Travel is naturally seductive, with its promise of new and unexpected discoveries, gorgeous settings, and time to indulge in yourself—and your preferred travel companion. But it can also be the ultimate relationship test.
For tips to make your next romantic escape go smoothly and find the best-suited accommodations, we turned to Christine Amorose, social media influencer, AFAR Ambassador, and the blogger behind C’est Christine. She recently returned from a getaway to Aruba with her boyfriend David—one of the frequent trips she’s taken since “settling down” in New York City in 2012.
Read on for Christine’s take on romantic travel, including what to look for when a booking a hotel for two, her go-to planning resources, and advice for couples taking a first trip together.
How do you approach planning a romantic getaway?
Before I go on anywhere with my boyfriend David, we each share three things that we want to do on the trip. It helps us narrow down our activities (versus the popular touristy thing that neither of us really cares about). And it reduces the possibility of miscommunication (a.k.a., “I only did that because I thought you wanted to do it!”).
Any planning lessons learned from your past romantic travel, perhaps when things haven’t gone as expected?
Sometimes it’s worth spending the extra money to make things easier. When my boyfriend and I went on our first tropical trip away together to the Dominican Republic, we decided to rent a car to get to our amazing (and remote) beach hotel, Casa Bonita, because the hotel transfer seemed too expensive. The four-hour drive became a nightmare: we got lost on chaotic streets, and then desolate back roads, and then got three flat tires.
Now we always check in with each other: if it’s going to make our lives a lot easier, it’s worth spending a little extra money. It is supposed to be a vacation, after all!
What do you look for in an accommodation when traveling as a couple?
Something more remote! When I’m traveling solo, I want to be right in the center of the city, say, at a hotel like South Africa’s Taj Cape Town. But when I’m with my boyfriend, I don’t mind being a little farther from the action. I’m also much more inclined to book something luxurious: it’s nice to have someone to enjoy it with.
Luxury is personal, and in my case, I keep an eye out for hotels that have exceptional room and turndown service; balconies or another type of private outdoor area; and a champagne welcome on arrival. One such place that charmed me recently is Sanctuary Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale, Arizona.
What are some accommodations that stand out to you as romantic?
A beachfront hotel, especially when your room overlooks the ocean, as at the Condado Vanderbilt in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
I love being able to have a DIY happy hour: whenever we go somewhere tropical, David and I pick up a bottle of rum in duty-free and then we can mix it with a fresh young coconut or local juice for a late afternoon cocktail.
In that spirit, I’d add that the hotel doesn’t always have to be fancy. We stayed at a simple place called La Marejada, a few blocks from the beach in Costa Rica, and had the best time drinking local beers, eating tacos, and watching the surfers at sunset.
Which romantic destinations and hotels are on your wish list?
The classic overwater bungalows in the Maldives, and a hotel like the Grace Santorini, with an infinity pool and a view in Greece.
Japan in the spring is also high on our list, since David loves sushi, and I’m obsessed with cherry blossoms. I’d like to shack up at Yoshiike Ryokan in Hakone, a traditional inn where the rooms have woven straw tatami flooring and the restaurant overlooks a flowering garden.
How can you add an element of romance to any trip?
It sounds counterintuitive, but spend some time apart doing what you each enjoy. My boyfriend’s a runner and I love to take long walks taking photos: we always appreciate having a little time on our own to do something that we love (that the other doesn’t), and then we’re more excited to hang out together after.
What type of accommodation do you think is underrated when it comes to setting the mood for romance?
Renting an apartment in the heart of a city can feel so cozy and make it seem like you’ve set up a new life in a different place. (Browse Booking.com’s varied apartment listings, and you’ll begin to understand what I mean.) It’s so fun to daydream about starting a new life in Paris, Bangkok, Austin, or wherever you are renting. Besides, it’s so much more affordable and convenient to be able to wake up and make coffee, or pick up local delicacies in the grocery store to whip up dinner for deux.
What advice would you give to a couple traveling together for the first time?
Start off small, and then build up: a weekend getaway that isn’t too far from home is a great way to test the waters before you have to deal with the stress induced from TSA, flight delays, customs, and so on.
Figure out what you’re good at, and stick to those roles: I’m definitely the planner in our relationship, and I get genuine joy out of buying flights, booking hotels, researching activities. My go-to resources are Instagram for daydreaming; AFAR and Lonely Planet for destination inspiration and actionable tips; and Booking.com for hotel planning.
Ultimately, you want to plan a trip that you’re both going to enjoy. Don’t force each other to do activities that they’ll hate: be OK with splitting up for parts of the trip if it will make you happier.
© 2016 AFAR Media