I’ve always enjoyed watching Samantha Brown on the Travel Channel as she’s one of the few TV hosts that feels authentic and real. She comes across as someone you would want to grab a glass of wine with (before jumping out of an airplane or some other crazy adventure!). As AARP’s Travel Ambassador, she spoke before a packed house at the Ideas@50+ Conference in San Diego and it was the highlight of the 3-day event for me! Four travel tips from Samantha Brown:

1. Don’t spend all your time in the past: Although you probably shouldn’t go to Rome for the first time and now see the Coliseum, don’t forget to also be in the present. Authentic travel moments are never in the past, but in the present of daily life in a city.

2. Go for a walk: Find streets that look interesting and just wander around – be in the mundane of daily life. In the day-to-day is where the country truly expresses itself.

3. Create a ritual: Although this may be counter-intuitive if you’re someone who constantly seeks out new things, creating a ritual will let you become part of the city, not just a tourist. Find a local place to have your morning coffee, visit the same bar for a glass of wine at the end of the day, go to the same park bench to check email. Don’t let time bully you in to constantly seeking the new!

4. Talk to the locals: When visiting a foreign country, know that the general public won’t expect you to speak their language. However, learn how to say “hello”, “please” and “thank you” in the local language. Knowing these pleasantries can break the ice and make for a lovely encounter. Remember they may be just as timid at trying to speak English as you are about saying hello in their language.

Along the lines of learning a few words in the local language, Samantha told a really funny story about hiking up the Great Wall of China (sorry it’s a little fuzzy – it gets better later in the video):

Just one more reason why I like Samantha Brown – she can laugh at herself (and the situation).