Please sign in to post.

Samantha Brown’s Top Travel Tips - do they remind you of special times, too?

Samantha Brown has some excellent travel tips that I think our forum would relate to very well. I placed this under money-saving strategies because so many aren’t dependent on money to be fulfilled.

https://samantha-brown.com/episodes/season-4/make-travel-count/

This describes the beginning of so many wonderful days I’ve experienced! Oh, to be back in Menton, France exploring those wonderful streets calling me to climb higher and higher! “Put the map away, put down the phone and just go down streets because you think they look good. Go to where people live. Sit down in one of their public parks or one of their cafés and just be a part of everyday life, because everyday life in another part of the world is extraordinary.”

Posted by
106 posts

I've always thought she did a pretty good job at promoting the value of traveling to have a deeper experience than just "Doing".

The area in which I live is the subject of a recent episode of hers, including a segment on my very town. I need to watch it.

Posted by
2814 posts

Thanks Jean for sharing Samantha Brown's excellent travel tips. I've always enjoyed her travel style. I can totally relate to her quote! I can think of many experiences wandering neighborhoods and pausing to enjoy the moment and engaging in a conversation with someone. One that comes to mind was in a courtyard near our BnB in Ljubljana, Slovenia. We were sitting on a bench waiting to check in and a young woman started a conversation asking if we were the Americans she was waiting for? We were not, but we conversed for about an hour. It was our introduction to this wonderful city. Ljubljana ended up being our favorite city on our tour. That was our "extraordinary" experience.

Posted by
1867 posts

Sam's tip #2, explore the side streets. I sometimes drive my wife crazy because we have a destination in mind but I'll suddenly zig when I was supposed to zag because something bright and shiny caught my attention. I can't remember the names of either place but my zigging in Rome and Venice resulted in small restaurants that apparently nobody knew about but the locals.

Posted by
364 posts

I have always enjoyed Samantha Brown and loved her show. Yes, getting off the beaten path opens so many doors!

I remember in Venice, we took the vaparatto to Murano but never stepped foot into a glass blowing facility, or even looked for them. We just wandered, with no agenda. We had one of the best lunches in a tiny square while school age kids were playing soccer.

In France, I took the train from Nice to Antibes one day by myself and had no idea how to get to the market. I asked a lady who was at least in her 80's, maybe 90's, and she walked me there. It was not just a block or two either. She had a full conversation with me, although I did not understand most of it, lol. Then after that market I was headed to another and asked someone else for directions. That lady too walked me there, although she spoke English so we had a nice conversation. One of my favorites though was just last winter when we were in Germany. I stopped for some gluhwein at a little stand as did another lady. She was local though, and we ended up sitting at the same little picnic table. She told me all about growing up in Dresden and how Russian was her first language due to the war. We chatted about Dresden and the US for over an hour and it was wonderful. We then had someone take our photo of us together with our gluhwein. My husband says I make friends everywhere, but of course that is usually when I am out and about on my own.

Posted by
2814 posts

Okay, I thought of another life changing experience in 1994. We were vacationing in the Cook Islands. We took the bus to town (Rarotonga). We entered a busy restaurant and the server asked if it was okay to sit with another couple. We agreed. Long story short the couple were from Whangarei, NZ. We became fast friends. We found out they were staying in a place next to our resort on Muri Beach. We ended up meeting several times during our stay. Fast forward: We went to visit them in 2005, they visited us (WA. State) and we met in Maui one year. We continue to correspond. Another extraordinary event in our lives. Fond memories.

Posted by
46 posts

I watched this episode, the last of a shortened season. I'm not on board with all her suggestions.

Sam says take a walk around, try to connect with the locals.

Sure not a bad idea but that certainly can't be how she plans her shows. I'm sure producers are doing research, communicating with local tourism groups, screening potential locals for appearing on camera, researching some of the attractions.

She talks about not going instantly to the tourist areas, which is fine for some people. But her audience on PBS are older and probably travel more or have traveled more. So they may or may not need as much handholding. Some may research on their own while others go on package tours, cruises and the like where accommodations and itineraries are preplanned.

So Places to Love often tries to go off the beaten track, see if some of the locals willing to appear on camera can provide some unique perspectives.

Compare that to Sam's earlier shows where there's more practical advice.

She probably wants to differentiate herself from Rick Steves who's on the same PBS channels and will attract much bigger audience.

