Valentine’s Day can be year-round – just pick the right time and place

By Eileen Ogintz
Tribune Content Agency
Taking the Kids

So much pressure … too much money.

Why not skip Valentine’s Day entirely and celebrate romance whenever it is convenient? That also means you can define romance any way you like — self-love perhaps; the romance of long friendships; of sharing a passion, an adventure, or a new experience with those you love most.

In case you were wondering, according to, February has long been celebrated as a month of romance and St. Valentine’s Day. Although no one is certain of the truth behind the Valentine legends, the stories all emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic, and romantic figure. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome and defied Emperor Claudius II when he outlawed marriage for young men, believing single men made better soldiers. Valentine, realizing the injustice, continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret and later was killed. Other stories say Valentine was killed for helping Christians escape Roman prisons. Some believe when imprisoned himself, Valentine sent the first “valentine” greeting after he fell in love with a young girl who visited him before his death, signed “From your Valentine.”

Setup for a romantic dinner on the beach at Sandals Royal Plantation
Setup for a romantic dinner on the beach at Sandals Royal Plantation in Jamaica

Some believe Valentine’s Day commemorates the anniversary of Valentine’s death. Others suggest the idea hundreds of years later was to “Christianize” a festival that honored Juno, the pagan goddess of love and marriage on Feb. 14; men would draw women’s names and court them during the festival.

The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. By the middle of the 18 th century, it was common for friends and lovers of all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes, and by 1900 printed cards began to appear. Hallmark first sold Valentine’s Day cards 1913 and today, 145 million cards are exchanged (not counting those you supply for your child’s entire class); some 250 million roses are grown just for the holiday, and 58 million pounds of chocolate are consumed. According to the National Retail Foundation, Americans spent nearly $26 billion on Valentine’s Day gifts in 2023.


Wow! Of course, there is nothing wrong with cards, flowers, or chocolate. But there are lots of other ways to show your love, including for yourself. If you find yourself unattached and your kids (and grandkids) are elsewhere, sign on for a solo trip you have always wanted to go on. The idea is to choose a trip with like-minded travelers. The Journeys With Purpose team is hosting their first all-women-for-women journey to Kenya on March 20. There are a handful of places available for those interested in a trip focusing on the women working to protect and restore the West African environment. Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, which has seen a more than 30 percent increase in solo travelers, has just waived a single supplement on select itineraries in Europe on these all- inclusive trips. For active travelers, small group adventure trips from companies like Backroads, Overseas Adventure Travel, and REI Adventures are guaranteed to satisfy your wanderlust in an atmosphere conducive to making new friends. Backroads and REI both have women-only trips and REI has some designed for the 35 and under crowd.

In Slovenia, known for its natural beauty, where the Alps, the Mediterranean and the Pannonian Plain meet in the heart of Europe, St. Valentine’s Day is not just a celebration for couples but also a day to express love and appreciation for friends and family. The country embraces the spirit of togetherness, making it a delightful destination for everyone seeking love and connection. Check out the packages at the Slovenian spas and wellness centers. Explore historic town centers with cobblestone streets and unusual cafes and restaurants. (Perhaps deep underground or in the country’s wine region?)

Sunset, San Juan Islands, USA
Sunset, San Juan Islands, USA

Help support Maui’s recovery. Respectful travel to Maui is welcomed and encouraged, now more than ever. With the exception of Lahaina, destroyed by the devastating wildfire, Maui is open and there is plenty to see and experience. Visit for suggestions on how to support local businesses. You are likely to find hotel deals. See packages from Pleasant Holidays.

If you want bragging rights to be the first somewhere, Naya Traveler’s experts craft unique experiences far beyond the well-trodden romance resort path. Discover Naya Traveler’s romance-inspired journeys, a different and refreshing take on couples’ travel to unchartered destinations, including Cambodia, Myanmar, Kashmir and Ladakh, Peru, Argentina, Uruguay and more. Each curated trip is fully tailor-made.

If you opt for a getaway rather than a pricey Valentine’s Day dinner out, you might even snare a deal. If you ache for a wellness getaway, the Lake Austin Spa Resort is touting a $200 spa and personal experience credit. Stay by Feb. 29 get 20 percent off and a $400 credit. I love the Fairmont Mission Inn in Sonoma, California, in the middle of Wine Country, and famous for its geothermal pools and spa, is offering up to 25 percent off, as long as you book by the end of March and stay by the end of April. (You can also book a second room at half price.)

Lake Austin Spa and Resort
Lake Austin Spa and Resort

Find your perfect tropical beach with BeachBound Vacations and save $100 with a four- night stay as long as you book in February and travel through the end of August. Visit Washington state’s San Juan Islands for lodging deals, unique dining specials, shopping experiences and galleries and spectacular scenery. Leave all your stress behind as you take the ferry to San Juan Island, Orcas Island or Lopez Island where you can bike, kayak, gallery hop or possibly see some whales. The islands are home to five species.

The best Valentine’s Day gift: Knowing you have a trip planned.

(For more Taking the Kids, visit and also follow TakingTheKids on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram where Eileen Ogintz welcomes your questions and comments. The fourth edition of The Kid’s Guide to New York City and the third edition of The Kid’s Guide to Washington D.C. are the latest in a series of 14 books for kid travelers published by Eileen.)

©2024 Eileen Ogintz. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.