We’re on our Minimoon! [and Happy Thanksgiving]

by Melissa on November 21, 2011

Hi all, Ken and I are on our minimoon this week. We arrived in Las Vegas yesterday and have been having a great time. I have a few posts scheduled for this week but won’t be around very much for comment moderation.

If you recall, we decided very early on that we did not want to go on a big honeymoon right after the wedding. In fact, that sounded more stressful than relaxing!

But then we decided that a minimoon would be a great idea, so we contemplated some of our options, and then subsequently decided on Las Vegas!

I would like to wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving! We haven’t even been married for two weeks yet, so I’ve barely had time to even think about the holiday season!

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We Decided on our Minimoon Destination

by Melissa on August 2, 2011

We have finally decided on our minimoon location!  I had discussed before why we weren’t going on a honeymoon right away, and some minimoon ideas a few months back.

Initially, I wanted to stay within driving distance of DC for a minimoon.  But you know what?  Overnight vacations are really expensive around here.  We were finding that bed-and-breakfasts in Shenandoah or Annapolis can cost more than $250/night.  To have some crappy little room that doesn’t even have its own bathroom?  I don’t care how “charming” it is.  No thank you!

So, we have decided on one of my all-time favorite vacation spots.  Vegas!  My fiancé and I went there once together back in 2008, and I have been to Vegas probably about a dozen times.  I think I mentioned this on here before, but my dad worked in the airline industry for nearly 40 years, so I grew up flying for free.  And we went to Vegas a lot on vacation since we didn’t have a whole lot of money growing up and the hotels and food were always so cheap.

Getting There Cheaply

I mentioned in our honeymoon post that we’re much more willing to spend money on a honeymoon than on our wedding, because, as I’ve said before, we keep ourselves on a budget by choice, not by circumstance.  But, it looks like Vegas will be pretty cheap for us!  I have two Southwest Rewards tickets that we can use to go there.  Although one of them expired so, we’ll have to pay $50 each way to get the reward ticket re-issued.  Typically I’m loathe to use reward tickets to places that typically have such cheap airfare (like Vegas and Orlando and such), but, my second free ticket would be expiring soon after the wedding anyway, so we’ll just use them up.

So, two plane tickets to Vegas will be $110.  ($100 for re-issuing the round-trip ticket, plus a $5 each security fee that is not included in the reward fare).

Keeping Other Expenses Low in Vegas

We signed up for e-mail alerts for hotels that we’re interested in and that have the nicest suites (The Cosmopolitan looks great) and I signed up for Living Social and Groupon deals for Las Vegas to keep an eye out for good show deals.  The last time we were in Vegas we bought a same day ticket to Ka, one of many many Cirque du Soleil shows out there, and it was much more reasonable than buying it in advance.

Neither one of us like to gamble, so we won’t have to worry about spending a lot on gambling.  We’re not opposed to gambling or anything, we just find it boring.  Although, while waiting for Ka to open its doors for the show — they make people wait on the casino floor, go figure! —  I put $10 in a nickel slot machine and walked away with $72.65.  Not too shabby!.

2008_09_03 20_50_37 Las Vegas Trip copy 2008_09_03 20_50_49 Las Vegas Trip copy

Neither of us are into clubbing or anything like that, so our expenses should be pretty low.  Our pre-show meal the last time was at In-n-Out burger (love that place and gotta take advantage of it while on the West Coast since they don’t have any out our direction) so we’re pretty low maintenance on food too.

Non-Gambling things to do in Vegas

A lot of people wonder what there is to do in Las Vegas if you don’t like to gamble or go clubbing.  Well, in addition to the basics (the shows, the art museum and botanical garden at the Bellagio, walking around the amazing hotels, the fountain show at the Bellagio, going to the top of The Paris, shopping, gondola rides at The Venetian, etc.) I’ve been making a list of things to do while we’re there that we didn’t do the last time.  The shows are probably where the bulk of our expenses would be.

One or more of the following shows:

  • Cirque du Soleil – LOVE
  • Blue Man Group
  • Penn and Teller
  • Showgirl Show

And the following things around Vegas

  • Neon Museum and Boneyard (top priority!)
  • Gold and Silver Pawn Shop (of Pawn Stars fame)
  • The Auto Collections at Imperial Palace
  • The Pinball Museum
  • Red Rock Canyon
  • Valley of Fire State Park

Of course, we’re only planning on going for 4 or 5 days, so we likely won’t have time to do all of that, but that’s okay, we’ll just keep it on our list for the next trip there.

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Minimoon Ideas

by Melissa on May 9, 2011

I pointed out a few months back that my fiance and I aren’t going to go on a honeymoon immediately after the wedding (oh, just another thing that the Royal Couple seems to have copied off us!).  But, we are contemplating the idea of a minimoon, a quick trip fairly soon after the wedding.  Driving distance from the Washington, DC area  is preferable, but not overly necessary.  So, what are some ideas for a minimoon?

