Why Couples Are Scrapping the Traditional Honeymoon — and What They're Doing Instead

The hottest honeymoon trend promotes bonding through shared adventures.

Two people look out at wildlife from a hotel spa pool in Chile
Tierra Patagonia makes a great base for a photography-focused trip to Chile. Photo:

Courtesy of Tierra Patagonia via The Legacy Untold

“Every trip we do is educational,” says Nuriel Molcho, a restaurateur and hatmaker who lives in Vienna. When he and his now-wife, Audrey, were putting together their honeymoon with the help of the travel planners at Untold Story Travel, they insisted that food be the focus. After all, Molcho cofounded Neni, a modern Israeli restaurant chain that now has locations across Europe. For their postnuptial trip, the couple wanted a journey that would lead to a deeper understanding of Japan’s culinary culture — the more hands-on, the better.

Untold Story, whose cofounder Chris Brunning is on T+L’s A-List of travel advisors, dreamed up a two-week itinerary that saw the couple foraging for wild plants along Lake Kussharo in Hokkaido, learning about Nikkei cuisine with a protégé of Nobu Matsuhisa in the ski village of Niseko, and being schooled in preparing fugu, the poisonous puffer fish that’s famously tricky to handle. Meals ranged from feasts at Michelin-starred destination restaurants to casual yakitori dinners. The trip was indulgent as well as packed — and that’s just how the couple wanted it. “I would do it exactly the same way again,” Molcho says.

Pair of photos, one showing Lake Kussharo in Japan, and one showing a couple holding snorkeling gear in Hawaii
From left: On the shore of Lake Kussharo, in Hokkaido, Japan; a couple holds snorkeling gear in a tide pool on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

From left: Solveig Placier/Getty Images; iStockphoto/Getty Images

Untold Story isn’t the only travel firm creating intensive, do-it-all vacations that are upending the traditional idea of a honeymoon. “Newlyweds are no longer looking for a nice beach to veg on for a week,” says Annie Jones, founder of Telos Travel. “More and more clients are requesting ways to connect with the local environment, people, and culture — before I even have a chance to suggest it.”

That’s particularly true on more adventurous journeys, like the Oman itineraries that advisors at Remote Lands can arrange for honeymooners. They’ve put together Arabic-immersion courses, as well as Omani pottery-making classes. T+L Travel Advisory Board member Mark Lakin, founder of the Legacy Untold, often recommends photography-focused tours of places such as Chilean Patagonia, Kenya, and Tanzania, with lessons on aperture and shutter speed mixed in with wildlife-watching.

An Omani pottery master looking at his work in Muscat
An Omani potter shows off his work.

Getty Images

For her part, Jones is hot on Kauai. “Between the snorkeling, the stunning Napali Coast, and hiking at Waimea Canyon State Park, it offers a great mix of activities,” she notes. “The new Malama Hawaii Program makes it easy to find ways to give back to local communities on the island.”

A version of this story first appeared in the November 2022 issue of Travel + Leisure under the headline "Lessons in Love."

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