It’s your birthday! The perks of traveling on your big day

“Are you traveling alone?” the Canadian customs agent asked me sternly. “No, I’m traveling with my son and daughter-in-law,” I answered, pointing to the young couple talking to a nearby agent.

Looking at my passport, he asked, “What brings you all the way from Arizona?”

At that point, I decided to play what I’ve come to think of as the “birthday card.”

“Well, it’s my birthday,” I said, “and I’m on a weekend trip to celebrate it.”

Another quick peek at my passport, and the agent smiled, “Otherwise known as Super Bowl weekend, right?” he asked, (wink, wink). “Happy Birthday,” he said, and waved me on.

It was an exchange typical of the responses I get when I take my annual February trip to celebrate my birthday. Through the years, I’ve discovered that the perks of being on the road for your birthday are plentiful. Here are a few of them:

First of all, there’s the obvious – the feeling of celebration

I love knowing I’ll be having a fabulous time on that day, and I look forward to it for months. Also, since my birthday falls in February – surely the dreariest month of the year – it always seems like the perfect time for a quick winter pick-me-up.

In recent years, I’ve celebrated birthdays with some great vacations: a stay in beautiful Half Moon Bay, California; a girls’ trip to Phoenix; several trips to San Francisco; a trip to Napa, California wine country; and this year’s trip to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, via Seattle. All have been amazing.


Gorgeous Half Moon Bay


Frog’s Leap Vineyard, Napa


Walking the Golden Gate Bridge in a rainstorm with my intrepid friends


Exploring San Francisco’s Chinatown

The sweet treats

I love a good chocolate cake, and it seems all you have to do is mention it’s your birthday at a restaurant or hotel, and you’ll be showered with chocolate love.

I must say that usually someone I’m traveling with does this for me. My son and daughter-in-law are very generous that way, as are my friends. But every once in a while, if someone asks about the occasion, I do it myself. Just because I’m happy to be traveling on my big day. People have responded in the nicest ways.

Take my recent trip to Seattle. After flying in from Phoenix, I met up for happy hour with my son and daughter-in-law at The Terrace, the lovely piano bar lounge in Seattle’s historic Fairmont Olympic. After sampling the lounge’s signature Honey Cider (made with honey from Fairmont Chef Gavin Stephenson’s rooftop apiary) and a few appetizers, the matter of my birthday came up. The server responded by bringing out a selection of sweet things, including Stephenson’s salted caramel. Heavenly!


Birthday love at The Terrace Piano Bar, Fairmont Olympic, Seattle


The attention (sometimes embarrassingly so)

Last year, when my friends and I traveled to San Francisco for my birthday, everyone was up for an evening of dancing. Not much of a dancer myself, I DO like a fun evening out. So, my son, who had lived in SF for years and was back for a visit, suggested meeting up at Maggie McGarry’s, an Irish pub located in San Francisco’s fun North Beach neighborhood.

We got there early, and got tables right in front of the band stage. Little did I know that my son alerted the band that it was my birthday – information that resulted in having the ’80s cover band’s lead singer serenade me repeatedly through the evening. Uncomfortable for me, but entertaining for my friends. (OK, I enjoyed it a little bit.)


#nopaparazzi #northbeach @cinbarks

A photo posted by cwbarks (@cwbarks) on


Distraction from the other big event of the weekend

Oh, did I mention that my birthday almost always tends to fall exactly on Super Bowl weekend? I’m a casual football fan, at best. So, it’s nice to get away to somewhere fun, where the focus isn’t ALL on the teams, and Beyoncé’s performance.


We still watched the game; just with better scenery – Eastlake Bar and Grill, Seattle


The chance to spend quality time with people I really, really love

I’ve found that when you plan an excursion for your birthday, people are super sweet about accepting the invitation. In that way, I’ve been able to spend beautiful vacations with my sister from Minnesota, my son and daughter-in-law from Seattle, and my friends from my home in Arizona. What better time than your birthday to remember that life is precious, and you should spend it with the people who matter?


With my son and daughter-in-law along the Stanley Park seawall in Vancouver


On our way to Alcatraz with my sister


A rainy day on the Golden Gate Bridge

Overall, I highly recommend birthday travel! (Can you tell?) How about you? Have you traveled on your birthday, and do you love it as much as I do?


4 Comments on “It’s your birthday! The perks of traveling on your big day

  1. Great idea, nice post. I will travel for my birthday celebration to Vietnam in April.


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