It’s not everyday I get to talk to a travel professional and TV personality. I’m lucky to talk have a chance to chat with Sandra who tells me about her work in strategic marketing and travel media. Her new travel is set to launch soon and you can get a jump-start on it by visiting SandraCottam.com. You can also find her amazing travels on Instagram @sandracottam, on twitter @villagegirltrav and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sandracottamtv.

Sandra Cottam feeling right at home on the road

Sandra Cottam feeling right at home on the road

Up Up and a Bear: Please tell us a little bit about yourself (where you’re from, what you do, etc).

Sandra: I’m blessed to be bi-racial (South Pacific & Australian roots) and to have had a childhood where my parents enjoyed and valued the benefits of travel. For many reasons including my father’s job, a foreign exchange program and a culturally blended family, we moved a lot. In fact I had changed schools 9 times before my senior year of high school. No doubt this led to a career in the travel industry and studies in tourism and marketing.

Originally I took a job as an international travel consultant STA Travel for the travel perks it gave me but the more that I delved into the industry, the more I realized the endless opportunities it presented. As my career evolved I was able to move from sales and marketing roles, into customer service and project management roles and eventually into media, all within the travel industry.

Right now I enjoy a very successful career that combines my two greatest career loves: strategic marketing and travel media. Every day I am somewhere amazing and able to share that with my fans. I love that armchair travelers (people who don’t travel much or at all) can live vicariously through me and that more frequent travelers can be guided by my travel news and tips.

On the other side of our comfort zone are some very amazing opportunities.

Up Up and a Bear: Wow! That’s great! That’s a job we’re all jealous. You’ve been all over the world it seems. How many countries have you been to?

Sandra: A Facebook quiz recently calculated that I have been to 88 of 195 countries in the world, which means that I’m not even half way there! LOL.

looking cool at Pyramid of the Sun in Mexico

looking cool at Pyramid of the Sun in Mexico

Up Up and a Bear: That’s 80 more than I’ve been to! What an awesome perk to your job. What is it like traveling for work that much?

Sandra: Right now I travel 90% for business and 10% for pleasure – that being said, I try to find some time to explore and experience something new on each business trip. Like most people I love food so eating is often at the top of my strategies to learn about a new destination. I also love taking photos although it’s most definitely a hobby, not a skill. I have a lot to learn about photography but I have a great teacher!

posing with the locals in Bethlehem

posing with the locals in Bethlehem

Up Up and a Bear: Experiences galore I’m sure. What are some things that you’ve learned from your travels?

Sandra: I’ve learned a lot about myself. I know that it sounds kind of corny to say that think of it this way… we all know ourselves in our everyday environment. But what happens when you’re in a different environment (culture, language, geography) every day? You find yourself being tested and tried in more ways than one. So I’d have to say that I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve learned about my best traits and gifts and more importantly about my areas for personal development. I have also learned that I need constantly be grateful for what I have and not worry about what I don’t have.

Right now I enjoy a very successful career that combines my two greatest career loves: strategic marketing and travel media.

Up Up and a Bear: Couldn’t agree with you more. I set out to discover the world and most often it’s us that we find. And I believe that traveling is a very courageous thing to do – the unknowns, the strange language, people, and culture can deter you from traveling. Did you feel this way when you started traveling? How did you deal with it? How would you suggest someone in the same boat do to alleviate this fear?

Sandra: To be perfectly honest I have never felt this way and can’t really relate to someone who feels this. That being said, there are things in life that are unknown to me and that make me anxious; new experiences, goals, tasks. When I need to tackle those I really try to educate myself first and foremost. I truly feel that we are uncomfortable when we don’t understand. On the other side of our comfort zone are some very amazing opportunities. So, be curious, ask questions, challenge the status quo and be open-minded to whatever knowledge comes your way.

enjoying coconut shrimps in Mexico City

enjoying coconut shrimps in Mexico City

Up Up and a Bear: Thanks for the great advice. I’ve often been rewarded mightily when jumping out of my comfort zone. Anyway, I’m sure that since you’re jet setting all over the world, you must have excellent organization skills (suitcase ready to go, routine down to a science, etc). What are some of your routines that have really helped you travel efficiently?

Sandra: Oh totally! I’m a great packer and an excellent vacation planner! I get asked a lot about how I pack and (I can take just a carry on for a two week business trip!) where I find the best travel deals. I’m currently working on my new travel series and am going to share both strategies with my viewers. I’m bringing my suitcase into the studio and unpacking it for everyone to see what I take and how I pack it, and I’ll also showing viewers how absolutely anyone can plan and afford to get on vacation no matter your budget. Exciting stuff!

Every day I am somewhere amazing and able to share that with my fans.

Up Up and a Bear: Sweet! That’s going to be a great show! Now I know that you’re the road a lot so it must take effort to work on your health and fitness. You mentioned you’re in a love/hate relationship with carbs and cardio. I think a lot of us have the same relationship with carbs and cardio. LOL. How do you balance this while you travel? Do you have tips for other travelers?

Sandra: Losing or maintaining weight while you’re on the road can be super challenging and there really is only one way to conquer it… it’s all about forward planning. I travel 3 weeks out of every 4 and have a range of strategies. I’ve lost one third of my body weight in the last 18 months, all while on the road. I plan out my travel snacks and buy them in advance – almonds, fruit, boiled eggs, vege chips etc. I’m never caught without food in my purse. When it comes to eating out I rarely look at the menu – I ask the waiter for grilled protein with a side of vegetables or salad. And every now and then I have a cheat meal…not a cheat day! I also schedule time to exercise. Every cruise ship or hotel has a gym and I try to mix up between cardio (you’re right, I don’t love it) and weights training.

Sandra about to host it up!

Sandra about to host it up!

Up Up and a Bear: Tell me a little bit more about your role as a Travel TV host and writer?

Sandra: What’s the favorite part of your job? I host and write for 8 different companies and also work with a major cruise line. I’m a travel expert savvy on a range of topics including but not limited to destinations, food and cruising and love special guest appearances and interviews (like this one) where I get to cover fun topics with viewers and readers. Every now and then I also guest speak at travel expos, conferences and industry workshops. I also write for several airline and travel magazines.

I have been to 88 of 195 countries in the world

Up Up and a Bear: Exciting work indeed! You know… I’m really looking forward to the launch of your site. It’ll be an excellent source for travel tips for travelers everywhere. What do you hope to accomplish on it? What will you write about?

Sandra: My new site launches at the start of February and is gorgeous if I do say so myself. Some of the fun features include packing tips, travel checklists and budgets, guest bloggers, recipes of world food, my top 10 travel must haves for 2016, prizes and competitions and lots more! Oh and this year I’m finally launching my new line of travel accessories!

looking sharp in Greece, Sandra

looking sharp in Greece, Sandra

Up Up and a Bear: Lastly, and most importantly, since you’ve been everywhere, where is the best pizza on the planet?

Sandra: Well, I’m so incredibly fussy with pizza. First of all it’s all about the thin dough and fresh toppings. I’m going to put my money on pizza directly from Italy…Milan and Naples! Oh and my favorite pizza is anything with three or less toppings especially cheese.

Up Up and a Bear: I’ve heard that Naples was the best place for an authentic pizza. Now it’s been confirmed! Thank you Sandra for sharing your travel life and good luck with your site launch.

Get a jump-start and sign up to get notification when Sandra’s site goes live at http://www.sandracottam.com.

Travel on my friends.