Rather than a staid old post about how wonderful our two weeks in paradise were, I thought I’d offer up a little something different.

My wife and I1 are lucky enough to have travelled quite a bit; not always to far-flung and exotic places, but we’ve done a good few loops of the UK for business, pleasure or charity work.

We’re assembling something of a “standard operating procedure” when it comes to making the most of our time away, so I thought I’d share our thoughts on what helped make our honeymoon great.

1. Rent a house

Having your own space in which to lounge, spread out, chill out and generally be away from other people can be really valuable for a couple (or a family).

I’m no hermit, but I do like to have a space I can call my own and, because K and I tend to work on different sleeping schedules (I’m often awake before 6am, particularly with jet-lag), it’s wonderful for us both to be able to get up out of bed2 and take ourselves to a different room to read, chill out or watch some terrible American TV.

The other biggest bonus of renting a house or an apartment is simply the cost-savings compared to hotels. When I visited Washington in May, I used AirBnB to rent a one-bed apartment for 3 days for almost half the cost of the same 3 nights in a decent hotel. Hawai’i was the same, saving us around 40% on the cost of a hotel room.

2. Buy groceries (but not when you’re hungry)

The other huge advantage to an apartment is that it will come with all the kind of ameneties that you don’t necessarily get in a hotel room: fridge, freezer, over and hob, cupboard space3 that means you can buy your own breakfasts and lunches and just splurge on going out for dinner.

Like shopping at home, though, always make sure you do it after a meal, not on an empty stomach. Particularly when you’re in a foreign country, all of the little treats you wouldn’t find at home become twice as appealing and can lead to some terrible shopping choices4.

3. Build in some chill time

the beach at polihale, kauai
The temptation when you’re visiting a place for a short amount of time, like our 7 nights on Kaua’i, is to rush around and fit as much in as possible. And of course, seeing and experiencing the world you’re visiting is a key part of any trip, but exhausting yourself when it’s physically impossible to see everything a place has to offer is just silly.

The best way to plan for chilling is to make lists: the places you absolutely have to go and things you absolutely must do; the things you would love to do/see/go to; the things that would be lovely to see/do/go to; and the things that it would be nice to do it you have time.

That way you can prioritise what you want to get done.

4. Create habits

Surely a week is too short to create habits?

Not necessarily; when you’re in a new environment away from home and everything’s different, you can do it almost instantly.

Habits of scheduling are particularly useful; K and I used to wake up around 6-7am and have a slow, leisurely breakfast and cup of tea (for her) or coffee (for me) before setting out into the world around 9am.

This worked perfectly for us because it means we missed the major heat of the day, but also a lot of the long-sleeping not-so-jetlagged American and Japanese tourists. In fact, getting out into the world before 10am will generally get you ahead of most tourists in a town, which gives the place a much calmer feel.

We’d generally busy ourselves with sight-seeing and things up to 1-2pm, at which point we’d swing around for home and crash out for the afternoon by our pool or take a nap so we were awake for the evening’s dinner.

5. Rent a car (prefereably a 4×4)

the road up to the Waimea Canyon & Na'Pali Coast lookouts, Kauai, Hawaii
The best way to explore a spaced-out place like Kaua’i (or a lot of American towns) is by having a car. On the Garden Island, public transport is not too great and the towns and sights are all spaced a good 10-15 miles apart. On Big Island, our second stop, it’s even more crazy: there are only 3 or 4 major towns on the island and they are all a good 2+ hour drive from each other.

If you know that the place you’ll be going to is mountainous and not particularly built-up, it’s also well worth getting a 4×4 instead of a compact or regular car. The number of times you’ll go down wrong tracks, take dodgy roads or find yourself painted into a corner without 4-wheel drive is remarkable.

Plus, it helps with number 6:

6. Go secret roading

the creek bed in kauai, discovered while secret roading
K and I have been secret roading since before we were together. As mates we would just jump in the car and drive around, exploring wherever we were (mostly around the countryside near our little apartment).

The principles and rules of secret roading are another blog post in themselves (stay tuned for a proper explanation on Friday), but essentially is consists of driving down random roads and seeing what you find.

Our favourite place on the whole of Kaua’i, Polihale Beach, was found through a secret roading adventure.

The reason a 4×4 is a good shout if you are going to rent a car is that it will get you out of almost anywhere. The most fun you can have is when you end up down a tiny one-way track that leads to almost nowhere and that an ordinary car wouldn’t get down.

7. Remember to have fun

If it stops being fun, stop doing whatever you’re doing.

If you’re bored sitting chilling at home, get out and do something.

If being out and about is too tiring to be enjoyable any more, go home and rest.

Whatever you’re doing when you travel for fun should be just that: fun. If it’s not, stop. Life’s too short and your vacation definitely isn’t long enough to handle it.

Our honeymoon

Our two weeks on Kaua’i and Hawai’i (or the Big Island, as it’s more commonly known) were two of the most remarkable, memorable weeks we’ve ever spent together.

From chilling on our beach to laughing with crazy-tiredness on a lap of the Big Island, we’ve done things we’d never dream of and things we’d never do again. We’ve had highs, lows and dramatic middles, but all of it was an experience that will colour our memory of this wonderful summer forever.

More to come, so keep your eyes right here.

Some other posts you might like:

  1. how cool is that, by the way? My WIFE! []
  2. or come back to bed later than the other at night []
  3. you’d be amazed what a difference a little bit of cupboard space makes to relaxing the atmosphere by de-cluttering []
  4. Jerky and Twinkies for dinner anyone? []