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On the road with Samantha Brown

By A. Pawlowski, CNN
  • Samantha Brown pursued acting before the became a host for the Travel Channel
  • She hadn't traveled before getting the gig and decided not to hide that she was a "newbie"
  • Brown now travels some 230 days out of a year
  • Brown: "I still love to travel. I love that idea of a fresh start and a new beginning"

(CNN) -- Caution: Traveling nonstop may result in a broken nose.

Just ask Samantha Brown, who globetrots for the Travel Channel some 230 days a year and changes hotels so often that she once found herself lost while navigating her latest room.

"I got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom but there was no light and where I thought the bathroom was, was a wall and I literally slammed into it and broke my nose," Brown said.

Call it one of the work hazards of what most people would otherwise consider a dream job: getting paid to travel to some of the world's most beautiful destinations and show them off on TV.

You may know Brown as the perky host of several popular series on the Travel Channel, including "Passport to Europe" and "Samantha Brown's Great Weekends."

These days, she is also the spokeswoman for Nature Valley's National Parks Project, which aims to fund restoration efforts that support Yellowstone, Grand Teton and other U.S. national parks.

Brown, 41, recently spoke with about her journeys and favorite destinations during a break in her travels. The following is an edited version of that interview.

CNN: How did you start out? How did you get to the Travel Channel?

Samantha Brown: I actually went to school for musical theater at Syracuse University, and then I moved to New York City to pursue acting -- a life in the theater. And from one job to another, I got an audition for the Travel Channel.

And I remember thinking, "What's a host?" I had no idea. This was 11 years ago, so it was a different TV environment. But then I got the job and I had never traveled before.

I just decided to make that a part of who I was. I wasn't going to hide that I was a newbie.

CNN: Do you remember your first trip for the Travel Channel?

Brown: Oh sure. When we went to Europe, our first show was in Florence, Italy, and everyone had lost their luggage and it was just nuts.

There were a lot of mishaps there, but a lot of fun as well. You learn as you go, and certainly shooting a travel show is a little different than what is finally edited. It's a little more smooth in the show than what actually happens.

CNN: Do you have any favorite destinations that you like to return to?

Brown: Unfortunately, because of my travel schedule, I don't really get to return to places, but I certainly have places that I'm unbelievably fond of and that really stand out.

My most recent series was Asia, and my favorite country was Cambodia.

The people were absolutely lovely, and I actually nicknamed them "the Irish of Southeast Asia" because they're very talkative and they'll just strike up a conversation with you.

And then of course you go there to see Angkor Wat, which is just so much more amazing than any photos can really convey. So it was a great trip.

CNN: Is it something an average American traveler could do?

Brown: In terms of being accessible, it might be a little off the beaten path than what people are used to. However, financially, it's highly accessible and I think that makes it really attractive.

I always say Asia is one of the last places where Americans can afford to have the time of their life. Everything is so dirt cheap.

CNN: Any other favorite destinations?

Brown: I would love to go back to Berlin.

Its golden age is now. I just found that to be really, really exciting.

CNN: What are your favorite U.S. national parks?

Brown: Well, the Grand Canyon was my first, so you never forget your first love. I also got to do an eight-day rafting trip on the Colorado River. It's those trips that really change your life.

Another favorite of mine is Hawaii, the Volcanoes National Park. It's just amazing to see new land form, and while I was there actually, a lava flow had opened up maybe 50 feet from us so we just saw this huge river of lava form.

It's just an amazing feeling being in the national parks. For me, they literally are the most special places on Earth.

CNN: When you get a vacation from your job, do you travel again or stay home?

Brown: I stay home and I order in Chinese. I don't go anywhere. [Laughs]

CNN: Do you want to stop traveling so much at some point?

Brown: I've already slowed down. But I still love to travel. I love that idea of a fresh start and a new beginning. I actually love airports, I love being in them, I love going past the gates to see where the [planes] are going and what the people look like.

So no, I don't see it ending any time soon, but I am kind of pulling back a bit.

CNN: Many people think of your job as a dream job. Is it as glamorous as it looks?

Brown: I wouldn't say it's glamorous. There are a lot of physical demands to my job. It takes a lot of stamina to do it and I think people would be surprised at that. It's 12- to 14-hour shoot days and we're usually outside the entire time.

Whether is biting cold in Europe in the Alps or oppressive heat in Singapore, you've still got to do your job. You do really have to have a passion for meeting people and understanding different lifestyles.