We all want to treat our valentines to a posh night out or weekend getaway, but it can often be tough to foot the bill. The average North American vacation for two will cost $244 per day for lodging and meals, according to AAA. Add travel expenses to the mix and you could be looking at a pretty hefty price tag for your romantic retreat.
Minimize the hassle (and your credit card bills) by planning a staycation instead. Stuck for ideas? Check out Earth911’s handy guide to planning the perfect Valentine’s Day staycation and start saving on cash (without skimping on the holiday fun).
1. Plan ahead
The best way to plan a satisfying staycation is to duplicate your dream getaway at home. Sit down and think about your ideal Valentine’s Day plans and figure out a way to create alternatives on the cheap.
If you can’t quite afford a five-course meal at the Chateau Marmont, check out our recipe library and prepare a tasty dinner right in your own kitchen. If your Valentine’s Day fantasy involves a pricey spa, try one of our DIY pampering treatments to escape into at-home bliss.
Once you have your plans in line, clear your work schedule, find a sitter for the kids and take a moment to truly enjoy your home with your partner. Turn off the cell phones and don’t check your email for the duration of your at-home vacation to make you feel “away from it all.”
Still craving a real vacay? Cut back on transportation-related emissions (and vacation costs) by choosing a staycation at an inn, lodge or hotel in your area. Check out your region’s tourism website to find lodging near you and use our guide to make sure your pick is eco-friendly. Not sure where to start? A simple Web search with the word “tourism” and your town or region’s name should point you in the right direction.
2. Stay green
Like on any vacation, it may be tempting to let your green habits slip for a long weekend. But resist the urge and keep being green no matter where you go. Whether you stay at a local hotel or your own house, remember to help save water and energy and continue to recycle.
To up the green ante of your staycation, visit green businesses in your neighborhood, or grab a snack at an eco-friendly eatery. If you’re planning a picnic in the park, package your food in reusable containers instead of plastic bags and dine on portable reusable plates, like the ones from Preserve.
And you can never go wrong with getting outside for an hour or two. Enjoying the outdoors helps you remember why protecting the planet is so important — and you’ll save on energy, too! Instead of setting the thermostat to the perfect temperature and turning on the lights in every room, plan some fun outdoor activities to feel at one with Mother Nature.
3. Explore your neighborhood
To stave off cabin fever on your staycation, plan day trips to unexplored locations in your area. For low-priced (read: free!) options, take a walk through a local park or botanical garden, go on a bike ride down an uncharted path or do a little stargazing with glasses of wine in hand.
If you have a few bucks to spend, visit a local museum, take in a show at a nearby concert venue or check out that new sustainable restaurant you’ve been dying to try.
Think you’ve seen everything there is to see in your hometown? Think again. Even in tough economic times, new small businesses, community gardens and pop-up parks are bound to come on the scene faster than you can keep track of them.
Before starting your staycation, head to your town or municipality’s website for a full business directory, and make note of listings that you and your partner have never visited before. Discovering something new in your own backyard is a fun bonding experience and a great excuse to support local businesses and community initiatives in your area.
4. Spice it up
Sure, relaxing at home or at a local hotel is a vacation in itself. But if you find yourself getting a little stir-crazy from all that R&R, try some of these fun eco-activities to spice up your Valentine’s Day getaway:
- Use this handy guide to reuse some of those Valentine’s Day roses to create luxurious spa treatments, tasty snacks and even decadent cocktails.
- After a long winter walk, cozy up to one of these toasty coffee shop-free beverages that you can make right in your own kitchen. You’ll swear a barista snuck in when you weren’t looking!
- Allow calming scents to fill your home with one of these homemade air fresheners, and take turns giving each other massages.
- Use a lazy afternoon to do a mini home makeover. Consult our room-by-room DIY guide to do a little sprucing all over the house. Some projects take less than two hours.
Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock