MILK + HONEY TRAVELERS FEATURE: A SURPRISE HONEYMOON TO BALI

Hello again! Welcome back to the Milk + Honey Travelers series, a collection of stories from custom trips planned by me and enjoyed by you! Read these real travelers' thoughts and trip summaries for a glimpse of  what’s possible for you.

You’ve read about the foodie vacation in Malta and the luxury winter getaway in Switzerland. Today I am so excited to share a real Milk + Honey Travelers trip that required a whole new level of responsibility: newlyweds Kelsey and Chris trusted me enough to play matchmaker between them and their honeymoon. When they approached me about planning a surprise honeymoon (seriously — they had no idea where they were going until their departure!), I was beyond honored.

Kelsey is a wedding planner, so when she and Chris started designing their own big day, she focused on keeping things special — personalized and unordinary. Because Chris has a busy job and Kelsey was planning about 20 other weddings leading up to her own, they knew right away that they wanted to find someone else to plan the honeymoon.

Planning a surprise honeymoon

“But the idea of the surprise? We were just chatting about it, thinking it would be something totally different,” Kelsey remembers. “I do a ton of traveling, so I knew I could end up hijacking our honeymoon plans, get exactly what I wanted, and Chris would go along with it because that’s the kind of person he is.”

Because I’ve planned a trip for Kelsey before, she and Chris said they felt comfortable giving me the honor of creating a completely blind honeymoon — an itinerary based off my conversations with them about their passions, preferences, and personal must-haves.

But there was a challenge: sometimes even the most perfectly matched couples have opposite travel styles. Kelsey loves adventure and exploring cities. Chris loves snorkeling and sipping cocktails on the beach.

So I got to work on a ‘mysterymoon’ that was reviewed and approved by just one person in the couple’s circle — Kelsey’s mom.

“It was hard giving thousands of dollars over to you without having anyone look at it,” Kelsey admits. “But my mom gave us the thumbs-up. She was so tight-lipped that she didn’t even tell my dad.”

A week or two before the wedding, I sent them a packing list. Then, during the speeches at their reception, Chris and Kelsey opened a box with their full honeymoon instructions and itinerary inside. Though the wedding was over, they immediately had something else to look forward to: a flight the next day to… Bali.

FAVORITE LODGING

Chris: Our stay on the beach. We went to an island called Gili Trawangan. There was beautiful water and sea life there. It was some of the best snorkeling I’ve ever done. We didn’t go out on a boat, do a toar, anything like that — it wasn’t necessary. The reef is right off the island so you can just bring your fins and snorkel and walk out to where the tour boats go.

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Bali honeymoon Gili Trawangan

Kelsey: I loved our hotel in the jungle in Ubud. We had a private pool. And having a bathtub outside is super cool. Having a toilet outside is a different experience, but we quickly realized that’s just what they do in Bali! All of the accommodations were top-notch, and everywhere we stayed was air conditioned.

Where to stay in Ubud for honeymoon

MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE: BALINESE BLESSING

Most Milk + Honey Travelers get the chance to talk through itinerary changes before the trip. With Chris and Kelsey, I knew I had to get it right the first time. Since this was their honeymoon, I decided to schedule a romantic cultural experience I hoped they would love — a traditional Balinese wedding blessing.

Kelsey: It was totally not something I would have picked to do, but it was cool! We showed up at the temple, where there were all these people from the community. We sat on a stage and wrote our birthdays, then the priest came out and took the papers and analyzed them according to the Balinese calendar.

A luxury Bali honeymoon

After a brief meeting with the priest, the couple were ushered onto the stage in front of dozens of Balinese people who had arrived at the temple.

Kelsey: During the blessing, we stood up and drank rose water out of our hands three times, then out of each other’s hands. We put rose petals on our faces and the priest spoke and dripped water on our face. It was a whole ceremony.

Chris: It was completely different. We didn’t really know the culture and how to properly communicate with people, but in the end it was a really, really good experience. I’m glad we did it.


MEMORABLE EXPERIENCES: SEA TURTLES + WHITEWATER RAFTING

Part of the fun of building Chris and Kelsey’s surprise honeymoon was choosing experiences that suited their different vacation styles.

For Kelsey, I planned them a whitewater rafting trip. She also enjoyed a luxury spa day at my own favorite spa in Bali.

For Chris, I booked them a luxurious beach retreat on Gili T, where he swam with sea turtles while Kelsey relaxed on the sand. Before the trip, Kelsey told me that since she has done so much traveling in her life, she wanted to make sure Chris ended up in a place he could get really excited about. I was thrilled to hear him say the snorkeling on Gili T was the best in his life!

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Planning a honeymoon in Bali

ADVICE FOR COUPLES CONSIDERING A SURPRISE HONEYMOON?

Chris: Be open to doing things you might think you’d never do yourself, things out of your comfort zone or wheelhouse.

Kelsey: I loved it! I would absolutely do it again. Clearly communicate what you’re expecting on the trip. Give ideas of regions. That might help you feel a little better if you’re worried. But we were like ‘It could honestly be anywhere.’


THOUGHTS ON USING A TRAVEL ADVISOR?

Kelsey: “I think it’s great because Bri can chat with us and consider both sides. I like to be busy all the time. Chris likes to relax. It’s nice having someone who can find a location that suits both needs.

And then with the logistical aspect of things — flights, all the transportation — you never worry whether you have a ride or need to get a taxi! When we were there, we could just enjoy the place we were in.

Trust me, it’s the best money we ever spent. She’ll give you amazing hotels. She’ll give you personal options for activities. It’s truly customizable, which is great for a honeymoon.

Planning a surprise honeymoon

To Kelsey and Chris I just want to again say THANK YOU. Thank you for trusting me, for giving me a chance to blow you away with the honeymoon of your dreams. Ever trip I plan includes a custom itinerary built on my clients’ wishlist, interests, and personalities… But this truly took it to the next level.

Playing matchmaker between people and destinations never gets old. So who’s next? If you are interested in a Milk + Honey luxury trip (surprise or not!) for yourself or someone you love, please get in touch. Let’s get dreaming!