I might be biased but I think our honeymoon in Greece might have just been the best honeymoon of all time. Okay, I’m definitely biased but isn’t that the whole point? To think your honeymoon/first trip with your husband is the most magical? I think so.
In case you missed it, I broke down all of the details and itineraries for Mykonos and Santorini (linked below) but after receiving a ton of questions about logistics, budget, etc. I decided to dedicate a post to the frequently asked questions. At the end of the day, the itinerary is what makes the trip magical but how we did the trip makes it that much easier to navigate.
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Q: How was it working with a travel agent?
A: Short answer – incredible.
We worked with Cali from Embark Beyond and I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that our trip would not have been as magical without her expertise and planning.
I had never worked with a travel agent before but with the ever-changing COVID restrictions and nonstop stress that comes with planning a wedding, we knew this was the right call to make. And boy was it.
I was paired with Cali from the start and we connected instantly. I loved her energy and she was incredibly patient with us which I really appreciated. We started planning in the spring (about 6 months out from the trip) and were initially planning to do something like Mexico or Hawaii due to the COVID-related travel restrictions at the time. Cali planned a good chunk of our honeymoon to Cabo when Europe opened up. B and I both agreed that we wanted something a little more special for our honeymoon and neither of us had been to Greece. Cali helped us switch gears quickly and booked the Greece itinerary within a few days so we could take advantage of the prices before they went up with the demand.
The rest of the planning process was seamless.
We gave Cali a range for budget (more on that below) and she began working on our itinerary. Based on our initial conversation, Cali suggested that we do Athens, Mykonos, and Santorini – no arguments there.
Because I’m a bit of a Type A personality *wink wink*, I ended up doing a little bit of research on my end and passed along a few hotels and restaurants we liked. Incorporating the items on our wish list, Cali flushed out the entire itinerary with additional recommendations. Although I initially found the hotels and one or two of the restaurants, Cali found everything else. All activities/tours, the majority of dinners, etc. were all suggested through Cali. After a few rounds of revisions (changing days for certain activities, updating timing for reservations, etc.), we landed on the final itinerary which was perfect.
From there, Cali booked EVERYTHING. She booked all hotel reservations, dining reservations, activities & excursions, private car transfers to and from hotels, domestic flights between cities, ferry tickets, etc. We paid for the majority of expenses directly through the travel agency which made it so much easier for us – we didn’t have to worry about paying for the bigger items while in Greece. This included hotel accommodations, domestic flights, private transfers, entry to all sites, and the fees for all excursions.
The only things we were responsible for were the flights to and from Athens (from Atlanta) and of course our expenses while on the trip (meals, tips, taxis, etc.).
Aside from the fact that working with Cali made planning the honeymoon an actual breeze, she also hooked us up. We got room upgrades, welcome amenities, personalized greetings, and amazing treatment at every single stop on our trip.
My favorite part though was how helpful she was while we were in Greece. She connected us with a colleague that was based in Greece so we could have someone in our timezone in case we had questions or ran into issues. Both Cali and her colleague were available pretty much 24/7. They changed dinner reservations for us if our plans changed, they booked last-minute play tickets, they changed our boat reservation from a group tour to a private cruise and so much more. It made the entire trip stress-free and made it that much easier to truly relax and enjoy our time together.
Q: How did you budget for your honeymoon/what was the cost range for your trip?
A: Fair warning – we splurged.
But rightfully so. This was a once-in-a-lifetime trip for us and we treated it as such. Something to celebrate this new adventure of married life and perhaps the last big trip before we started a family. When we do big trips, we typically save up so we can travel the way we want to. That means they’re also usually few and far between – but worth it.
Pro tip: Opt for a honeymoon registry if you can. Every couple is different and should, of course, prioritize what works best for them. We have already purchased and are set up in our first home. We have savings in the works for a future family. So, we decided that instead of a traditional wedding gift registry, we would do a honeymoon “cash” registry on our wedding website (we used Zola) and allocated those funds to our trip costs.
When we first started working with Cali, we asked her to ballpark how much a 10 day trip in Greece would cost us, knowing that we were planning to do 5-star hotels, fine dining, private and semi-excursions, etc. From there, we added some padding to allow for random and unplanned expenses, miscallenuos activities, etc.
