Being in a relationship requires a lot of flexibility, especially in 2020, when so much of everyday life and schedules have changed. For couples looking to get away from the monotony of home life for a bit, exploring safe travel options can be just the break you need.
Leslie and Martina Johnson, the husband and wife creators of That Couple Who Travels, are dedicated to providing couples with information and inspiration to create memories all over the world. Here, they share their top tips on how their experience as a brand and influencers have guided their own travels, especially in a year like 2020.
Like many of us, taking every safety precaution before and during travel remains their number one priority. “If you are traveling during the pandemic, our number one tip is to get tested for COVID, often, even if you don’t have symptoms. Many pharmacies now have drive-thru testing to make it more convenient. Of course, wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth. And, last but not least, practice social distancing,” the couple said.
In addition to getting tested, they also recommend considering which accommodations will provide the cleanest environment to stay in during your travels. “If you can, request a hotel room that has not been occupied in the last 72 hours. If that is not possible, it’s smart to wipe down the surfaces at your hotel or AirBnb and forgo daily housekeeping. You can never be too cautious. Most hotels are likely doing a great job with sanitization, but for our peace of mind and to be extra careful, we’d do it ourselves as well.”
What mode of transportation you use to travel also matters. Many people have made deliberate choices to stay out of airports this year. Amtrak noticed this trend early and increased its safety protocols onboard, providing providing a clean environment for travelers who want to sit back, relax, and enjoy the benefits of not having to be behind the wheel. In partnership with the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, Amtrak made improvements to their experience for the safety and health of travelers onboard. These safety measures include placing physical distance signs at stations, discontinuing printed tickets, and requiring face masks at all times both onboard and at stations. And talk about deep cleaning: Amtrak partnered with RB, the makers of Lysol® to create disinfection protocols for trains, stations and Metropolitan Lounge. Additionally, commonly used surfaces in stations such as door handles, counter tops, and seating areas are cleaned with EPA-registered disinfectants.
In addition to cleanliness, budgeting and saving wherever possible is also at the forefront of many couples' minds when they travel. “If you are on a budget or want to experience luxe for less, eat lunch like royalty, meaning save your fine dining and bigger meals for lunch instead of dinner. Lunch prices typically can be more affordable than dinner at high-end restaurants while still allowing you to have the experience. If you are staying somewhere that has a kitchen, cook some of your meals. You can even take a virtual cooking class to make it feel fun and less mundane,” the Johnsons advise. Other tips they offered include checking the tourism page of the city you are visiting for information on free activities like walking tours, or discount codes and packages. For accommodations, the Johnsons suggest mixing up your room types to save without sacrificing the experience, like staying in a suite the days you plan to relax more and stay in a standard room the days you plan to spend more time exploring.
Choosing budget friendly modes of transportation can also help you save dollars. Amtrak offers every day discounts, with its saver fares that include 20% off select routes across the country and 25% off its Cascades line, which offers scenic moments through the Pacific Northwest.
For the holiday planning, the Johnson's encourage travelers to do their research and be flexible. “Ensure you fully understand your home state’s requirements and restrictions and the state or country you are traveling to. Otherwise, you might end up spending your whole vacation in your hotel room and unable to return to work or your regular schedule when you get home! Your plans may have to change. So go into your planning with an open mind and make back-up plans. For instance, you may have really wanted to do an activity or eat at a particular place, but when you get there, you don’t feel comfortable with the number of people in attendance or something you see, so have a backup plan or at least be open to pivoting!”
They also suggest looking into travel that offers flexibility if those changes do arise. With Amtrak’s flexible fares, your ticket is fully refundable without any change or cancellation fees and reservations are easily modified. And if there’s anything 2020 has taught us, it’s how quickly plans can change, making Flexible Fares the perfect option.
When it comes to travel style, the Johnson’s have always enjoyed train travel. “We have done train travel all over the world! From London to Paris, Casablanca to Marrakech, Nice to Monaco, and many routes within the Midwest and East Coast of the USA. It’s quite relaxing, and we enjoy taking in the scenery. The cherry on top is no traffic!
It’s on Martina’s bucket list to take her mom on a cross-country train trip.”
Whether jet setting across countries or taking domestic vacations, the Johnsons, like many Black travelers, want to feel safe and seen. “Seeing other Black people in ads, marketing campaigns, and leadership roles at said destination marketing organization brands makes us feel valued and safe. These are all signals that a brand or destination cares about diversity and inclusion. Seeing yourself represented is priceless,” they said.
In that same vein, Amtrak has continued to share its commitment to diversity, which includes a “diversity and inclusion strategy for recruiting, welcoming and onboarding, engaging, developing and promoting apply to all Amtrak employees including, minorities, women, people with disabilities and the LGBT community across all generations.”
(Photo by Getty Images)
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