It's that time of year again, but this year there's a bit of a glitch. It may be birthday time for your significant other, but your wallet is going on empty. You don't have to max out your credit cards to have a romantic getaway. Romance can be sipping Champagne and nibbling caviar while nestled on the sofa of your five-star hotel suite, or it can be snuggling together, making s'mores in front of the campfire.
Combine glamour and camping for a weekend getaway. Plan the event from start to finish. Pick the birthday girl's favorite spot in the mountains or by the lake but instead of roughing it, bring the little luxuries she considers treats with you. If you're not a great cook and you don't want to spend time over a camp stove, pack ready-to-eat food from a gourmet grocer. Breakfast could be fresh strawberries and whipped cream with blueberry muffins. Lunch might be a cold soup, such as creamy avocado, or vichyssoise with imported cheeses, crackers and crudites. Go all-out with dinner, including a bottle of fine wine and real wine glasses. And of course, don't forget the birthday cake and candles.
Go Off Season, Midweek or Last Minute
Vacation destinations are filled during the summers and weekends, and the prices reflect it. Get a day off work and take your sweetheart to that luxury resort with the championship golf course he's been dying to try. Choose an independent hotel and call the hotel directly. The manager will most likely have the authority to discount rooms, whereas the national reservation service won't. Ask for an upgrade and let the hotel know it's your sweetie's birthday. Hotel rooms are perishable inventory, like airline seats. Once the day is past, the hotel can't sell that room anymore. Call at the last minute for a deal on unsold rooms or cancellations.
Get Away for the Day
When you live in a city, you often overlook its attractions. Rather than spending a small fortune flying to a resort, plan the birthday girl's day in your own city. Start with breakfast in bed. Then whisk her away for a half-day spa treatment with facial, massage and body treatments. Treat her to an afternoon at the art museum, zoo or hiking -- whatever she likes to do best. Unwind with drinks and appetizers at a hotel with a spectacular view. There's a good chance you'll get a happy hour bargain on the munchies. Finish with a dinner at home you've planned with her favorite -- but easy for you to cook -- foods.