For the type of trip we did (2 people; 8 nights, 9 days; mid level luxury), we used the following budget breakdown:
- Five star accomodations (8 nights): $7-10k
- Flights (international and domestic between stops): $1500-2k
- Meals & drinks (majority fine dining; included lunch, dinners, cocktails between and at meals, desserts): $2-3k
- Activities (entry fees, tours, excursions, spa): $500-$1500
PLEASE NOTE: you absolutely do not have to splurge to have an amazing experience in Greece. Here are a few tips for cutting costs:
- The most expensive thing on our trip was the accommodations. We splurged on a specific type of hotel and room but you don’t have to stay at a five-star property to get a five-star experience. All of the hotels we saw in both Mykonos and Santorini were stunning and they all come with different price points. I don’t think you can have a bad view or bad service from what I’ve heard.
- We splurged pretty heavily on meals and cocktails/wine (honeymoon vibes all the way), specifically dinners. We chose fine dining restuarants, ordered bottles of wine, etc. There are so many great restaurants in Greece and ALL of the food is incredible so you could always pull back and do a few nice dinners sprinkled in with more affordable meals.
- Another way to save is to book group excursions vs private or semi private. We personally wanted a more intimate experience but also spoke to couples on the trip who did group cruises/wine tours and said they were amazing!
Q: How did you pack in a carry-on suitcase for 10 days?
A: Brandon and I haven’t checked a bag on a flight in years. We’ve never lost a bag but we have traveled with friends who have lost luggage or been in a situation where a checked bag held us back from being a little more flexible when traveling. So, we’ve made it a goal of ours to try and pack in a carry-on for all trips.
For Greece, we both packed for ten days in a carry-on suitcase and bookbag. Here are the bags we used.
A few tips for packing in a carry-on for longer trips:
- Plan your outfits: this is the most important. Look at your schedule or itinerary and write out exactly what outfits and how many outfits you’ll need. If you don’t have a hard itinerary, that’s okay. More than likely you’ll need a daytime outfit and a nighttime outfit for each day plus a few miscellaneous outfits like swimsuits + cover-ups, loungewear/pajamas, workout sets, etc. Plan it out. With the exception of 1-2 backup outfits, you don’t need any extra looks that you might wear. Assign every outfit to an activity/day. If it’s not assigned it doesn’t need to be in the suitcase. I like to take pictures of each outfit and store them in a folder on my phone – I also physically write them down in the Notes app, outlining which outfit goes with which day. It makes gettin ready while on vacation that much easier.
- Travel sized everything: Instead of wasting your money on a bunch of travel sized products that you might not even like, buy resuable travel sized containers so you can refill them over time. I love these from Amazon. We even bring a travel sized clothes steamer (it’s a smaller one that isn’t super strong but it’s small and fits in oru bookbags).
- Rol it up: we roll everything. All clothes, swimsuits, workout clothes, etc. are rolled up and placed in the suitcase and bookbag. Rollup your underwear and bras too and stuff them into a pair of sneakers, your purses or the base of your hat.
- Organize your bags: Brandon is a pro at this, me not so much. He rolled his outfits together. So, he’d layer a shirt and shorts on top of eachother and then roll it up into one “roll”. That way, we simply had to reach into his bag and grab a roll. He put all of his undergarments in the bookbag and kept all outfits and shoes in the suitcase.
- Prep your personal item: I always keep the priority toiletries and a backup outfit and underwear in my personal item just in case they make me check my suitcase at the gate (someties the domestic flights in Europe have smaller planes). That way, if I do have to check my bag I have the important stuff on me at all times. I also keep a small bag at the top of my personal bag with things I’ll use the most during the flight/travel day. Think lotion, hand sanitizer, gum, airpods, phone charger, wallet, etc. Because our bags are packed SO tight, you don’t want to and won’t be able to dig through your bag to get something without messing up all of your packing.
Q: What were the COVID protocols & precautions in Greece/when traveling?
A: Make sure you do your research before traveling, especially internationally, when it comes to the current COVID restrictions and guidance. Cali helped us navigate this process which was a huge weight lifted off our shoulders. She stayed up to date on all of the goverment guidance so we wouldn’t have to.
To enter Greece: you need either proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID test taken three days prior to travel. We flew American Airlines and they had us uplaod proof to the Verifly app so we didn’t have to show any physical paperwork – just the barcode on our phone.
To enter the States: you need proof of a negative COVID test, either a rapid test 48 hours before your departure flights or PCR 72 hours before your departure flight. Same as above, we uploaded everything to the Verifly app which made the process at the airport go a lot smoother.
Cali booked our COVID tests directly through our hotel in Santorini. The doctor came to our room and conducted a rapid test. We had our results in person in about 5 minutes and then he emailed us a copy of the test to upload to the app within a few hours.
As far as COVID protocols throughout Greece, we were personally never asked to show proof of vacination for indoor dining which is something we were told might be required. We wore masks indoors and in all car transfers, on flights, on the ferry, etc. and took them off for all outdoor activities and eating/drinking.