Dirty rats and wedding woes

Honeymoons are held up as the ultimate romantic escape, but things don't always go to plan, a survey of changing attitudes to the lovers' getaway shows.

Would your honeymoon rate as your best holiday ever?

Mine wouldn't.

We had a rat on our bed in the middle of the night - a very discerning rat, it was, in an expensive resort in Tahiti - and then our plane broke down when we were due to fly home.

We were exhausted from the wedding and moving house and sat there wondering why we'd felt compelled to travel all the way to Tahiti just because it was our honeymoon, when there are perfectly good beaches in Australia.

It wasn't a huge success* and it seems we're not alone.

The travel and lifestyle website lastminute.com.au surveyed more than 7000 Australians and found that despite the hype, time and money invested in honeymoons, they are often far from being the romantic, hand-holding idylls of the glossy brochures.

Only one in three women and less than half of men rated their honeymoon as their best holiday ever, according to results released exclusively to Fairfax Media.


Reasons given for less-than-ideal honeymoons included the trip being too rushed, too short, too boring or a time when someone got sick.

Some people said not being able to afford something extravagant was the problem, while others were feeling the pressure to save for a house instead.

Some reported their honeymoon was spent arguing, while one woman went as far as saying she didn't enjoy her honeymoon because "my husband was there".

"I prefer to travel alone or with my grown-up kids," she said.

Some respondents said they chose the wrong type of holiday, while others said their honeymoon was their best holiday at the time but they have had better trips since.

General manager of lastminute.com.au Kirsty Labruniy says many respondents made comments such as "we know each other and our holiday tastes much better now", indicating that a honeymoon is the beginning rather than the "be all and end all" of travelling together.

"The anniversary holidays might be the better ones," she says.

While our expectations of honeymoons may be too high, the survey shows we are willing to invest in them.

The most popular length of honeymoon was two weeks, while one-fifth of honeymooners went away for three weeks or more.

More than a fifth of survey respondents spent $5000 or more on their honeymoon, while another 29 per cent spent between $2000 and $5000.

Gen Y are the most likely to splash out on something expensive, while baby boomers - perhaps marrying for the second or third time - tend to be modest spenders.

Travel Associates, which caters for the premium end of the honeymoon market, says its customers typically spend $20,000 or more on a honeymoon, with a recent trend towards combining luxury accommodation with soft adventure.

Travel Associates general manager David Lovelock says there has been a move towards African safaris and high-end ski holidays rather than sitting on a beach.

"Even South America has been getting more interest from honeymooners over the past 12 months," Lovelock says.

Another emerging trend is couples asking wedding guests to contribute to the cost of the honeymoon, with 8 per cent of respondents in the lastminute.com.au survey adopting this approach.

Gen Y has particularly embraced the concept, with 21 per cent asking for donations, compared with 10 per cent of Gen X couples and only 2 per cent of baby boomers.

Labruniy believes this is partly due to couples being already set up in a home together before they get married and partly due to higher expectations around luxury for younger travellers.

"If you look at the baby boomers, they're [typically] spending less than $500 on a honeymoon in Queensland," she says.

"Gen Y are asking for contributions from their wedding guests so they are able to go overseas."

Labruniy, who is recently married, says she has been asked to contribute to honeymoons and is happy to do so.

"Some people feel a bit icky about asking for money but it does make it easy on the guests," she says.

"And you can't begrudge someone a wonderful honeymoon."

*The marriage is still going strong, but the rat phobia remains.

Honeymoon hot spots

French equals romantic, it seems, with French Polynesia and Paris topping honeymoon wish lists. Women surveyed by lastminute.com.au put Bora Bora in first place and Paris second, while men chose vice versa.

Beach break favourites Fiji and tropical north Queensland ranked well with both men and women, while New York rounded out the top five.

The survey found 55 per cent of Australians honeymoon on home soil, while 45 per cent go overseas. Baby boomers are the most likely to holiday in Australia, while Gen Y are most likely to go offshore.