Katie DeTar is the face of “Fringe Benefits.”
“Fringe Benefits” is a new half-hour television series that highlights destinations in and around featured American cities. Each episode features a different city and region, presenting possibilities for outdoor adventure, cultural exploration and historic investigation. The show also delves into nearby and lesser-known villages, scenic highlights, unique shopping, local flavor, and relaxing getaways found just on the fringe of the featured city.
Getaways for Grownups editor Hope S. Philbrick and Katie met while both traveling on assignment in Bardstown, Ky.
Tell us about “Fringe Benefits.”
Fringe Benefits is a travel show, coming soon to television stations across the country. The 30-minute series highlights destinations gems in and around numerous U.S. cities. Each episode focuses on one city and its surroundings. I begin my journey center-city, showcasing the history and culture of downtown. Then, viewers come along as we explore the tastes, sights and sounds found just beyond the city–on the fringe. The show offers great ideas for daytrips, and ideas for locals and visitors alike.
I am blessed to work with a small crew, including my husband, David, who is our jack-of-all-trades! He assists with sound, production, media, still photography, etc. It’s so great to work together! I also work with Matt O’Neill, our director of photography. He’s does a great job capturing all of our moving images, and offers great visual ideas and insights.
How did “Fringe Benefits” get started?
I lived in NYC for a few years, and had a hard time with city life. I am a huge fan of the outdoors, and love small town USA. Every weekend, I hopped in the car and headed out of town, seeking a break from the city. I quickly compiled a travel journal of towns, wineries, hiking trails and more–all just on the fringe of NYC. Soon, friends were asking, “Where do you get all of these ideas?” and Fringe Benefits was born.
What considerations go into choosing destinations to showcase on “Fringe Benefits”? Do you use the same criteria when planning personal travel vacations? If not, what’s different?
We’ve filmed in some familiar cities, and in others our visit was my first to the area. I like to find places that would have a broad appeal, and where I can showcase day trips in several categories, including outdoor recreation, historic sites, food/wine/beverage, conservation, cultural and lesser-known gems.
As a frequent traveler, what item(s) do you consider essential–in other words, what do you never leave home without? Did you learn an item was essential the hard way?
There are a few practical items I always like to have packed: a collapsible water bottle to refill, a large scarf that can be used as a wrap/tablecloth/curtain/picnic blanket etc., journal paper and pen, sunscreen. And of course, my alpaca socks: they are warm or cooling, comfortable, and can be worm multiple times between washings.
I always have snacks and enough cash to use in a pinch. I was stuck in rural Scotland one Sunday after our bus dropped us on the Isle of Skye. With no food, no cash, and no businesses open. We were in a real pinch! Thanks to a generous inn owner, we were able to spend the night and have a meal and pay the next day when the banks were open.
Whether the trip was for work or play, have you ever been inspired to go outside your comfort zone while at a destination? If so, what was the thing you did and why did you do it?
I always like to try new things, and not let fear get too much in the way. I recently took a surfing lesson: That was out of my comfort zone. Swimming in ocean waves makes me nervous, and I was hesitant about this segment. The lesson went great, and it was a great time. I actually left wishing I could surf again!
What’s one of your most prized travel-related memories?
The summer after I graduated from college, my Mom and I went on a European travel adventure, covering seven countries. Part of the trip, we wandered through the Cornwall region of England, navigating small windy roads and hiking through farmers’ fields in search of ancient ruins. Such an adventure!
What’s your goal?
My goal with my writing and television work is to inspire others to explore their surroundings. While international and far-flung adventures are awesome, taking a day, or a few hours, to explore your town can be just as interesting and surprising. Being present, in the moment, and engaged in our world in a fulfilling way to live!
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– Photos courtesy Katie DeTar