Samantha Brown

We ask a lot of our travels. We want travel to relax us, make us feel fulfilled, bring us closer to our family and friends and reinforce our own sense of self. And we want all this to happen in the five days we have off. But here’s the thing.  Travel can do all that for you, no matter how much time you have and where you go.  It’s all in how you approach it. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that the benefits of travel are real, whether you have gone 100 or 10,000 miles away. I’ve developed these (sometimes unconventional) tips over the last 22 years I’ve created travel shows. Here’s how to make travel count.

Going for a walk is the very first thing that I do at any destination. I’m seeking the moment that tells me I AM HERE. On a walk, I can connect with a culture as it is today. I almost never have that moment in the tourist centers, but in the seemingly mundane neighborhoods. I know what you are thinking: Enjoy the mundane? That is your travel advice? And yes, it is. On a walk, you are never looking for the exclamation points. You’re in search of the commas. A comma is where a person, a culture (even a country!) expresses itself. It’s where we allow ourselves to breath and observe.

There’s this assumption that you have to go far or put in a lot of effort to find more local and authentic experiences…and … well, not really. You can start by heading to where everyone and their selfie sticks go. Tourist centers are usually places of high energy and historical interest. They’re also often really easy to get to. But once you arrive, explore the side streets. Meander just one or two streets over and you will discover a whole new world.

How many of us, after returning from a trip, think I need a vacation from my vacation We feel the need to cram in as much as we can! When trying to see and do as much as you can, you can become bullied by time. The best way I’ve found to take back control? Create a ritual. They are a constant, which becomes a comfort.  Do one thing, the same thing, at the same time, every day of your trip. For me, it is usually the cup of coffee I’m going to have every morning. I pick a place near my hotel, ideally a local café where I can feel the ebb and flow of real life. It helps ground me, and truly live the moment.

On Places to Love, we spend a lot of valuable airtime showing me in a conversation. That’s intentional. I feel that talking to people is something that has slowly been going missing from our daily lives, even before the pandemic. Spontaneous interactions allow us to feel the power of shared humanity, and a sense of belonging.  No one expects you to speak in full sentences or have an ability to conjugate verbs. what you absolutely must know is how to be polite in another country’s language.   And just three words will get you there: Hello, Please and Thank you.

Planning travel can be so overwhelming. You can spend hours online researching a trip and be even less convinced about what you should do. When I feel myself spiraling, I ask myself a specific question: What is the emotional value of being here?  Considering the emotional value of a place steers you away from listing all the things you want to see and do, to really asking yourself how you want to feel. The emotional value of travel is everything. It strengthens the bonds of families and friendships; it reinforces our own sense of self. Travel is absolutely an investment in your life.


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.