The Trip That Changed Me Podcast: Three Food Experts Share the Travel Experiences That Shaped Them - Full-Time Travel

The Trip That Changed Me Podcast: Three Food Experts Share the Travel Experiences That Shaped Them

The Trip That Changed Me: Three Food Experts Share the Travel Experiences That Shaped Them  

By Esme Benjamin

Rooted in culture, tradition and the land itself, food helps us engage more deeply with a place when we travel. Food doesn’t just contribute to our enjoyment of a destination, it often guides our vacation plans and itineraries, taking us off-the-beaten path to find the most authentic dishes and once-in-a-lifetime dining opportunities. This month FTT explores the inextricable connection between food and travel, and to kick things off we’re highlighting three culinary-themed episodes of our podcast – The Trip That Changed Me.

Listen to these experts as they discuss one transformative travel experience that changed the course of their lives, strengthened their understanding of themselves and, of course, broadened their culinary horizons.  

Lalibela, Ethiopia | By Erik Hathaway

Ethiopia with Marcus Samuelsson: cooking as a love language, cultural contrasts and connecting to our roots

Chef Marcus Samuelsson is a man of many accolades and achievements: the youngest person ever to receive a three-star review from the New York Times, winner of multiple James Beard awards including one for his PBS show, No Passport Required, a judge on the Food Network’s Chopped and author of several books including a best-selling memoir, Yes, Chef, and 2020s The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food. In short, he’s one of America’s most celebrated chefs, but you may not know his backstory.

Adopted by a Swedish couple after his mother died of tuberculosis, Marcus had never met his birth father until a trip back to Ethiopia in adulthood. In this episode of The Trip That Changed Me, Marcus shares the story of that emotional reunion trip, plus early experiences of cooking with his adoptive family in Sweden, how the diversity of New York City opened up possibilities for him as a young Black chef, and the importance of establishing a connection with our roots – be it a person, a place, or an idea.

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South Africa | By Janan Lagerwall

South Africa with Gail Simmons: taste buds, safaris and raising little travelers

Gail Simmons is a Canadian food writer, cookbook author, and judge on BRAVO’s Top Chef whose love of food started as far back as she can recall. Since childhood, Gail regularly traveled with her family to South Africa, her father’s country of origin, and the powerful sensory memories she developed there have stayed with her to this day. 

In this episode of The Trip That Changed Me, Gail shares the myriad ways South Africa sparked her early interest in the world around her and introduced her to new cuisine. From going on safari, to taking her very first sip of wine, to witnessing apartheid, her experiences in South Africa are a testament to the educational value of leaving one’s own bubble. 

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Paris | By Isaiah Bekkers

Paris with Jackie Kai Ellis: fighting depression, patisserie school and why it’s never too late to start over

By her mid-twenties, Jackie Kai Ellis had built an extremely successful life by society’s standards. She was working as a designer and living with her husband in the beautiful city of Vancouver, yet Jackie was struggling with depression and felt emptier than ever, trapped in a never-ending cycle of external validation. 

In this episode of The Trip That Changed Me, Jackie shares the circumstances that led her to enroll in a Parisian patisserie school – an experience that restored joy for life and, most importantly, her sense of self. Jackie went on to separate from her husband, launch Beaucoup Bakery, write a cookbook and a memoir, and eventually relocate to Paris to start another business: The Paris Tours. Listen for Jackie's thoughts on how traveling forces you to be more present, the scariest part of making a massive life change, and why following your dreams, no matter how unrealistic they may seem, is the greatest privilege of all.

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If you enjoy these episodes it would mean a lot to us if you’d consider leaving us a short review. And don’t forget to subscribe for more tales of transformative travel!

"This sculpture is called "Transmission" by artist Daniel Popper. Its a reminder that we are all rooted in love, unity and the divine. She stands a towering 28 feet tall and is located on Mojave Moon Ranch in Joshua Tree. The land is private property, so you can see it from the viewing platform off of Sunfair Road. And take it from me, it's best viewed at sunset."

Reel: @johnofah

There's more to Greece than the white and blue buildings and the surrounding Mediterranean Sea. If you're planning a visit, check out these places below!

