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Travel Comes Back: My Thoughts on COVID-19

I’ve been hosting travel shows for 21 years. In that time, I had to go back to work a week after 9-11. There was the financial crisis of 2007, H1N1, floods, fires and volcanic eruptions. All of these events abruptly changed my immediate course of travel. They also threatened to change how we travel as a whole.

But one thing I’ve learned in two decades?
Travel comes back.

Places to Love Vienna

Clearly, travel for most is on hold. And travel to certain parts of the world will be on hold for a while. But what is unclear, and therefore most difficult to take, is how unpredictable all our lives have become. I’ve learned that when I watch the news, it feels like the world is ending. However, when I head outside in my community, as well as travel abroad, I know it is not.

Staying home, limiting social interactions, and cancelling trips are just a few of the ways our lives are changing due to COVID-19. Even if we know it’s for the greater good, we’re allowed to be disappointed about cancelling a trip.

I know this sounds all doom and gloom, BUT! Did you know that the act of PLANNING travel puts us in the same psychological, happy-go-lucky place as BEING in a destination.

So in this time you’re stuck at home, take some time to dream and PLAN your next trip. Right now, your mental health is just as important as your physical health. What makes us happier makes us healthier.

Ideas for planning that next great vacation:

Create a Pinterest board of all the places you want to go. Or compile a board highlighting dream vacations—from the bucket-list worthy to quick-and-easy road trips you could take later this summer, I promise you’ll feel better just thinking about these adventures.

Get a travel agent. It’s their job to navigate this world and be your advocate. AAA travel agents are a great source of knowledge and peace of mind. Full disclosure: they help fund my travel series on PBS and I feel so fortunate for their support. I love the work they do!

Did you have to cancel a trip? Call the airline to see what their current policy is for changing your flights. Though most airlines aren’t offering refunds, most are waiving change fees and allowing the value of the flight to go toward a future flight. And you know what that means? Your trip isn’t cancelled, it’s just postponed. It’s worth noting most airlines are asking passengers to wait until 72 hours before their flight to cancel—it helps alleviate the pressure put on airline call centers, who are fielding thousands of calls a day.

Call cruise lines, hotels, and travel outfitters. Talk to an actual person about their cancellation fees, and any upcoming offers. They want to hear from you, and are doing a lot so you’ll come.

Watch a movie that will inspire you to travel. Here are a few of my favorites.

Through all of this, please remember: Travel comes back. Soon, you will want to go somewhere—anywhere—to prove that as human beings, it is impossible for us to keep our social distance. In the words of Steve Perry (who I once had a dream we hosted a travel show together), “Don’t Stop Believing.”

What are you doing to stay positive during COVID-19? Share in the comments?

Like this post? Save it on Pinterest.

I’ve been hosting travel shows for 21 years. In that time, I had to go back to work a week after 9-11. There was the financial crisis of 2007, H1N1, floods, fires and volcanic eruptions. All of these events abruptly changed my immediate course of travel. They also threatened to change how we travel as a whole.  But one thing I’ve learned in two decades? Travel comes back.

This Post Has 48 Comments

  1. This is one of the best things I’ve read since all this craziness started. Thank you Samantha Brown. You are an inspiration to us all.

    1. I totally agree with Paula, this is one of the best things I have read and has truly helped me reduce my anxiety. I’m looking forward to creating my travel board on Pinterest and I will start with dining and wining on the Amalfi Coast. Thank you Samantha!

  2. Thanks, Samantha, for making your episodes available. Will watch Finger Lakes tonight. We had this on our bucket list, but our local PBS station (WMTV Milwaukee) showed this episode playing once in the future.
    WMTV took on a new manager who is emphasizing more “local” programs, and fewer PBS programs. And 2 out of 5 channels (one being weather only) are kids channels. We are very disappointed in the local station’s programming decisions.

    FYI–Daughter just cancelled trip to east coast scheduled for April. Delta is giving a refund for the airfare.

