In the process of creating an itinerary, navigating an unfamiliar place and sticking to a budget, travelers sometimes find romance taking a back seat to practicality. Despite the toils of traveling, finding a little flirtation on the road isn't as difficult as it may seem. There's no need to spend weeks planning the perfect trip or persuading foreign hotel staff to leave rose petals on your bed in the shape of your partner's face. Spice up your love life with unique and inexpensive ways to add some va-va-voom to your vacation, from booking the best accommodations for romance (not a luxury hotel room) to learning to love like a local.
Avoid the Crowds
Some of the world's most famous romantic places aren't really as romantic as they seem in photographs, movies or our dreamy imaginations. Take the Eiffel Tower, for example, a symbol of Paris that embodies the city's acclaimed amorous aura. Rarely will a chick flick or jewelry commercial depict its protagonists waiting in line for 45 minutes before paying 12 euros per person to take a crowded elevator to the top, or proposing marriage at the foot of the monument amid hundreds of noisy, pushy tourists snapping photos of each other as they pretend to hold the tower between outstretched fingers.
Notwithstanding occasional mobs of visitors, France's famous tower is still worth a visit. But couples seeking a private moment minus the boring queue and high entrance fees should look beyond the big-ticket attractions. In Paris, try walking around the historic Montmartre neighborhood and stopping in an out-of-the-way cafe for cafe au lait and a crepe.
The same advice goes for the most visited and well-known spots in other destinations, like the Pyramids, Stonehenge or the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, which are virtually guaranteed to draw massive crowds, long lines or packs of aggressive hawkers selling souvenirs. Every city has unique and worthwhile things to see beyond the world-famous sites. Do your research so you'll know what to expect before planning a romantic excursion to a famous site. If you want a more personal experience with your travel partner, seek out lesser-known museums and attractions, or plan low-season or early-morning weekday visits to spots that regularly draw crowds.
Book a Self-Catered Stay
Creating a home away from home -- a place where you don't have to tip the maid or hide your valuables in a safe -- can be more romantic than staying in a lavish, expensive hotel room. Self-catering accommodations, which include vacation rentals and apartment- or cottage-style lodging, usually have kitchens and living areas, and tend to be much cheaper than B&B's, inns or hotels.
This type of lodging is particularly romantic because it lets couples create a cozy and familiar retreat in an unfamiliar destination. After a long day of sightseeing, return to your short-term residence, whip up some home-cooked meals and relax on the balcony with a bottle of local wine (no need to frequent the pricey hotel bar). Use the cash you save on lodging to buy fresh ingredients at local markets, and cook your own meals together. Note: Self-catering may not be for everyone; couples who come to blows when one partner uses the last roll of toilet paper without replacing it or gets cookie crumbs in the bed may be better off staying at a hotel with turndown service.