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Love Is In The Air ... Literally

How two New York-dwelling Midwesterners on a flight from Amsterdam to Nairobi became @ThatCoupleWhoTravels

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Love Is In The Air ... Literally

DeRonn Kidd

The media inundates women with dating advice, but the only words that rang true for Martina Jones, an Ohio-born consultant working in the Greater New York City area, came from one of her best friends, Jessica. One winter evening two years ago, Martina sat down with Jessica to decompress and discuss the three w’s troubling many a millennial in the city: when, where and whether she’ll meet the right person.

“Too often on the quest for love, we search outside of ourselves. We look in places we wouldn’t normally look, attend functions we dread and participate in activities we don’t like.”

Martina’s ears perked up, as Jessica shared the realest advice she’d ever heard on the topic:

“Continue to do the things you love to meet the person you’ll love.”

And so she did.

DeRonn Kidd

On the other side of the Hudson, Kalamazoo-born analyst Leslie Johnson was sporting a Michigan jersey in his Hell’s Kitchen apartment when he first got word of a glitch fare from NYC to Nairobi, Kenya.

Martina and Leslie--then two strangers with the same burning desire to see the world-- booked the same flight, each unknowingly taking one step closer to meeting a future life partner.

On March 18, 2015, the stars continued to align during the second leg of Martina’s journey to Kenya. She boarded her flight from Amsterdam to Nairobi and asked a stranger if she could switch seats with her, hoping to sit closer to her friends. The stranger declined, making Martina the only member of her six-person travel entourage who had to sit alone. Banished to a lonely seat several rows away from her friends, Martina pulled out her GMAT book.

As she tackled one GMAT problem set after another, she caught the attention of an antsy, perceptive stranger sitting one row ahead of her. He, too, was sitting alone after his friend had to cancel the trip due to a last minute work obligation. He’d been considering taking the GMAT, so he nervously struck up a conversation about the brand of GMAT prep book she was reading.

They talked for what must have been four hours. As they discussed their hopes and dreams, Martina mentioned that she’d always been interested in the TV industry. Leslie quickly remembered that he had a friend in the industry he’d love to connect her with and gave her his contact information, hoping she’d reach out when they both returned to New York.

@ThatCoupleWhoTravels / Via Instagram: @thatcouplewhotravels

But the forces of the universe wouldn’t take any chances. On their last day in Nairobi, they coincidentally ended up at the same restaurant, out of all the restaurants in the city. A huge fan of seafood, Martina had gone out of her way to find this place, while Leslie, on the other hand, was irritated that his group dragged him to a seafood restaurant. Leslie noticed Martina walk in with her group of friends, and in an attempt to get her attention, left his seat multiple times to go to the bathroom. She finally saw him during his fifth attempt and they rekindled the conversation they started thousands of feet above ground.

A few days after returning from the trip, Martina contacted Leslie. They went on their first date about a week later on April 2, 2015 and discovered that they were both flying out of Newark to different destinations the next day, so their second date magically took place at Newark International Airport within 24 hours of their first.

For the next 20 months, ThatCoupleWhoTravels (follow their adventures on Instagram) explored more than 20 destinations across 12 states and 8 countries. They walked the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, ziplined in Costa Rica, explored the Ancient Pyramids of Giza, picnicked by the Eiffel Tower, relived their childhoods at Disneyland and Disney World, island hopped in Greece, and hiked Mount Monserrate in Colombia.

Jessica was right. Leslie and Martina each found the right person to love doing what they love the most.

@ThatCoupleWhoTravels / Via Instagram: @thatcouplewhotravels

Knowing Martina first uncovered her love for travel when she got her first passport stamp in London, Leslie orchestrated the perfect proposal. They were walking across the London Tower Bridge on December 2, 2016, when a series of strangers started handing Martina roses, each with a note attached: “Will” “You” “Marry” “Me.”

She said yes.

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