The Travel Facter: On the Road with Chris Harrison
“I’ve never done this before,” Chris Harrison whispered to me before his speech at the Los Angeles Travel and Adventure Show. Just in from Vegas where he hosted Miss America, the host admitted, “I’ve never spoken publicly about travel.”
Held at the Long Beach Convention Center, the show features travel industry greats – Pauline Frommer, Jean-Michel Cousteau, Peter Greenberg, Rick Steves, Pat Schultz, Richard Wiese, and Harrison.
“Italy has to be one of my top travel choices,” says the TV host. “It has everything I love – people, food, wine, and wonderful places to walk around.”
He didn’t expect to enjoy Bora Bora because of the hype. “But, it far exceeded every expectation I could ever dream.”
Prague also surprised him with “that young, arts vibe with lots of students. It had been untouched since World War II, so it’s really a medieval city. That’s rare to find in Europe. Most of the cities that were bombed were destroyed.”
Harrison says it starts with the people. “If you go anywhere and the people aren’t welcoming and loving, I don’t care how pretty a place is. It’s not a good place.”
Whether the Bachelor host is visiting a town for 24 hours, or stays for a week, he takes the time to explore the city before the famed rose ceremony. “I try to enmesh myself in whatever culture I am in. We hire locals everywhere we go. I usually pick their brain and find out where I should eat and what I need to see. And because we are who we are we have the Board of Tourism on our side and we get to do some pretty extraordinary things whether it’s zip lining in Costa Rica, bungee jumping off the original bridge in New Zealand, or shark diving in Bora Bora.”
Because Harrison is a producer on the show, he takes part in scouting out the heavy-duty physical activities. “The crew will try them the day before the couple films them. Its part of my job, but a lot of it’s just selfish. They shut down public places for us.”
This season the show went to Whitefish, Montana, right below Glacier National Park. “It’s an amazing place with fly fishing and skiing. It’s just breathtaking.” He also raved about Banff, Canada. “It’s once in lifetime stuff. We go to St. Croix and do the finale in the Golden Triangle in Thailand.
“Before the travel show, I never sat down and made a list of where I had been. It was jaw dropping!
“I remember staying at the Sabi Sand Reserve and then to Capetown with Table Top Mountain, the Harbour, the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the monkeys and seeing the penguins on the way to the Cape of Good Hope. We actually shot a finale at Stellenbosch (wine farm). Here I was drinking big bowl Bordeaux style wines. You pinch yourself and say who gets to do this?”
Sue Facter owns a news agency that specializes in the luxury brand. Her work appears in USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Women’s Day Australia, as well as on broadcasts and the web.