura — about a 3 hour drive from where we live. I know the area as I lived there for about 9 months about 5 years ago, which helped in the decision. And they’re one of the greenest towns in the world 😀

    • New Zealand is actually quite on the top of our list of possible destinations ;D we both really want to go, but it might fall through because of the flight prices there. But then we’ll go there some other time.

  2. We didn’t think of any of these concerns. I don’t feel badly at all! We wanted to spend a tiny portion of our budget on our wedding and reception and the vast majority on our honeymoon. We only really took our own safety in to consideration- we decided on skipping one destination b/c of a dicey political situation. We are doing a month in Europe and our destinations were chosen based on three criteria. 1. Deliciousness of local cuisine 2. Caliber of museums 3. Beautifulness of scenery. My fiance just put us through the hell of three years of law school (which also required me to quit my job, move to a new city and find a new job in an extraordinarily competitive field). We feel a litte selfishness is in order!

  3. I would choose not to go to America right now because of the current president, not the former!

    That said, I (and my partner) have chosen to honeymoon in our own country, so that we can return to the place where we first lived as husband and wife when anniversaries roll around, without having to break the bank!

  4. I think the fiance and I will be staying in our own country. Not only does it go right back to supporting our economy, but I don’t have to worry as much about flying (sorry body scanners and pat-downs, but you scare the bejesus out of me). Also, it gives us a chance to check out what the job market and housing market is like somewhere we might want to move to. I’d like to be able to feel a place out before I just up and move there, far away from my family.

  5. As a voracious and passionate traveler (honeymooned in Morocco), I just want to second a few of the things that have already been said here in my own words. I don’t think that by NOT going somewhere based on an ethical stand I’m doing anybody any favors.

    Certainly no country/culture is without blame, and if I travel with an open mind, I might just realize that some of what I stood so hard for is a pre-conceived notion that could stand to be re-examined. To me the whole point of traveling is being exposed to a different point of view; being challenged, learning and absorbing. None of that can be achieved by staying on one side of the fence saying: I don’t like that one thing you do.

    Having ethical standards, taking a postion – are very important; however, if I don’t allow myself some flexibility in my ethics code, in the end I’ll find that I’m either 1) a huge hypocrite, or 2) living a sterile life devoid of any meaningful experience, because there’s some evil at the root of all things.

    If in my travels something truly riles me (as it has), I can make a more informed decision, take more informed action, and maybe even do something to create change for the better. Ultimately I try to focus on the good/unique/informative aspects of a new place (because they each have that too).

    • Agreed, this goes for political objections. But is does not take away the objection of pollution through travel (in my opinion). You see, travel for holidays/honeymoon is for pleasure. If you are flying (just to name something), you are contributing to a world wide environmental problem. Without things for pleasure, it will be hard enough to solve environmental problems and make sure that there is enough to eat and enough resources on the earth. Experiences are great, but ultimately not a first necessity. I feel that protecting our environment comes in that sense before pleasure. And that’s why I feel conflicted about flying to my honeymoon island. That’s not a matter of having an open mind and making informed choices, but a matter of trying to take my responsibility.

      • Hannah – if I may respectfully disagree – we all pollute by our sheer existence. Some of us have a larger carbon foot-print than others, but every single one of us contributes to the problem. Saying that it’s wrong to fly for pleasure is like saying it’s wrong to take a road trip, or enjoy a day on amusement park rides. Might as well throw in passing a good fart into that list, because that depletes the ozone too. I’m not going to feel guilty for enjoying travel, because unfortunately, there’s just no way for me to get from Texas to Tunisia without a whole lot of carbon emissions. I do what I can for the environment – I bike everywhere, recycle religiously, watch what I purchase – but when it comes to long-distance travel, I have no alternatives. As soon as there’s a commercial airline flying on biofuels, I will gladly pay a premium to fly that; until then, I will continue to do what I can to offset my travel. Obviously that’s just my personal position, but I do think my original point about flexibility applies to this as well.

        • Also, there are those of us that are barely polluters in our daily lives. I don’t even own a car. I walk everywhere. If it’s a long way away, I get a bus, or a train.

          I recycle, even my own clothes, and the only reason I don’t have a compost heap is because I don’t own my own house so there is no point to gardening. Or ‘garden’ is a weed-strewn patch of gravel.

          In that case, would it have really been so bad if I got on a plane for the third time in 25 years in order to go somewhere new and exciting for my honeymoon?

          As it was, we couldn’t afford that, and the Icelandish volcano would have stopped us even if we could, so we hired a car and drove to the forest of dean, where we spent a week exploring and driving all around. That was probably bad for the environment too, but damned if I was going to stay in my tiny little city for my honeymoon.

          And the place we were staying had no trainstation or bus service, either.

          Sure, you’re contributing to a problem,. but people who rarely fly or pollute aren’t the people to blame for the problem. We all have a duty to do something about it, but we all have a duty to ourselves, too.

