You might have already heard of Samantha Brown, a notable television figure on the Travel Channel who’s hosted shows like “Great Hotels” and “Passport to Europe”.
Well, this past weekend I got to hear her speak live!
On Saturday, I attended the Bay Area Travel Adventure Show 2016:
It was actually recommended by one of the travelers in our Facebook group (feel free to join us!). So I decided to see what the show had to offer. The show consisted of two days of bustling activity – performances, speakers, food, and sponsors. It was pretty cool checking out the different brands like the Pick-Pocket Proof Travel Pants and the Travel Bra, but I was more excited to hear the speakers.
I took a few notes on the travel advice provided by Samantha Brown in her speech. Check it out below!
Samantha Brown – Travel Smart: Lessons Learned from a Life Lived on the Road
Samantha opened with some current event information and discussion on why one should even travel. Here were three takeaways from this:
1. 2016 Passport – Beat the Rush
If you didn’t know already, passports expire after 10 years. Samantha explained that there will be an expected 25% uptick in applications for passports this year. Allot for 6 weeks for standard processing (up from 4 weeks in 2015). This is because 2017 marks the 10th anniversary of WHTI.
What is WHTI you ask?
WHTI is the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, a law that required Americans to have a passport when traveling to Canada and Mexico. Since 2017 is coming up, people who grabbed their passports 10 years ago because of WHTI will need to renew again soon. Beat the rush and go renew your passport early if you need to!
2. Travel Empowers the Brain
Studies have shown that travel empowers the brain. When you’re traveling, you’re forced to figure out life in an unknown world, which your brain will find challenging. While on your journeys you’ll encounter new languages, sights, and tastes – and of course, you’ll be forced to improve your sense of direction around these untraveled roads. All of this makes the brain fire more synapses, which may revitalize your mind.
Despite this awesome benefit with travel, 429 million vacation days still go unused each year. The statistic was surprising yet unsurprising, as I would often see coworkers cash in their PTO and never leave the country to explore.
3. Travel with Your Kids!
I’m not a parent so I don’t have much knowledge in this area. However, Samantha claims that studies show travel creates strong family memories. It’s rare to see your parents act like children, but traveling lets kids see the that side of their parents. She says that when talking with her kids, their fondest memories are those abroad.
I was kind of surprised by this piece of advice. I know I’ve traveled a lot when I was a child – to Hawaii, Japan, Singapore, Australia, and more – but I don’t remember these experiences at all. Because of this, I was thinking I would never travel with my kids, as traveling with children would mean babysitting and saying goodbye to alcohol and other adult fun. I mean, what would be the point of giving up luxuries and paying for family travel when my kids wouldn’t even recollect these memories at all?
Well based on Samantha’s speech, maybe I’m completely wrong!
How to Travel
Samantha had two pieces of advice for how to truly enjoy travel.
1. Go for a Walk
It’s such a simple tip. But it was exactly how I traveled in 2014 in Europe, and I highly recommend it. Going for a walk lets you get out of the past and live in the moment. It’s awesome to go to China to check out the Great Wall or Paris to witness the Eiffel Tower, and it’s perfectly fine to do all the touristy things in a new country. However, Samantha recommends that after you check out the Avenue des Champs-Elysees, you also walk a block down and stroll the side streets filled with locals, mom-and-pop shops, and hidden restaurants.
Samantha told a story about how a segment in her show got tons of inquiries. It was about a secret, remote bakery and its owner and how the shop sold the best apple strudel.
Why did it get so much buzz that even ten years later, people are still referencing it?
Samantha states that we have a need to connect to places on a personal level. The people and their stories are what really make travel special. We don’t just visit a destination, we want to belong.
She mentioned other ways to speak with locals, including sites like AirBnB and EatWith. But the easiest way is really to just walk around. Spend 2 hours of your entire trip just wandering, with no expectations.
As a side note, Samantha told us in her Q&A about the scariest walk she’s ever been on walking down an abandoned street. She had to get to a specific place in town to film for her show, and going down the street was her only option. As Samantha continued walking, one man approached her. Then another. And another. They started pushing and grabbing her, but fortunately, they ended up leaving her alone. As a takeaway, she says to always trust your gut – as her gut KNEW the street felt unsafe but she walked it anyway.
2. Create a Ritual
I haven’t really tried this, but Samantha recommends creating a ritual, which she says somewhat contradicts her first piece of advice. Every day, spend a few minutes doing the same thing at the same place. Reason being, while you’re traveling you’re constantly on your toes, adjusting to change and thinking. But creating a ritual lets you slow down and have a peace of mind. When you’re removing this time pressure you can really reflect and appreciate your surroundings and experience in a new country.
Samantha’s advice really resonated with me, and I’m excited to apply her second piece of advice about rituals in my future travels. What do you think about her tips? Do you have any stories about your walks around new cities? Leave a comment and let us know 🙂