Dang, I wasn't sure this day would come. In October, Trey and I got married in Virginia Beach. We were set on doing a honeymoon abroad, so we decided to hold off until a country we'd love to see, opened up! This is how we fell into the idea of visiting Tahiti. Well that and the fact that I found some pretty sweet flights! That being said, let's talk about how I scored them and tips for planning the best honeymoon in Tahiti.
1. Check flight deals with Hopper
There was a few countries we'd been looking into and flights to Tahiti were the most reasonable! About a year ago, my friend Brittanie told me about the app Hopper and I died when I started using it. It's so convenient to check flight deals on your phone! Once I nailed down a good week for us to go, I switched over to Expedia.
I wanted to use Expedia because with the pandemic I wanted to be sure I could add insurance. However, as I spent an hour double checking the details, I got to the cart and wasn't able to add any! This freaked me out a little. I'm sure they have a good policy- but I decided to book directly with the airline who offered the flights.
2. Book flights directly from the airline
I decided to hop on United to book my flights instead. I chose to do this because I knew booking directly would allow me to hold them accountable if something happened. I've had good experiences with Expedia in the past, but I did not want to risk using a third party provider without having insurance! You may be thinking, okay but what about their deals? A common misconception is that when using Expedia or Hotels.com you will always save money vs. booking directly with an airline.
Thinking about the traveling I've done this last year, the airline has always had the same price as the third party providers. Now, I'm sure they have some good deals at some point, but with covid, I would book directly to avoid losing money. Our tickets for Trey and I together cost $2,007 with trip insurance included, that was $136. While checking out, most airlines I've used will ask if you'd like to add trip insurance. Since these tickets were a big expense and we could still get sick before we go, it was best to get it!
*TIP: After some digging, I found that the cheapest way to get to French Polynesia was to fly into Papeete, Tahiti (Faa'a International Airport). This research was done during winter, specifically January, so prices could change depending on season.
3. Consider adding your hotel to your flight package
I used to be a big believer that vacation packages were a joke and on some websites they are! Recently, I discovered when I book flights directly with the airline, adding your hotel stay could save you $20-$50. When I checked my Hotels.com app and compared the price to adding my stay on the airline site, the airline was cheaper!
I've almost never seen cheaper prices than Hotels.com. It was insane. So thankful I learned that! It's bizarre too because Hotels.com is the provider United uses to give these deals. It's most likely because you spent 'this amount' on flights and then you qualify for better deals.
When I was checking out on United, it asked if I wanted to add a stay or car to my trip. This is where I found my hotel deal! However, I didn't plan to find that and my card limit was set to $2,500. Therefore, I went ahead and checked out with my flights, but I learned you can still snag these deals a few days after your purchase! So, I would stay on top of that in order to save a little money.
*TIP: To maximize your budget, I would for sure create an account with the airline you want to use. Majority of the time, there are free programs who just let you compile miles without paying a dime for a subscription! With United, I joined their free Mileage Plus program in order to score miles for the flights I booked and whatever hotel I choose to.
4. Decide what hotel is best for your honeymoon
Since Trey and I just finished school, while raising a little one year old, we are ready to relax lol. Therefore, we can see ourselves lounging around and reading the majority of the time. Considering that, a room with a good view and a nice beach area will be important.
I decided to find us a hotel on Tahiti, but we also considered staying on Mo'orea (neighboring island). Tahiti is a part of French Polynesia, a cluster of islands in the South Pacific Ocean. On a map, it's close to Hawaii and New Zealand! You've probably heard of Bora Bora too, which is a part of French Polynesia as well. I chose Tahiti because there is a better variety of hotels and they aren't far from the airport! However, Mo'orea looks super cool still, so we plan to take a ferry there for a day. It takes less than an hour by boat and they have quite a few daily time slots!
Normally, I'd pick the cheapest room, but since it's our honeymoon I thought we could spend a little extra. My best tip for that is find a pretty high rated hotel, but not outrageously cool. This way, you can score an ocean view room at an affordable price! The hotel I've been looking at is Manava Suite Resort Tahiti. Their cheapest room runs for $213 and this includes free cancellation.
*TIP: When putting together your budget, I would try to consider adding a cushion to qualify for free cancellation. It was about $20-$40 more a night at this hotel, but it will be worth it since either of us could get sick before the trip. Also, be extra careful using third party travel websites to book hotels, especially if you haven't used it before. Most of the time, if the deal looks insane, it's because it's non-refundable. Check the fine print before booking your accommodation!
The room we chose cost $279 a night. It's considered their 'Lagoon Studio' and has a great view of the water! Now guys, when you're booking your stay, create an account with Hotels.com. They have awesome awesome deals and it's totally free to sign up. I've been with them for years and their 'secret prices' are what allow me to travel so much!
Because I signed into my Hotels.com account, I got a 10% discount on our stay. Take a minute to sign up and save $127, like we did! Along with that, we were given drink credits for our stay too. I mean, who doesn't want those?!