  6. For us the choice has been tough in a way, but at the end of the day we’re happy with it. We’re flying to Maldives, for 10 nights, with an all-inclusive package.
    In general we’re environnement friendly, political conscious etc. people… But this time….
    Well we have been living a long distance relationship for a year and an half and I am going to live with my fiance only after the wedding. So we need to be togother, full time, at least for 10 days, and nights, I am so looking forward to the nights!
    Those islands will probably be under the water in 10 to 20 years, so let’s go and enjoy them till they’re here (even if it means a high carbon foot print that contributes to their sinking… well I didnot say it was going to be logical)
    My fiance never travelled abroad before me and the trip we made in March to Martinique (in my family, so it costed us the flight and food only) in the Carribean was his first long-haul flight. He so enjoyed to be able to look at fishes in the warm water (even if there the corals and the cliffs did not yet really recover from El Nino, La Nina and overfishing). Maldives was the perfect destination for him, and for me, and we both always dream to be on these houses with stilts. It is the kind of travel you’re doing once in a lifetime and honeymoon seemed to be the perfect time.

    I feel concerned by the concern about going to the States during the Bush’s years. I did, in 2005. Because a country is not resumed by its politicians, and it is a marvelous place to go. But I travelled with my Swiss passport and NEVER mentionned that I had a French passport as well (I let it at home anyway) because it was quite touchy at the time.

  7. We’re cruising it up. We were graciously gifted a honeymoon by the in-laws (my in-laws) and we couldn’t be more excited (or grateful) about the trip they have planned for us.
    Also, we did tweak the flights a little to add three days of Disney time (on our dime) before the boat leaves. We are the most gigantic children and cannot wait for our first trip to Disney as married folk. Long live splash mountain!

  8. We were really lucky and ended up with a one month (yes, you read that right, one month!) honeymoon. We LOVE travel – we love it so much that we work abroad so we can feel like we’re traveling every day – and we used the money we got as wedding gifts towards a monthlong extravaganza across Central America. We had an open-jaw ticket, flying into Panama City (the safest choice) and leaving from Guatemala City (not quite the least safe – Tegucigalpa gets that honor – but still pretty dodgy).

    Who we are affected our plans: I can’t relax in an all-inclusive place. I just can’t. The constant service, the foofy drinks…it weirds me out a bit and rather than chill out I feel…nervous. So, having to stretch our funds over four weeks was perfect because we basically had to go midrange.

    We did stay in one resort in Costa Rica (in that country you may as well – it’s so touristy that you can’t really escape) but we made sure to pick an eco-friendly resort built on renewable and green principles, one that hired locals for not only day jobs there but also as guides for various activities. Built in the jungle, so seamlessly integrated that we could watch monkeys frolicking from our cabin’s balcony, so close that they watched us as much as we watched them! We took eco-friendly hikes with local guides and tried our best to stay in locally-run pensions and hospedajes. (The resort stop was foreign-run but employed so many locals in good positions that we felt it sufficiently gave back to the community).

    I’m so happy we had the chance to go – if we hadn’t, I would never know about the dynamic development of Panama (or its amazing coffee) first hand, I would have never seen, firsthand, the evidence of Nicaragua’s struggle for democracy with the USA as its enemy, I would have never appreciated the stunning natural scenery and intricate Mayan ruins of Honduras (nor would I have had the experience of being frisked and photographed just to board a bus…that’s how bad crime can be). I wouldn’t have seen a howler monkey in person or learned that Costa Rica can be more than bikinis and hostels reeking of pot. I would have never wandered the streets and tragic ruins of Antigua or seen how deeply Mayan culture still influences Guatemala.

    It reflected our values in two ways:

    First, we’re huge travelers who try to stay green on the ground, but realize that if you want to go anywhere, anywhere at all, you’ve simply got to fly. We get a bit restless locally and, living in Taiwan, can’t drive or go by land to a lot of destinations. If we did live in the USA we’d have a bigger range, but not enough time off to make it really happen (it IS possible to drive to Panama from New York…just…err…yeah). As huge travelers, we felt that this was a fine way to spend our very much appreciated wedding gifts. We don’t need or want a house (or car, or apartment) right now, but we are young and relatively unfettered, and making a big, long shebang out of it was 100% totally worth it. Like extroverts who get their energy from interacting with others, I get my energy from crazy travel, as does my husband.

    Second – I read an interview with a Nicaraguan in our guidebook that said, basically, “I don’t hold the politics of the United States against its people. If we all blamed regular folks for the acts of their government, even if elected, how would we Nicaraguans be judged?” Giving back by trying to stay in local establishments, eating at local restaurants, using local transport and hiring local guides was a way to help the people, without lending too much support-by-association with their government (which is democratic…in a sense). I refuse to blame people for their government and try to travel using local resources to underscore this point.

    If anything, doing this in large enough numbers will improve the economy in those countries enough to allow locals to stand up and fight more rigorously for better rule. I say this as someone who has been, no joke, to almost every country Ariel just listed (India – lived there for a time. Thailand, Indonesia etc. – visited).

    The only country I refuse to visit until it’s government changes is Myanmar/Burma. The gov’t controls the tourism trade to such an extent that there’s no way to spend money “locally” without benefiting the local junta cronies. So…I just won’t go.

  9. My experience went like this:
    Got married in France in my grandparents’ yard
    Cycled down to the mediterranean coast for a couple days, with a just tent and sleeping bags.
    On the coast, we had our “real” luggage waiting for us (sent by family) and we caught a boat to Greece.
    Spent two weeks on an island among sheep, in a cabin with no electricity.
    Apart from sunburn, it was riduculously cheap, hippie, perfect and we were so in love…

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