Having recently launched an American version of the UK's number one property and travel show, A Place in the Sun, on Discovery's Velocity network, I am often asked what I believe the differences are in the American versus the British version of this program. My answers go beyond creative choices in television programming: A Place in the Sun is about exploring the idea of living in another country, in another culture and taking on the adventure of a new lifestyle in a new land.
It's a common perception that Americans travel abroad less than most Europeans and Australians. This notion that Americans may initially be less eager to embrace the idea of investing in property, or relocating for some significant portion of time in a foreign country, should come as no surprise. Originally, I believed that these hurdles were likely logistical, but the more experience I have had in this area, the more I have recognized that they are largely psychological.
My own journey continues to teach me that the benefits of foreign travel and exploration far outweigh the costs and there has never been a better time for Americans to reconsider how many of their boundaries are self-imposed.
According to one study conducted by Expedia, only 38 percent of Americans took the vacation time allotted to them in 2010, which is low even by American standards. No doubt, a high unemployment rate and a struggling economy has contributed to Americans' anxiety, giving them another "reason" to stay home. It should go without saying that people who don't even take their vacation days are probably not eager to venture further outside their comfort zone right now, without some strong encouragement.
My challenge is to remind viewers that those who are more informed, more aware and more adaptive are overwhelmingly sought after, and rewarded, by employers in a competitive workforce. And, more importantly, I want to inspire my audience that the payoff is the perspective gained through a more worldly experience that will lead to a more fulfilled existence overall. I realize that the underlying format of the show is merely a property search, but the bigger picture in each episode is this deeper quest.
So, that has been my focus in the revised American format, to concentrate on not just how Americans go about relocating in these various, intriguing, international locations, but why. Accepting an invitation into the unknown means taking on unfamiliar territory, literally and figuratively, and demanding personal growth of one's self. You learn to adapt and become more aware and informed in the course of any given day's discoveries. Cultural immersion includes the kind of education that can't be acquired from books.
No one could have explained to me the spirit of adventure in New Zealand, the magical feeling of the old city of Dubrovnik or the passion for holistic living I witnessed in Belize. For the short-term cash so many believe they are saving avoiding plane fare, they are forgetting the lower cost of living and often higher quality of life that they might be able to achieve elsewhere. And while living abroad use to often mean being out of touch, in today's wifi-and-Skype world it's hard to be anywhere that isn't quickly transformable into a virtual office or remote communication center.
International relocation doesn't have to mean leaving your life behind. It means taking your life to a whole new level moving forward.
Ultimately, on the American version A Place in the Sun, I am guiding a limited number of clients to foreign lands in the midst of a greater journey that may lead to an investment in a property abroad. What I'm hoping that the larger number of viewers take away from the each episode is a peaked curiosity to expand their own horizons and consider what else is out there to experience. I intend to provide a window to a greater world of possibilities. My promise is to use television if you'll use your vacation days, and I'm hoping we can get re-inspired about both.