So you’re getting married in the Hudson Valley. Venturing a guess, this probably means that you have questioned the use of the word “marriage” altogether, considering instead words like “union,” “partnership,” or the ever-intimate “team.” You might have planned a cozy ceremony in a monastery, a Quaker meeting house, or with a local mayor making a nationwide political statement. But after your organic reception, potluck talking circle, or macrobiotic food fight, you may feel that those EuroDisney tickets suddenly don’t seem as fitting for your honeymoon as you had expected. Don’t worry. This unconventional honeymoon guide steers clear of Club Med, Six Flags, and the Europe of snow-globe Eiffel Towers and Mona Lisa tote bags, instead offering romantic ideas as unconventional as you and your teammate are.
Sitting in a Tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G
You may at first be disappointed to know that although the tree forts at the Hostel in the Forest in coastal Georgia are built alongside the upper branches of trees; they do not actually sit in the trees like they would in your Swiss Family Robinson dream. But the Hostel in the Forest tends to break most expectations. Community dinners, open campfires, a pond to canoe on, a labyrinth, a swimming hole complete with a rope swing, endless paths to wander on, a community garden, a meditation center, and a library full of great books are some of the things the Hostel in the Forest offers. The focus at the hostel is not on profit but on self-knowledge, community, environmental consciousness, and education toward nature-based living. Dinners begin with all current members of the hostel holding hands and sharing a few words of thanks or an observation they had during their days. Couples visiting the hostel often stay in a special tree-fort honeymoon suite. Book the suite comfortably in advance, as the hostel caps the number of guests admitted in order to keep its woods both intimate and peaceful. (912) 264-9738; www.foresthostel.com
It has become increasingly uncommon to look at traveling as an opportunity to give back to, as well as to learn about, another place. Volunteer work is an unexpected adventure to choose for a honeymoon, whether you want to offset some of the flagrant consumption you may have done during your wedding or want to avoid the role of a tourist, instead immersing yourself deeply in another culture with your partner. Speak to some people who have worked in New Orleans to get an idea of its volunteer culture. The city, although facing corruption and tragedy, has been filled with forward-thinking politics since Katrina and Rita. The activism, anti-racist action, permaculture gardens and farming, sustainable housing, and energy development point to enormous potential for the creation of revolutionary urban planning. Habitat for Humanity is working on building a musician’s village in which 81 Habitat-built homes will be made for displaced New Orleans musicians. Common Ground, one of the first organizations present in the relief effort, works on social empowerment issues as well as home-gutting and restoration. Volunteering can bring you to a deeper experience of almost any foreign country that you want to travel to, as well. United Planet specializes in volunteer work internationally, and runs shorter programs that run 1–12 weeks, with several choices on every continent. www.habitat-nola.org
11 Feet or Bust
Most people who visit national parks never venture farther than 10 feet from their cars, so the very suggestion of interaction within the parks beyond the reaches of one’s headlights certainly qualifies as unconventional. Nature is a necessity to the well-being of the body, mind, and spirit, so it probably wouldn’t be too bad for christening a romantic union either. National parks are some of the last places you can interact with nature in its more untouched forms. The proverbial American road trip is making a comeback (did it ever go out of fashion?) with the National Park Pass, which allows one carload of people free access to all national parks in the country for one year after its first use. It’s available online for $50. This country is home to volcanoes, redwoods, ancient ruins, hot springs, sandstone arches, and canyons, but bear in mind they may not be around forever. Redwood National and State Parks have some of the world’s oldest and largest trees; the redwood forests have been described as cathedrals, and more than a few people speak about religious experiences when coming in contact with these 2,000-year-old trees. But they’re disappearing faster than ever. Yosemite National Park and various Redwood State Parks offer camping at various seasons and prices. www.nationalparks.org
Make Like College Students
Jone Miller and Steven Schoen chose to focus their honeymoon on two topics they were interested in—psychic phenomenon and spirit photography. The newlyweds found out about an exhibition to attend and resources abroad to learn more about psychic practice from international perspectives. Gabriel Biderman and Nancy Bartlett were less serious for their baseball-themed honeymoon, on which they visited 12 Major League and two Minor League ballparks, and became proud owners of a bat from the Louisville Slugger Museum engraved “Nancy and Gabriel, Baseball Honeymoon, 2006.” What do you want to know more about? Give your honeymoon a theme, whether it’s art history, shoemaking, psychogeography, civil rights movements, shamanism, or tracing your family history in archival libraries and cemeteries; there are endless resources in the world for the things you and your partner are fascinated by.
Putting the Us in Exodus
International honeymoons too often prevent a genuine experience of a culture, because they become limited to time in hotels, restaurants, and famous landmarks of the country. If you don’t speak the native language, you can easily find yourself isolated within tourist-specific boroughs of foreign cities. In some ways similar to volunteer work, group expeditions focused on bicycling, rock climbing, or trekking the wilderness of a country lend a new access to a foreign place. Exodus, a company focused on forming lasting international relationships, sees particularly adventurous honeymooners participate in their outdoor expeditions in nearly every country on Earth. A 10-day safari hike through Kenya’s Rift Valley is a great choice for adventurous and physically fit newlyweds, while a 30-day grand tour of India makes a more relaxed expedition and includes the Taj Mahal, wildlife watching, and the palaces of Rajasthan. www.exodus.co.uk