I have followed Rachel’s work since first discovering her website several years ago. She leads an active lifestyle packed with exploration and activities. She has traveled to nearly 60 countries and divides her time as a TV Host, Producer, EMMY-Nominated Camera Operator, and Social Media Influencer.
Life is not dull with Rachel – from climbing mountains (including Kilimanjaro), diving including the continental divide in Iceland as well as a number of airborne adventures. Here are her answers to our questions.
Q. Was there a particular trip or time in your life when you realized you wanted to travel or build a career around travel?
I always loved exploring the world, although as I was growing up, that meant looking through National Geographic Magazine from the couch in Ohio. Fortunately for me, I was blessed with parents who are curious and interested in the world, so there were always books and conversations that led me to appreciate life beyond my hometown.
That said, I didn’t know that I could make a career of traveling. I hoped that studying International Studies and a variety of foreign languages might land me a position with the Foreign Service or an NGO. However, my career ideas mutated considerably when I landed an internship with STA Travel—at the time, the world’s largest youth & student travel provider—which sent me around the world blogging, doing photography, and shooting, producing, hosting and editing a video series. From that moment forward, I knew that storytelling could be my path if I were willing to work for it.
Q. And somewhat related to the above question, describe the path you took to become a Television host.
After the Ultimate World Traveler Internship, I decided to move to LA to become a TV Producer and Host. When I first got into producing, I started at the lowest rung on the ladder at a production company, as everyone does. From there, I learned the mechanics of TV production. I learned to produce, shoot, and edit, in addition to pitching, concept development, and the beauty and challenges of field work.
After I had produced on shows like Ice Road Truckers and Ax Men for a few years, I decided it was time to make the leap from behind the camera to in front of it. I took up weekly hosting classes, began producing my own digital series, through which I released one episode a week for 130 weeks, and did everything I could to hone my skills as an on-camera communicator. That groundwork laid the foundation for the larger opportunities that came later.
Q. What are some of the ingredients behind being a successful host of a television and or lifestyle show?
To be a successful host these days, you need to be versatile. You should know not only how to recite a memorized chunk of “copy” (a.k.a. script), but also how to write your own copy. You should be able to not only stand on the mark and wait for someone to say “Action!”, but also to frame and light a shot yourself. Additionally, you should know how to do audio, work the cameras, and edit the story.
More importantly, you should know that it’s not about you. No matter what your Nana told you, you are NOT that important. Your audience is what matters. If you can’t connect with them, there’s no show. So, get over yourself. Stop fussing with your hair, and learn how to REALLY capture your audience’s attention.
Q. You have been on so many adventures throughout nearly 60 countries. Has there been one adventure or activity that truly scared you?
Honestly, I’m scared all the time! The trick for an explorer isn’t being fearless; it’s facing fear, asking what the fear means, and moving through it. It’s saying: “Okay—THIS makes me nervous. Why? … Am I afraid of failure? Do I think I’ll be embarrassed by the outcome? Is it the unknowns that put me on edge? Or, do I honestly think I’ll be in harm’s way if I do this thing?”
If you think you’ll be hurt along the way, maybe reconsider… otherwise, climb that mountain! Swim atop those waterfalls! Jump out of that airplane! Just make sure you’re being calculated, and preferably sharing the adventure with experts in climbing / waterfalls / skydiving / etc.
P.S. Getting charged by hippos while canoeing the Zambezi River scared the bejesus out of me.
Q. What are some of the non glamorous activities (behind the scenes) that you have to endure in order to create a travel TV show or media production?
There’s a LOT that isn’t glamorous about travel and storytelling. Missed trains, squat toilets, food poisoning, 18-hour work days for months on end… the list goes on and on. If you love the mission, though, all the insanity is worth it. I personally LOVE the mission. Bonus: the non-glamorous stuff becomes entertaining storytelling later.
Q. What is your ideal trip?
My ideal trip includes an urban jumping off point with a rugged outdoor destination. It could be trekking in Argentinian Patagonia, with a few days in Buenos Aires on either end. Or, maybe it’s living with Buddhist monks in the mountains of Japan for a short stint, and thereafter feasting eyes and belly on the magic of Tokyo.
Q. How important is social media to your work?
Social media is an essential component of what I do, as I’m a storyteller first and foremost—a lens through which information passes. Each social platform entices a different audience, so I need to shape my voice and content to speak to those varied audience members, and let them know they’re important to me. It’s really all about bringing my audience with me on the journey.
Q. I will be in Scotland this April – I read you that you spent some time at the University of St Andrews and met your husband in Scotland. Are there any favorite ‘must do’s’ you can recommend?
Yes! I LOVE Scotland! Spend a good chunk of time exploring Edinburgh, strolling both New and Old Towns for a marked contrast between the Scotland of legend, and the Scotland of present. Climb to the top of Arthur’s Seat for an expansive view, then stroll back through the city, stopping at museums, cemeteries, and pubs along the way.
After Edinburgh, get out of the city, and explore small towns like St. Andrews (whence came golf), Inverness (the jumping off point for Loch Ness), and every little nook of civilization along the way.
If you have the time and outdoor inclination, venture onward to places like Isle of Skye for breathtaking access to nature, where the landscapes look like Earth before mankind.
Q. You currently all Los Angeles “home”. This city can be quite intimidating for first time visitors due to its sizable geographical scope and massive freeway arteries. What advice would you give a first time visitor to Los Angeles and perhaps list a few of your favorite activities in the city.
Don’t overdo it! Pick one neighborhood in LA, and stick to that. Are you into the beach? Great. Stay in Venice or Santa Monica, and don’t bother leaving. Are you interested in the burgeoning cultural or restaurant scene in Downtown LA? Awesome. Plant yourself there, and explore in depth instead of trying to do too much, which will inevitably get you stuck in traffic.
My favorite spots / eats / hoods in the LA area include:
– the beach in Manhattan Beach and Playa del Rey
– the food scene in Koreatown, DTLA, and Venice
– the museum culture around West Hollywood
– the natural setting in Malibu, Pacific Palisades, and Palos Verdes
Whatever you do, DON’T write LA off as “weird” or “stuck up” or “not that interesting.” When you do that, you’re letting your own ego get in the way of a fascinating universe of multiculturalism and adventure.
Rachel has traveled six continents, lived in three countries and journeyed through nearly 60 nations. As TV Host, Producer, EMMY-Nominated Camera Operator, and Social Media Influencer, Rachel regularly drops herself into faraway lands to relate their stories to outsiders. She has worked in every stage of TV production, from development and pre-production to field and post. She is also skilled with numerous editing systems, digital cameras and gear.
Rachel has had countless global adventures, ranging from work as TV host for HLN’s travel series Vacation Chasers, to digital host for Travel Channel and Mashable, and from brand influencer for BMW and Chase Bank, to producer on top-rated shows like Ice Road Truckers and Ax Men.
Rachel also hosted, produced, and edited over 100 episodes of digital travel series How 2 Travelers (H2T), in which she and co-host Andrea Feczko shared tips and tales from their travels with a social media reach of over 300k (5 million channel views).
For more information about her adventures, visit: www.rachelroams.com
Photos and bio provided by Rachel Rudwall
Charles McCool says
Scared all the time. That is actually excellent. Oh, and, yes, Palos Verdes and Malibu areas are magnificent.
I always say I need to spend more time in the South Bay but never seem to get down there – Palos Verdes is a real nice part of town – will plan on stopping by there as soon as possible 🙂