There is a lot of tradition wrapped up around weddings. The honeymoon is no exception. The ‘moon’ part relates to the month that a newly wed couple would spend together almost in isolation. The ‘honey’ perhaps represents the sweetness of this time. Some couples apparently ate a spoon of honey every day during the first month. (Maybe they needed the energy!).
When Marc and I planned our honeymoon, it was hardly going to be the first time we were going to be alone - we had already lived together for two years. It certainly wasn’t going to be our first holiday together either. We had already holidayed across Europe, including some flying holidays. Was it perhaps time to break with tradition for the first holiday of our married life? We decided we would travel to Paris by train, and announced our modest flight-free honeymoon destination to friends and family with some trepidation.
To our surprise, our decision was met with almost universal approval. It was ‘romantic’, ‘sweet’, ‘old fashioned’. Some assumed this was a ‘mini-moon’ (a short holiday taken immediately after the wedding) and that we were saving ourselves for a ‘real’ holiday later in the year. Once corrected, these people were surprised, but not critical.
It amused me that what we were doing was seen as old fashioned, when what I was actually doing was looking very firmly to the future. We loved each other, of course, and fully intended, as most married couples do, to spend the rest of our lives together. Would we, in our married lifetime, see the horrific consequences of unrestricted flying? Not if I had anything to do with it.
As many non-flyers discover, a flight free holiday becomes much more about the journey. Going to Paris was clichéd perhaps, but undeniably romantic. Setting off from Yorkshire, we travelled first class on the train to London. It is much cheaper and easier to lux up your travel when you are not flying. We had a night in London, which we would not have had otherwise, and visited the recently-opened Shard, which was quite spectacular.
Leaving for Paris on the Eurostar felt quite exciting enough. It took a few hours, but we were still at the stage, two days into married life, where we were quite happy just staring at each other, not quite believing we were really married. Time flew by. Paris was filthy and beautiful, exhausting and demanding, romantic and quite exotic enough. We did everything visitors ought to, and were very lucky with the weather.
We have just celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary. During that time all our holidays have been flight-free. We have travelled to some truly exciting locations and always enjoyed the journey as much as the destination. I plan to never fly again. My husband is taking some convincing and has flown himself in the meantime, but as a couple we holiday on the ground. At the end of my life I would like to look back to our honeymoon and think that none of our wedded holidays contributed to a climate crisis that will surely be undeniable fifty years from now.
What is a modern honeymoon after all? For most, it has become a something of a challenge. With so many couples holidaying together pre-marriage, there seems to be a need for it to be further, more expensive, more exotic, and sadly, with ever more airmiles. If you love each other, you will probably be happy anywhere. Whatever you want, beach, culture, adventure, nature, luxury, it is all accessible within two days of travel. Never will so many people be interested in hearing about your holiday destination. It is a really powerful opportunity to show people that the best holidays do not begin and end with flights.