At the beginning of December, I got a bad infection. After a lovely ambulance ride (from cute, paramedic husband!), two nights in the ER, minor surgery, and 14 days of heavy medication, I started finally feeling normal around Christmas. I realize that this is nothing in comparison to those who fight long battles with illness, but it was enough for me to lose myself for a bit. A lot went to the wayside, including my travel writing. I really enjoy my blog and enjoy sharing my adventures with you. I just didn’t have it in me. I had a computer filled with half-written articles collecting dust in the corner of my room. Clearly this little infection did more that make me sick. My creative inspiration was left somewhere in Bed 3 by nursing station 2.
So when the Los Angeles Travel and Adventure Show came to Long Beach on January 14th, I knew this would be the perfect opportunity to get my travel joo joo back. Samantha Brown was on the agenda of speakers and I was pretty stoked to see her. I met Samantha when she was filming Great Weekends at the Disneyland Resort a couple years back. I approached her in the Downtown Disney District just outside of Sephora. I was a bit overexcited when I talked with her – I am not so sure I made any sense. This time I promised myself that I would be calmer and more articulate.
My husband, Aaron, and I met with pals Tom and Daniele Holmberg. Tom Holmberg is a wonderful foodie blogger and if you haven’t checked out his website, I recommend stopping by at www.tomsfoodieblog.com. They got to the show earlier to hear Andrew Zimmern speak and Tom got a book signed by Andrew afterwards. The four of us joined blogging forces and headed for the stage where Samantha was about to speak.
Samantha’s talk focused on her travel mishaps. Just as adorable and friendly as on her show, Samantha talked about her various cultural faux pas. Her most recent being a mis-use of inflection when attempting to tell a Taiwanese crowd ‘thank you’. Instead, she told a room filled with press to ‘sit down’. Even after hours of study and listening to tutorials, learning to properly speak a foreign language is a big challenge. Her advice is to learn the basics for each country – please and thank you go a long way in any destination. Being polite in a new land is key. She also recommends going to the market and reading the labels to get more acquainted with everyday terms. She considers canned goods as quick flash cards for survival. Plus, that will be a big help when placing your order at dinner later. You may want the chicken breast and not the cow stomach – big difference.
Samantha also talked about her love-hate relationship with hotel rooms. When filming, she switches hotels every two days. This means unpacking again, getting reacquainted with the layout of the room, fighting the hermetically sealed soaps in the shower, and making sure all the appliances work with the new plugs. Changing hotels so often can also be a little dangerous for her. She once broke her nose while walking in the dark, forgetting where she was. Yep, that wall wasn’t there in the other hotel. No more close ups on that trip. She’s also bruised herself on sharp bed corners and bumped into unexpected furniture.
Language barriers and hotel challenges aside, Samantha has had some pretty amazing adventures. She rounded out her talk by showing some of her favorite rooms and views. The most breathtaking picture is one of the canals in Italy. Of course, the hotel rooms themselves don’t matter as much as the gorgeous landscapes, fascinating people, and unforgettable experiences.
I got the chance to speak with Samantha briefly after the presentation. She was just as gracious as when I first chatted her up in Anaheim. I was awestruck again, but a little more prepared this time. I brought her a gift. And an idea. She’s done Great Weekends, Great Hotels, what about Great Works? She could travel to new locations where philanthropic works are bettering people’s lives. She could highlight the locations, the cultures, and all the wonderful efforts making small changes for bigger causes. I gave her a bracelet from 31 Bits (www.31bits.com) made out of recycled paper by women in Uganda. It’s companies like this that support economic development, education, and self-reliance in small villages around the world. We’ll see if anything comes of my brief pitch, but it was great to see her up close again and share a new idea. I included my contact information on the tag…..just in case her people need to get in touch with my people (aka – me). A travel girl can dream.
Overall, the travel show was great. Lots of neat booths with new locations and travel options. I spoke with people regarding village tours, wine country weekends, and even stopped at the Utah booth to chat about the Shakespeare Festival. For those of you not in the loop, the festival will be showcasing Les Miserables this year and tickets are already on sale. There were some cool interactive booths as well, including a zipline and a large pool with an inflatable raft.
I may have temporarily misplaced my travel inspiration last month, but after seeing Samantha and a world of travel opportunities (literally), I think I am ready to hit it again. In fact, next week I am packing my bags and heading to Texas for some down home barbecue and serious two-steppin’. I am kicking up my cowboy boots and checking out what the Lone Star state has to offer. See you at the rodeo!