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Samantha Brown and Chris Grundy Talk Travel Channel’s 50/50 [Exclusive] 

Photo Credit: Travel Channel
Photo Credit: Travel Channel

If money and time weren’t a consideration, where would you want to go on your next vacation? 50/50 hosts Samantha Brown and Chris Grundy ambush a pair of travelers and offer them a vacation of a lifetime. They’ve got 50 hours and $50,000 to spend. I just have one question: where can I sign up?

I had the chance to talk exclusively to Samantha and Chris earlier this week. There may have been more laughing than talking, but it was easy to tell just how excited and involved these two are when it comes to this show. Not only do they get to give people a trip of a lifetime, but they get to influence what happens on these trips.

TV GOODNESS: Tell me about the show.

Samantha Brown: “It’s a phenomenal show. It’s a travel show that no one thought could actually be done. Ambush travel shows like this have existed in some form or another, but nothing where you have 50 hours, $50,000 and you literally have to leave with us in that moment. If you even hesitate — and we’ve been with people that hesitated for 15 minutes — we’re like. ‘We’ve gotta cut you loose. We gotta go. We gotta find our people.’”

Chris Grundy: “Yep. ‘Our plane leaves at 3.’”

Samantha: “So it’s this great beat the clock where people understand how amazing this opportunity is, in front of them, and they want to go with us.”

Photo Credit: Travel Channel
Photo Credit: Travel Channel

TV GOODNESS: It seems like it would be pretty hard to turn this opportunity down. I guess I’m not shocked that people hesitate, but for people who go, I’m sure it’s exciting for them and for you.

Grundy: “It’s exciting for them, it’s exciting for their co-workers, their families. Everybody wants to live it with them vicariously, I guess.”

Samantha: “That’s a great point.”

Grundy: “Everybody that goes, there’s a support system behind them. We don’t know what it’s gonna be. They’re strangers to us. The reactions we hear from the people close to them, it’s amazing. They’re so happy for them, because it’s a once in a lifetime thing. It’s not gonna happen twice.”

Samantha: “Grundy asked a question every single time we do an ambush and I think it’s gonna be the slogan in the timeline of the show. ‘Who do you have to call so we can take you on this life changing trip?’ Whoever watches this show, they should think, ‘Who would be on my short-list to call so I could go?’ You should be able to call two people to make things happen so you can go with us. And it’s usually their boss, usually parents to take care of children.”

Grundy: “Who would you call?”

TV GOODNESS: I wouldn’t call anyone. I would just go with you guys, honestly.

[Everyone laughs.]

Samantha: “We’re coming right now.”

TV GOODNESS: I’ll call my boss from the road, because it’s a forgone conclusion. We’re doing this.

Samantha: “We like your style.”

Grundy: “We like it.”

Photo Credit: Travel Channel
Photo Credit: Travel Channel

TV GOODNESS: For something like this, how involved are you guys in planning the itinerary? What exactly is your job after you’ve ambushed the travelers?

Samantha: “We have very tough jobs. We just have to have a kick-ass time. [Laughs.] It’s awful!

We get to where we’re going and the producers line things up because the other part of the show, the other meaning of 50/50 is that when they land thy will have a choice to make every step of the way: where do you want to stay? Do you want to stay in the 3,000 square foot penthouse suite or do you want to go to the private villa? It’s up to them. Where do you want to eat? Do you want to eat at a 5-star catered event that will bring us food to a boat or do you want to eat at the local hotspot where the burgers are the best in town?

We’ve created, with the producers and ourselves, the idea of what are the two great experiences? Maybe they’re in total contrast with one another, but then it’s ultimately up to the travelers what they want to do so they can create their own itinerary. And what we’ve found is that people really love the local feel. People want to stay in luxury, but they want to make sure that their experiences are with local people.”

Grundy: “Yep. I agree.”

TV GOODNESS: I love that you two are hosting this together. What qualifies each of you for this job and why should people be excited about it other than the obvious?

Samantha: “We were born…a poor black child. [Laughs.] Do you remember The Jerk?

