Some vacations are no brainers. Rome, a cruise, Las Vegas… all romantic as they get. And, expensive.
Other vacations are as cheap as you want to make them. And if your idea of romance is pitching a tent in a public park ten miles from town, then go for it, you can cover both bases.
But if both objectives drive your vacation planning, then be prepared to invest a little research time, creative thought and personal paradigm busting. They’re out there, but they’re not always obvious.
Here are five ideas that, depending on your budget and tastes, may allow you to check off both boxes. But remember, cost is relative, and romance is in the eye of the beholder and your partner. If digging clams in the rain isn’t her thing, the best ocean view on the planet won’t get you out of the romantic doghouse if that’s the lead attraction.
There’s nothing cheaper than staying at home. And, without a plan, nothing less romantic. The key to a successful stay-cation – one in which you actually set aside the real world and engage in fun and relaxation activities that are outside of your normal choices – is the degree to which you are willing to get outside your little comfortable box and try new things, especially when it’s just on the other side of town.
Plan each day of your stay-cation. Go to museums. Dig up attractions. Visit something historical in your area. Shop in unusual places. Eat out. Get massages and facials. Breakfast in bed. Go on a hike. Rent some movies, bring in theater popcorn. Send the kids away and hide the phone.
The best rule: no work, no household chores, nothing normal. And, the more you add your personal frosting of things romantic to the setting and activities, the more it’ll seem like you’re in Maui for a second honeymoon. Make a commitment that this is special time.
If you can fill each day or your stay-cation with something unexpected and deliciously self-serving for the two you, romance will naturally ensue. And you’ll save a bundle on gas, air, hotels and, if you pick some little out-of-the-way places, even food.
Consider a Last Minute Cruise
One of the few benefits of these tough times is the desperation of businesses who sell fun. Cruise ships are setting sail half-empty lately, which means the lines are offering last minute deals for as little as 25 cents on the dollar.
Yes, you can grab a Mexican or Carribean cruise for week on a great ship for as low as $300 to $400. Of course you have to get there, but overall a cruise has never been this affordable if you can manage to do it with a last-minute booking through an online source.
And of course, the romance onboard is as warm and fuzzy as it ever was.
The Thematic Vacation
Assuming you can leverage the times to snare some cheap travel and lodging, consider building your trip around a theme.
Go to Disneyland or one of the other major amusement parks with resorts. Rent a small camper/trailer and stay in their mobile park for a fraction of the cost of their hotel, or one nearby.
Drive to the next big town and go discount shopping. Hit all the factory outlets, eat and chain restaurants, pretend you’re on a reality show.
Visit relatives. Lodging is free, the food pretty good, and only you know the price of your pride or patience in this equation. As for romance, hold hand in the car and have some sizzling “quiet time” in the guest bedroom. They’ll never know.
Seriously. Tents, sleeping bags, a cooler and a bag of sandwiches from Subway and you’re good to go. Drive far, drive near, bring marshmallows, hiking shoes and stuff to build a fire.
The romance part, that’s up to you. But it’s quiet out here, and nobody will know you.
With the exception of gas, virtually every element of a trip you can think of is available online at a steep discount. From the occasional airfare to rental cars, hotels, meals and attractions, if you begin your planning early and are willing to dig through the search engines for deals, you’ll be surprised how far you can go on how little.
The romance part… well, like any aspect of romance, this is composed of choices you make and what you make of the moments that ensue from them. When you composite a vacation full of online discounts, the romance resides in the adventure and the unexpected, and the compensation thought that, if you get there and the place isn’t what you expect, at least you have each other.