As summer approaches, so do summer vacations. The Jeopardy! Clue Crew roams all over the world to tape clues for the show, and its members – Sarah Whitcomb Foss, Jimmy McGuire, and Kelly Miyahara – are here to divulge some of their best travel advice as well as great anecdotes and memories from their adventures. Read on!
We asked the Clue Crew how they learn about the culture of a country or city before visiting. They all agreed that researching the location on the internet and talking with friends who’ve been there is a good way to gain insight. Travel guidebooks can also be helpful, and all three Clue Crew members emphasize the importance of learning a few key phrases in the language of your destination – especially “hello,” “please,” and “thank you.”
Packing is an important first step on any trip. Through their many excursions, the Clue Crew has learned what’s most important to bring and what to leave behind. We asked them if there were any items that they must always pack. Phone, gym clothes, and over-the-counter medications topped the list.
In addition, Kelly has a unique must-have: “I always need to keep the addresses of my loved ones with me. I seek out the best postcards and send them to my family and close friends. My parents actually keep a book of all the postcards I’ve sent from all over the world. I think it has hundreds of postcards in it by now!”
Sometimes, a little extra care in packing can make a big difference in your enjoyment of a certain region.
Sarah was relieved that she brought muck boots to Antarctica: “The travel company recommended we bring a pair of these tall, thick boots,” she says. “I decided at the last minute to buy some, and I am so thankful I did! No one can prepare you for the amount of smelly penguin poop you will walk through in Antarctica.”
3. GUIDED TOUR OR SELF-GUIDED TRAVEL?
The Clue Crew has a wealth of experience in both guided and independent travel, and they share the mindset that both styles have value.
Jimmy points out the benefits of guided tours: “There is safety in numbers, and a tour guide can give you great, accurate information.”
On the other hand, there are perks to structuring your itinerary around your own preferences. You can travel at your own pace and have the flexibility to change your mind as you go.
Jimmy recounts a time when he made a last-minute decision that paid off: “I visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam on our day off and had an interesting moment when making the decision to go in. The line to enter was at least 45 minutes, and at first I said no. Then I thought, ‘What am I, crazy? I’ve stood in Disneyland lines twice as long!’ I’m so glad I wised up and made the right move.”
“Some of my favorite memories have been when I set off on an adventure by myself,” Sarah shares. “I once rented a bike in Vienna, Austria, and explored some beautiful countryside – crossing bridges and exploring freely. It was incredible!”
4. BREAKING THE LANGUAGE BARRIER
The farther we roam, the further outside our comfort zones we may find ourselves. It can be a challenge to get around in a country where the locals speak a different language. We asked how the Clue Crew overcomes the language barrier and if they think it’s worth the trouble. Their response was a resounding "YES!”
Kelly says, “If I have the opportunity to spend time with local people – friends or strangers – I’m always grateful for the chance to see where and how they live and what their favorite things to do are. I am always so humbled and inspired by their willingness and enthusiasm to share with me! I find that kindness, smiles, and some creative pantomime translate everywhere. It is always appreciated when you attempt to speak the native language, even if it’s simply to ask, ‘Do you speak English?’ Never assume people speak English. Also, keeping a phrasebook or dictionary is always helpful!”
Sarah makes the point that “figuring things out, despite a language barrier, makes travel all the more exciting.”
5. FAVORITE SPOTS
When asked about their favorite destinations, the Clue Crew members all had very different answers. It’s a reminder of how diverse the world is!
“There are too many fascinating places in the world to pick just one,” Kelly says. “However, being a part of the team for Alex’s USO tour to Japan stands out. Having the chance to meet the men and women serving our country was life changing! I am a fourth-generation Japanese American and had always dreamed of visiting the country. I immediately connected with one of the Japanese crew members, Naho, who turned out to be an old friend of one of my friends in Seattle! Two years later, Naho came to visit me, and we surprised our mutual friend who hadn’t seen her in over 10 years!”
Sarah’s favorite was a place not many of us have visited. “It was on an island in Antarctica that I had one of the coolest interactions with an animal,” she says. “I was sitting on a rock, taking in the beauty of the island, when this curious penguin decided to waddle over and nibble on my boot. It didn’t take long for him to realize the boot did not taste good, but it was a wonderful moment while it lasted, and one I will always treasure.”
Jimmy enjoyed experiencing a city he had long known from afar: “My favorite, hands down, is Rome, which was my first international trip. It was a place that I would always see on TV and in the movies, and, in a weird way, it was like a geographic celebrity to me. I can remember the excitement I felt when I saw the Colosseum for the first time. Rome has such a fun and romantic culture, and the food and drink were tremendous. Have I mentioned the gelato?”
6. LESSONS LEARNED
One of the most rewarding aspects of wandering is learning about yourself and the world. We asked our Clue Crew ambassadors what they have learned during their travels that they would never have known otherwise. This is what they said:
“I’ve learned just how small the world really is! You can get anywhere in a matter of hours, and, once you reach any destination, you realize that people are inherently the same all around the globe.”
“I will never forget returning home from a cruise down the Mekong River. We met the happiest people I’ve ever seen in the poorest regions of Cambodia. These people had nearly nothing, yet the thing I carried with me was their pure happiness! Love is the source of happiness, and you can’t buy love. It’s as simple as that!”
“I’ve learned to have patience. When you’re traveling, things will be different from the way they are at home. Accept it and go with the flow.”
No matter if you travel to the other side of the globe or to the city next door, it’s bound to be a worthwhile adventure. You’ll get away, make new friends, and at the very least, have a good story to tell.