Samantha Brown has been synonymous with travel for over 20 years now. Her career launched with the Travel Channel in 1999 when she began hosting the show Great Vacation Homes and has since been blazing a trail for women in the industry everywhere. Since 1999, Samantha has gone on to host 10 different series, including her most recent, Samantha Brown’s Places to Love which airs on PBS.
I had the opportunity to interview Samantha recently where we discussed the path that carried her journey to where she is now.
You’ve talked about having a fear of failure throughout your pursuit of discovering your career, can you further explain this to me and how you have managed to overcome this fear?
It was more when I was in the performing arts time of my life. I decided to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in fine Arts from Syracuse University after which I moved to New York City to chase my dream of performing on stage. This ultimately lead to me waiting on tables for 8 years and growing frustrated asking myself “What happened?”, “Why did I think I could do this?” and having a very specific memory of being behind one of the restaurants I worked at, outside looking at the sky thinking “Why did I do this?”. I felt like I was selling myself and my life short. Growing beyond our comfort zone is always scary because we are afraid to fail. I have always been a late bloomer, I was never the star or stand out but there were bigger things coming. Throughout this process, I learned that if you keep at something you’ll get there. It’s not always overnight and it’s not always obvious where “there” is but you keep working towards a goal or dream and you will succeed.
You eventually caught a break to audition for the Travel Channel and you almost missed your audition – what happened?
Well, I missed my first audition completely after I failed to make a connecting flight. Fortunately, it was rescheduled for the following week. My initial flight was delayed and as a result, I was running late for my connecting flight. I ran as fast as I could but I missed the final boarding call by about 10 minutes. The flight attendant felt sorry for me and allowed me to sprint out onto the tarmac where I was stopped by a dispatcher. After breaking down and explaining how I was waiting on tables for 8 years and this was my dream job, the dispatcher said only the pilot could make the decision. This all lead to me standing in front of this plane, under its nose, with arms opened wide yelling, “PLEASE” toward the captain. He decided to let me on the plane, I made my audition and secured the job. That moment of absolute courage, no fear, just being determined to be on that plane. I never knew that boldness existed in me and now I am very thankful it did.
What advice do you have for those who are pursuing a dream?
If it doesn’t come naturally, then it’s not for you. That is a lie. You have to work hard, very hard, everyone does. Understand that sometimes failure is part of the process. I felt inadequate to host the first show I did, I had never done that before, but it was a learning process and experience. Sometimes I would watch myself and cringe.
You became a travel show host with the Travel Channel during a time when men dominated that space. What advice do you have for females in a male dominant career industry?
Work hard. Push through your fear and doubts. If you really want it, you have to trust yourself and the process and not submit to the idea of “I can’t” or keeping failure in the back of your mind. As women, we often have a more negative approach. If we can’t be perfect we sometimes are discouraged. Men fail all the time, they do it well and then they learn from it. We have to learn to let go and take the School of Hard Knox life gives us. Grow a tougher skin and just go for it.
What is your recommended Spring travel destinations?
Under the radar cities are always wonderful. Most people leave the city during high travel seasons so you have the place a little more to yourself. You will often find free events, greater restaurant availability and discover more budget-friendly accommodations for the weekends.
B-side cities are the way to go. I call them B-side because like old school records, the A-side is popular and overplayed but the B-side is a little more undiscovered. These cities are not as well known but offer plenty of experiences. Places like Asheville, North Carolina or Louisville, Kentucky are wonderful B-side cities to experience. You will feel more like a local and not be so overwhelmed.
You have been to over 250 cities in 62 countries throughout your career, creating over 160 hours of programming time. I have to know, what areas of the world would you love to spend more time in?
It’s funny, you would think the more we travel the smaller the world becomes but it’s actually quite opposite – the world gets bigger!
I think I would like to discover the aurora borealis, or Northern Lights, from Alaska, Iceland or Finland. Latin America, Morocco and Egypt would also be wonderful places to spend time discovering.
Tell us more about your newest travel show, Samantha Brown’s: Places to Love.
Yes, it is a show where we explore the emotional heart of travel and the people who change, challenge and strengthen a destination. It is all about seeking out little-known places where brand new travel experiences are being created. We are getting ready to launch our 5th season where we visit Asheville, North Carolina, Colorado Springs, Colorado, San Antonio, Texas and several other domestic locations.
You can watch all of the previous seasons of Samantha Brown’s: Places to Love as well as the upcoming 5th season on PBS.