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3 overrated Valentine’s Day travel activities and what you should do instead

Valentine’s Day is a great excuse for romantic, couples-only travel – whether or not you think the holiday itself is overrated. Taking time out of your busy everyday schedules to enjoy a favorite getaway or explore someplace new is a wonderful way to reconnect with your sweetie and remember why you fell in love in the first place.

Yet it’s easy to fall for the hype of romantic travel.

Do you really need hotel baths strewn with rose petals or expensive bottles of champagne at dinner to rekindle the romance? Or is the travel industry sweet-talking you into spending money for overpriced experiences that don’t actually set the mood as well as you might hope?

After a bit of an anti-Valentine’s Day rant session, the TPG team came up with three Valentine’s Day travel activities we find totally overrated. If you’re tempted, let us suggest alternative experiences that we find more romantic — and more worth your time and hard-earned money.

Prix fixe candlelit dinners

Joining a cooking class is a great alternative activity to do on Valentine’s Day opposed to a limiting prix fixe dinner at a hotel restaurant. THOMAS BARWICK/GETTY IMAGES

Prix fixe is not French for “overpriced” but when have you encountered a prix fixe Valentine’s Day dinner menu that wasn’t underwhelming and over-budget? Plus, candlelit dinners may seem romantic in theory, but when you struggle to read the menu and then drop food on your date-night outfit because you can barely see, they’re more of a pain than a plus. Besides, don’t you want to gaze into your lover’s eyes without needing a flashlight?

Try this instead

Skip the overrated meal in the buzzy new hotel restaurant (come back on a non-holiday evening to get full rein of the menu) and try a cooking class instead.

You’ll still get to feed your sweetie morsels of goodness and accidentally-on-purpose brush against them as you reach for ingredients. But you’ll also learn more about the regional cuisine and culture of the place you’re visiting and bond over picking up some new culinary skills.

Alternatively, if you find cooking a chore, hit up a local market or bakery to pick up ingredients for a picnic: freshly baked bread, fancy cheese or deli meats, farm-fresh produce and a regional wine can make a simple yet romantic repast. You can even picnic in your hotel room if the February weather is too chilly for an outdoor meal.

Yes, you’ll feel a little silly at first – but you may be giggling with your partner in no time.

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Couples massages

Side-by-side spa treatments may not be for everyone so consider finding a spa that offers private hot tubs or considering booking a vacation rental with its own Jacuzzi to enjoy without needing to go anywhere. ANASTASIIA SHAVSHYNA/GETTY IMAGES

I could think of nothing less romantic than lying side by side with my husband at a hotel spa while some other person is sensuously rubbing his back. That is, until several TPGers reported that their significant others often start to snore in the middle of couples’ massages – which definitely kills the mood.

Try this instead

For some romantic R&R, skip the side-by-side spa treatments and hit the hot tub instead. It’s always lovely to snuggle up to your significant other in a bubbly bath, but you up the romance if you can snag a tub to yourself. Look for spas offering private hot tub rooms, or book a vacation rental with a Jacuzzi, where you can slip outside to gaze at the stars while you soak.

Or, get a little Scandinavian and seek out a sauna or steam room where you can sweat it out with your sweetie.


Opting for a longer lasting memorable gift like local artwork is a great alternative to flowers that won’t be able to travel home with you. LEOPATRIZI/GETTY IMAGES

You can never go wrong with a gift of flowers on Valentine’s Day (or any day – especially when you can earn extra points and miles on your purchase). But when you’re traveling, you’ve got one or two days to enjoy that overpriced bouquet of dying flora before you have to likely abandon it to fly or drive home.

Try this instead

Instead, give a more memorable gift that will last long after those rose petals have wilted.

Buy a piece of local art you can put up in your home and remember your romantic getaway when the workday blues have returned. Skip the mass-market diamonds and take your loved one to a local artisan’s boutique. Your jewelry purchase will be more one of a kind and support a deserving artist. Or, purchase wine, coffee, tea, spices, chocolates, sauces or other travel-friendly goodies that you can serve at a later time when the two of you need a pick-me-up.

Bottom line

Don’t let slick marketing dictate your Valentine’s Day travel plans and ideas. Skip the overrated, so-called romantic activities that don’t float your boat, and embrace activities that are meaningful to the two of you and celebrate the destination you’re visiting. That’s the surefire way to make sure your couple’s getaway is memorable for all the right reasons.

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