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Inspiration Around the World

Go along with the Travel Channel host as she discovers inspiration around the world!

By Samantha Brown, Brooklyn, New York

As appeared in

Whether it’s a day trip or a two-week vacation, there’s nothing like travel to help you reflect on what’s important in life.

I should know. I’m a host on the Travel Channel and I’m on the road more than 200 days a year.

Travel should inspire you. You can get back to nature or stand on top of a mountain for a whole new perspective. Sometimes it’s about swallowing your fear and breaking out of your comfort zone. And, of course, there’s the pilgrimage. Let me show you what I mean.

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The Aspen Vista Trail
Santa Fe, New Mexico

I found this trail by accident while filming my fourth episode on the Travel Channel. There was a break from shooting, so I hopped in a rental car and took off in search of peace and solitude.

I came across this trail in the Santa Fe National Forest, a wide path, with only a gradual incline, perfect for my spur-of-the-moment adventure. Also ideal for mountain biking and skiing, depending on the season.

I began walking. Aspens lined one entire side, their tall thin trunks stretching up to the sky. There wasn’t another soul around.

The past few days had been hectic as I learned the ropes of being a TV host. With each step on the trail, I felt more drawn to the aspens. This might sound odd, but I started telling them my hopes and fears. It felt good to get everything out in the open.

I came to a vista, a sweeping canopy of trees as far as I could see. I heard a bird singing. Another joined in. Leaves fluttered on the breeze. A natural symphony. I stood there and just listened, savoring the moment, drawing in the beauty.

Getting back to nature reminds us how much we—not just people, but all of creation—need and depend on each other. In some ways the aspens’ lives have something in common with ours.

The trees live in colonies, each tree born from a single, interconnected root system that dates back thousands of years. Each tree spends its life finding its place in the sun. I walked back to the rental car feeling renewed.

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Four years later I came back to Santa Fe to film another show. I made sure to return to the Aspen trail, to catch the trees up on how I was doing.

Haleakala Volcano
Maui, Hawaii

You have to get up early to watch the sunrise from the summit of Haleakala, the highest point in Maui, 10,023 feet above sea level. I awoke at 4:00 A.M.—an hour that usually inspires me to do nothing but burrow under the covers—to make the 38-mile drive to the top. It was freezing—30 degrees colder than the beach. And I was hungry.

Far in the distance, out over the ocean, I could see a glimmer of orange appearing. Then behind me someone began singing. I turned to see a park guide welcoming the sun with a beautiful Hawaiian chant.

The sun crept higher, its rays setting off an explosion of color through the clouds. The guide’s voice swelled. I could feel my mind, then my entire body, relaxing.

I walked over to the guide. “That was incredible,” I said. “What were you singing?”

“The song says that every morning we are blessed by the sunrise,” she said. “And in that blessing is what you need for the day.”

I looked again out over the ocean. There’s something about reaching the top of a mountain. It puts things in perspective. (The crater of Haleakala alone is 21 miles around!)

Mountains remind us of life’s challenges and accomplishments. Sometimes you have to reach your destination before you fully appreciate the journey.