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Bon Voyage

From Hollywood to Hawaii, Florida to France, couples travel all around the world to their dream honeymoon spot. But when it comes to planning a wedding getaway, couples need to consider all things basic: budget, time, season and destination.

While honeymoon specialists have worked with budgets from as little as $1,500 to as large as $20,000, couples typically should expect to spend between $4,000 and $6,000 on a honeymoon, says Linda Martindell, destination specialist and owner of Totem Travel in Kirkland, Wash. To fit the vacation within your budget, Martindell recommends asking the right question: What will we remember in 10 years?

"It sounds glamorous to travel first class, but people rarely take pictures of an airline seat, and if an extravagant suite means only a weekend getaway, that may not be the right choice," she says. "Most couples will remember their honeymoon forever, so think time together, think pictures, think new experiences and go from there."

To begin planning your honeymoon, discuss budget and vacation priorities. Find a travel professional to bounce ideas with. "Ask a professional travel agent where you can get the best value for your dream honeymoon," Martindell says. "By discussing budget first, you can avoid being caught up in the excitement of unrealistic destinations, and a travel agent may suggest options you never even considered."

Make sure to plan early to get the best deal and value for your money. If you procrastinate, you may find your favorite resort sold out or airfare out of your price range.

If you're on a tighter budget, domestic destinations may seem like the best fit, but according to Martindell, with airline fares today, they're no less expensive than Mexico or the Caribbean. "An all inclusive resort or cruise can be less expensive than a local trip when you consider the cost of meals, activities and entertainment," she says. "We're seeing prices from about $200 a day for lodging, meals, drinks and activities."

And while traveling in the off-season is appealing, it might not be worth the savings. "The shortest lines and lowest rates are in off season, but that may not be a bargain if it's snowing in Paris or raining in Tahiti," Martindell says. "Then again, you can get great weather and low rates during certain times of the year such as Hawaii in May or the Caribbean in early December." Fiji and New Zealand also offer great value, as the dollar is strong in those locations.

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