On February 22, 2014 We attended the Travel and Adventure Show in Washington D.C. as we had done last year. (You can read that post here). It was a lot of fun to talk to tourism offices for different countries, see some great animals, and watch the cultural dances. We learned that you can take a 10 day “layover” with Iceland Air in Iceland! That’s certainly handy to know.
There was a big difference between last year’s show and this year’s…we were able to see Andrew Zimmern speak and attend “A Bizarre Evening with Andrew Zimmern” and this year we were able to see Samantha Brown speak and meet her.
Both were great! AZ’s talk was very informative and I was able to ask him a question, and for his evening show we tried a few things that I never thought I would have tried (again, blog post here). Sam’s presentation was exactly what I was expecting. She is America’s travel sweetheart, no doubt about it. But she is so incredibly genuine and lovely to watch. I did get to ask her a question, “What do you do after your travels when you get home to center yourself?” Her answer was to do the everyday mundane things that we do, like go to the store, pick up mail, drop off dry cleaning. She mentioned that now that she has twins people tend to ask her how you travel stress-free with kids. Her answer? You don’t!
Her presentation was about having an authentic travel experience. There seems to be this thought that you are either a traveler or a tourist, but in reality, you should just travel what ever way works best for you. This can mean backpacking everywhere and staying in hostels, taking guided tours in large groups on buses, or anything in between. The point is to see and experience new cultures however you go about that.
Authentic is what people do when nobody is looking. So, go for a walk without a group, meet locals, talk to them. Find a moment that makes you feel like you are really experiencing the area you are in. She suggests a ritual, find a favorite coffee shop, grab breakfast at the same place, have people recognize you to feel part of the community. But when looking for authentic, look at the present. The past is very important, and the must-sees are must-sees for a reason, but to feel part of something, live in it because authentic will not be found where only the tourists go. Learn a couple phases in the language of the area you are in. Learn “please,” “Thank you,” and “hello”. She said that travel is a fresh start, and I couldn’t agree more!
After the presentation we got in line to meet Sam and get a photo. It was quite a line, but worth it! She remembered me from my question and mentioned that it was a good one! I know…she probably said that to everyone, but still, made me happy. I told her how big of a fan I am and I’ve been watching since the beginning and that I would love an autograph for my grandmother since she was a huge fan as well. She is so sweet and loved that I got that for my grandma. She took two pictures with me and while she did the autographs I also mentioned that Sean loved her in the Bourdain Christmas skit, she said it was so fun because she got to shoot Tony. At the end I asked if I could hug her, and I did. Seriously, she is just as smiley and friendly as you’d think, and it never looked fake.
Thank you Sam for taking the time to meet your fans! You are an inspiration to travel and learn about new cultures.