Pamela Peterson has been a costume designer for “Saturday Night Live,” an Emmy award-winning television art director for Martha Stewart, and the art director of “The Brian Boitano Project” in Italy for HGTV, and Food Network’s “Daphne Dishes.” When she’s not designing, Pam is traveling the world, sharing her adventures on the blog, Just One Suitcase.
What has been the most moving or emotional experience you’ve had while traveling?
My trip to India had the most impact on me emotionally. I found a country where magnificent beauty is juxtaposed with unspeakable horrors, and a culture of devout spirituality in the face of extreme poverty. Seeing into the lives of other cultures is one of the most thought-provoking and powerful aspects of travel.
What’s your advice for aspiring travelers?
Learn a handful of words (hello, goodbye, please, thank you, excuse me) in the language of whatever country you are traveling to. Even if the pronunciation isn’t perfect, the effort is always appreciated, and you will receive a warm and welcoming reception in response.
What’s the best bit of travel advice you have ever received?
The best travel advice I’ve received, and I often pass it on, is to greet people before asking a question. Americans can have a tendency to jump right in with a request or a query – in a store, a market, a restaurant – without taking the time to say a simple hello first. It makes all the difference.
Did you make any rookie mistakes when you first started traveling?
In an effort to save money, I often stayed in hotels that were off the beaten path. It can be wonderful in certain locations, but in large cities like Paris, Rome, or London, I wasted a lot of travel time getting to and from my lodging. It’s especially disastrous if you forget something and have to lose time going back for it. Hence, my advice: Stay where the action is.
What has been your most valuable lesson learned from travel?
I have learned, simply, that travel feeds my soul. Whether I am riding an elephant in Thailand, celebrating with the crowds at the Royal Wedding, clapping my hands at a secret midnight flamenco show in Seville, being towed through floods of muddy water by a friendly gaucho to an estancia in Argentina, standing on a glacier in Iceland, feasting with the locals on a mountainside in Italy, gazing up at the Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower, the Burj Khalifa…this is when I feel truly alive. Travel not only inspires my work as a designer, it motivates me to be a better person.
Have you conquered any fears while traveling?
Thus far, I have been a fearless traveler – although I did go into a cage of growling tigers in Thailand. (Not something I had planned beforehand and probably not something I’d do again!)
Fast fun five…
If you could only describe yourself as one would it be: beach bum, city slicker or country bumpkin?
I’ll happily spend time on a beach and in the country, but I’m a city girl.
If you could travel back in time, which era and place would you go to and why?
1950’s Denmark, to rub elbows with illustrious Mid-century designers like Arne Jacobsen and Hans Wegner. I’d buy an Egg chair to bring back to the future.
If you could travel with one celebrity, who would it be and why?
Not even a celebrity could dissuade me from traveling alone. It’s how I roll.
If you had to chose a country other than your own to settle down in, where would it be and why?
That’s tough, because there are so many places I love. That said, Stockholm is a perfect example of sophisticated design and contemporary culture in a gorgeous setting. And the people are nice. What more can you ask?
What city was best value for money?
Chiang Mai, Thailand. You can eat well on $10/day. Funny thing is, I got so used to bargaining with vendors that I realized at one point I had lost perspective and was negotiating the price of a $3 sarong. (I paid the $3.)