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. Ours? Ha. Leftover cash and me having to “work” for part of the trip (a (nonmandatory) professional conference was a few days after the wedding, so we worked our “mini-moon” around that). We like to stay in bed and breakfasts and support the local economy as much as possible. I’m not one for all inclusive resorts, because if I just wanted to lie around and drink fruity cocktails, I can just turn off my cell phone and do that at home (no, not on a beach, but I’m Irish and that’s bad for my health, anyway!).

    When we go on our “real” honeymoon (whenever we can afford it) we want to go on some kind of adventure. It may or may not involve hiking up a volcano.

  2. For our honeymoon we crossed one state line and went camping in Colorado! But I guess it says something that we didn’t choose to cross into Arizona instead…

  3. While planning, we’ve decided we can’t go international for our honeymoon. We just don’t have the thousands of dollars required to pay for a honeymoon to Greece (which is kinda where we wanted to go). So we’re saving that one for when we have more money, and we’re staying local – specifically, the mountains that are only hours away.

    But we’ll be staying at a resort this time. No tents.

    Nothing like a place that was built off of (practically) slave labor!

    I think as long as you know, and respect the history of a given locale, then you should be able to travel there. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to travel, AT ALL.

  4. My dude and I just did a major trip to London for my research so another big trip is not in the cards. Moreover, the dude discovered he doesn’t do well in huge cities and isn’t nearly the travel-loving vagabond that he thought he was. Throw in that while I love travel, it stresses me out to be the one organizing everything, and we voted for something easy and somewhat familiar. So we are heading to Edmonton, AB to stay at the Fantasyland Hotel and play at the West Edmonton Mall in the water park, go to IKEA (and pick up some furniture for the house), go to jazz clubs, etc. We’ll be driving so we can haul things back. Minimizes major travel and makes our lives easier. Low stress was definitely our big motivating factor. We get out of the city so we have privacy, but we aren’t out of our comfort zone.

  5. Our local tourism industry has been struggling since the onset of the GFC (and now, while the AUD is equal to the USD), so we decided to honeymoon in Australia. We figure that we live in such an incredible country, that we should support and nurture our own industry before going overseas again.

  6. Although we haven’t decided 100%, we’re probably going to Canada. The most important thing for us was not flying. Flying is a very unpleasant experience. The airport is terrible. There are always delays. The staff is rude (at least on the flight where I traveled).

    Overall, I’ll do almost anything to avoid the airport. So, we’re probably taking a train to our destination. There is something nostalgic about the train. If we don’t go to Canada, we’ll take a cruise. All of this goes with the assumption that we’ll be able to afford a honeymoon. At the moment, we’re not sure.

  7. We went to India! And yes, we totally considered many of the aspects, but when it came down to it, I’ve wanted to go since I was 11, and it was a dream come true. Three weeks in the country that’s enchanted you for over a decade? Yes, please.

    BUT, just because I have to say it, we did make a point to buy lots of candy and give that to the kids. Most of the time, whoever is in charge of the child beggars just takes the money and the kids never see a dime. With candy, they get to bliss out all day on it, share it with their friends, barter it, whatever, but they don’t have to give it to anyone if they don’t want to. It was our way to very feebly try to balance a disturbing situation.

  8. Wow, um, so this will probably get lost among the throngs of other replies, but here’s what we were faced with.

    I’m from Canada. He’s from Spain. We met in Glasgow, Scotland. Both of us have had cultural love affairs with Japan for a long, long time, but a look at our budget told us that was never going to happen.

    So we reevaluated things, and realized that we’d have just as much a blast (if not more) by staying in Canada, where we live now, and travelling it by train. Yes, we flew to the coasts to start/end the trip, but the majority of our trip was actually on a train.

    When it came to values, I’m sure they had a say in our decisions, but we realised that our tastes and interests usually lined up with our values. Restaurants featuring local food. Walking or public transit instead of renting a car. Learning about the country we live in and contributing to its economy. They all seemed to line up to make a very awesome honeymoon. I think that’s the trick – finding the harmony between what you do because you want to and what you do because you feel you need to.

    Actually… that sounds like a wedding! So by that logic if you’re authentic to yourself and your own priorities, I think your honeymoon will be a success. Great dialogue, everyone!

  9. The boy and I are more travellers at heart – he’s hiked and travelled all over Europe, and I’ve lived and worked in Africa, and we both have a lot of travelling dreams that we share. We have a couple of ideas for potential honeymoon locations so far, which will depend a lot on our financial situation (we’re both graduate students and we have a 6 year old child), timing of the wedding compared to school (which we haven’t figured out yet and are happily putting off until we feel like making real plans), and how we feel closer to the time-of. Our number one criteria is a place neither of us has gone before. We’re so excited to adventure together, as most of our other travels were before we met. Our second criteria is no resorts and no all-inclusives and no plans organized by anyone else. We’re DIY travellers. We stay at hostels, we wander aimlessly with only a mental map in our heads, and we stop when we want to stop, so anything pre-ordained just wouldn’t work for us. We’ve tossed around Morocco, a long and lazy backpacking trip around South America, a wander around the Indian subcontinent. We’re just excited to wander together (and to test out travel locations to bring our kids to later on!)

  10. we are getting married 1 year after finishing graduate school and, given that i was never in Brazil, where my boyfriend is from, we thought it would be a nice honey moon destination and an occasion for me to know his country, ending with a week with his family. We intended to organize everything ourselves and use the internet for booking small pousadas and so on…Then we took a look at the costs and realized it would be just too expensive.

    Since we live in Europe, we chose Corsica instead – we could have the beach, if we so wanted and we could hike in the mountains and we could visit parts of the island by bike and we would not be in an island infested by big hotels and without any small businesses or restaurants.

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