11 Ways the Pandemic Has Changed Honeymoons

beach cabana in Mexico


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beach cabana in Mexico
suitcase, mask, and boarding pass

Cancellations, Postponements, and Other Adaptations Rise

A staggering 95% of couples say they've canceled, postponed, or changed honeymoon plans as a result of the pandemic. "If COVID has upended travel for most Americans this year, it's certainly hit newlyweds hard," Gabe Saglie, Travelzoo's senior communications manager, tells Cheapism. "When you consider the type of planning and investment that goes into one of the most memorable vacations in people's lives, a postponed or canceled honeymoon trip can be heartbreaking."

Related: This U.S. Airline Has Cut 76% of Its Routes

woman packing suitcase

More Couples Are Taking Short 'First Moon' Trips

It's not all bad news. The Travelzoo/Zola study finds that 30% of couples still want to travel before year's end, even if it's a shorter, more affordable getaway than their dream honeymoon. Enter what the sites call a "first moon." "While some couples have, in the past, taken a shorter vacation ahead of a larger honeymoon trip later on based on personal demands or financial circumstances, couples looking to do a 'first moon' trip now are driven by the reality that the honeymoon they'd originally planned, most likely somewhere overseas for an extended period of time, was suddenly upended," Saglie explains.

Related: Pandemic Phrases That Have Infected Our Vocabulary

sad couple

Some Couples Have Delayed Booking Altogether

While many couples forge ahead with scaled-back plans, 45% of couples say they are postponing and holding off on booking anything. "It's tougher for some couples to book with confidence," Saglie says. "If there's a favorite destination on their list, they're waiting to see when and with what restrictions that destination is set to open," while there are many "waiting until their own sense of safety during travel rebounds to something closer to pre-COVID levels."

Related: 15 Best U.S. Cities for a Destination Wedding on a Budget

road trip

Domestic Trips Have Overtaken International Getaways

Before coronavirus, only 20% of honeymoons were planned for within the United States, but domestic stays are now in a whopping 88% of first moon plans. "Most Americans are still concerned about hopping on planes and traveling abroad, so a regional trip, probably by car, seems safer and more attainable," Saglie says. "Secondly, the restrictions in place in many foreign destinations with regard to Americans being welcomed without restriction, and the fact that reopenings across the globe are different from destination to destination, make honeymoon planning more complicated."

Related: 77 Attractions to See While Driving Across the Country

Paris, France

Europe, the Caribbean, and Hawaii Are Out

The top five most popular honeymoon destinations for couples before COVID-19 were Europe, the Caribbean, Hawaii, Mexico, and Asia, in that order. This year reshuffled that, for a list of top rebooked 2020 travel destinations that is led by the continental United States, followed by Mexico, Alaska, Hawaii, and finally the Caribbean.

Related: The Most-Visited Tourist Destinations of the Past Decade

chairs outside Lake Superior

Couples Plan to Travel Only Regionally …

The continental United States dominates because many couples plan to keep it local. The study finds about 55% of couples plan to limit honeymoon travels to the region where they live and can reach by car. "The vastness of the U.S. — and the eclectic mosaic of destinations that defines the U.S. — means every region has a first moon experience to offer," Saglie says. "Florida and the Keys offer a tropical respite, while Northeast destinations offer a season-by-season array of experience options. Bottom line — as couples lean domestic for their first moons as a way to reconcile derailed honeymoon plans, it offers a chance to rediscover travel gems in their own backyard, and it could mean a needed boon for the domestic travel market."

Related: 38 Spots for a Cheap Fall Weekend Getaway

southern california beach
Art Wager/istockphoto

… But California Is First Among Equals

Yes, many honeymooners are traveling regionally, but there has also been a surge for destinations in the West, particularly California, which Saglie notes has many secluded and upscale options. "From the beach to the desert to the mountains, it is widely appealing," Saglie says.

Related: The Best of California For Budget Vacations

Cancún, Mexico
Jonathan Ross/istockphoto

Some Are Risking Nearby Overseas Escapes

Even amid a pandemic, 12% of honeymooners are willing to book a nearby overseas escape. "Mexico remains at the CDC's and State Department's Level 4 – meaning they recommend Americans not travel south of the border right now," Saglie says. "But are people traveling south of the border? Yes." The numbers have been climbing steadily since April and May. "The bang for the buck is tough to resist, with big airfare bargains right now and major values at resorts." No less than 12 resorts have opened just in the last year in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and the luxe resort destination Punta de Mita near Puerto Vallarta is offering major bargains, Saglie says.

Related: 25 Beach Resorts Under $150 a Night

couple swimming in Thailand

Some Honeymooners Are Forging Ahead

There's a hardcore 8% willing to book travel worldwide to have a dream romantic vacation, but Saglie says the small figure "is really a testament to the fact that far-flung travel is still of concern for many Americans. And while we are seeing booking activity for further-off destinations like Europe and southeast Asia, it's driven by very flexible refund policies and long travel windows that allow travelers to lock in savings now but for travel as far off as 2022 or even 2023."

Related: 50 Affordable Vacations to Add to Your Bucket List


Most Are Saying Bon Voyage to the Honeymoon Cruise

If there's one true coronavirus travel loser, it's the cruise industry. A mere 3% of couples say they plan to cruise to celebrate their nuptials, which is no surprise given how the industry has  taken a beating for its response to (and role in) spreading the virus. Last month the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a scathing  20-page order that extended suspension of cruise operations until Sept. 30. The glory days of honeymoon cruises may have sailed.

Related: 1 in 4 Avid Cruise Goers: 'I'll Never Go on a Cruise Again'

couple travel planning

All Hope Is Not Lost

While our lives may seem much more dull and confined these days, young couples are not giving up hope — or their honeymoon dreams. The study finds 27% of couples saying they managed to stay positive during this tough year by dreaming about their honeymoon. Hope, apparently, springs eternal.

Related: 25 Pieces of Advice from Seniors to Millennials