Television travel show host Samantha Brown has been introducing viewers to vacation destinations around the world for more than 20 years. But like the rest of us, she was grounded this past year due to the pandemic. As vaccinations roll out and destinations open up, however, she, like a lot of other optimistic travelers, is dusting off her passport and suitcase. “We have a lot of hope and confidence that travel is coming back,” she says. “The wheels are turning and we’re making it happen.”
Brown recently wrapped up a shorter Season 4 of PBS’ Samantha Brown’s Places to Love and she expects to begin traveling for Season 5 in May. She is also planning to host some AAA trips, including a river cruise in France and a seven-day train tour through Utah and Colorado that departs October 31.
The Dallas native has been a AAA member since 1988. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and their 7-year-old twins. In these excerpts from an interview with AAA, Brown talks about how travel changed during the pandemic and what she learned in the process.
Most inspired pandemic activity
Teaching her twins to ride bicycles. “A bike is absolute freedom. We’re born explorers. We learn to crawl because we’ve got to go. We learn to walk, and then we get a bike. It’s our first taste of freedom.” Brown recalls: “The first thing my daughter said when she learned to ride a bike was, “Can I ride along the Danube?’ ”
What she’s missed the most about travel
Connecting with people. “We meet people when we travel, and we love the fact that they’re from somewhere else,” she says. “We’re different, and yet we connect. Then we go our separate ways. That is what I have deeply, deeply missed.”
How losing the freedom to travel shifted her perspective
Every destination is a bucket list item. “Travel can be wherever you are. It could be the next town over. Just do it. Just connect with people and support the local communities wherever you go.”
Her advice for reentry into travel
Take time to adjust. “If I have any insight, it’s just to be kind to yourself and to others as we slowly make our way back to where we were. We are wired to be with each other, but we haven’t been able to do that. It will take awhile to adjust. I feel like we’re going to have a slow reentry into the freedoms we once had.”
Where to start
Go local. “If your family can only go 200 miles from home, you’re still going to have an amazing time. The importance of travel is not measured in how many miles you go.” Brown is encouraging travelers to develop an appreciation for lesser-known, smaller destinations instead of flocking to popular spots like Barcelona or Amsterdam. For example, one of the last episodes in 2020 of her PBS show focused on Dutchess County, New York (about a two-hour drive from her home in Brooklyn).
AAA Travel Alert: Many travel destinations have implemented COVID-19–related restrictions. Before making travel plans, check to see if hotels, attractions, cruise lines, tour operators, restaurants, and local authorities have issued health and safety-related restrictions or entry requirements. The local tourism board is a good resource for updated information.
Virtual travel shows
Join host Samantha Brown and AAA Travel as they explore inspiring and exciting destinations around the world. Immerse yourself in featured vacation spots as travel specialists share insights in these virtual events.