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.

A humpback whales dives into the waters of Monterey bay just as the sun makes its way beneath the horizon.
A humpback whales dives into the waters of Monterey Bay just as the sun makes its way beneath the horizon.

Featured Photo: ©Chase Dekker Wild-Life Images/Getty Royalty Free

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 already 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.

Sunset in Oceanside, Oregon
Sunset in Oceanside, Oregon

Featured Photo: ©Diana Robinson Photography/Getty Royalty Free

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 traveling.

Ask yourself the following two questions when deciding what destination will work best for your trip:

  1. Is my destination choice different enough from where I live and my everyday life that I’ll feel the full effect of travel’s magic?
  2. Is my destination 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?
The Watchman, Zion National Park, Utah
The Watchman, Zion National Park, Utah

Featured Photo: ©Justin Reznick Photography/Getty Royalty Free 


For some travelers, 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 11 a.m and 2 p.m. Travelers 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.

Colonial buildings and balconies in the historic center of Cartagena, Colombia.
Colonial buildings and balconies in the historic center of Cartagena, Colombia.

Featured Photo: ©Jess Kraft/Shutterstock Royalty Free

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 breaks 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.

View of the modern part of Cartagena, Colombia with a stone cross in the foreground
Cartagena can provide beaches and culture in one neat package for American minimooners.

Featured Photo: ©Jess Kraft/500px Royalty Free

Couple of best friends taking selfie during sunset at Twin Peaks in San Francisco - Modern concept of friendship with new trends and technology - Travel girlfriends having emotional fun together
Sunset at Twin Peaks in San Francisco.

Featured Photo: ©View Apart/Shutterstock Royalty Free

The Algonquin Island Retreat in Canada is only a few hours from the New York state border.

Featured Photo: ©Voyageur Quest

Freighter off Panama’s Caribbean coast waiting to enter Panama Canal.
Panama is a great destination for the more off the beaten path travelers.

Featured Photo: ©Mark Read/Lonely Planet

Honeymoon-Handbook-1-9781786576200-TopDownReproduced with permission from The Honeymoon Handbook, © 2017 Lonely Planet. The Honeymoon Handbook is available to purchase here.

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