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Travel Talk

Travel Talk: Transport yourself anywhere in the world via your television

If you’re like most people, there are places you’d love to experience, but just won’t get to for whatever reason. Perhaps
time, perhaps money . . . perhaps you like the idea of being somewhere, but can’t abide the actual process of getting there. Planes, trains . . .
or even automobiles.
Luckily, technology is such nowadays that you can indeed get an insider’s look at faraway (or even not-so
faraway) places without leaving home. Having a computer helps, but really all you need is a TV (HD is best) and access to a few cable channels.

The Expected: Think of travel and TV, and The Travel Channel most likely pops into your head. Indeed, if you (like a lot of people in the area) have Comcast cable service, The Travel Channel is included in your bundle of channels no matter whether you have the starter, preferred or premier digital package. As you might expect, The Travel Channel has destination-oriented series hosted by
travel personalities like
Samantha Brown and
Anthony Bourdain. Ever-chipper Sam hits the highlights of popular destinations around the world . . . somewhat like a living Frommer’s or Eyewitness guide, but with a personal, cheerful twist. Bourdain, on the other side of chipper, offers an edgy and often grumpy view of cultures and people around the world in his No Reservations series. But The Travel Channel has added a number of themed shows such as Burger Land, a hunt for the best and most unique burgers; Airport 24/7, a behind-the-scenes look at the sometimes bizarre happenings in an international airport; and Monumental Mysteries with Don Wildman, who scours national monuments around the United States for unsolved mysteries. Though some might say The Travel Channel is stretching a bit to come up with new programming, it’s a good place to start.

The Unexpected: But don’t overlook public television, especially if you like travelogue-style shows. Rudy Maxa’s World on PBS is one of the best. Maxa is a journalist’s journalist, with a Pulitzer and numerous other awards. Bud and I enjoy watching his profiles of places we’ve been – his take is often similar, though we like to kick things up a bit with some soft adventure. The National Geographic Channel (NatGeo), with the longest-running documentary series on cable
TV, Explorer, takes viewers to corners of the world that are not often featured as “tour” destinations. Sister station NatGeo Wild concentrates on wildlife – and, of course, both channels offer spectacular photography as well as interesting story lines and historical perspective. And though you probably didn’t think of
The Food Network as a place to dream about (or plan) trips, take a look at Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. You may just want to gas up and take off for the ultimate piece of pie. The Discovery Channel has just added a series titled North America, which explores wildlife and wilderness in North America with stunning cinematography.

The Access: These channels and shows are just the tip of the iceberg – a place to start. If you don’t have internet access via computer or smart phone, begin with your onscreen channel/show menu or guide. No matter which cable service you have, there will be a search feature – just plug in a destination or even go the channel and surf over the next few days to see what’s up. If you do have internet access, Google the channel for online schedules of shows. Watch them on TV, record them for later viewing (our favorite!) or even download full episodes to watch on your computer.
It won’t be long before you’re a world traveler yourself – virtually!

(Chase Binder lives in Bow. Read her blog at travelswithchase.blogspot.com.)

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