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The Short Version: In 2002, the co-founders of Traveler’s Joy weren’t impressed with the limited options available on wedding registries. Most of Brandon Warner and Tony Alexander’s friends had no choice but to ask for home goods instead of the memorable honeymoon experiences they preferred. So they started Traveler’s Joy to transform wedding registries and give couples the experiences they desired. Traveler’s Joy allows couples to register for trips around the world and one-of-a-kind excursions, and guests can fund the couple’s dream honeymoon.
When Brandon Warner was in his early 20s, his friends started getting married, and it wasn’t long before he became frustrated by the limited options couples had on their wedding registries.
“I remember buying something for a friend that I thought was kind of silly. It was a nice spoon, but an expensive piece of cutlery,” he told us.
As an avid world traveler, Brandon knew a lot of couples who would rather have experiences than the home goods typically available on a registry. For example, the same couple he gave the cutlery to didn’t have enough money to take the honeymoon they wanted.
“They weren’t going to have the money to go on a honeymoon, but here I was buying this expensive spoon,” Brandon said.
That’s where the idea for Traveler’s Joy, a site that allows couples to register for honeymoon experiences and excursions, was born.
In 2002, Brandon took time off from his job to hike in New Zealand. There, he met Tony Alexander, who was also taking time off work to travel. While talking, they both mentioned that a lot of their friends felt limited by the traditional items available for their wedding registries.
Brandon and Tony turned their focus to developing Traveler’s Joy for couples whose love of travel eclipses that of home goods.
At first, the company was a passion project that the two friends worked on outside of their day jobs. After a few years, the company became popular enough that Brandon and Tony left those jobs to devote all of their time to the project. They even started hiring staff.
As it turned out, Traveler’s Joy struck a chord with couples.
“Our users valued experiences over stuff. They valued travel — especially travel outside of their comfort zones,” Brandon said.
Couples who use Traveler’s Joy can direct their guests to a registry filled with experiences rather than traditional items.
One example is Phillip and Sherrell’s 2016 honeymoon to Aruba. On their registry, they included airfare and their hotel stay, and their wedding guests chipped in. But they also asked for dream experiences, including snorkeling, sea kayaking, and parasailing.
A single guest or couple doesn’t have to pay for an entire registry item. For example, 20 guests gave $50 each for Phillip and Sherrell’s flights to Aruba, and two guests split their sea kayaking excursion.
While couples may design their itineraries from scratch, they can also use the templates constructed by Traveler’s Joy for popular destinations. These customizable itineraries are called instant registries.
“If you want to go to Bermuda, you could select an instant registry to find places to stay, restaurants, activities, and other experiences,” Brandon said. “Then, you can go in and personalize it.”
For example, if a couple doesn’t want to participate in some of the suggested excursions, they can easily remove those ideas — and add their own.
They can also create a completely original registry if they want to honeymoon somewhere more off the beaten path. Traveler’s Joy also allows couples to add customized descriptions detailing why they’re seeking a particular excursion or place to stay — which can help their guests feel more connected and involved.
“In the customized description, we want couples to say more than just ‘horseback ride on the beach.’ They should talk about why they want to take the trip. They might want to tell that guests that they just got scuba certified, so they want to go diving on the honeymoon,” Brandon said.
Once a couple creates a registry, they can then easily let their guests know where to look. Traveler’s Joy also partners with popular wedding planning website The Knot to allow friends and family members to find the registry with a quick search.
After that, the guest can choose the experience that they want to give — or leave it up to the couple.
“Someone can also order a gift card that’s sent to the couple. Or it can be sent to the gift-giver if they want to give it at the wedding,” Brandon said.
Once someone chooses an experience, the registry updates quickly so wedding attendees aren’t gifting the same snorkeling expedition over and over.
When the couple is ready to set off on their honeymoon, Traveler’s Joy provides them with a check or bank transfer for the gifts they’ve received. They use the funds to coordinate the trip themselves. That way, if the couple needs to opt out of an experience, they won’t lose the money given to them.
After the trip, Traveler’s Joy simplifies the process of sending thank-you cards. The couple receives a complete list of givers, the gifts they contributed to, and their email and physical addresses.
“They also know what gifts they were given,” said Brandon. “I remember at my wedding, we forgot what some people got us, and that made it hard to write thank-you notes.”
Though Traveler’s Joy already helps couples with their honeymoon planning and thanking guests, the company wants to do even more. Now, it has set its sights on assisting couples in choosing their dream honeymoon destination.
“Our new goal is to reach out to some of the bigger names to get a sense of what locations are trending for honeymoons so we can make recommendations,” said Brandon.
Couples who use Traveler’s Joy tend to be a little bit older — often in their late-20s to mid-30s. Unlike those who marry younger, these more established couples often already have the household goods they need. They’re also adventure-seekers who want to make memories instead of accumulating more stuff.
These couples can use the registry to travel for more extended periods and go to more distant locales than they ever thought possible, and it’s often only through Traveler’s Joy that they can turn those honeymoons into realities.
“A lot of the reasons people don’t travel as much as they want to is because it’s expensive. With Traveler’s Joy, we’ve done two things. First, we help couples take longer and more exotic honeymoons. Second, we help travelers go to places they may never have thought of going to,” Brandon said.
The company uses its honeymoon stories, sample itineraries, and destination guides to inspire couples to choose new and exciting vacation spots. In addition to some couples sharing their own registries, Traveler’s Joy also asks its staff members to share must-see spots from their travels.
“We want people to have freedom in where and when they work,” Brandon told us. “So, since we have folks who travel quite a bit, we ask them to bring some of their experiences into Traveler’s Joy.”
In the last several years, Brandon has taken pride in disrupting the registry industry. Still, he wants to keep spreading the word that couples don’t have to ask for monogrammed towels as wedding gifts.
“Honeymoon registries are here now, and you can go further and for longer than you ever expected. That’s what we’re focused on over the next few years, to help more couples choose a honeymoon registry,” he said.