5. Rent a car for part of your stay
Since we'll be in Tahiti for a while, I don't think it'll be necessary to rent a car for the whole trip. I know once Trey and I get there, we're probably gonna wanna lay on the beach for days before we want to get up and go somewhere. That being said, my plan is to rent a car for two or three days.
This way, we can make a list of where we want to drive and just do it one of those days. I like this idea because we won't feel bad about not using the car everyday! When I rent a car, I almost always use Enterprise.
They're straight up with their young renter fee and they let me use a debit card to pay. It's a great company to use if you don't have a credit card too! Lastly, I would try to look up promo codes for them before checking out and sifting through the deals they have on their website. I've had a lot of luck in the past finding Enterprise promo codes on RetailMeNot.com!
Another reason to add a rental car to your trip would be if you have a late departure flight. Usually hotels want you out around 11, so you could just throw your luggage in your car for the rest of the day instead of asking the hotel to keep it. Hotels can be great for holding your stuff for a few hours, but a full day can be a lot, so putting it in your car is a good alternative.
A couple of reminders...
If you are looking to rough up on the language of whatever country you go to, that's great! If you don't see yourself getting a lot of studying in, I would make sure the country you want to visit has English as one of their top languages (If that's your main language!). In Tahiti, English is one of their main languages. This was perfect, because I might only learn a few French words by then lol!
French Polynesia opened their doors to tourists again this past summer. That being said, we have to be tested for covid no more than three days before departure and have a negative result. Once we get to Tahiti, we will need to self-test again at our hotel after being there for four days. Hopefully when we get back, I can tell y'all the details.
Alright homies, that's what I got! If you're planning a trip to Tahiti, what are you curious about? Tell me below because I am so excited to continue planning this trip! Also, if you've already been, what are your FAV places?
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You don't have to have an extravagant savings plan to build a travel stash. In fact, I know that stumps a lot of people. Just think of a few things you spend money on frequently and try doing them less. I really hate when I read lists that I've felt like I've read a thousand times. So I'm gonna try hard here not to do that! At the root, you've decided you love traveling and need to sacrifice a couple things to raise money for it. Here's a handful of creative ways to save...
knock down your Christmas budget
Christmas can put a dent in your bank account, but it doesn't have to be that way every year. This year I really tried to limit my budget for Christmas. Trey and I postponed our honeymoon, so saving for that has become a bigger priority.
That being said, if you have a significant other that might go on this trip too, maybe discuss a smaller limit for Christmas. This way the leftover can go to your travel fund. I liked this because it helped me tune in better to picking meaningful gifts vs. expensive.
hit your town's dollar tree routinely
When I lived in a small town, we only had a Dollar General. (Where items are priced more than a dollar.) Though, after I moved to the city, we had a Dollar Tree right up the road. (Every item is actually a dollar.)
Those of you who live in small towns, don't scroll! You can order items online through Dollar Tree and I wiiish I would've thought of that years ago. They've been a life saver for wedding items! Their variety of glass vases are bomb and a dollar, like does it get better than that? I've just been spray painting mine and they turned out dope.
Other items I pick up there are trash bags, napkins, lotion, and toothbrushes. Also, for the longest time I used Sharpie fine tip pens and they get EXPENSIVE. At Dollar Tree, their Pro Max ultra fine tip pens are so close to the Sharpie brand it's insane. Did I say they come in a three pack too? Best find of the year.
try batch cooking
Recently, I found Large Family Table on Youtube and I fell in love. Jamerrill Stewart is a mom of nine and she posts the greatest videos for making freezer meals! I'm always on the hunt for cutting down my grocery bill.
Most of the time, when she cooks, she makes a meal for the night and then a few more batches to throw in the freezer. Now I know what you're thinking... uh freezer meals? No guys. These are not those mushy gushy noodle crockpot recipes. I've only started two so far, but these are so frickin delish.
Along with that, she has impressive tips for preventing freezer burn too! By making multiple meals in one sitting, you'll save money and time in the coming months when you need to make a dinner quick! My favorite meals of hers so far are breakfast burritos and pepperoni-pizza hot pockets.
order groceries from walmart
I've gotten hooked on ordering my groceries using Instacart. Having my groceries delivered is like the best thing ever, especially when Trey is working and I'm watching Trax. Although, I can tell the tips I've left people and the service fees, really add up. That being said, I want to switch back to ordering my groceries from Walmart. They don't charge for pick up (at least in my area) and I've always loved how smooth the process is.
I've never waited a long time in the parking lot and my substitutions have been pretty good so far. I know I'll have to plan my day a little differently to pick them up, but I'll save quite a bit compared to delivery. I'm sure it won't be possible every time I want to hit up the store, but I'd love to jump back into this.
Hopefully this post helps you walk into 2021 with a little extra cash! I know when I see these lists, I find it tempting to write down every tip and implement them all. There is no way I started doing each of these things in the same week. Think about one of them and strategize a plan to integrate it into your life.
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Travel bucket list:
Countries visited: 5