On the show today, we talked about five different options for Valentine’s Day travel – on every budget. Even if it’s too late now to pull the trigger on a big trip, keep these options in mind for future travel. It’s always the right time for a romantic vacation!
Here’s what we discussed:
- A European Getaway: In my opinion, Paris and Venice are two of the most romantic cities in the world, and there’s something that bonds you together forever about traveling around a country like England or Ireland with just a map, a car and a sense of adventure. So if you can make it over to Europe for Valentine’s Day – or later this year – by all means, do! But an European adventure isn’t going to be in everyone’s budget. So if you’re craving Europe on a smaller budget (or a more limited timetable), find a heavily European-influenced city in North America. Travel costs will be significantly lower, and you won’t have to deal with jet lag. My favorite picks? Quebec City is widely regarded as the most European city in North America. It’s like visiting a French village, but it’s due north of the New Hampshire-Maine border, making it easy to get to if you live in the northeast. If you live further south, try New Orleans, which holds a completely different kind of French charm. In the Pacific Northwest, try Leavenworth, Washington, which is as close as you’ll get to the spirit of Bavaria (Germany) without leaving the continent. And Catalina Island, off the coast of California between Los Angeles and San Diego evokes the Mediterranean coast.
- An All-Inclusive Vacation: How about a trip where you don’t have to lift a finger to make your own plans? A cruise offers easy, fuss-free planning, and there are great deals right now in the winter months. Or you could try an all-inclusive resort in a place such as Jamaica, although there are plenty of all-inclusive resorts in the States too. Some of them are surprisingly affordable, and it’s wonderful to simply turn your brain off for a few days and relax with your significant other. Travel + Leisure magazine lists their top affordable all-inclusive resorts here and their top US all-inclusive resorts here. For tips on choosing the right cruise for you, click here.
- A Theme Park Vacation: There’s nothing like revisiting childhood to make you forget, if only for a little while, all of the stress and baggage that come along with being an adult. If you think theme parks are just for kids, think again; companies like Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and the Universal Studios properties are very cognizant of making adults feel welcome and comfortable too. So come experience a little oasis where you can feel young again but also discover new delights. Epcot, for example, offers a full slate of adult-oriented programs, such as their Food & Wine Festival and their Flower & Garden Festival. Busch Gardens and Sea World offer events such as Bands Brew and BBQ, and Viva La Musica. And there’s nothing wrong with simply strolling down the Magic Kingdom’s Main Street USA, visiting Mickey Mouse and riding It’s a Small World for the umpteenth time either. There’s just something relaxing about rediscovering your youth – together – that makes for a very romantic vacation.
- A Wine Country Vacation: In our nation’s various wine country regions, the landscape alone can be so seductive. And there are wine-growing regions everywhere. Of course you know about Napa and Sonoma, but depending on where you live, there are also amazing – and geographically optimal – wine regions in the Finger Lakes of New York, in rural Virginia, in the Santa Barbara area, and as far north as Washington State. Wine regions tend to be affordable places to visit, and in many of the areas, tastings at wineries are free or very inexpensive. Not a wine fan? You can get a similarly delightful ambiance in Kentucky’s bourbon country on the Bourbon Trail, and many major cities have their own urban wineries now too, such as Quantum Leap in Orlando. Or in the same regions where wine trails are a bit tourist draw, there are also often “cheese trails”, “beer trails” or other culinary trails to follow too. A wine country vacation is a great way to learn about wine varietals together, while enjoying the beautiful landscapes our country has to offer.
- A Close-to-Home Vacation: Finally, remember that a romantic vacation isn’t always about going somewhere far away. It’s about being together. So if you’re on a tighter budget, look in your own back yard. What’s within driving distance of your hometown? Are you near a ski town, for example? Maybe you can find a motel to check into for a night, and you can make your own romantic vacation. Do you live near a beach? Book a cheap room on Priceline or Hotwire, and spend a night by the ocean. Live near a theme park? Splurge for a whole day at the parks and commit to living like a kid. Live in or near a big city? Book a night at a downtown hotel and commit to discovering a different neighborhood that you haven’t spent time in before. Or, plan a vacation literally in your own back yard by simply staying home, committing to ignoring the dishes, the chores, emails, phone calls, etc., and just spending 24 disconnected hours with each other. Order in. Rent movies. Sometimes simply spending time together is the best vacation of all. Happy Valentine’s Day!