Mexico City, London, Hong Kong, Copenhagen, Rio de Janeiro, Iceland — if it’s on a map, the Simmons have probably been there. After traveling the world as part of Run-D.M.C., Rev Run teamed with the Travel Channel for his new series Rev Runs Around The World to circumnavigate with his tightest crew — his family.
For six months, Rev Run, Justine, their son Russy and daughter Miley rode camels, ate khao soi, shopped ‘till they dropped and took in various cultures as the cameras followed. The Rev recently spoke to Billboard over the phone about jet-setting across the world
Billboard: What surprised you the most about shooting this Travel Channel series?
Rev Run: As Run-D.M.C., you travel the world. But you get on a tour bus, you get off the tour bus, and then you’re back on the tour bus, so you don’t really get to see the town you’re in. Over the years, my wife and the kids will see something on TV and say, ‘Dad, you’ve been to Rio. Did you ever go up to see the Christ the Redeemer Statue?’ And I’m like, ‘No, I didn’t get a chance to do that.’ And then they’ll say, ‘Alright, you’ve been to London. What about Big Ben?’ And it was all a blur to me, so as time went on, I said, ‘You know what? Let’s go back to these places, and let’s explore them,’ so that became a reason to connect with Travel Channel. It’s been a great ride.
If travelers need to tackle one destination from your trip, which should it be?
Bali. Bali’s for me, ’cause I love to relax. It was beautiful. Think of Hawaii times a thousand: the beautiful water, the weather, the vibe. It was heaven on earth.
With your wife and kids in tow, how would you recommend planning a travel itinerary that suits everyone?
My wife and I had two different ideas of how this should go: I wanted to chill at the hotel a little bit more than she had in mind. She had me out in the middle of Iceland looking for Minke whales in the cold waters. Happy wife, happy life. That’s how our schedule came about.
How should one go about packing for a six-month excursion?
You have to take your whole closet. Get a big, big, big suitcase, and leave your clothes on the hangers. Lay them into the bag and then fold them. You get to the hotel room, you can take it out on the hanger, hang it in the closet. It’s much easier.
What’s the best way to entertain yourself on long plane rides?
Can’t go no where without my iPod. I have my music on my iPhone, and I can chill and listen to everything and download songs when I land. I listen to every new thing that’s going on whether it’s Drake — you can call me on my cell phone or you can listen to old school — Sade, Anita Baker and Luther Vandross. It’s been incredible just to have all this music on your phone — unbelievable.
How did you cope with the jet lag?
First of all, you’ve got to get into town a day early so you can recuperate. You need at least a day and a half off. So we prepared ourselves to be able to sleep. It was a little chaotic but we pulled it off. We made it to the finish line.
How were you able to select activities that appealed to the kids, especially since they are different ages?
We had to make sure that Russy got what he wanted and Diggy wanted to meet us in Japan ’cause he wanted to go to Harajuku. I had no idea Japan had fashion on lock like that. I thought Paris was the fashion capital. He’s like, “No, Dad. Trust me. I want to meet you in Japan.” So he met me in Japan and we went to Harajuku; he was just in heaven, looking up all these famous designers that he knows. Miley ended up really loving Dubai. There was actually an indoor skiing place — imagine, as hot as it is in Dubai, they have a ski resort that’s indoors. It was incredible. She saw penguins and went skiing.
It was just weird watching everybody, what they wanted to do in each place. I was just kind of following them around. If it was up to me, I would have missed everything and been sittin’ by the pool, chilling with a cup of coffee, relaxing, but I ended up doing all the stuff that they loved, and I had a good time.
What is your advice for traveling as a couple?
Justine and I found some time to go tango dancing together in Buenos Aires. As a man, you’re thinking, ‘Ah, I don’t want to put on these shoes and all this stuff.’ But when I did, it actually brought us closer. I actually put some pictures up on Instagram of us.
She was happy and I ended up actually loving to learn how to tango dance. I was looking at many old couples out there. We ran into one and they said, “We’ve been coming every year of our life. Every Wednesday, we go and we dance, and it kept us close.” Me and my wife learned a lot about taking the time to dance and to do things together like that.
Did you find it important to spend some time solo as well?
Yeah, we found our time alone, also. Sometimes she’d go into town to look at jewelry or trinkets and find a little thing that she wanted to pick up for her mother. During those times, I would chill by the pool. I found my moment to have my little man cave in the hotel.
From losing luggage to flight delays, what is your advice for dealing with the unexpected while traveling?
You have to be open, be loose and ready. We lost our bags in Iceland. They had our bathing suits and it was kind of hectic. In Iceland, they have a place called the Blue Lagoon. It’s freezing outside but the water there is naturally warm. We just kind of sat by the pool even though we were frustrated that we lost our luggage for a little bit. Right before we were leaving, the luggage showed up to the hotel. You just gotta let go and let God sometimes.
What was the best thing you tasted on your trip?
Khao soi in Chiang Mai. It’s this ramen noodle type thing. It was amazing. There’s nothing like khao soi in Thailand.
What was riding an elephant like?
Riding the elephant was really cool. The elephants were spraying water out their noses at us, taking baths. We even saw some monkeys in Rio that came and stole some food from off the table. One monkey came back and grabbed a cup of condiments and I thought thought that that was crazy. I guess he wanted to make sure he got ketchup on his burger.
Tune into Rev Runs Around The World every Wednesday on the Travel Channel at 10 p.m. ET. Catch an exclusive clip of Justine and Miley shopping in Dubai (or as Rev calls it “Don’t Buy”) below.