February 2010 Issue
Experts give tips on planning a romantic getaway without breaking the bank.
Valentine’s Day should tug at your heartstrings, not your purse strings. So if you’re determined to get away for some much-needed rest, relaxation and romance, a few simple strategies will prevent cupid’s arrow from splitting open your piggy bank.
The local tourism office in your destination area is one place to find savings, advises Amir Eylon, the state tourism director for the Ohio Division of Travel and Tourism. “The CVBs have coupons and the inside scoop on where to find the best deals in their area.”
, the Web site for the Toledo CVB, and sign up for a “do Card.” The card is free, and you’ll get perks such as half-price entrees at area restaurants and 10 to 25 percent off your room price or free upgrades at local hotels.
Other Web sites, such as experiencecolumbus.com
list special offers and promotions on everything from jewelry to cabin rates at local businesses. Not sure if you can afford to travel? Visit the “packages & special offers” section of discoverohio.com
, where you’ll find a searchable database of coupons, package deals and special discounts for attractions and accommodations throughout the state, sure to fit into any budget.
“If you’re looking to stretch that dollar a little further, our industry partners are always posting new deals,” Eylon adds.
Although mid-February is prime time for a cozy getaway for two, you may find better prices if you can schedule another weekend.
“First, ask yourself, do you absolutely need to travel on Valentine’s Day weekend?” says Joanna Herncane, the public relations manager for AAA Ohio Auto Club. “You’ll pay as much as 30 percent less if you’re willing to be flexible.”
Herncane suggests that you first determine which amenities are most important — the first step in cost cutting. Nearly every trip detail offers an opportunity to save. Be as specific as possible with factors such as budget, time constraints and must-have extras.
“Do you want five nights at a five-star resort, or would you rather have seven nights at a three-star?” she says.
Whether you plan to go far away or stay close to home, membership discounts from businesses such as AAA are one way to add to your savings, and some organizations, such as convention and visitor’s bureaus, offer discounts to travelers.
AAA has partnerships with more than 160,000 retail locations worldwide, and though there is an annual fee, members receive discounts on everything from car rentals to tickets to your favorite attractions. In Ohio, that translates to between 15 percent and 42 percent off the regular admission at destinations such as the Columbus Zoo and CoCo Key Water Resort in Newark. AAA also offers package deals, including one- and two-night stays at Ohio state parks starting at $114.
On the Road
If you decide to drive to your getaway destination, doing so in a well-maintained vehicle will also help your bottom line. The Web site cars.com
offers tips for increasing your car’s fuel efficiency (and lowering its carbon footprint). Among the suggestions:
❤ Keep your tires properly inflated.
Low tire pressure means your car’s engine must work harder and burn more fuel, while proper tire pressure can increase your gas mileage up to three percent. Look on the driver’s side door or in your owner’s manual for your vehicle’s recommended level.
❤ Keep your engine tuned.
A lit “check engine” light could indicate a dead oxygen sensor or some other emissions-control problem, wasting as much as several miles per gallon. Regular engine tune-ups can help prevent this problem.
❤ Fill up.
The bottom of the gas tank collects sediment from gasoline, which can damage your fuel pump and decrease you fuel efficiency. Be sure to stop before your gauge drops below one-eighth of a tank.
❤ Watch your speed.
The faster you drive, the more fuel you burn. The difference between driving 60 miles per hour and 70 miles per hour is about 20 percent in terms of fuel efficiency. If you travel long distances, use the cruise control if possible, since rapid acceleration and deceleration not only decreases your gas mileage, it’s also bad for your transmission.
Finally, you can shave off some of the expense at the pump with a little online planning, particularly if you’re heading to a small town where prices tend to be higher. At AAAfuelgaugereport.com
, you can research the average prices of gas across the country as well as search gas prices in your destination city and the cities you’ll be traveling through. And if you need help determining just how much the gas will cost, AAAfuelcostcalculator.com
lets you type in the destination city, make, model and year of your vehicle and calculates the total mileage, gallons used and fuel cost of your trip.
Who says a romantic getaway has to be far away? These Ohio events offer all the romance minus the price tag. For more ideas in your area, visit discoverohio.com
Chocolate is for Lovers
Geneva, Feb. 5–6, 12–13
Sample delicious Ohio-made wines, appetizers and chocolates and collect curios at designated stops along the way. $45 per couple. ohiowines.org
Valentines by Candlelight
Ohio Village, Columbus, Feb. 12–13
Enjoy costumed interpreters, romantic melodies performed on the violin and hammered dulcimer and a romantic dinner for two. After your meal, the Ohio Village Singers present period love ballads and comic songs, interspersed with romantic verse, poetry and readings. $60 per person. ohiohistory.org
Sweethearts Hike at Ash Cave
Logan, Feb. 13
Enjoy the soft glow of dusk on Hocking Hills’ breathtaking landscape during this relaxing hike. Afterward, cuddle up together with refreshments in front of a cozy fire. Free. 1800hocking.com
Sweetheart Big Band Dance
Coshocton, Feb. 13
Enjoy a romantic evening at the Lake Park Dance Pavilion, a beautifully restored 1930s big band dance hall, as you swing to the music of Sammy Kaye, Glenn Miller and other era favorites performed by the Lake Park Big Band. $25 per couple. coshoctonlakepark.com