Samantha Brown is back with a new Travel Channel show

Annie Fitzsimmons, for CNNPublished 2nd October 2015
(CNN) — Veteran travel show host Samantha Brown's travel schedule is busier than ever.
After a four-year hiatus from filming a regular series, she returns to the Travel Channel at 7 p.m. ET Sunday with a new show, "50/50," co-hosted by Chris Grundy.
The idea: Brown and Grundy start in a U.S. city and ambush people to take them on a 50-hour trip worth $50,000.
The big catch: The participants have to drop everything and go with the cameras, crew and hosts immediately.
"There are hooks, like having to leave right now," Brown said. "But it's not just an ambush show.
"It showcases the power of travel. We're taking people out of their normal, ordinary lives and taking them to absolutely extraordinary places."
Brown isn't quite as nimble with her travel habits as she once was. She and her husband, Kevin, are parents to twins Ellis and Elizabeth, 2½, who sometimes join her on the road.
"I've been very humbled by the travel experience with children. I miss my days up at the front of the airplane," she joked. "But we travel with them a lot, and I love it."
In addition to welcoming twins, Brown has been busy with an HSN luggage line and a TravelSmith clothing line during her TV hiatus.
We asked Brown some questions about "50/50," traveling with kids and what she loves to do when she's home in Brooklyn.
CNN: What was it like for people to leave their lives unexpectedly and travel with you on the show?
Samantha Brown: I think we were tapping into the idea that travel is so powerful in its ability to disrupt your life in the best way possible.
Our questions start out light, like, "Hey, do you like to travel?" and move on to "Who do you have to call to tell them you're leaving?" Usually a boss or someone to take care of their kids.
For international destinations, they needed to have a passport. They would have to pack a bag in 10 minutes, and I was there coaching them.
CNN: What is one destination from the show that surprised you during filming?
Brown: Nicaragua surprised me in a really great way. I went there about 10 years ago and fell in love. I wondered how I'd feel now returning, and I was surprised because I had the exact same reaction.
I went to different places, like the island of Ometepe. And the craziest thing we did was hike to the top of a volcano and sled down it. It's called volcano sledding. But what I loved about Nicaragua on my first visit was still there.
CNN: Travel can be a huge investment. Where do you hope to take your kids?
Brown: I think people often think it has to be a trip that's 10,000 miles away to really be life-changing. But you can find far-off travel no matter where you go.
I really love cities, because kids get the idea that people came from other places, like when you ask a taxi driver to teach them to say hello in their native language. People live here, but they've traveled far to get here. Everyone has a cultural story.
If you want to take them on an African safari, what locally can you also do? Maybe it's the zoo; maybe it's an African event; maybe it's a local restaurant.
I mean, they're 2½, so what they love now is running down hallways in a hotel!
CNN: How do you stay in touch with your kids when you're filming?
Brown: We use FaceTime, but my daughter loves the red button, which is of course the hang-up button.
I always get them a book from where I am, so they now have a book on kangaroos from Australia, for example.
We have a big map so they can see where Mom is. We don't hide it from them that I do this. I send them daily videos, like me on a horse or a camel, which they love.
CNN: It's midnight. What would people be surprised to learn that Samantha Brown is doing?
Brown: I think people would be surprised that I live on a diet of comedy television, like "Archer," "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" and Amy Schumer's show. I just love to laugh.
We watched the entire digital series of "Yacht Rock." There's nothing highbrow about my television watching.
CNN: What's a great day in New York for you without your kids?
Brown: I would go up to Prospect Park for a jog. I would take myself out to lunch. I know it's a chain, but I first discovered Le Pain Quotidien in Europe, and I love them. I love the big farm tables in the center where you can work and have your watermelon juice, but you feel like you're not a traveler alone.
I would peruse some of the boutiques in Park Slope for clothes. And I'd get a bubble tea where you can suck everything up with a straw.
CNN: How do you pass the time on a long flight?
Brown: The first two hours of any flight, I'm at my most productive. As the flight progresses, my brain gets smaller and smaller, and so does the intellectual capacity.
I've been reading "East of Eden" for six months, which I only read on the plane. Then maybe an Amy Poehler or David Sedaris book, and then it goes down to OK! and Hello magazine.
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