Over her tenure as TV’s most loveable travel show host, whether she’s dressing up head to toe in geisha attire to attend a traditional tea ceremony in Kyoto or donning bright yellow waders to harvest oysters for lunch in Galway Bay, nobody knows how to embrace the spirit of travel quite like Samantha Brown.
After a two-year hiatus, today, the 47-year-old mother of four-and-half year-old twins Ellis and Elizabeth is back with her new show Places To Love on PBS.
“It’s the show that I’ve always wanted to do, but without the constraints,” Brown told me when we sat down with her last June. “I’ve always wanted to do a show based on what I’ve learned in travel and what I’ve learned is that every destination has a soul whether it’s a huge metropolis or a small village.”
In one part of the pilot episode which aired this January, Brown kicked things off in her hometown of Brooklyn, New York where she schmoozes with vendors at Prospect Parks beloved Smorgasburg trying everything from jelly Raindrop Cakes to a Pakistani version of a lentil cheeseburger and chicken mole nacho’s.
“What I’m not doing is an itinerary show,” Brown said. “It’s more about the journey and there’s more of a story behind everything and everyone we meet along the way.”
According to Brown, each 30-minute episode will have a strong focus on the people she meets in cities around the globe while highlighting culturally enriching moments from foods that define a city to historical landmarks.
“When it comes to travel, I’m always looking to have those moments that really connects me with a place or a person,” Brown said. “There are number of ways to do that, but perhaps my biggest piece of advice is to go for a walk. Go down streets because you think they look good, sit in cafes you haven’t heard of or haven’t been talked about, they don’t have to be on Trip Advisor. Go where people live and those moments start to happen where people treat you like you’re one of them and there’s a really wonderful feeling where you’re like huh, ‘I’m not an intruder, I’m not an observer, I’m actually a part of this’ and it’s your moment too.”
While Places to Love is very much Brown’s baby, it’s also a family endeavor. Her husband and the show’s producer Kevin O’Leary travels with her often as do her two young twins Ellis and Elizabeth. How does she do? Brown shared her one fail safe trick to the trade.
“My little trick is that we board (the plane) last, Brown said. “So the pre-board, my husband goes in with all the gear and sets up shop, secures the overhead bin space with car seats while I wait until the very last person gets on the plane so now were not subjected to the most stressful part of the entire trip which is the boarding process. No one likes that, I don’t like that, people have bags going over their heads you have announcements being made, people are stressed and little kids can feel that stress they absorb it, then they let it out.”
As far as what the future holds, Brown says she hopes people will love and connect with Places To Love. “I hope people love it, and that they’re happy to see me in a different role,” Brown said. “Nothing gives me more joy as when a 22-year old woman comes up to me and says ‘you know when I was ten-years old I watched you all the time, you were the one who said I could travel because you were the only woman.’ Now I’m traveling and now I’m still doing this because there really isn’t another woman doing it right now.”