‘Staycation’ honeymoons save area couples money, stressWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
While sipping drinks at an all-inclusive beach resort halfway around the world may sound relaxing, for many area couples that type of honeymoon trip is just not feasible.
Whether to save money, work around job or school schedules or simply because they don’t enjoy traveling, some couples are choosing to forgo the destination honeymoon and get creative closer to home.
Toledoans Amanda Loucks-Moses and Ryan Moses spent their honeymoon traveling the world using only their tastebuds.
“Our honeymoon was a taste around the world,” Loucks-Moses said. “We went to many different ethnic restaurants in Toledo and Ann Arbor — Japanese, Italian, Ethiopian, French. I couldn’t really take time off of work, so we went out on weekends and just enjoyed ourselves.”
The couple, who married in Michigan in 2009, decided on their nontraditional honeymoon to save money and minimize stress.
“Ryan and I really pride ourselves on not being in debt, so everything about our wedding and honeymoon was set to make sure that we would not start our lives together on the ‘broke-as-hell’ foot,” Loucks-Moses said.
Neither enjoy traveling, but both love food, she said.
“It was mostly Ryan’s idea, but when it came to choosing the restaurants, we both decided,” Loucks-Moses said. “Our favorite place to eat is a hole-in-the-wall in Ypsilanti, Mich., where Ryan is from. It is a little Korean restaurant. After we became hooked on that food, we wanted to try all sorts of different types of food. My favorite part was looking over menus and deciding what and where to eat. It was also just great to enjoy such awesome food with my hubby!”
The honeymoon was declared officially over after the pair checked the last restaurant off their list.
Loucks-Moses’ advice to couples considering a “staycation” honeymoon is to not worry what anybody else thinks.
“Both of us really could not have cared less what anyone thought about our honeymoon,” Loucks-Moses said. “It is important just to be happy and celebrate your new life together.”
A staycation honeymoon also fit the needs of James and Leah Myers of Genoa, who had limited funds and a limited timeframe following their 2004 nuptials. The couple had three days between their wedding and Leah’s first day of nursing school, so they decided to stay at a hotel in Toledo and treat themselves to room service, a fancy dinner at The Docks and plenty of relaxation.
“We were married on a Friday and I was starting school at Mercy College on Tuesday. James had just started a new job and couldn’t take time off. Since we had such a short amount of time, we decided to just get a nice room at a nice hotel and stay secluded,” Leah said. “I was 19 when we got married, James was 24 and had just landed his first big job, so our funds were limited. Eating at the Navy Bistro was a big deal for us! The best part of our staycation was no pressure. We came and went as we pleased, we had no one bothering us, no cell-phones.”
Today, Leah owns Lauralea’s Pastries & Café, a coffee shop and bakery in Genoa, while James is a software developer and technical lead at Hanson Inc. The couple have two sons, age 5 and 3.
Leah said a staycation can be as much fun as a destination honeymoon.
“There is so much in Ohio to experience, and a staycation honeymoon is great for couples on a budget or who don’t like to travel,” Leah said. “There are so many great little towns to take daytrips to and so much to explore. Then there are the attractions like Cedar Point, Put-in-Bay, Kelleys Island, the art museum, etc. Your honeymoon should be about you and your spouse building upon the love that led you to that point. It doesn’t have to be about spending large amounts of money to go to another country to lay on a beach and sip margaritas — although believe me, I love to do that as much as the next person!”
For Toledoans Justin and Stephanie Long-acre, who honeymooned in the Hocking Hills after their 2003 wedding, the staycation turned into a annual trip.
“We loved it,” Stephanie said. “It was the first time we went and we’ve been back every year since.”
Patty Hicks, manager of travel operations for AAA Northwest Ohio, said the agency does get inquiries about drivable regional destinations, but staycation honeymooners are still in the minority.
“The largest portion of honeymooners going to a travel agency inquire about that dream honeymoon in Hawaii or the Caribbean or Italy,” Hicks said. “We do see a lot of honeymooners staying closer to home, like Hocking Hills [State Park], Pokagon [State Park] or Traverse City, and driving to that destination. They might want to price out driving to Traverse City, but staying at a really nice resort. But I would not say it’s the bulk.”
Other regional destinations include Sawmill Creek Resort near Sandusky and Belamere Suites in Perrysburg, said Polly Caumartin, vice president of Toledo-based Central Travel.
The Great Lakes region is full of local bed and breakfast options, said Barb Phillips, who has owned and operated Dewey Lake Manor Bed & Breakfast in Brooklyn, Mich., with her husband, Joe, for 22 years.
“B&Bs are more personal [than resorts],” Phillips said. “Every B&B is different. That’s what makes them unique. It’s not like a hotel. We’ve never been in any two that are exactly alike.”
The quiet, relaxing atmosphere and personal service make B&Bs a good choice for honeymooners, Phillips said.
“People are so stressed. A lot of couples come here and just sit on a bench along the water,” Phillips said. “You can tell when people come if they are stressed and irritable. Hopefully they leave much more calm, and they usually do.”
Dewey Lake Manor once hosted the honeymoon of a couple who met while in assisted living.
“They were probably in their 70s and they fell in love and married each other and spent their honeymoon here,” Phillips said.
Staycations also support the local economy, said Kate Harrison, author and founder of the blog Green Bride Guide.
“A stay-at-home honeymoon is a way to funnel money into your community that would otherwise go to the economy of your travel destination,” Harrison said in an article published at match.com. “It’s a way to support nonprofits like the zoo, theaters and museums, as well as green businesses and organic restaurants.”
Some couples opt for a staycation honeymoon, but save up for a more expensive trip later. James and Leah, who will soon celebrate their eighth anniversary, took a week-long trip to Key West for their first anniversary.
Other couples take advantage of honeymoon registries, in which family and friends can gift a portion of the travel expense. Companies like Honeymoon Wishes, Honeyfund and Traveler’s Joy as well as Central Travel and AAA of Northwest Ohio offer honeymoon registries.
Whether planning to travel near or far for a honeymoon, Hicks advised making plans early to lock in on the best deals and accommodations.
“As soon as you receive that ring, start looking into the honeymoon,” Hicks said. “Don’t wait.”
Tags: AAA of Northwest Ohio, Belamere Suites, Central Travel, Dewey Lake Manor Bed and Breakfast, Here comes The Guide, Hocking Hills State Park, Honeymoon, Honeymoon Registries, Pokagon State Park, Sarah Ottney, staycation, Traverse City