    1. To Barbara Shore: I grew up in the Finger Lakes, in Geneva, NY. The views on the drive south to Watkins Glen – above the vineyards sloping down towards the outstretched lake – make you feel as if you’re in Europe. If you’re there in late summer, stopping at an “honor system” farm stand on a country road is a must for fresh corn. I think you’ll love your time there.

  3. Dear Samantha,

    Thank you so much for your article. It is so inspiring and uplifting. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences with the world.

    I trust that you and your family stay safe and healthy during this time.

    Sending hugs and blessings.


    Iris Salazar

  4. Samantha, you are so right about the pleasure derived from the planning and figuring out the logistics of a trip. My wife and I were scheduled to go to Tuscany and stay in a villa outside of Siena with our daughter and her boyfriend of a couple of years for a week, then continue on to Rome for 4 days.
    We have always been fans of your shows. We first started to really travel after watching your show about the Portofino in Orlando, (Great Hotels Season 1 – Episode 1: Portofino Bay – Orlando). We have been hooked by both your show and travel since.
    I LOVE to plan. I watch everything I can about the area we are going to and try to learn a little of the language too.
    We were scheduled to leave on May 9th. When the airline cancelled our flight all hope of this Corona virus going away in time was lost. The first thing I thought of was…..I had such a great time planning all of the details and finding out the best places to go and what to see, and it didn’t cost me a thing!! Now I get to do it all again. And I can go anywhere I want. I just don’t know when. But you can bet I’m going to get started soon.

  5. Since we are staying home during a usually busy social season in SW Florida, my husband decided to paint our Den. This required us to take all our books out of the room and guess what? …………….. there were all our “Adventure” photo albums !! So, while we are not physically travelling we are revisiting our trips, sharing memories and thinking of where to go next!

  6. A great reminder….”What makes us happy makes us healthier.”
    I’m so looking forward to my next visit to Zion National Park!

  7. Thank you Samantha!!!!
    We all need to hear encouragement & encourage each other around us that, life is only on hold…
    As you said last Saturday, on HSN, travel is on PAUSE.
    So I thank you for this reminder.
    BTW, I bought your (both in hard side)
    under seater and cosmetic case.
    I received them on Tuesday.
    I absolutely love them, you nailed it!
    Perfect for my short cruise before my big cruise when life comes off of PAUSE. I hope everyone will take a deep breath and recognize what is really important during this brief interruption.
    Thank you Samantha, for always being
    the bright positive cheerful you , that you are!!!

  8. Thanks for the article. I am hoping awesome travel people like yourself and Rick Steve’s will put together new shoes of compilations of previous travel shows or somehow the networks – like PBS – will start showing more travel shows so we can armchair travel and dream and plan our future trips!

  9. How encouraging! Thank you Samantha for helping us to understand that travel will indeed “come back!” I have a cruise planned for November BUT I’m anticipating just getting on the road with a few weekenders between April and then. I’m most excited about a trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains in August. Just taking one day at a time and prayerfully COVID-19 will very soon be a distant memory.

  10. Viking cancelled our river cruise. I’m sad but will reschedule for sure. Viking is crediting everyone with 125% of their purchase price. Meanwhile the company that I used for travel insurance is being very unresponsive. I feel I should get refund on my premium since Viking is the one that cancelled.

    1. Laura, on Viking’s website it states, “For those guests whose cruise falls within this window of suspended operations, we are offering the choice of a Future Cruise Voucher valued at 125% of all monies paid to Viking or a refund equal to the amount paid.” Would “all monies paid” include the money you paid for travel insurance? Or did that money go directly to the insurance company?

  11. I like the post of the movies that inspires to travel. Some of my favorites are of some of the black and white movies types, like The Razor’s Edge and The Lost World, just to name just a sample few.

