It may come as a shock but I watch travel shows the way a lot of sports fanatics watch golf, baseball, or football. Even the so-so shows piqué my interest because I might find a destination that I just have to hit someday, perhaps if only in a book or magazine. Almost from the beginning, shows like Wild Kingdom and the old Jacques Cousteau specials caught my attention and made me want to visit every part of the world, or at least learn about what else is out there.
These days, since I don’t see myself hitting the jungle anytime soon, I rely heavily on the Travel Channel for at least mental escapism. For one thing, my Direct TV bill is a lot cheaper than an airline ticket so, I’ll take it. But I also love to see HOW other people travel. There’s more to it than just packing your bags and getting to where you’re going.
These are the travel shows I obsess over:
Rick Steves-I still live for those PBS marathons even though I’ve seen them over and over. He’s an expert. He’s a travel God. The way he travels, he could have won Survivor many times over. He could sleep on a bed of nails and call it immersion travel, and you would believe it. He not only sparked the interest in youths to travel, he took notes on travel mistakes he made over the years so he could guide them, making their experiences easier. He has given the youth market the courage to get out there and discover, and continues to improve upon this year after year. His awe shucks demeanor makes everybody feel like they could do exactly what he is doing, in spite of language barriers and looking like you eat apple pie every day. Not just for kids anymore, Rick Steves’s guide books have become a travelers’ bible for travelers of every age.
Samantha Brown– Damn she travels well, doesn’t she? I haven’t always been a big fan of Samantha Brown, finding her to be a little too perky for my taste but her show is really growing on me. The destinations they’ve been sending her to have been really fantastic and I like that she will try almost anything. A girl after my own heart. Her recent episode of Eze, France still has me dreaming in French.
Current TV– Unseen, hosted by two guys named Max and Jason show the unseen side of a destination you may not see on the mainstream travel shows. They recently had Unseen Italy, Australia, and China just to name a few. It’s in depth travel, and great for adventure and thrill seeking travelers.
Anthony Bourdain-No Reservations-And then there’s the king. Love him or hate him, he’s a gentleman when he travels. He is the most hateful cuss on Top Chef when he is critiquing food, but everyone should take notes from him on how to act when traveling to exotic locations. His commentaries are simultaneously insightful and witty, always revealing more than just a locale. He has a talent for extracting personal stories from the most common people, giving the viewer insight on how life really is in their part of the world.
I could go on for days about the various travel shows I love to watch. But that’s also subjective. I consider Diners Drive-Ins and Dives and Ghost Adventures to be travel shows. I would love to hear about what your t.v. escape is. Is it an American Express commercial or that guy who eats live grubs?!