There’s that saying “spend money on experiences, not things.” I support this wholeheartedly, but I also realize that sometimes certain “things” make those experiences even better. To help you and your loved one have the best Valentine’s Day possible, I’ve picked five pieces of gear that can help kick-start your adventures.
Rand McNally Road Atlas ($15)
I think car travel is considerably more romantic than flying. You have full control and can be spontaneous, plus it forces you and your partner into a confined space for long periods of time, which often leads to great conversations. This Valentine’s Day, I suggest buying an atlas, using it to plan a trip to somewhere you’ve never gone (even if it’s close to home), and then shutting off your phone, its digital mapping feature, and Instagram until you get to your destination.
America the Beautiful Pass ($80)
This pass gets you into some 2,000 federal recreation sites, including all the national parks. It was the best $80 investment my wife and I made last year. We thought of it like a ski pass and wanted to get our money’s worth. During the year, we ended up visiting nine different sites, including the Grand Canyon, Tuolumne Meadows, and Crater Lake. Since the holiday falls in the dead of winter, consider heading to parks like Grand Teton to enjoy the snow or Joshua Tree to get away from the weather.
Avex Claret Insulated Wine Glass ($20)
Stash two of these in your car and break them out on your atlas-fueled road trip or national parks adventure. (Check the park rules before you start drinking.) I like these tumblers because they have a great hand feel thanks to a powder-coated outer and a stainless-steel lip that prevents drips from running down the side. The vacuum insulation keeps your red wines from getting too cold in winter and your whites from getting too hot in summer. Tip: bring the same kind of wine that you and your partner shared on a previous special occasion. I still score points when I bust out the $11 bottle of chardonnay we drank on the camping trip where I first told my wife I loved her.
Good To-Go Double Serving Gift Pack ($46)
Instead of making reservations at some stuffy, overpriced, crowded restaurant on Valentine’s Day, buy one of these gift packs and find the closest yurt or hut that you and your partner can ski or snowshoe into. Food is often the hardest part of hut planning, and Good To-Go makes it easy because all you have to do is add water—and believe me, the pad Thai and Indian vegetable korma are truly delicious. Tip: Good To-Go has a great blog post about pairing wine with its meals.
Black Diamond Apollo 15 Lantern ($23)
This lantern is your other go-to, must-have, Valentine’s Day hut trip gear. It packs down to the size of a soup can but throws out 80 frosted lumens—just enough for mood lighting in a hut or yurt. Use the lantern to cook by, and then use it to play cards, then shut it off, pour some wine into your Avex cups, and head outside to enjoy a cold night under the stars.