  12. As a member of the hospitality industry, I loved and appreciated your post. It is something we all need to remember to lift our spirits a bit, so I shared this with my network on Linkedin. You have always been one of my favorite travel icons, so thank you for the smile today. #travelcomesback

  13. Thank you Samantha and I love your posts! We have plans for a trip to Greece this summer, but if we need to change plans than so be it, Europe may be shut off for now but the monuments and ruins have been there for centuries and not going anywhere! (And…tip for any travel plan: get the ‘Cancel for any Reason’ insurance, its worth the extra $$)

  14. Thanks Samantha for those reassuring thoughts. I like your list of good travel movies. I would also suggest Somewhere in Time (Mackinac Island, MI), Under the Tuscan Sun, a feel-good movie called My Life in Ruins starring Nia Vardalos, Richard Dreyfuss (Greece), and of course, Roman Holiday.

    Keep up your wonderful work!

  15. Samantha, I discovered your wonderful personality while watching passport to Europe! I was immediately a fan of yours! I buy your beautiful luggage and accessories too. At the Atlanta airport a few months ago, another passenger caught my eye while waiting in line. We looked at each other’s carry on luggage and gave each other the thumbs up sign. Hers was peacock blue, and mine the beautiful seafoam green. We each had a big smile on our face and knew we were “special” travelers with great taste! Tku for what you do. Would love to meet you one day! Marcia

  16. Thank you for this. I just wanted to make sure you know that reassuring sentiments like this do matter. We’re all reeling, and many of us will start to despair – one of my own resolutions for this year was to travel much more, even domestically. But I have to hold onto hope that those plans and others are just postponed for a while.

  17. We just watched Lost in Translation based on your recommendation! Quirky! Trying to escape this madness. Thanks for all you do. Love you, from your birth place….. Dallas, TX! Our weekend getaway cancelled, but we will travel again! 😍

  18. Our Boise, Idaho AAA travel agent, Tonia Long, has been great during these uncertain times. We were scheduled to depart Saturday, March 21 on an Amawaterways river cruise from Bucharest to Budapest. She notified us by text the evening of the initial travel restrictions (we were unaware as we had stopped watching the television) and kept us informed of the final cancellation by Amawaterways and subsequent refund/future cruise credit process. AAA and Tonia in Boise have been there with us the whole way and I can’t thank them enough for all that they do.

  19. Thank you for saying that we’re allowed to be disappointed in cancelled travel plans. Such a little thing, but something I needed to hear. I drove around looking at street art. Didn’t come into contact with anyone. Stopped for gas at a self-serve pump, and ordered takeout to help support these suffering restaurants and yet I’ve been criticized for even doing that. Can’t win for losing.

    I can’t wait to get back out in the world!

  20. Well Samantha, since you know me you know I’ll still be working almost every day. As an essential member of the HSN show support team I’m required to be there and the rest of the time I will be at the part time job .

  21. Thank you so much for this article! I’ve watched you for so long and have taken your recommendations literally. Because of you, we stayed at Hotel Lanai many years ago and did everything you did! That is just one example! I’m so thankful for travel and how it’s enriched our lives. I relax by planning our next trip, large or small, and each brings joy when they come to fruition. Thank you, Samantha!

  22. My trip, like everyone else will be cancelled in May to Aruba, I’m going to be positive and say…as long as we are healthy and I still have my nature to see out back my yard… I’m good !

  23. I’m watching YouTubers that have either live where I’ve traveled or YouTube recordings of countries I’ve traveled just on the off chance I might see them again. So far I am not disappointed.
    I have a major trip coming up but we know it’s nit going to happen. 🙏🏻

  24. Thanks Samantha – very reassuring. We’ve been travelling for many years, including 14 cruises. I will have to soon cancel an upcoming cruise for our whole family clan [ all 16 ] to Alaska , but will get back to the world soon. I personally want to revisit :
    Vienna, Florence, Brugge – Belgium,; and see Buenos Aires, Greece, and Japan. Cheers!

  25. Samantha, in 2000 when our sons were 5 and 4 years old, and our daughter was 3, we would do something as a family every Friday night that became an indelible and beloved part of our family’s history.

