How to Save on Valentine’s Weekend Getaways

valentines_mainAs virtually every woman knows (and as anyone in a committed relationship with such a woman would do well to remember), Valentine’s Day arrives annually on February 14.  This year, it falls on a Friday, which offers an enticing possibility (or a daunting challenge, depending on your viewpoint):  Wooing your partner with a perfectly-timed romantic weekend excursion.  Assuming you want to celebrate on the road, here are a few tips on how to save on Valentine’s weekend getaways.

Make sure your partner is good to go.  This is the first tip for good reason:  If you splurge on all of the frills and extras of an amorous vacation without checking your partner’s availability beforehand, you may very well lose your entire investment.  Appealing travel deals are frequently non-refundable, so be sure your partner’s schedule is clear (and your relationship is solid) before taking any financial plunge.

valentines_savingSet — and stick to — a budget.  Love may know no boundaries, but credit cards and bank accounts have well-defined limits.  Determine how much you can afford to spend — on everything: travel, accommodations, dining, activities, and whatever else you might want to offer —  and don’t exceed that limit.  (If it helps, Americans earmarked $239, on average, for 2013 Valentine’s Day signs of affection.)  If your partner really loves you, the amount you spend on your Valentine’s Day trip won’t be nearly as important as the thought, effort, and tender, loving care you put into planning the outing.

Check around the corner.  You don’t have to travel far to find a lovers’ locale.  A simple change of scenery may be all you need to set the proper romantic mood.  Especially if you already live in or near a popular vacation destination, search for affordable B&Bs or other places to stay in the area that can lend an air of “escape” to your weekend plans.

Find seclusion (and savings) in off-season sites.  It’s wintertime, so most of the popular summer destinations in the north are fairly deserted.  This can be great news for the romantically inclined:  Room rates are usually as low as they ever get; even the best restaurants aren’t fully booked; and any cold, inclement weather that might roll in will provide a fabulous reason (should you need another one) to hunker down and cuddle up in the warm confines of a cozy bed.

Delay gratification.  Anticipation can be sexy.  If you want to treat your loved one to a romantic trip but can’t afford it quite yet, try the next-best thing:  A promise to take that trip down the road.  Wrap it up in a pretty bow (figuratively or literally), then spend your Valentine evening exploring the possibilities.

valentines_envelopeIf you want to save on a Valentine’s getaway this year, you can earn 5% cash back on flight, hotel, and car reservations while enjoying rebates on all sorts of enjoyable travel perks as a Travel Plus member.  Tell us in the Comments section where you plan to go this Valentine’s weekend.

Tropical Winter Vacation Destinations

miami_flEvery now and then — say, when your part of the country is recovering from a polar vortex or coping with the effects of deadly avalanches — the idea of escaping winter and heading to a warm-weather paradise can be a comforting thought.  However, many of us are paying down our generosity over the holidays, which tends to put a crimp in the travel budget, so a trip to a tropical clime may be more fantasy than reality at the moment.  Still, voyages of the imagination are free, and, as Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”  With that in mind, let’s ponder a few ideal (and reachable) tropical vacation destinations this winter.

Miami, Florida.  Miami is a common winter favorite for U.S. travelers — for good reason:  Average temperatures in January range from a high of 74 degrees to a low of 61 degrees.  Whether you want to relax on a beach or explore the vibrant nightlife, Miami offers a variety of events for virtually every vacationer.  Plus, if you’re up for a short road trip, Key West is a scant, scenic 161 miles away by car.

hawaii_2Hawai‘i.  There’s never a bad time to visit Hawai‘i, but it’s a particularly attractive destination in wintertime.  The higher holiday rates tend to drop in mid-January, and there’s a lot to do once you get there:  the Cherry Blossom Festival; the Maui Chinese New Year celebration; the Hawai‘i Chocolate Festival; and much more.  (Of course, you’re more likely to head to Hawai‘i for its beaches, and who could blame you?)

plamspringsPalm Springs, California.  Long known as “Hollywood’s playground,” visitors to Palm Springs can enjoy free activities ranging from the “Walk of Stars” to a wildlife sanctuary, tennis-court time, dog parks, and more.  If you’re willing to pay for your Palm Springs fun, you can test your golf game on four courses, test your luck at several casinos, or simply indulge in the nightlife.  (Unfortunately, it’s too late to catch the celebrities at the 2014 Palm Springs International Film Festival, but maybe next year ….)

Turks and Caicos Islands.  Located 230 miles north of the Dominican Republic, the Turks and Caicos Islands comprise eight inhabited islands and an additional 32 islands and cays.  U.S. visitors will be pleased to discover that the official currency is U.S. dollars (you’ll still need a passport, though).  Better yet, the average temperature in the “colder” months is 80 to 84 degrees, with a water temperature of 70 to 74 degrees.  Tourists have a wide range of pastimes to pursue, from whale and bird watching and limestone caves to golf, kayaking, beach fun, and more.

TurksandCaicos

When cold, snowy weather brings you down, a winter vacation to a tropical destination can help warm your spirits.  Travel Plus members can also warm their travel budgets with 5% cash back on flight, hotel, and rental-car reservations and rebates on all sorts of travel perks and comforts.  Let us know your ideal winter vacation destination in the Comments section.