Host of Travel Channel's Great Weekends, Passport to Europe, Passport to Latin America and Great Hotels
“Just because something doesn’t come naturally to you doesn’t mean you’re not meant to do it. I used to think that because I really had to work hard to make something happen that it was not meant to be or somehow less than when things did come easy. I still have to remind myself of that.”
What city best describes your personality?
Portsmouth, NH. It’s intimate, friendly, and down to earth.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever ignored, and the worst advice you’ve ever taken?
Ignored: Don’t talk to strangers. When I first started traveling I was incredibly shy and crushingly intimidated by the language barrier. But, I learned from the best (the Irish) that all it takes to strike up a conversation is a pleasant smile and simple question: “Fine weather we’re having, eh?” I might butcher the language and use charades to act out the rest, but wherever I’m at in the world I want to connect with people and they always respond in kind.
Taken: The bad advice I have taken is from someone telling me how it would benefit my career if I do a favor for a for-profit company or professional group. It’s usually a speech or personal appearance of some sort. I have found that giving my time away actually has the opposite effect and I now value my private time with my family as a more powerful career benefit.
What is your best read? What book would you want to be a character in?
I’m a terrible reader. I love to read at night, but I can’t get through even one page before my eyes blur, head nods, and I fall fast asleep. Bad reader, great sleeper. But, one book I became absolutely engrossed with was Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts. It’s a true story based on the author’s life as a convict who breaks out of prison and escapes to Bombay, India. We follow Mr. Roberts’ rollercoaster of an existence there. Reading his novel every night I was transported to India, it’s slums, it’s ex-pat cafes, and it’s people–evil and beautiful. I would be so engrossed that when I finally did look up from the book I would wonder where I was for a moment. Ever since I was 10 I have wanted to be the cunning detective in a Nancy Drew book and that naturally evolved into the Miss Marple character of Agatha Christie’s novels.
How do you define power? Do you enjoy it? How do you live with your success?
For me, power has been that people all over the world recognize me and treat me like a friend because my travel series is shown in many countries. They hug me, bring me food, escort me to a nicer bathroom etc. Traveling can be a rewarding and lonely existence, yet because of who I am, I have friends around the world. Just recently I was back home where I grew up and a cute yellow Volkswagen convertible bug (older version) went by. Instantly, I recalled how back when I was 16 this was my dream car and then it hit me: you can afford to buy yourself a bright yellow convertible bug! That’s when I realized I was successful. Funny how I have an incredible career, beautiful twins, and married to one awesome man, but the fact that I could easily afford my high school dream car made me think, “Huh, I’ve really done well for myself.”
When do we stop asking questions about gender equality? When will it be Power People instead of Power Women? Is gender more important than politics?
I really don’t see an end, certainly not in my lifetime. And even if we come close here in our own country, we need to fix our sights on helping women in other parts of the world. This is nothing to be discouraged about since, as women, we always have a tremendous capacity to help, care for, and empower others–even in our own struggles. That’s our power and why it will and should always be Power Women.
What do you think of social media?
I really love Twitter. Not only can I tailor the exact news and information I want to read, but it also allows me to connect more efficiently with my fans. I say efficiently because with only 140 characters it really democratizes my time. I can answer many questions knowing my short answers won’t be seen as dismissive, but a nice, informative tweet.
What’s one place you’ve always wanted to visit on your travels?
Tops on my bucket list is to go to Finland or Iceland to see the Northern Lights.
When sending a child out to see the world for the first time, where would you send them?
If they are really young, say under 10, I would choose England. It has a beautiful landscape that is part historic fable, part fairytale mythical, and it’s home to many favorite bedtime stories like Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter, Peter Pan, and my personal favorite Paddington Bear. Pubs also allow kids, so we parents can treat ourselves to a proper pint.
What advice would you give to a young woman starting out?
Just because something doesn’t come naturally to you doesn’t mean you’re not meant to do it. I used to think that because I really had to work hard to make something happen that it was not meant to be or somehow less than when things did come easy. I still have to remind myself of that.