Places to Love doesn't have a practical focus like European destinations that Steves concentrates on. Seems like one of the criteria for choosing destinations for PtL is whether they can get sponsorship from local tourism resources (tourism boards, businesses). I never watched Great Weekends but I'm guessing that's how they chose many of the destinations they featured on that show.

Also, now that she's older and has children, maybe she prefers US locations so that she doesn't have to be away from her family as much.

I don't know if there's a popular show which appeals more to Millenials and Gen Z. That would have to be a HUGE market. They might want younger hosts who talk up things like sustainable travel or supporting local or family-owned hotels and businesses, though I'm not necessarily sure all younger generations prioritize those things.

Sam did talk in this show about going to strip-mall restaurants. Well there are certainly local restaurants worth patronizing but a lot of them are nothing special. I wouldn't just pull into any strip mall that I came across. I think people would look at Yelp or Google to see how different local places are regarded by the hive mind instead of walking into any random place on a whim.

Hope that she's able to film more shows this year, though with travel restrictions and still uncertainty, she may not want to be too far away from home this year.

Posted by
651 posts

I clicked on her storefront link--sheesh, it's a travel accessory selling machine! She obviously caters to a completely different market and demographic and I think that may be reflected in her espoused travel philosophy. Not a bad thing; there's plenty of room for different styles, approaches, and needs and I enjoy many travel and diverse programs that show parts of the world from many different viewpoints.

About those strip mall restaurants, don't confuse all of them with the USA-style lower tier eateries. In some cities, the centralized, small format restaurants are preserving family businesses and allow locals and tourists access to sweeping variety. A few episodes of "Someone Feed Phil" (aka "I'll Have What Phil's Having") highlight this curious phenomenon.

Posted by
263 posts

I think Samantha Brown is traveling to USA places because of Covid and the lack of international travel these days, not so much that she has children. And I think her travel tips were excellent! Would I follow each and every one? Not necessarily but they give great starting ideas. I’ve got several friends who go and get coffee at the same coffee shop when they’re staying somewhere for a few days and they love connecting that way.

Posted by
3770 posts

Luv2Travel, it is amazing how quickly the staff at a restaurant or coffee shop in a small village will get to know us even after three days!

Posted by
3770 posts

Mikliz97, I love your experiences you had in France with the women who were so helpful! I’ve had a couple of similar experiences in Nice & Paris, along with some smaller French villages. You brought back very nice memories! Those do seem to occur more often when I’m traveling solo vs. when my husband is with me since we’re usually talking together.

Posted by
3770 posts

Janis, wow, great examples! Thanks for sharing!

Posted by
9809 posts

Sure not a bad idea but that certainly can't be how she plans her shows. I'm sure producers are doing research, communicating with local tourism groups, screening potential locals for appearing on camera, researching some of the attractions.

Every TV travel show, magazine show, entertainment show (think Amazing Race) hire people called "fixers." They are experts in their own areas of the world working with TV crews. They do all the local work such as helping set up interviews, locations, get permits, etc. Many are also either current or former guides. Whether it was Anthony Bourdain, or Samantha Brown or even Rick Steves, much of what you see was set up ahead of time with the help of a local. (In some cases, different travel shows interview the same people because they hire the same fixer.)

Samantha Brown's main audience are people who you might find in an RV, or on a cruise or on a big bus tour. They're not traveling "Rick Steves Style."

There are no travel TV shows for millenials and gen x because they don't watch TV. They get their travel info from Youtube and Instagram.

Posted by
3770 posts

I am surprised at this comment: “ Samantha Brown's main audience are people who you might find in an RV, or on a cruise or on a big bus tour. They're not traveling "Rick Steves Style."”.

Samantha has been a great inspiration for me to go to the unique, less traveled spots and museums - most of the places that the cruise & big bus tours never reach and certainly not with a group leader holding an umbrella or flag. Her personality to get out and talk to people has been one of the reasons I study the languages more and also why my solo trips have been just as wonderful as the trips where my husband travels with me. I think many of us on this forum who travel solo would concur with this comment from Samantha:

“ What I love most about travel is feeling like a fish out of water. I love being the person in the room who looks and sounds like no one else. The challenge of seeing where I fit in and how I can make a connection with people who are completely different than me is absolutely thrilling.”

