By Eileen Ogintz
Tribune Content Agency
Let’s hear it for romance!
You’re never too old — or too busy — to enjoy a romantic interlude, and I don’t mean a mushy card and some chocolate for Valentine’s Day, either.
“Romantic travel doesn’t have to be limited to February. In fact, planning your romantic getaway outside of February gives you the freedom to enjoy better weather and avoid peak Valentine’s prices,” suggests Brand McMahon, travel curator at Origin, a luxury travel company based in Palo Alto, California.
Sure, it would be great to journey by camel in the Sahara Desert for a night under the stars “in a tent that feels fit for a sultan,” McMahon suggests. However, “A romantic trip doesn’t have to be to a far-off and exotic destination. Plan a trip somewhere with meaning to you both — maybe the place you first met or recreate your first trip together.”
Whether you are traveling with kids, or not, you can plan to enjoy a romantic evening or afternoon. Travel with another family and swap evening childcare. Opt for a vacation rental and invite the grandparents or your favorite niece or nephew. (If you have an only child, inviting a friend along can also be a good bet.
Opt for a resort with organized kids’ activities, like Club Med Michès Playa Esmeralda – Miches, Dominican Republic. It’s the first resort in the region of Miches.
Beaches resorts are known for their children’s and teen programs, as well as for specially trained staff to help with children on the autism spectrum. (Remember, you can have a romantic interlude during the day too!)
Cruising families joke that their kids enjoy the kids’ clubs — and their new friends so much — it is tough to tear them away. Cunard even has a complimentary evening nursery for the littlest cruisers. Carnival Cruise Line typically offers complimentary programming and facilities for kids and teens in three age groups starting with Camp Ocean (ages 2 to 11).
While the kids play on Disney Cruise Line ships, adults can head to the adult-only pool, adult-only restaurants and Star Wars Hyperspace Lounge (adults only after dark).
Princess is among the cruise lines offering child care during shore days so parents can have an adult time out while Royal Caribbean offers My Family Time Dining: Kids can eat in 45 minutes and are then met by youth program counselors to be escorted back to the kids’ club for evening activities. Just make sure the cruise line you choose has programming for your aged kids. (Our Taking the Kids Family Cruise Guide can help.)
CroisieEurope has Special Family Club Cruises with CroisieFamily itineraries which operate during the summer months. They will sail in Portugal, Italy, Spain, France, Germany and Croatia, where children 16 and under travel free or half-priced.
Portugal is a popular destination and the kid-friendly Martinhal Lisbon Chiado (kids will love the bunk beds!) has a kids’ club open in the evenings so parents can enjoy a guilt-free night out.
Adventure trips offer lots of romantic possibilities — even with kids along. Backroads, which offers three distinct categories of family adventures based on the kids’ ages, has dedicated youth staff so parents get a break. And without the kids, there are plenty of romantic trips – everything from a Vermont bike tour to a Greek islands adventure and a winter trip to Yellowstone. They’ve spurred many proposals!
You shouldn’t feel any guilt getting away without the kids, experts say. You want the kids to see that your entire life doesn’t revolve around them. And if you plan right, they will thoroughly enjoy their vacation from you, whether staying at a friends’ house, with grandparents, a favorite sitter, etc.
The key: If you are leaving the kids behind, you don’t want to be surrounded by other people’s kids.
The adult-only Virgin Voyages recently introduced its most inclusive offer ever: as long as you book by the end of February: Buy one Sailor and get the second Sailor 55 percent off, plus up to a $600 bar tab depending on the voyage length ($300 for voyages six nights or fewer, and $600 for voyages seven nights or more), or plan ahead for a voyage through the Greek Isles or to Bali this summer and fall.
The all-inclusive adult-only Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Golf & Spa Resort in Cabo (their Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach Golf & Spa Resort is designed for families) is touting a special romance package. (Book by March 15 for travel until Dec. 19 with everything from a couples massage, tequila tasting session, private dinner on the beach and a keepsake glass heart made by the San Miguel Blown Glass Factory from recycled bottles sourced from the resort and more. Prices start at $3,125 for three nights for two.)
Sandals resorts, popular for intimate destination weddings (get a free wedding with a three-night stay!), are exclusively for guests 18 and older. We enjoyed our stay at the 74-room Royal Plantation in Ocho Rios, Jamaica: Look for deals at the newest Sandals Royal Curacao where even PADI-certified diving is included and there is a stocked bar in every room.
Plan a trip around your passions — visiting off- the-beaten-track wineries, backpacking, baseball (spring training!), the night sky (gaze at the night sky in the Sonoran Desert in Scottsdale with Stellar Adventures) and, of course, cooking, perhaps in Italy.
Take a romantic pizza-making class with Bettoja Hotels and discover the history of this traditional dish. Plus learn how to make a real Napolitano pizza from scratch during a workshop inside one of the best Roman pizzerias in the Eternal City. Chef Gabrielle Hamilton is hosting a week-long culinary cycling tour of Sardinia with Tourissimo May 26 to June 1. The Tuscan Women Cook culinary vacations that combine cooking classes with cultural immersion in the heart of Tuscany are so popular that this year’s classes are sold out. Book for 2024.
I’m ready. Are you?
(For more Taking the Kids, visit www.takingthekids.com and also follow TakingTheKids on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram where Eileen Ogintz welcomes your questions and comments. The Kid’s Guide to Philadelphia and The Kid’s Guide to Camping are the latest in a series of 14 books for kid travelers published by Eileen.)
©2023 Eileen Ogintz. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.