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, 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 Family Traveller when we sat down with her. “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 Park's beloved Smorgasburg, trying everything from jelly Raindrop Cakes to a Pakistani version of a lentil cheeseburger and chicken mole nacho’s.
Each 30-minute episode has a strong focus on the people she meets in cities around the globe, while highlighting culturally enriching moments, whether that's foods that define a city or iconic historical landmarks.
“When it comes to travel, I’m always looking to have those moments that really connect me with a place or a person,” Brown said. “There are a 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. 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 it? 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 and 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. 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.”
Written by Michelle Gross