  • Thanksgiving in NYC. This is definitely on my bucket list.  I’d like to spend Thanksgiving in NYC to go to the Macy’s Day Parade, then do Black Friday shopping in Manhattan, maybe see a Rockette’s show, and other Christmas-y things!  A few issues with this though.  1) If I ever went to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, I would want to take my nephew, because I know that parade is really exciting for kids.  But, bringing my 5-year-old nephew on a minimoon?  Yeah, probably not.
  • Charleston, SC, Savannah, GA or some other nice southern US locale. I’ve heard that both of these places are very nice and quaint, and there would probably be some remnants of warm weather left there in November.  There’s enough to see to get a long weekend out of it, but not so much that we would feel rushed by spending only a weekend there.
  • Key West, FL. Definitely not driving distance from DC, but it would be a fairly quick flight.  There’s lot to do in Key West, it’s relaxing and low key, but the problem is that it’s pretty expensive.  Flying direct into Key West is pricey (and, you have to go on those little turbo prop planes that I hate), and hotels are expensive too, with no major chains for me to cash in any hotel points.  A few ideas, we could fly into Miami and drive to Key West, stopping at some of the other Keys along the way.  Airfare into Miami would also be way cheaper than directly into Key West.
  • Weekend in Shenandoah Valley. I’m a little ashamed to say that, although it is so close by, I have never been to Shenandoah National Park.  Skyline Drive in the fall is supposed to be gorgeous (but crowded), with all the changing leaves and cool crisp air.  There’s also a lot of wineries in that area.  But, the weekend of our wedding is peak foliage time, so if we go to Shenandoah a week or two after the wedding, all the beautiful foliage will probably be gone.  Not that there isn’t other stuff to do there, but I’d really love to see all the fall colors there.
  • Chicago. You know, I’ve never been to Chicago.  And I’ve been LOTS of places.  This one also wouldn’t be too far of a drive from DC, but November in Chicago will be damn cold already, and I don’t think I’d enjoy such a cold locale.  But, I would like to go just to see it and spend a few days there.

That’s all I’ve got for now.  Any other ideas for a minimoon?


Honeymoon Ideas

by Melissa on March 2, 2011

West Bay Beach in Roatan, Honduras. Photo by stella 781/Frommers.com Community. A few months back, I approached the honeymoon topic with my fiancé with some trepidation.  Why?  Because I really, really did not want to take a honeymoon right after the wedding.  The thought of having to plan for two big events (wedding+vacation) did not sound relaxing or appealing to me at all. But, because that’s what couples are “supposed” to do, I wasn’t sure how other people, including my fiancé, would react to such a suggestion.

Honeymoon Criteria

Luckily, when I brought it up, my fiancé agreed wholeheartedly!  A vacation right after the wedding wouldn’t be relaxing for us.  Getting back into a nice, calm routine however, would be.  So, we’d probably go on a bigger vacation sometime during the Spring of 2012, after our November 2011 wedding.  We both like to travel, but we do have some criteria:

  1. Destination cannot be entirely about relaxing and lounging at the pool.  We like to sightsee and take lots of pictures!
  2. With criteria #1 being said, I also don’t want to feel bad if we take a day or two to just relax on our honeymoon.  For instance, I wouldn’t want to honeymoon in Europe because I would feel so guilty if I was “relaxing” and not out and about enjoying all the sites!
  3. I don’t want to have to take a long plane ride to get to the destination.  I’m classifying a “long” flight as one that is 6+ hours (including connections and layovers) from the East coast of the US.

Honeymoon Ideas

So, what are some of the things we’ve come up with:

  • Alaskan Cruise. My fiancé and I are big fans of cruises.  He and I have gone on two together (I’ve been on about 10 total).  We have already gone on one Caribbean cruise and one Europe cruise out of Barcelona.  It would be picturesque, we’d have relaxation time on the ship, and plane ride wouldn’t be too long from the East Coast, especially since many of the cruises leave out of Seattle or Vancouver 
  • New Zealand. Well, this one throws the “no long flights” criteria right out the window.  But a friend of mine posted pictures from New Zealand on Facebook not that long ago, and WOW.  I had no idea it was so beautiful!  Very tempting!  This would require a lot more research, because I’m not sure what the best time of year is to visit New Zealand, plus how much airfare typically is. 
  • Belize (or some other Central America locale). I think this one suits the criteria pretty well.  Not a terribly long flight, plus there’s some really interesting sites in Belize, but there’s also beautiful beaches to relax. 
  • Southwestern USA Road Trip. Ever since our last road trip (DC> Atlanta> New Orleans> San Antonio> Memphis> DC), I’ve been itching for another.  I’d like to do one that starts in New Mexico and goes Monument Drive> Yellowstone> Glacier National Park> Devil’s Tower> Mt. Rushmore> Badlands.  (And then maybe try to drop off our rental car and catch a flight out of Denver instead of driving all the way back to New Mexico.)  It would look a lot like this.  But, I’ve always wanted to do this road trip by starting off in Albuquerque, NM during the International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, which takes place in early October.  So if we did this trip in the Spring, we’d miss out on that festival.

Our honeymoon budget would be pretty flexible and would depend largely on what the average costs of trips like these are.  On our last 12 day/ 11 night road trip, we spent $2540.56 (yes, to the penny).  That figure includes everything we spent (even the chapstick I had to buy from CVS in San Antonio when I lost mine).  This base price of the aforementioned road trip would probably be comparable, but would require us to purchase airfare to actually get to New Mexico, or wherever we started the trip, as well as a rental car.  Our most recent 14-day vacation, a week in Spain plus a seven day cruise out of Barcelona to France and Italy cost us a total of $8351.50 (again, that’s every penny from the cruise to airfare to taxis, meals, snacks and bottled water, souvenirs, admission tickets, etc.).

As I write this, I find it interesting regarding how we’re flexible on travel budgets, but we view our wedding costs as annoying and unnecessary.  We only like to spend money on things that are worth it.  I suppose.  Catered wedding food?  No dice.  An amazing vacation?  You betcha.

We may take a “mini-moon” shortly after the wedding, just for a few days and some place that’s within driving distance of DC.  But I suppose that is for another post!

Any honeymoon ideas that will meet our criteria?