Destination Funerals: Out-of-the-Box Memorial Ideas

Funerals create a meaningful space for family and friends to mourn, remember, and celebrate loved ones together. In the initial stages of the healing process, funeral arrangements help us transition from life to death by honoring the deceased’s life while allowing us to receive emotional support, express feelings, and thus begin the grieving process.

Every person builds a unique life journey, so why not bid farewell through an experience that honors their individuality? Among the various options for tailored memorial services, destination funerals stand out as an exceptional way to say goodbye.

What Is a Destination Funeral?

Like a destination wedding, a destination funeral provides a change of scenery and offers a unique way to commemorate loved ones. These events involve organizing funeral services in a significant location that is special to the people who have passed or their families. 

Destination funerals are a great way to honor someone who didn’t want a traditional burial service. They are part of a growing trend of alternative funeral arrangements that have become more popular as more and more people look for options beyond the traditional somber service at a funeral home.

How to Plan a Destination Funeral

Although planning a destination funeral involves many personal preferences and decisions, there are three general steps we recommend following. 

1. Choose a Destination

The first step to planning a destination funeral is to choose a significant location. As the main factor around which the organization revolves, this decision must select a location that evokes fond memories or mirrors the deceased’s life experience and personal interests. 

2. Select Dates and Coordinate Travel Arrangements

After determining where you want to honor the impact and legacy of your loved one, make sure you choose dates when most of the significant participants can attend. Whether all participants come from the same place or meet there, it is key to analyze which means of transportation suits everyone best.

Depending on whether you would prefer an outdoor or indoor funeral, it is also worth considering the local climate before deciding when to arrange the funeral. 

3. Create a Memorial Program

Before arriving at the destination funeral, it helps to organize the funeral ceremony or ritual details and create a program for all activities. Considering your loved one’s cultural, religious, or spiritual preferences, organize a destination funeral that enables a meaningful and respectful space to commemorate their life journey, while supporting those in grief.

5 Types of Destination Funerals

Inspiring and personal, a destination funeral introduces a more positive approach to the funeral gathering. Following this death-positive approach, which celebrates rather than mourns the end of a life well-lived, these funerals are trendy ways to remember a life well lived

There are many different types of destination funerals you can explore, from scattering ashes on a favorite tropical beach to a burial in a special mountain getaway from a past family trip. It all depends on how you want to pay tribute to your loved ones. Here are a few ideas to consider.

1. Wellness Journeys for Grieving and Reflection

If your deceased loved one or their surviving friends and family are reflective or health-conscious, one approach you can take is to arrange a destination funeral at a wellness or spiritual retreat center. With its focus on contemplation, meditation, and mental health, a wellness journey can offer support on how to deal with grief and prepare for the future in a serene environment. 

This type of destination addresses the grieving process and provides a space where you can honor and reflect on your loved one in a peaceful, natural setting. These retreats often introduce healing practices to complement the funeral’s role in the grieving process. By encouraging nature walks, group talks, and other therapeutic activities, a retreat can address both physical and emotional well-being.

2. Cultural Expeditions for Heritage Remembrance 

Destination funerals can also take place in locations with cultural significance to the deceased or their family. Depending on your lineage and ancestry, it can be natural to combine conventional funeral or burial elements with local customs or rituals.

Locations may be selected based on ancestral roots or places filled with historical importance, such as historical sites or temples. To make these funerals even more unique, you can collaborate with locals to include authentic cultural performances or practices that you feel will best celebrate your loved one’s life.

3. Commemorating Loved Ones in Sacred Places

A pilgrimage is traditionally a journey to a place on earth filled with sacred significance. Organizing a destination funeral around a pilgrimage to spiritual or sacred places can be an enriching and meaningful way to honor your loved one while connecting with their beliefs and values. 

