The host of PBS’s Samantha Brown’s Places to Love and contributor to the Well-Traveled with AAA podcast (on Spotify and Apple Podcasts) returned to international travel in August 2021, when she joined other AAA Members on a river cruise in France aboard the AmaWaterways ship AmaDolce 

Cruising the byways 

Brown hosted the seven-day river cruise that begins and ends in Bordeaux, France, sailing the Dordogne and Garonne rivers. Whereas some river cruises, like those on the Rhine and Danube, take travelers to major cities—what Brown calls “exclamation point” destinations—the cruise from Bordeaux takes passengers to small towns and villages at a relaxed pace.  

“It really checked the box for why I love river cruising. You’re docked right in the middle of the city,” she says of Bordeaux. “You can just walk into the neighborhood, and there are little jazz clubs playing outside and people enjoying drinks.” 

Explore what European river cruising offers—and why it’s one of the most unforgettable ways to travel.

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Changed, Yet the Same

Obviously, COVID-19 has had an impact on travel: the need for documentation, vaccination requirements, the importance of following protocols. But, in Brown’s experience, there was much that felt the same. 

 “There was a lot that made me feel like—oh, this is great, nothing’s really changed,” she says. The world had changed, but in many ways remained the same. 

 Flying, for example, was seamless, as long as you had the proper paperwork. “The airports were great; the flights were wonderful,” says Brown. “It was a much easier experience than I thought I was going to have.”  

 But documentation is critical, and Brown found that multiple forms of it came in handy—for example, her vaccine card, a copy of her vaccine card and a photo of her vaccine card. And be prepared to plan and make reservations. “There’s a level of planning that might not have existed the last time you went to Europe,” she says. 

The importance of support 

“We are living in an uncertain world,” Brown acknowledges. But she encourages people to travel in 2022.* “When you do travel, you are rewarded for it because people aren’t out there yet,” she says. Just make sure you have the support you need.  

 “You have to have a little more help on your side,” Brown says. “We keep thinking that there will be a time when there won’t be unknowns, but this will be our new normal for a long time.” 

 So, she advises travelers to work with a travel advisor—someone who can track the latest developments, communicate with you and help you adapt to scenarios that can change rapidly. “There’s a lot to be said for working with a travel agent who just always has your back,” she says. 

Listen in on conversations with travel experts—including Samantha Brown—on our Well-Traveled with AAA podcast series.

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New places to love 

The fifth season of Samantha Brown’s Places to Love debuts in January 2022. This new season focuses on locations here in the United States, such as Boston; San Antonio; Asheville, North Carolina; Louisville, Kentucky; Colorado Springs, Colorado; and the Genesee River Valley in upstate New York.   

 “No matter where you travel, it’s someone else’s local,” Brown says. “People live there, and they love it. And why they love it is what travelers can benefit from, too.” 

 *[Please call ahead to confirm the status and hours of any place you plan to visit. AAA Living’s articles are only intended to inform readers of the available options. Our magazine encourages readers to be mindful of all local and global orders related to COVID-19 safety guidelines and protocols Learn more here. 

 Check local listings for Samantha Brown’s Places to Love at 

This story was featured in the
January/February 2022 issue of AAALiving Magazine

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