TV GOODNESS: No. I’ve never seen it.

Samantha: “You’ve got to watch it.

Well, I bring to it my travel experience. I’ve done about fifteen years of travel shows with the Travel Channel, but I’ve always been alone. One thing people always say is, ‘Hey, I want your job,’ or ‘I want to come along with you,’ and now I get to bring you with me. Grundy is, what did someone say, like a cup of espresso. Grundy is the engine, he is the motor, he is the gears. We’re putting this into fifth whether you want to or not. It is awesome. I love working with him because I can over think things as a traveler and Grundy’s like, ‘Let’s just go for it.’ He’s my little devil who sits on my shoulder, but he’s not so little.” [Laughs.]

Grundy: “You know how camels go to get up from the ground when you get on top of them? My camel was like, ‘I don’t know, buddy. I don’t know if I can get up. This dude’s huge.’” [Laughs.]

TV GOODNESS: I know you start in Abu Dhabi and you have a number of locations you go to throughout the season. Tell me a little bit about your favorite destinations or activities during your travels.

Grundy: “We do international, we do domestic. International’s so sexy because it’s international, but some of the best trips have been domestic. We’ve gone to the Adirondacks in New York, and Alaska. Some of those activities, that’s my joy — being outdoors, being in the woods, being on the lake.

We went on a glacier boating trip. We went through the glacial waters to get to the glacier. That’s my cup of tea. We saw a moose up in Alaska. That’s the kind of stuff I really like. Now, I realize the choices aren’t mine or Samantha’s, but we can influence them. That’s the fun part, too. When they’re making their decision, we jump right in and we try to influence them to do the things we want to do.”

TV GOODNESS: For people at home who can’t take off at a moment’s notice or spend this much money on their travels, do you have any tips or tricks for planning adventures like this?

Samantha: “I’ve always said that everyone should just create a little quickie list, a little black book of travel destinations that are close to your home, maybe you can drive to, maybe little towns, maybe big cities so you always have it in the back of your head.

The first thing you have to do mentally is say, ‘This is something I want to do.’ Then you create this little list, it doesn’t even have to be a real list, ‘Ok, I’d like to go to the city,’ so that when the time comes, all of a sudden you have 2 days to do it. I like to cook and at the last-minute if I want to cook, if I don’t have the ingredients I can’t cook. But I’ve done the due diligence of going to the store and having things on hand and that’s what I mean by always having things on hand like an ingredient list of places you would go to at a moment’s notice.

Bring great social media and travel planning apps. There are travel planning apps that do all the heaving lifting for you, because if you have to plan the trip that might take the spontaneity out of it and you’re just like, ‘I’m just gonna stay home and watch re-runs of Archer.’ So I always say get on Twitter. Twitter is an amazing travel tool and people use it as such. You follow airlines, hotels you dream of staying at. is a great one to follow because it’ll send you a list of the cheapest destinations departing from your airport. So, you can see at a moment’s notice on Wednesday, that Friday, ‘We can actually afford to go to Jamaica. The tickets are $150. Let’s go.’

There’s the mental side of being prepared and the travel planning apps that help you act on deals and save money, which is always a huge motivator for people taking last-minute trips.”

TV GOODNESS: If you guys were ambushed and could go on a vacation like this, what’s your number 1 destination and what would you want to do while you were there?

Samantha: “It’s not happening right now, but I would love to go to Finland to see the Aurora Borealis. That is my absolute dream destination. I would take a reindeer driven sleigh — I’ve made this up, I don’t know if [this is possible] — to one of those cabins with the glass roofs. They give you these big, comfy beds and from your own bed you can look out up and see the Aurora Borealis. That’s what I would love to do.”

Grundy: “I think I’d like to go to Scotland and hike through the hills and wake up with the mist around you outdoors. I have wanted to do that since before Braveheart. [Laughs] That just sounds perfect. Just being outside and feeling that fresh grass or whatever. I think that’s where I would want to go next.”

Edited for space and content.

50/50 premieres Sunday, October 4th at 7/6c on Travel Channel.

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