This could involve organizing a funeral in a place in the world that holds great significance for your loved one’s religion. For example, if they happen to be Catholic, you could arrange a ceremony in Rome, Italy, Lourdes, France, or Fatima, Portugal. Similarly, if your loved one was Buddhist, places like Lumbini, Nepal, or Bodh Gaya, India, hold special importance.

4. Go to Your Loved One’s Favorite Vacation Hideaways

Another meaningful idea for a destination funeral is to visit your loved one’s favorite vacation hideaways. This allows you to move away from conventional burial services and embrace joyful experiences that pay tribute to your loved one’s wishes. 

Plan a family vacation and say goodbye to your loved one in a place that best reflects their personality. Choose a location where you share fond memories or you know they truly felt themselves. In addition to dream destinations like tropical islands, picturesque mountains, and vibrant cities, consider destination cruises that allow you to travel to multiple locations in one trip.

5- Adventurous Memorials 

Was your loved one passionate about adventurous escapes? Whether they had a love for hiking, horseback riding, scuba diving, or any other bold endeavors, consider arranging a unique funeral that brings you closer to the remarkable life of the deceased. 

There are a variety of activities you could plan the funeral around. You could hike through a national park to reach a scenic spot for the service, or take a plane to a remote location for a private ceremony. For even more adventurous souls, you might consider taking a ride in a hot balloon or helicopter for a one-of-a-kind memorial above the clouds that you will never forget. 

Destination Funerals: Figuring Out the Logistics

While a destination funeral allows you to celebrate a loved one's life in a meaningful location, it does require some extra logistical planning compared to a traditional funeral. One of the first considerations is how to transport the deceased's remains to the destination. This typically involves working with a funeral home to arrange either a cremation or embalming, followed by transportation of the body via a shipping service.

For those choosing cremation, you'll need to decide if you want to have the cremation done locally first before transporting the cremated remains, or have the entire cremation process occur at the destination with a local provider there. Be sure to research any regulations around transporting cremated remains for both your origin and destination locations.

If you prefer the body to be laid to rest at the destination, the body will need to be properly prepared and then safely shipped using a specialized transfer service. The funeral home can help coordinate these logistics.

Lodging is another major consideration for a destination funeral, as you'll need to secure accommodations for all traveling guests. Depending on the location, you may be able to find a hotel or resort that offers group rates and room blocks for funeral attendees. For more remote areas, vacation rental homes could be an option to house multiple families together.

Transportation needs for guests traveling to the destination should also be determined. In some cases, you may need to arrange shuttle services from the airport or nearby city to the funeral location if it is relatively distant. Or you could encourage guests to rent cars and provide parking instructions for the venue.

Coordinating with family and friends who are traveling can be simplified by creating an information portal with all details about travel, lodging, and events. There are various funeral planning websites that offer tools for communicating key information and updates to your guest list.

Finally, if you are working with any local businesses at the destination for venues, catering, or other hospitality considerations, you'll want to get quotes and contracts finalized well in advance. Having a local funeral director or coordinator at the destination can be hugely helpful in vetting and managing any outside vendors involved in the services.

Unique End of Life Alternatives

Planning a destination funeral takes extra effort but ensures your loved one is honored in a place that was meaningful to them. With some careful logistical preparation, the event can be just as special and memorable as a traditional funeral service. Destination funerals are just one option when it comes to exploring innovative and nontraditional end-of-life options. For some, skipping the traditional burial and opting to honor a loved one by scattering their ashes in a special place. Others may look for ways to keep their loved ones close to them by preserving their ashes or transforming them into an heirloom. 

At Eterneva, we're no stranger to nontraditional end-of-life practices. We believe that death and grief are personal journeys meant to be honored in a way that pays tribute to the individual. That's why we provide people with a way to celebrate and carry their loved ones with them in the form of a brilliant diamond. By creating unique memorial jewelry from their physical ashes, Eterneva can help you feel the presence of your loved one close to you in every moment of your life, reflected in a brilliant diamond that will shine forever, just like their memory.