Flowers and date night.

Two of the (many) pillars on which my relationship stands. I feel so strongly about flowers, that I interrupted a perfectly great evening in the heart of Lisbon to stand in the middle of a plaza and argue about the simple significance of flowers, with my boyfriend Kris. While I don’t recommend my tactics, I don’t regret defending life’s “little luxuries.” They don’t have to cost a lot, but to me, they mean the world.

And as I coasted down the backroads of Portugal this weekend, I got to thinking about how these little luxuries translate into the bigger picture of my life, and more specifically, in the life of a traveler.

One thing you must know by now, is that Kris and I travel. A lot. Many times separately, and oftentimes together, when we can make it work. And just like “normal”, stationary couples, our travel plans usually revolve around normal days, because, well, it’s our “normal”. Just like normal people, we make our own meals, complete projects for work, and run errands (though in changing locations). But every now and then, it’s time for the little luxuries. The “date night” equivalent of travel, if you will.

Enter the hotel.

I say “the hotel” to refer to all quality hotels, which sit a step above your normal, roadside inn. You know, the ones with fancy soaps that are worth stealing, and big, comfy beds just begging for sleep-ins. They’re special (at least to the average traveler, like moi). They’re the epitome of “little luxuries”, and I’m here to defend their existence, in a world plagued by too many Airbnbs and hostels.

You see, Kris and I headed to the south of Portugal this weekend for a small getaway in the Algarve. Tavira, specifically. And just as we’d done for my birthday last year, we packed up the car with the normal things, threw in some nice wine (and a few cute outfits), and headed out for a stay in a place that’s better than normal. This particular weekend, we had the luxury of staying at the Ozadi hotel in Tavira.

Just like date night options, there are about a million different kinds of hotels to choose from. Personally, I’m grateful for the ones with amazing service, great views, and an environmental conscience. Ozadi ticks all of the boxes, and throws in an espresso machine to boot. Our weekend stay there was special. Enjoying an Aperol spritz (I have very strong opinions on this article ) by the pool, while listening to the sounds of a live jazz saxophonist isn’t something I do every day. Shocking, I know. And sitting on a balcony, sipping espresso and staring at the ocean also isn’t something I do every day. But I did it this weekend. And it was special.

To be perfectly honest with you, I put a lot of pressure on this weekend trip, as I’m still a relative newbie in the travel blogging world, and wanted to do the entire experience justice. So I forced photos, and over planned, and overall, went a bit “extra.” But I quickly realized something wasn’t right. Because traveling isn’t about the photo ops, or the planned excursions, or impressive spread at the hotel breakfast. It’s about the conversations that happen with locals on the streets of Tavira, and the complete appreciation of where you are in the world, at that moment. And it may have taken me a bit too long to realize it, but these are the “little luxuries.” And I feel oh-so-grateful to experience them, and then retreat to a giant bed with nice sheets.

Before heading back to “normal”, that is…