With everything else going on in life, it's possible you don't have the time or money to take a Valentine's Day getaway, even if it's a budget-friendly one. There's also the fact that everything seems to be twice as much as normal over the Valentine's weekend. I'm not sure why that is, since it only discourages people from spending money they don't have in the first place to prove the love they should be proving in little ways throughout the year. If you want to make the effort to show your Valentine a little love and like you put some thought into a unique gift, let's talk about a fun staycation you can plan.
Do Valentine's Day on a different day
This year it falls on a Sunday, but that whole weekend is going to be crazy. Plan your day/weekend around the week before or after, or in the middle of the week if you can take a few days off. It's the thought that counts and your significant other will appreciate the planning and budget-conscientiousness. The best things in life are free, after all, so more creativity and less cash is going to go a long way.
Stay in a town other than where you live
Not up to hanging around your own town? Go a town or two over and explore that one! Stay in a budget hotel or a B&B and make an itinerary with all the touristy stuff there is to do there on it. Just that change of scenery can really help you relax. And even though you could drive there and do a day trip, why not make it a real vacation by putting some money on an affordable accommodation.
Get a hotel or vacation rental in the middle of the action
Come on! You haven't see everything in the city you live in, have you? There are still some things in Portland that I have yet to get to...and in Oregon. If you live near a big city, chances are there is a fabulous downtown that is full of fun and weird stuff to do. I also bet dollars to doughnuts (yum!) that you don't live downtown, because it is wicked expensive. This is the time to cash in some miles or hotel points for free nights or look into gettng an apartment or condo rental in the middle of it all and set out each day to discover something new and awesome about where you live.
Look online for popular (and obscure) tourist attractions
You already do this when you go on regular vacations. Do it the same way for your hometown and find crazy things you have never heard of before, do things you always say you will or just go be a cheesy tourist and do things that you tell other people are musts when they visit.
Take a walk
A few months ago we went on a city scavenger hunt and it sure was a fun time. Check out these from Urban Adventure Quest and even StrayBoots. It's a fun way to explore your city and to put your brains together to solve puzzles. Plus, you're going to have a bunch of photo ops. Make all your Instagram followers jealous of your fun times.
Take a walking tour
All cities have one, so why not fork over a few bucks (or nothing) and go on one. You're sure to learn a bunch about where you live and maybe look at it much differently than before. You can find all kinds of walking tours by Googling or looking at your local Chamber of Commerce website. Many cities have free tours run by locals that are super fun and informative or you can download a free or cheap walking tour app to your mobile device and do it yourself!
Eat at all those food carts you always say you will try, but then never do
Oh the joy of looking at the Twitter feed and seeing a new food cart has opened. You vow you will try it, and then 30 new carts have come and gone and you have yet to drive the 2 miles into town and find parking and eat maybe some of the most delicious stuff you will ever call food. Okay, maybe it will be mediocre or downright disgusting, but you'll never know unless you try it. All in one day you could try salted cod, deep fried cheeseburgers, ham and cheese crepes and Korean short ribs on a stick! (Of course, you'll have to adjust for what your town actually has.) Seriously though. Your city probably has a ton of really cool stuff. If not food carts, like Portland is famous for, then maybe you can hit up a bunch of greasy spoons or taco trucks. At least you'll get exercise walking to each one.
Bring your camera and take lots of pictures
Don't take your city for granted. Just because you see that stuff every day, doesn't mean it's not cool. You'll be sad one day when you talk to someone about things and then realize you have no photos of it or you being there.
Take in a Broadway/off-Broadway play
Most cities have plays and Broadway-style productions going on all the time (or if you are in New York City, you get actual Broadway shows) and you can get half-price tickets the day of the performance, find discounts in your Entertainment Book or find amazing deals online at Broadway Box if you live in NYC, Orlando, Las Vegas or London.
Go glamping in your own backyard
I've done my fair share of camping. I wouldn't call it romantic and it can certainly be really unfun at times. It's also a lot of work. Glamping (glamour camping) has become pretty popular, but it can actually set you back more than a fancy hotel room at times. If you have a backyard, you can glamp at home for practically nothing. Get out your tent - if you don't have one, you can borrow a big one from a friend or possibly create one yourself with pop-up gazebo that has sides (don't be afraid to hit up Craigslist and like sites for freebies or cheap options as well. Drag out your favorite cozy comforts: couch cushions, blankets, throw pillows, an ottoman and short table. String up some fairy lights inside and out, light up the firepit if you have one for s'mores and cater your dinner so you can spend your time decorating instead of cooking. Get comfy, snuggle and enjoy.
Have a Picnic
If you happen to live in an area of the country where winter has decided to give up, it’s pretty easy to find a nice little spot to take a meal to, or even throw a blanket down in your backyard. If, like us in the Northwest, you have cold and usually rainy weather, you have to be a little more creative. Push the living room furniture out of the way, light a fire or put on a yule log video (this is streaming year-round on Netflix) and toss a blanket and some throw pillows on the floor.
Make Your Own Drive-In
We love movies. For one of my husband’s birthdays, I purchased a Roku projector and outdoor screen so we could watch movies in our yard. You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on such a thing. In fact, you can turn your smartphone into a projector with a few items you probably have around your house. Use it inside with a sheet or do the same outside if it’s warm or you can snuggle up in the car and pretend you’re at a drive-in.
Critique Free Art
There are lots of places that have art and other kinds of museums that offer free admission. Maybe you have a park full of sculptures that you’ve never gone to before. Take your SO to view an art exhibit and talk about the art and your interpretations.
For even more ideas, check out my staycation Pinterest board.
Tell us about your favorite budget Valentine's ideas...