In the first 12 years I was married to my husband, we didn’t have any romantic getaways except our honeymoon because we always said we didn’t have the money, or couldn’t leave our kids alone for days at a time, or some other reason. But once we did start getting away together, we were hooked. It was a great way to feel closer and do something new together, to recharge the relationship and remember why we fell in love in the first place.
There’s really no way to put a price on getting some alone time with the one you love. Unfortunately, a tight budget can mean that there is not much money left for cheap romantic weekend getaways after your other obligations are satisfied. Even though you may be working hard every day and may deserve that time away, it doesn’t mean you will be able to just pick up and go wherever your heart desires.
It is possible, however, to get away for a romantic vacation without having to spend a ton of money if you know where to look or are willing to adjust your desires to your available budget. Here are some cheap romantic getaways that won’t break your budget.
1. Camping trip.
I’m going to get this one out of the way first since it’s probably the cheapest getaway but also one that some people will not find the least bit romantic. If you just hate camping, then pass right by and go to the next one, but if you’re willing to give it a chance, you may find that walks in the woods and cuddling by the campfire at night, looking at the stars together is quite romantic. And while camping can be a lot of work, its DIY nature also makes it inexpensive–as long as you already have the equipment you need, including a tent or camper, sleeping gear, and maybe a camp stove and cookware.
2. Last-minute deal.
Being spontaneous and going away spur-of-the-moment can be a romantic gesture that shows your willingness to drop everything to be with the one you love. There are many last-minute travel deals to be had when hotels have unsold rooms that they’d rather rent for next-to-nothing than let stay empty. The Hotel Tonight app helps match you up with unsold rooms last minute, and if you need a last-minute flight, the Hopper app can help with that, too.
3. House or apartment swap.
If you have a friend out of the area who might like to visit your area while you visit theirs, you can work out an arrangement to swap locations and you can both get a free place to stay. The same drawbacks will apply to this arrangement as to renting out your place on Airbnb, however, so you might want to draw up a rental agreement you can all live with so that you’re covered if anything major should occur while you are gone and your space is treated the way you expect.
4. Condo or home rental.
Speaking of Airbnb, renting a condo or home through a home-sharing site can be a great alternative to a hotel room. In addition to being cheaper than a hotel in many instances, home-sharing also gives you access to kitchen facilities in most cases, so you can save money on food costs while you’re away by cooking meals there instead of eating out. Home-sharing costs vary widely, but checking different sites can show what’s available in the area you want to stay.
5. Take a cruise.
While some cruises can be expensive, others can start as low as $499 a person for a week-long getaway, and less for shorter ones. And unlike a hotel or even home rentals, cruises are all-inclusive, so you won’t pay any more for meals or entertainment. Cruise sites also offer last-minute discounts or buy-one-get-one-free deals to fill empty cabins, so you can save even more. You can find these deals simply by Googling last-minute cruises to see what’s available.
6. Go all-inclusive.
If all-inclusive sounds good to you but you don’t want to take a cruise, there are many resorts in tropical locations that have all-inclusive packages so you know exactly what your costs are before you even start the vacation. You can find all-inclusive packages on the big-name travel sites like Bookit.com or Kayak as well as through the resort sites themselves.
7. Take a drive.
Staying within driving distance is usually cheaper than a plane ticket, and also allows you to bring along whatever will make your getaway comfortable, unlike a plane flight which limits what you can bring. While you usually can’t drive to a tropical island location, you probably can find somewhere within driving distance that you and your loved one will enjoy.
As a mom and wife, I sometimes feel like there is so much work involved in having a romantic getaway that I wonder if it’s really even worth it. By the time I packed all the kids’ stuff to go stay with Grandma and then all my own stuff, I was exhausted and much of my anticipation for the getaway was gone. If you find yourself in these circumstances, it might be a good option to send the kids away and then stay at your own home together, alone. It will also save you the cost of lodging, transportation, and maybe even food, depending on what your staycation entails.
You can pretend to be tourists and visit places you may never even have seen before, eat in new restaurants you haven’t tried before, and generally have the same kind of experience that you would have had elsewhere, without the hassle or expense of actually traveling. You can also use some of your time to have a night out with friends, if that’s your idea of a romantic time.
9. Go west (or off the beaten path).
Staying in a medium or large city may mean paying $150 to over $200 a night for accommodations, but there are many small towns (including out west) that offer a place to get away for more like $50-75 a night. While there may not be as many tourist activities in smaller towns as there are in bigger cities, the whole point of a romantic getaway is to be alone together. Chances are, you can find something enjoyable to do just about anywhere you go if you look hard enough.
10. Ask for advice.
Asking friends and family members where you can get away for cheap romantic weekend getaways is bound to turn up some good ideas you may not have thought about. If you are on social media, posting a request for ideas is a good way to include a large number of friends and family in your question.
How to Get Money for the Trip
As we all get older, my family has come to value our time on vacation together–it may be one of the few times we are all together in one place for more than a few hours. My hubby and I also enjoy getting away alone together, even just for a few days. In order to fund these excursions without going into debt, I started a few years ago to put whatever extra money I could find each pay period toward these vacations, so by the time we are ready to go, we have the funds we need.
Another good option is to use a travel rewards credit card for most of your recurring purchases. You could easily rack up several hundred dollars each year in rewards that you can use for a romantic getaway with the one you love.
If there just isn’t any extra money to put away, you can spend some of your downtime or spare time on activities that will earn you a few extra dollars each month that you can put toward your next romantic getaway.
Survey Junkie lets you build a profile, then matches you with surveys that fit your profile so you’re not wasting time on surveys that won’t end up paying you anything. For each survey you complete, you can get points and redeem them for gift cards or cash through PayPal.
You can also complete tasks through Fiverr and earn $5 for each gig you complete, which can quickly add up over time and be the basis of a romantic getaway fund. You get to decide which tasks to offer, which can allow you to do the tasks you enjoy most and get paid for them.
If you’re short on time (and who isn’t), you can still find money in your budget for a cheap romantic weekend getaway by using a service like Trim, which analyzes your spending habits and automates the process of lowering your expenses. Not only does Trim find subscriptions you may not be using and ask you if you want to cancel them, but Trim also negotiates lower rates for bills like your phone, trash removal, and other monthly costs, saving you money each month.