March 01, 2024   4:36am

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Our “Travel” expert Susan provides lots of ideas for that fast approaching Valentine’s Day you haven’t planned for yet

Valentines Day is fast approaching. Maybe you didn’t plan ahead, and all of a sudden a romantic getaway — time alone together and a respite from your winter routine — sounds very appealing. Keep in mind that last minute arrangements probably necessitate some compromises in terms of destination and/or cost. However, that shouldn’t stop you; sometimes the trips we most remember as extra special are the spontaneous ones.There are so many variables that will determine where you’ll end up, particularly on a last minute trip (originating city, length of time you have at hand, type of place you want to go, etc.), so here are some thoughts and strategies to help you sort it out:

Call a Travel Agent: Here’s an excellent example of when a travel agent can help you out. An agent will be able to scan the availability of many properties that match your interests and also be able to tell you how you can get there and back. If your agent knows a manager at a property he/she may score while the computer says the place is full — or at least get you on a priority wait list. Remember that if you want to do something far from home you will have to find both air and hotel space. This is a perfect time to leave the hassle to someone else.

Consider a less mainstream resort location: While it never hurts to check the more mainstream resorts in the Caribbean and Hawaii, consider other locations such as the Mayan Riviera – the Caribbean but in Mexico (south of Cancun) or the Mexico’s Pacific Coast. Note that the Mayan Riviera is pretty accessible from everywhere in the U.S. in terms of air routes. And, if you’re interested you can combine beach time with visits to archaeological sites such as Tulum. Or consider warmer destinations in the U.S. in and around Florida and the Gulf Coast.

Consider a city instead of a resort: Perhaps there’s a city nearby (even the one where you live) that has a hotel with great views, luxury rooms and a great spa. In addition to the obvious in the U.S. – New York, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco – there’s Chicago, Seattle, Portland, and many more, and if you don’t mind bundling up, Canadian cities are also at our doorstep). You can dine at restaurants you’ve meant to try, go to the theater and visit museums, and know that you have that fabulous room – remote from your daily routine – in which to escape. Added bonus: hotels in big, business oriented cities usually have terrific weekend rates. A web site to try is where you can easily survey hotel availability in a given city along with the room rates. A bonus: Booking via this site generally does not involve a pre-purchase. Once you’ve scored your hotel room, you can use to nab restaurant reservations.

Consider going farther a field: If you have enough time for a slightly longer time away, consider a European city (Paris, Venice, Vienna, Berlin, etc.). The airfares right now are really quite attractive (and you may be able to upgrade using miles now vs. in high season). This is a particularly attractive option if you live on the east coast, as the airtime is not that much more than flying coast-to-coast in the U.S. And yes, the dollar vs. Euro is awful, but weekend and winter deals also prevail in major European cities, so it might be worth checking out.

If you want to return to a favorite inn (or try a new one): Inns abound within reasonable driving distance to most cities, and there may be one that you wish to return or one you’ve always wanted to try. Chances are that the inn of your dreams may be sold out already — but don’t despair. Find out the cancellation policy and make sure to call on the day that the cancellation penalty starts – often this is seven days out. The inn may even agree to keep your name on a wait list for cancellations. The more properties you’re willing to try the bigger investment in phone time required, but the better your chances will be. A bonus: when the space becomes available you can drive there, eliminating the extra work of finding air space.

Use a consolidator: Even if you work via a travel agent, you may find that consolidators have last minute inventory that’s available to you. An example is with properties worldwide. You can book hotel space or both hotel and air space via them. Another web site to try is, which has hotel packages for purchase or for bid in auctions.

If all else fails: Plan a great one-day event excursion and make it as special as possible. Perhaps it’s lunch at a great restaurant a bit out of town … or dinner and the theater in town … or a visit to a day spa followed by a romantic dinner or whatever is special to both of you. If distances are involved, splurge on a car and driver so that you’re truly footloose and fancy-free! It’s the time together – away from your daily routine – that you’ll both remember.

Hope you find the getaway of your dreams – regardless of its length! And share your experiences with us at

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