Posted by
364 posts

I saw one of her shows a couple years ago where she and her husband rented an rv and came to Oregon with the kids for a road trip. It was interesting, but so different from her European shows.

Posted by
2814 posts

For myself I enjoy seeking different perspectives of travel. I research multiple resources to gain inspiration. My tools are guidebooks, blogs, friends, relatives, travel programs, this forum, etc.. I too am surprised by the comment: "Samantha Brown's main audience are people who you might find in an RV, or on a cruise or a big bus tour. They're not traveling "Rick Steves Style." We've taken a number of RS Tours, but mainly have traveled independently.

What I find refreshing is that Rick Steves has met up with Samantha Brown over the years at travel shows, etc. to compare notes and share their love of travel. I can identify with the same quote as Jean mentioned above. I recall before our first trip to Italy taking a six week Italian Language Class. It was the best thing I ever did to prepare for making the connection with people who are completely different than me. I still have a print out of everything I learned about customs, cuisine, etc. Before our travels I like to learn some basic language to communicate with the locals. I recall thanking a guide from one of our tours in Central Europe. I said thank you in her language and she was completely surprised! She was thrilled. It's those special moments that says it all.

Posted by
1780 posts

It wouldn't make sense, or be wise, for every travel show to be the same. I'm glad that Rick isn't Rudy Maxa isn't Burt Wolf isn't Samantha Brown (not to mention Bourdain). That way you can sample and decide who you like best. Stanley Tucci and Alex Polizzi go to many of the same places in Italy but their shows are quite different.

Also about Samantha, she's been doing this a long time, in various formats, on various channels. I didn't care for her early stuff (and still don't) but now that she's married with children she's mellowed and is more watchable. I enjoy Places to Love and learn from it. And frankly I think she's doing more US travel because she has already been everywhere in Europe and Asia, at least once, plus it keeps her closer to home. And perhaps her pitch to PBS was, hey how about I do the USA?

Posted by
46 posts

Places to Love has featured European locations. They also did Hong Kong, South Korea so some Asian destinations.

She has the flexibility to go to any destination though I suspect she has to find sponsorships for the more costly overseas destinations compared to say locations near where she or her staff lives.

One of her sponsors does European river cruises and she has featured locations along river ways in France and Germany.

She probably doesn't have the budget that Rick has or as big of an audience so she has to differentiate. Maybe she's concluded that she can't be too Europe-heavy because Rick dominates that subject, on the same PBS stations which air both their shows.

Posted by
2814 posts

Stan, thanks for the link to the RS and Samantha Brown interview! I really enjoyed watching it. Excellent tips from both Samantha and Rick. It brought back memories of Vienna in 2019. We took the Vienna, Prague, Berlin class at the RS Travel Center prior to our trip. The class presenter recommended the tour with Gerhard. Unfortunately he was going to be out of town when we were there. In any case if anyone else is interested: Search RS Blog, "Museums are People, Too!" January 24, 2021. Hopefully they will be up and running again when things open up.

Posted by
224 posts

I don't know if there's a popular show which appeals more to Millenials and Gen Z. That would have to be a HUGE market. They might want younger hosts who talk up things like sustainable travel or supporting local or family-owned hotels and businesses, though I'm not necessarily sure all younger generations prioritize those things.

YouTube.

Posted by
224 posts

Samantha Brown is inspiring to a lot of women. I read somewhere years ago, I can't remember where, that she has motivated a lot of women to travel solo. It is a very good thing for young girls and women to see a woman confidently travelling solo in a world of male travel hosts. When I think of well-known mainstream travel hosts and writers (not YouTube and social media), she's the only female that comes to mind. Are there others?

She's not that different to Rick Steves. Both capitalize from their audience (Rick with books and tours, Samantha with her luggage line).

Posted by
1780 posts

Alex Polizzi does her own version of Stanley Tucci's roadtrip in Italy, I almost prefer her presentation.

She also does Spain, and perhaps Greece? She's on the Youtubes.

Posted by
7922 posts

“There are no travel TV shows for millenials and gen x because they don't watch TV. They get their travel info from Youtube and Instagram.”

Exactly right Frank.

Posted by
224 posts

Alex Polizzi does her own version of Stanley Tucci's roadtrip in Italy, I almost prefer her presentation.

She also does Spain, and perhaps Greece? She's on the Youtubes.

Thanks for the rec, I will look her up.