📍Kokkinopilos. Preveza
📍Verliga Dragon lake, Thessaly
📍Ithaca island, lonian Sea
📍Aoos springs lake, Epirus
📍Lake Prespes, Macedonia
📍Balda di Stringa waterfalls, Epirus
📍Meteora, Thessaly
📍Pelion, Thessaly
📍Lake Zorika, Epirus
📍Mt Lakmos
📍Crete island, Aegean Sea
📍Gistova Dragon lake, Macedonia

Reel: @farawayfarers

Swim or kayak through the limestone cliffs of the Twin Lagoon, a must-visit destination for those traveling to Coron, Palawan, Philippines. It is called "twin" lagoon because it consists of two lagoons separated by a limestone cliff, with one lagoon on top of the other. The water in the inner lagoon is warm and clear, with a stunning turquoise color that makes it popular for swimming and snorkeling.

Reel: @travelifejournal

Take a dip in a series of seven saltwater lagoons located in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. The Lagoons of Baltinache are known for their beautiful turquoise waters and unique geological formations. The high concentration of minerals in the water gives it a unique buoyancy that makes swimming in the lagoons a unique experience.

Reel: @everchanginghorizon

Watching the sun rise above the clouds at Haleakalā National Park is one of the most memorable experiences you could have. Haleakalā is a Hawaiian name that means “House of the Sun” and is an awesome place to watch the clear night sky and stars fade away as the sun lights up the sky and the earth.

Reel: @girlchill_sunset

Just 1 hour from Shanghai by train, Cherry Blossom Valley is a popular tourist destination, particularly in the spring when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. The valley is named after the thousands of cherry blossom trees that cover the area and create a stunning display of pink and white flowers. The trees were originally planted in the 1980s by a group of Japanese experts who were invited to China to help with reforestation efforts. The best time to visit is typically in late March or early April. Get there early to beat the crowds!

Reel: @cyncynti

New Zealand is unbelievable. See it for yourself:

1. Fiordland National Park
2. A classic backcountry hut trip
3. Blue Pools walk
4. Hooker Lake
5. Milford Sound
6. Lake Pukaki

Reel: @kylekotajarvi

Surrounded by lush greenery, towering karst mountains, and the river flowing through, the Detian Waterfall is a popular tourist attraction and a symbol of the close relationship between China and Vietnam. It is the largest waterfall in Asia and the fourth largest cross-border waterfall in the world.

Reel: @sophoebelous

Escape to a serene and peaceful oasis away from the bustling city of Marrakech at Le Jardin Secret—a beautiful and historic garden where visitors can escape the noise and chaos and enjoy the beauty of nature. The garden was originally built in the 16th century and is home to many different species of plants, including exotic flowers, citrus trees, and palm trees.

Reel: @hypermiggzz

For a magical moment and bucket list travel experience, visit the end point of the annual monarch butterfly migration. Starting in August, the monarchs travel 2,800 miles south from Canada, making a temporary home amid the towering trees of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Mexico, where the two most popular sanctuaries to view them are el Rosario in the state of Michoacan and Piedra Herrada in Estado de México. Standing in silence while thousands of delicate wings beat in unison is something you'll never forget.

Reel: @juliiathompson

There's just something beautiful about snow covered landscapes like this popular attraction in southwestern Utah. Known for its unique geology, @brycecanyonnps_gov consists of a series of natural amphitheaters, called "hoodoos," formed by erosion of the rock layers.

Photo: @nathanleeallen

As we experience a couple more weeks of winter, we can't help but dream of tropical destinations like Hawaii. The warm water, sunny skies, and consistent waves make it an ideal destination for surfers. Hawaii has a vibrant surf culture and community and is also a beautiful place to explore outside of the water, with lush green mountains, stunning beaches, and unique cultural experiences.

Reel: @christopherballadarez

1. @sequoiakingsnps, California
2. @canyonlandsnps, Utah
3. @olympic_nps, Washington
4. @whitesandsnps, New Mexico
5. Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, Arizona
6. Knik Glacier, Alaska

Reel: @nathanleeallen