Meet the panel behind Travel’s Best Holiday Attractions 2014. Our advisors know a thing or two about travel — and where to find the world’s most festive holiday spots.
From Travel Channel TV host Samantha Brown to Mickela Mallozzi, creator and host of the travel dance series Bare Feet, our panelists live for the holidays.
Samantha Brown has spent more than a decade at Travel Channel — living in airports, at hotels and out of a suitcase as she visits hundreds of cities around the globe. Samantha has accrued enough frequent-flier miles to buy a small island. She also knows that the most important survival phrase in any language is, "May I have a coffee, please?" Samantha has hosted more than 17 shows on Travel Channel, which has kept her on the road more than 230 days out of the year, traveling throughout the world.
Growing up in New Hampshire, Samantha was never much of a jet-setter, but she is now a definitive travel expert. After receiving her degree in musical theater from Syracuse University, she spent 8 years as an actress in New York City before joining Travel Channel. Along the way, Samantha has encountered ancient culture in China, transporting her fans to 20 awe-inspiring cities. She also explored Europe, traveling to 65 destinations, from majestic, modern capitals to ancient coastal towns.
Mickela Mallozzi is the host and producer of the travel dance TV series Bare Feet, which follows her as she experiences the world one dance at a time. It airs weekly on NYC Life, the official PBS station of New York City, and is scheduled to air nationally on PBS in fall 2015. The popularity of the show spurred Mickela to create Bare Feet Dance Tours, itineraries based on current episodes that let other travelers join her on these dance adventures and experience other cultures through music and dance.
In addition to founding Bare Feet, Mickela is also the director of the Women’s Travel Fest, an annual conference whose mission is to inspire, empower and connect women through travel. You can follow Mickela’s dance adventures on Twitter @TravelBareFeet.
Amie O’Shaughnessy runs Ciao Bambino, an award-winning family travel planning website that offers essential tips and advice on how and where to travel with kids of all ages. Amie is a leading voice in family travel today and covers everything from family adventure trips to luxury hotels.
In addition to managing Ciao Bambino, Amie is on the board of the Family Travel Association and a member of the Society of American Travel Writers. Follow Amie and Ciao Bambino on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.
Brian Leonard, an executive producer and director for Travel Channel, including for the show ChristmastownUSA, loves telling amazing stories and has been a non-fiction producer/writer/director since 1990. He won the 1998 Emmy Award for best non-fiction special with Vietnam POWs: Stories of Survival, Discovery’s first Emmy ever. Before that, from 1981 to 1990, Brian made movie trailers and TV spots in Hollywood, holding positions at Walt Disney and Universal Studios.
Brian loves photography, music and movies, and he has been fortunate to travel all over the world for both work and pleasure — mostly work. He has an insatiable appetite for travel, and the amazing history that people share with him wherever he goes, from Panama to Israel to Alaska, continues to fascinate him.
In Kathleen Rellihan’s 6-year tenure as a digital producer, writer and editor at Travel Channel, she has managed fan sites for TV hosts including Samantha Brown, oversaw content areas of the website such as Road Trips and Girl Getaways, and blogged about daily travel news and trends. A Washington, DC, resident, Kathleen sees her job as an adventure in itself: Her favorite day at work was when 5 tribesmen from a remote island in Vanuatu hung out in her cubicle — clad in nothing but loincloths.
Kathleen’s love for adventure travel has inspired her to dogsled in Quebec, search for the northern lights in Iceland, learn to surf in Costa Rica and give elephants a bath in Thailand. Kathleen also volunteers in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, a destination she thinks should be on every intrepid traveler’s list. Keep up with Kathleen’s travels on Twitter @k_rellihan.