Planning your honeymoon can be stressful. Piecing together the perfect itinerary while also finalizing a thousand details for the wedding? Even more so. That’s why we go above and beyond with the tools, resources and support needed to make your dream vacation a reality with as little friction as possible.
But don’t take our word for it. We sat down with Aubrey, a Celebration Wishes client who recently returned from Borneo, and asked about her experience with the registry, adventures in faraway lands and more.
What were a few of your original dream destinations and why?
I was really excited about Turkey, Italy and Japan. They all have such diverse landscapes. In fact, I planned itineraries for each of those destinations. But after talking with my husband and figuring out what we both expected in a honeymoon it became clear that we needed to reset.
We both wanted something adventurous, that’s for sure. But our ideas of adventure differed. I love road trips, passing from town to town and immersing myself in the different cultures of regions. He prefers climbing, hiking and activities like that.
How did you eventually pick the destination?
After hours of research, we finally decided on Borneo. It’s a giant, rugged island in Southeast Asia known for beautiful beaches, towering granite mountains, mysterious caves, an ancient rainforest and a variety of wildlife. My husband had always wanted to go, but it checked a lot of boxes for me as well. It wasn’t Turkey, Italy or Japan, but it was still an amazing adventure that exceeded both of our expectations.
What kinds of tools or resources did you use to plan the trip?
Google was the starting point for most of my planning. I visited online forums as well as Atlas Obscura for tips on where to go and what shouldn’t be missed. The latter is a great resource if you’re looking for things that aren’t so “touristy.” I use it on pretty much every trip I take to get off the beaten path.
For places to stay, I searched Airbnb and did some direct room reservations on Marriot’s website.
Are there any tools or resources you wish you had access to while planning, but didn’t?
Short of a travel agent that does all the planning for me, I don’t know of anything.
Did you ask anyone for advice, seek out reviews or references, etc. as you planned?
I read what seemed like 1,000s of reviews to make sure I was informed about everything from flights to the routes we planned to take on our road trip to stops along the way.
One resort comes to mind, which looked stunning in photos. The reviews about it told a different story so we chose an alternative and I’m happy we did. I remember driving by it and seeing mounds of trash all around.
In general, the reviews were key because Borneo isn’t a common destination. I couldn’t ask friends or family because no one has been there. Most people don’t even know what it is!
On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your trip overall and why?
It was a ten.
Think about a normal trip. There’s a highlight or two. Ours was like 15 unforgettable adventures packed into one trip. Cave diving. Scuba diving. Mountain hiking. Jungle and rainforest tours. Scootering. Sunbathing. Massages. We did things there that we’ll likely never get to do again.
What were a few specific highlights of the trip?
This is tough. If I have to narrow it down, Angthong National Marine Park, Kinabatangan River and Mount Kinabalu stand out.
We actually spent a few days in Thailand, specifically the Angthong National Marine Park in Koh Samui. During a boat ride, we passed different islands where we were able to kayak, snorkel, hike or just lie in the sand and bask in the sun.
We stayed on the Kinabatangan River for a few days. Each morning, we took a guided boat tour to see wildlife like crocodiles, proboscis monkeys, orangutan, pygmy elephants and more. This was followed by a nature walk through the jungle after lunch then a sunset boat ride before dinner. In the evening, a guide would take us on a night walk to see wild nocturnal animals. The villa we stayed in was a stunning little log cabin with high ceilings and a tin roof which was magical when it rained. Our hosts even dressed it up as a honeymoon suite!
We booked a guided hike to the top of this Mount Kinabalu in Sabah. We are rock climbers and have done some strenuous hikes, but this was a major challenge. No switch backs. In just a few hundred feet, the weather can turn on a dime. At one point it went from hot and muggy to torrential downpour with below freezing temperatures. And if you don’t go slow enough, altitude sickness can set in. Despite all that, it was worth the heavenly view. It was as if we were on top of the world.
Were there any lowlights?
Sad to say it was the road trip. I was looking forward to it, but I didn’t invest enough time in planning. We were surprised to find that there’s nothing to see there other than palm oil plantations. It’s all there was for, literally, hours. The roads weren’t well maintained either, which made for an uncomfortable ride.
Do you feel like you missed anything?
Of course, but I’m not disappointed. There’s simply too much to do when you visit a destination like that. I wouldn’t have changed a thing about our honeymoon except to spend extra time there and go on even more adventures. Perhaps on the remote, Indonesian side of the island where we could explore.
I knew it going in. I did so much research, dug so deep, I was fully aware that we simply couldn’t experience everything Borneo had to offer.
Is there anything you wish you knew before you left?
The road trip comes to mind again. It would have been useful information to know about the lack of scenery and the state of the roads. It could have saved us days of travel.
Is there anything you would have done differently in planning or while you traveled?
Nothing else comes to mind. There are always ups and down during travel. On the whole, the trip was unforgettable.
Would a registry have helped in planning or while you traveled?
We created a registry, which allowed friends and family to contribute how they wanted to. It was extremely helpful.
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