Livin' La Vida Lucia

How to Plan the Most Adventurous & Affordable Date

Get the Best of What’s Close to Home

By Lucia Rossi

All I wanted was a special day with my boyfriend to celebrate our birthdays together. After much research and discussion, we planned a pretty amazing date that lasted from morning til’ night. The best part is it didn’t cost an arm and a leg, and was not too far from home.

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Here was our itinerary for the day: 9AM- Breakfast Buffet at Lorenzo’s in the Hilton, 12PM- tour the Museum of Sex, 5PM- Dinner and cocktails at Jekyll & Hyde’s, and 8PM- Something Rotten! On Broadway.

Now this may sound like a lot, but we actually had a lot of free time in between events. It’s nice to have a day dedicated to constant fun and excitement sometimes by going on “excursions” on this mini staycation, all for below $100 each.

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If you’re interested in planning a fun, fulfilling day like this, then it’s time to get acquainted with a couple of websites. Groupon, obviously, but there are other websites to use that are similar that may have different deals, like Living Social, Travel Zoo, Yipit, Gold Star, Event Brite, Local Flavor, and Restaurant.com.

After you’ve picked a day that you and your friend, significant other, family member, or love interest, agreed on, go through each website and write down what events or deals you like the best that fits your budget and is a favorable distance away. These websites generally cater to Staten Island, Manhattan (especially), New Jersey, and Brooklyn. Groupon, Yipit, Travel Zoo, and Living Social, are best for activities like tours, shows, classes, spa treatments, and special or themed dinners. Gold Star and Event Brite are best for concerts, shows, musicals, parties, etc. Local Flavor and Restaurant.com are of course best to get food deals.

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In case you were wondering, the Hilton buffet breakfast was $15 without any coupon or certificate. The Jekyll & Hyde’s coupon was $60 on Groupon but included two specialty cocktails, one appetizer, and two entrees (which value reaches as high as $27 each alone), plus entertainment with performers in character and costume. Going to the Museum of Sex was $11 each plus fees, on Gold Star. If you’re looking for affordable Broadway shows specifically, in the last minute, you may get lucky with promotional codes. You should check tdf.org, Ticketmaster, Telecharge, or Broadway Box. My boyfriend and I got front row balcony seats for $37, not including processing fees and taxes.

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Your way of travel is something you need to consider. Driving may not be a big deal in Staten Island but if you’re going to New Jersey, hopefully you have a family member with an EZ Pass, plus it will eat gas. Although, gas is cheaper there at least. If you’re planning on visiting Manhattan or Brooklyn, then public transit is probably your best way to go. Although taking the ferry, bus, and train is cheaper, we chose to take an express bus because it saved time and energy. Taking a cab would cost some serious dough, so I would say that would be out of the question.

When planning the trip, I drew out a table of columns for each place and wrote down what interesting things there was to do there beneath each one. I then discussed all the options with my boyfriend to see which would be best for us and what we would enjoy the most. Traveling and having fun with someone needs compromise and should include things you both find interesting, not just one person. It’s important to discuss time management because you want to be sure to give yourselves enough wiggle room to anticipate traffic, detours, or other shenanigans.

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Be sure to have pocket money to pay for tip in the restaurants, to buy souvenirs, to buy snacks, extra money for travel, and just in case of emergency; you never know. You should also bring a bottle of water because you will get thirsty from all the walking and traveling. It’s important to keep your phone alive and well all day long since you’ll be using it for directions and times, so bring your charger cable, portable battery charger, or a fully charged replacement battery. Other than that, try to pack light and only bring the essentials since you’ll be carrying it all day.

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It’s also important to dress comfortably—I’m talking about shoes. Don’t bother wearing heels unless you plan on carrying flats in your bag. Sneakers or boots are best for a day like this. You should also anticipate the weather. Wear a sweater for when it gets chilly at night or indoors; pick one that matches your outfit. Be sure to check the weather early in case you need your umbrella for the rain. Most importantly, check to make sure you have all of your tickets to everything before you leave your home!

Remember, this is a day you chose to go out on an adventure, you should look as excited as you feel. Treat yourself and put some time into your look. Curl your hair, apply some makeup, wear a cute dress, and go experience things you never have before.

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