Entertainment

Holiday Travel Guide: A Girlfriend’s Getaway

Written by Kristin Braswell

Part of the joy of travel is sharing it with a friend. By experiencing new places and cultures with others, our bonds are strengthened and shared memories forever connect us. Though group travel changed in many ways due to the pandemic, the future of experiences with those we love will be even more treasured when the world is in a different place. Nneya Richards is a travel journalist, influencer and stylist who spends her time between the United States and Italy. Through her travels, she has experienced everything from visits to a Yemeni Refugee Camp, to styling, producing and writing a piece on multiculturalism in Italy for Travel + Leisure. Here, she shares her tips on how to stay stylish and safe while traveling. That begins of course, with rethinking the way we once approached travel.

“We all have to change the way we travel and be more conscious about it, whether it’s choosing destinations closer to home, or off the beaten path. On my Instagram, @nneya, I often showcase my favorite haunts in Italy from living there, which isn’t the typical tourist drag but nonetheless, beautiful, and even moreso, not crowded. When I’m in the U.S., it’s about getting away closer to home” she says. Staying closer to home reveals gems that many of us may have otherwise not considered, and can also be very budget friendly. “I’ve loved experiencing the New England fall foliage, getting out of the city to less populated places. My cousin and I recently had a girl’s weekend. We stayed nearby but rented a nice hotel room (didn’t have our room serviced), explored the city for a day and had a picnic lunch! It was so perfect!”

Sights like colorful fall foliage, towering mountainsides, and scenic lakes are possible through train experiences on Amtrak. You can hop on board, sit back, and watch nature put on a show right before your very eyes. Forget worrying about being on the road with traffic or  inclement weather, or even the nuisance of airports. Amtrak’s routes can take you from the expansive U.S. coastlines to the Colorado Rockies, and even past our country’s beautiful National Parks. On the Denver Rocky Mountain getaway, for example, you’ll witness the magnitude of Rocky Mountain National Park.

For holiday traveling and beyond, Richards suggests leaning into the idea of making your experiences slower and more meaningful. “Usually, I talk to women traveling solo particularly for safety and physical well-being, but we also have to worry about our health this year! I’m encouraging something I’ve always loved, “slow travel.” If you can travel and relocate to a destination for 3 weeks, a month? Do it! Respect the health and safety guidelines of the destination you’re traveling to. This way, you can quarantine and still make it out to explore” she says.

One of the benefits of train travel is that it allows us to slow down as Richards suggests. Whether it’s just a few hours, or a cross country route, it’s easy with Amtrak to pack a bag and head to a destination where you want to spend some time. Even more advantageous, particularly during these times, is the safety measures Amtrak has taken both in stations and on board, so that you can relax as a passenger and truly enjoy the experience and world unfolding outside your window. Masks are required for both employees and passengers in public areas, and much of your trip will be as contact-free as possible, with paperless tickets, cashless cafes and  foot-activated buttons to open doors between cars.

If you want to treat yourself on a longer journey, many routes also have completely private rooms, called “roomettes” available. These spaces comfortably fit two adults; bedrooms fit three; and family bedrooms and bedroom suites can accommodate four. You’ll even have your own bathroom and personal attendant in the bedroom suites.

Richards has had some thrilling rail adventures of her own. “I love train travel. I’ve mostly done it in Europe, where I do it quite frequently in Italy but I’ve done it up and down to the east coast, particularly from NYC to Washington D.C. and NYC to my college town of Amherst. I didn’t appreciate enough then how picture perfect it was, especially the vintage New England Amtrak train stations. It was also fast! No waiting in traffic either,” she says.

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