Ask Dr. Tracy

Do’s and Don’ts for Romantic Traveling

by Tracy Cabot, Ph.D.

DO pick a romantic spot with good memories or one you’ve never been to before.

DON'T go somewhere you've been to before with another partner.

DO decide together and choose a resort or hotel or spa that sounds like fun for you both.

DON'T force your preferences or agenda on your mate.

DO pack romantic stuff. Since hotel rooms don’t always smell like flowers, bring your own special perfumes and scents. Bring scented oils to rub on each other, a favorite scented bubble bath to play in together, a favorite aromatherapy scent to drip on the lightbulbs, perfumed candles to act as night lights.

DON’T travel like you’re on a business trip. Stay together. Don’t trade romance for speed. For instance, don’t elect one person to run and get the rental car while the other one waits for the bags. That’s just not the romantic way to do things. When you’re planning romance, plan to take your time. Being together should far outweigh saving time. Reduce stress by arriving extra early for your flight.

DO make the flight romantic. Reserve your airline seats way ahead of time. Fly first class if you possibly can. In Hawaiian airlines’ first class section, for example, you feel like you’re already in the islands, with tropical drinks and gourmet Hawaiian cooking from famous Hawaiian chefs. Even in coach, feed each other tidbits, and definitely ask for a blanket so you can snuggle underneath. Pull the seat handle up and tuck it between the seats so you have more room to cuddle.

DON’T risk your schedule with Fly-By-Night Charters. Avoid charters which can leave late or not at all. A delay on a Tower Air charter flight once forced us to sleep in the terminal and miss a whole day at our destination. Fly major airlines -- if one of their planes develops a problem, they can usually find a substitute.

DO make sure you have a romantic arrival. Be sure to call ahead and let the hotel or resort know it’s a special occasion and then remind them again when you check in. Often you’ll get upgraded to a nicer room or even a suite just because it’s your anniversary, birthday or honeymoon. Be very sure they give you a king size bed. Have the hotel put a bottle of champagne or a cheese plate and wine, or fancy hors d’heuvres or chocolate dipped strawberries in your room.

DO plan on staying in one place for your vacation, and allow lots of time for love-making and just hanging out together.

DON'T plan on moving from resort to resort every few days, and don't try to see everything. Every time you move, you lose precious romantic time to traveling.

DO make sure you have privacy. Think about a cottage or a condominium instead of a hotel, so that you can have space to be close or even have separate activities. It’s nice to have a kitchen to make special drinks to share in private on your patio at sunset.

DON'T expect your mate to cook just because you have a kitchen. Go out or order out. Consider the kitchen just for morning coffee and the fun of having your favorite snacks in your own frig.

DON’T miss a moment. Promise not to worry about the future or the past while you’re on your romantic vacation. After all, there’s nothing you can do about the past, and enjoying each moment of your present is one of the best things you can do for your future. So stay in the present. Forget about your kid's purple hair, and postpone those financial calculations about what price house you’re going to be able to buy or how you’ll refinance. Instead, concentrate on the sound of the wind rustling in the palms, the glorious colors of a tropical sunset, the moment when your bodies first touch underwater...

DO act like honeymooners. Touch a lot. Hold hands everywhere. Show affection in public. Pretend it’s your honeymoon, share a kiss at sunset, toast your love, and promise to always be romantic.

DON’T let anything ruin your mellow romantic mood. Pledge to avoid criticizing or blaming your loved one for anything if you want a perfectly romantic vacation. If something does go wrong on your trip, be sure to blame someone or something else. For instance, if one of you dings the rental car, say, “Oh, honey, they shouldn’t have left that delivery truck there; there’s hardly room to get by.”

DO special romantic activities. Little things count. Plan little surprises like a breakfast-in-bed order that your mate’s not expecting. In the tropics, write “I love you” with your fingernail on a Sea Grape leaf and it will turn white against the waxy green of the leaf. Leave love notes in the sand. Make a ritual of rubbing sunscreen all over each other every day. That way you’ll start out with lots of touching to get in the right mood each day and you’ll avoid painful, romance-ruining sunburns.

DON’T just do what you’d do at home. It’s fine to enjoy a nice dinner in a fancy restaurant, but also go out of your way to do some things you’d never do at home. The best romantic activities are those that make indelible memories. Share some “firsts” together to create those memories. So take a chance. Ride in a helicoptor. Dive beneath the ocean. Eat sashimi (raw fish). Have a spiritual experience. Go to church with the locals. Visit a place the local people call sacred. Walk where an ancient civilization once thrived.

DON’T use the “argument words.” Some words are “loaded” -- no matter how you say them, they sound judgemental. So avoid starting sentences with the “you” words, especially the “you always,” or “you never,” words. Forget “why don’t you,” and “if only,” too.

DON’T make unilateral decisions. If you're married or in a committed relationship, don’t buy anything outrageously expensive without consulting your partner and making sure they love it as much as you do.

DO bring home a special souvenir. Find something that’s unique -- it doesn’t have to be expensive -- perhaps a shell from the Caribbean or a koa wood carving from Hawaii or a piece of artwork or print from Europe. Plan to put it in a place of honor at home, so that you can both look at it and remember your romantic vacation. Listen to the special music of the culture where you travel and bring some home: new-age stuff from California, Hawaiian music from Maui, and Reggae from Jamaica. Even if you normally wouldn’t listen to it at home, remember to play it later whenever you look at the snapshots of your trip.

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