Why You Shouldn’t Travel For Valentine’s Day

We’ve been together for ten years and have traveled to over forty countries. But something we’ve never done together is travel for Valentine’s Day. This year won’t be any different as we’ll be staying home in Boston on February 14th. Here’s some reasons not to feel guilty if you don’t have the most romantic holiday ever written by Hallmark planned for Valentine’s Day.

But before we get into them, if you’re in a new relationship, consider a weekend getaway for Valentine’s Day. It is more significant for new couples, than long term companions. It has something to do with the sequel to the Bridget Jones movie as women especially love ‘mini breaks’ with a new partner.

Travel as a Priority Outside Valentine’s Day

We have always placed travel as our top priority over material possessions. But Valentine’s Day often places pressure on couples to spend beyond their means. Or equally bad, waiting a very long time to eat at even mediocre restaurants.

When I was in college, I waited tables at Bennigan’s, an Irish-American chain restaurant with overly processed food and tacky Irish trinkets on the walls. The busiest day of the year, by far, was Valentine’s Day. Couples would wait upwards of 90 minutes for a table during the dinner rush. On many other nights we were starved for tables. How good was the food at Bennigan’s? The company folded years ago.

Benefits of a Romantic Evening at Home for Valentine’s Day

So we discovered that it is far better to just stay home and cook a nice candle lit meal together. It is cheaper and even more romantic than waiting two hours for a table at Cheesecake Factory, to then sit in a restaurant overflowing with other couples. Like New Year’s Eve, some restaurants even put together special menus for the occasion. These are menus with higher prices than on other nights – to take advantage of excessive demand. So dining out on Valentine’s Day is not very ideal after you have experienced it a few times.

We spent our six year anniversary in Dublin in 2011 before moving there several months later.
We spent our six year anniversary in Dublin in 2011, before moving there several months later. Dublin restaurants are also very busy on Valentine’s Day.

Higher Prices for Meals, Hotels and Experiences on Valentine’s Day

The same rule applies for travel. One of our favorite parts of traveling is eating out and experiencing local dishes. So asides from higher priced rooms, you’re then faced with the same Valentine’s Day dinner conundrum, with a change of scenery. If you’re traveling on Valentine’s Day in the USA, pick a restaurant where you can make a reservation in advance. Open Table is a good website to easily surf and make reservations in cities across the U.S. (though you may be stuck with the ‘special menu’).

Commercialization of Valentine’s Day

The commercialization of Valentine’s Day has also spilled to countries outside the USA, so plan accordingly. Before living in Boston we resided in Dublin for 2 and 1/2 years. Dining out was also an issue there on February 14th.

Before Dublin we lived in Amsterdam for 3 and 1/2 years. We did actually enjoy a nice dinner out one Valentine’s Day because the holiday is not celebrated as much there. Especially when Valentine’s Day falls on weekends, restaurants worldwide will generally be busier than they otherwise would be.

Barcelona for our 9 Year Wedding Anniversary- March, 2014.
Barcelona for our nine year wedding anniversary- March, 2014.

Travel for Anniversaries

Instead, we usually travel for our wedding anniversary, which falls on March 12th. Last year we celebrated our 9 year anniversary in Barcelona, Spain, which was wonderful. For 8 years we celebrated in Dubai, on our way to visit family in Australia. On our 7 year anniversary, we took an overnight trip from Dublin and stayed in a beautiful manor house in nearby Wicklow. We were even upgraded to a suite simply because the mansion was not very busy mid-March.

For our 6 year wedding anniversary, we flew from Amsterdam to Dublin for a 4 day weekend. We fell in love with the Irish people. So much so that we decided to move there when a job opportunity presented itself for Bell several months later. So we firmly believe in travel for embracing romance, togetherness, and adventure. But only when it is for us, not for an entire nation and beyond.

Dubai on our 8 year wedding anniversary. The largest flower garden in the world is kinda romantic, albeit touristy.
Dubai on our eight year wedding anniversary. The largest flower garden in the world is kinda romantic, albeit touristy.

Valentine’s Day Travel Recap

If you are looking for fun off beat ideas for a romantic activity this Valentine’s Day, check out the suggestions over at The Family Adventure Project. We especially like their idea for a barbecue on the beach, and wish we could manage that in New England.

What are your thoughts on travel and dining out for Valentine’s Day? If you enjoy doing this with your loved one, please share some tips with fellow readers. Our 10 year wedding anniversary is a month away. While plan to take a special trip for it, but our destination has not yet been decided as we like to wing it sometimes!


  • Alex&Bell

    Alex and Bell originally met while solo traveling after finishing university in 2002, in Brugge, Belgium. Alex grew up in the USA and Bell hails from Australia. During our nearly 20 year marriage we've lived around the world, including spending six years living in the Netherlands and Ireland. We have traveled to nearly 70 countries and enjoy giving readers authentic and quality travel tips. Alex is an award winning travel journalist and travel planner, who also freelances for other outlets. Bell is an award winning PhD scientist who currently works for a non-profit lung cancer advocacy research organization called Lungevity. Happy travels and if you have any questions leave a comment or drop an email!

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6 thoughts on “Why You Shouldn’t Travel For Valentine’s Day

  1. I so agree with you guys! We also don’t travel (and sometimes don’t even go out!) on Valentines Day. The traffic is horrendous, not to mention, as you said, most restaurants will take advantage of this romantic evening to jack up prices and conjure romantic “packages” which consists of normal dishes maybe with just a candle or heart shaped this and that …ahhh…. 😉

    1. Yes, the traffic as well! When we lived in Tampa years ago we drove to a nearby Macaroni Grill at 5:30pm thinking we would be the crowd (back then we used to be hooked into American chain restaurants more and it was close by). Even at 5:30pm there were no parking spaces and we had to park at the neighbouring KFC. We checked the wait time and just decided to go home and order a pizza and drink wine, lol.

      We should have noted that Australia and the UK are also really crazy for Valentine’s Day. I wonder how Amsterdam is these days, hopefully it’s still tolerable for going out! 🙂

  2. I agree choose another date and don’t queue. I am now of an age that I do not queue for anything time is too precious to waste!!!!

    1. Indeed, why queue for dinner on February 14th when there will be zero queue February 15th. Or travel Valentine’s weekend when the following weekend will be far less busy because so much money was spent the previous weekend 🙂

  3. I agree with going out another night rather than Valentine’s day, but I don’t see how it relates to travel at all. Give yourself a half hour to buy groceries on the 13th, stay in a place with a kitchen that is within walking distance of whatever cultural treasure or natural beauty you want to visit, and eat in just as you said! We spent Valentines 2014 in Roatan, this year we’re off to Cancun, aiming for Peru next year!

    1. That’s a great point about renting an apartment if you do travel for Valentine’s Day because then you can avoid the craziness of eating out. And an apartment rental may or may not be more expensive for Valentine’s Day weekend (but we’re guessing somewhere like Paris would be). We like to rent apartments as well but we like the flexibility of eating out when we want and getting the best value- which you generally won’t if you travel for Valentine’s Day. Certainly there’s exceptions to the rule and the price tag doesn’t matter for some. Have fun in Cancun this year and good luck with Peru next year!

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