A honeymoon may be the perfect get-out-of-jail-free card with your boss that lets you take a longer vacation than usual, but sometimes life gets in the way and that epic trip just has to wait. That needn’t mean giving up on the idea altogether, though.

Consider a ‘minimoon’ – an abbreviated version of your ultimate getaway. If you’re short on time but big on ideas, this could be the trip for you.

Minimoon magic: a couple sit next to the pink water of Las Coloradas, Mexico © jin chu ferrer / Getty
Escape the wedding madness at Las Coloradas, Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico © jin chu ferrer / Getty

Why take a minimoon?

There are several reasons why a minimoon might work best for you. Some spouses-to-be plan a short getaway before the wedding. This growing trend in some parts of the world is like a palate cleanser in advance of the big day: you’ve worked really hard to plan the ceremony and the party, and want to step back and find your Zen before saying ‘I do’. The more classic reason for condensing your time away is that it’s simply not possible to take a long trip right after the nuptials – perhaps work commitments are biting, or you’ve got kids. In cases such as this, a minimoon can become the main event or, for some, the stopgap before a more traditional honeymoon further down the road.

Minimoon magic: a couple hike upstream in a forest © Jacob Lund / Shutterstock
Why not get back to nature on your minimoon? © Jacob Lund / Shutterstock

Where, how long and how far?

Typically, a minimoon could be anything from a weekend to a week away. When planning your trip, consider following this simple rule: the number of hours you travel should not be greater than the number of days of your trip. So, for a four-day trip, for example, you should ostensibly book a flight no longer than four hours. This equation essentially safeguards against two things: crippling jet lag and spending too much time of your short trip travelling. Ask yourself the following two questions when deciding what destination will work best for your trip:

  • Is my destination of choice different enough from where I live and my everyday life that I’ll feel the full effect of travel’s magic?
  • Is my destination of choice different enough from my ‘real’ honeymoon down the road (should you be planning one) that it will feel like a special trip in itself?
Minimoon magic: a couple in white dressing gowns on a London apartment balcony © izusek / Getty Images
Treat yourselves to a room with a view, at the very least © izusek / Getty Images

Where to stay

For some travellers, a minimoon is the only way to climb up to the next price bracket. By shortening a stay, a dream hotel may suddenly come into reach. If there’s a super-special resort on your Pinterest board, now’s the time to book it! In general, time is extra valuable on a minimoon so it’s best to stick to one accommodation and avoid additional hours wasted on transferring hotels and falling into that awkward post-check-out/pre-check-in vacuum between 11am and 2pm. Travellers wanting two stripes to their minimoon (beach and city, say) should target a destination that offers both, like Cartagena in Colombia or Lisbon in Portugal, rather than moving between two stops on one trip.

Minimoon magic: A female couple wearing sunhats look out over a canyon © Margaret.W / Shutterstock
'We get to have spa treatments after this hike, right?' © Margaret.W / Shutterstock

Itinerary tips

Like a regular honeymoon, an itinerary for a shorter foray should read like a story. The action should gradually crescendo – you’ve just left the hectic rhythm of your life behind and need a moment to click into vacation mode. The middle of the trip functions like the meat of the sandwich. Get out there and explore, do everything on your checklist (leaving room for serendipity, of course) and joke about needing a vacation from the vacation. Then, push the brakes as you approach the end of the trip.

The last piece of the itinerary – even if it’s just one day – is the happy ending. Does the hotel have a spa? Great – soothe those walking legs in the jacuzzi. Is there an incredible restaurant around the corner? Wonderful – enjoy a long, luxurious dinner. This is the time to remember the trip’s raison d’être: celebrating each other. The last slice of the vacation should leave you feeling refreshed and poised to return home to brag to your friends.

Minimoon magic: a happy couple pose in the RiNo district, Denver © Natalie Nicolson
The happy couple making memories in Denver, Colorado © Natalie Nicolson

Lonely Planet staff stories

Denver, three days – Natalie Nicolson, Senior PR and Communications Manager

My husband and I rented a Volkswagen van for our wedding and were planning on a big road trip down the California coast to New Mexico, but since we wanted to spend more time with relatives in town, we opted for a quick, easy trip instead, to unwind together for a few days post-wedding.

We got an inexpensive flight from Oakland to Denver, where we had never been, and had a great time taking in the city: staying in a high-rise apartment, hiking near Red Rocks Amphitheater, going on a brewery tour through LoDo and RiNo neighborhoods, listening to live music, and lots and lots of eating. One of the (surprisingly romantic) highlights of the trip was the Denver Museum of Nature and Science with its stunning views of downtown and the mountains beyond.

Paris, four days – Helen Elfer, Content Sources Manager

We weren't planning to take a proper honeymoon any time soon, but wanted a short break to relax after all the wedding excitement. Our friends had come to London for our wedding from NYC and Shanghai, and it seemed such a missed opportunity to not be able to spend a decent amount of time with them when they'd travelled so far, so we arranged to all meet in Paris a few days later.

I guess it's not very traditional to bring four friends and baby along on a honeymoon! We strolled round Belleville to check out the street art and hit up any bars we could find with 'coupe de champagne' on Happy Hour special offer. We had heaps of fun and it definitely helped soften the post-wedding comedown.

Scotland, four days – Dan Fahey, Destination Editor for Western Europe

We had four days between us tying the knot and our friends walking down the aisle the following weekend, so we decided to grab a quick break in-between – primarily to avoid the post-wedding clean up. I imagined a traditional honeymoon would feature a little more relaxation, perhaps a sun lounger and a cocktail. This was Scotland in October, though. So gale-force winds and Tennant’s lager it was.

Each morning we’d drive to a new hiking spot to splash foolhardily through lashing elements as our cagoules inflated and flapped about in the wind like brightly-coloured carrier bags. Then it was back to the hotel for a hot bath, whiskies in front of the crackling fire in the hotel bar and a three-course dinner. Pure bliss. Maybe we should renew our vows and go back?


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