My Lunch with Samantha Brown

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Samantha Brown in Bali, looking natural as she stands in water in her clothes with half-naked men. (Photo courtesy of

And to think I almost didn’t go. A few years back I got an invitation to have lunch with Travel Channel darling Samantha Brown while she was in Atlanta filming. Overwhelmed by deadlines and having only a marginal knowledge of who she was – I know, I know! – I almost declined but thought better of it.

It may be a sorry admission to make, as a travel writer, but the only travel show I’d ever watched is Anthony Bourdain, whom I adore from a distance. I’d be terrified to actually meet him as I know I’d totally wind wind up eating fried marinated monkey guts and doing arsenic shots and wake up in a yurt with no knowledge of where my shoes went.

So before our lunch I watched a few of her shows and was impressed by her easy style, coverage of a destination and yes, her cute clothes.

I showed up at Buckhead Diner and waited to meet with Samantha and her publicist Marjorie Hall, who soon showed up in a stretch limo. Uh oh, I thought – we’re in for a pretentious diva-style event with the fancy NYC girls.

The reality was much different, and way more fun. We giggled and shared stories like old friends and Sam, as we were calling her now, told us a charming story about one of her favorite memories when she wandered away from her crew and befriended some small Chinese girls.

Samantha Brown insulated wine purse
You can buy this and other fun products on Samantha Brown’s website. This wine purse comes with a bottle opener. Too bad it wouldn’t be allowed on planes.

Just as we were contemplating the decadent dessert menu, the manager came over with a large plate of all their specialties, including the white chocolate banana creme pie, big enough to feed an entire production team. “I’m a big fan of the Travel Channel,” she said. Sam looked at her calmly and said, “What are the other ladies having?”

As we waited for their limo to be brought around, I asked her about her clothes and how she handled all the traveling and wardrobe changes. I struggle to pack for a three-day trip. How does she juggle wardrobe with all her travels? “Oh, I have a stylist,” she said. “It’s great!”

I checked out her former website and saw the section “What’s Sam Wearing” and was delighted to see that like our fashionable former First Lady, her styles come from some of my affordable favorites – H&M, Zara, Macy’s and J. Crew.

This past spring I attended a conference where Samantha was a keynote speaker. She charmed, engaged and delighted us with her easygoing style and stories of life on the road, and in television.

She related the story of how she almost didn’t get the Travel Channel job when she missed a connecting flight, and on a second attempt a week later after boarding  on her connecting flight had ended and she was about to miss her audition again, she ran out on the tarmac and relayed her tale of woe, positioning herself under the nose of the airplane and begging. It worked.

She now is in charge of her own TV production and is selling products on her website that include wrap dresses, travel blankets, travel accessories and luggage, all affordably priced. Oh, and there is even an insulated wine purse. Because a girl has gotta be prepared.

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