    We would “camp in,” as we called it, sleeping overnight in our living room on inflatable mattresses and then, on Saturday morning, we would wake up and watch “Girl Meets Hawaii” (my wife is Hawaiian), eating donuts for breakfast as we did.

    The kids learned so much about their homeland and heritage, and those weekly times together framed a closeness between us all that lives on today.

    You don’t know us, Samantha, but you’re part of some of our fondest family memories.

    Thank you for that.


  26. I like this article! I do the same thing as Samantha, planning for the next travel. Hope COVID-19 will go away soon. Everyone be healthy and stay positive!

  27. Thank you Samantha! I am watching your show on PBS right now. You were in Phoenix Arizona and some artists were making bells. They were so beautiful so I came to your website so I can see if I can support them during this type by buying one. I found this article, and it was so inspiring, yes, life in a way is on pause, but it will be back on play soon. Take care, and thank you again for such an uplifting message.

  28. Thank you for being such a positive force for bringing the world closer together through your genuine love of the people and places you feature. I read your response to the question in WAPO this morning regarding once you can travel where will you go. Made me tear up – thankful you are caring for your mom. Lost my mom 5 years ago and would give anything to see her again. Safe travels and hope you get those pork chops soon!!!

  29. Hi Samantha,
    Great recommendation to plan travel and to use the plan as something to really help get past this covid situation.

    To help the locked in weekends go by faster I play Galaga (something I understand you like as well).

    Question…do you immediately allow your fighter to be captured in order to possibly have 2 fighters at once, or do you take the challenge stages without the extra gunner (live on the edge)?


  30. Hey Samantha, I just want to say that you are sooo right. As the saying goes, this too will pass. We all need to hear something positive right now. I started rewatching some VHS tapes of your show “Girl Meets Hawaii” while sheltering in place. Still one of my fave shows! Love Ya!

  31. I believe all fellow travelers feel the same way, stay positive. Several years ago, my husband and I ran into Samantha in San Francisco’s China Town outside of a fortune cookie shop. The crew were just wrapping up and looked like everyone wanted to call it a day. Yet Samantha took time to casually chat with us for a bit. Once she left, however, the crew people were telling us about what a supportive, positive, and down to earth leader she is. I haven’t forgotten-character is everything

  32. I am sitting watching your show on Gstaad and the Lauterbreun valley. We have stayed in Wengen at the Hotel Alpenrose,same family for over a 150 years. We will travel again but I love your videos, they bring back our memories. Our favorite place to cross country ski us the Chateau Lake Louise. We hope to travel again . Queen Elizabeth’s words We will get through this. We will see you again on the other side.

  33. I record all your ‘places to love’ on PBS here in Washington state. As I watch each episode I decide if I will add the location to my ‘places to visit bucket list’. I had to cancel my May trip to New Orleans and probably won’t be able to get to Austin, TX this Fall to visit a friend who moved there.

  34. Thank you very much Samantha ! Your words are needed to lift us up , to give us some hope, in these scary and dark times.

  35. The Coronavirus put an end to 2 trips I was taking. One was to be in June to Germany and the other in July to was going to be to Namibia. For me the few months before the trip are almost better than the actual trip as I research the places I will visit, stay, the foods, people, history….
    This will be the first year since 1983 that I will not have traveled at least once.
    I can’t wait until I can start planning again but for the moment things are still too complicated.

    1. Yes, this is a great time to work on creative endeavors. Painting (like Marian), cooking, sewing, writing, singing, dancing. Let’s fill this crazy world with wonderful art. K. Lang-Slattery

  36. I’ve been reading travel memoirs. One of my favorites was “Paris Letters” by Janice MacLeod (see my blog about it at I also really enjoyed an older memoir from 2004, “An Embarrassment of Mangoes” by Ann Vanderhoof. My own travel memoir, “Wherever the Road Goes, A Memoir of Love, Travel, and a Van” will be released as an e-book the end of July and as a paperback in January. Preparing for publication keeps me busy too! K. Lang-Slattery

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