Actress, director, producer, and podcaster Rashida Jones joins Out Travel the System to talk about some of her most cherished travel memories, including traveling as a child with her parents, celebrated music producer Quincy Jones and the late actress Peggy Lipton.
Jones shares her bucket list of travel destinations with host Nisreene Atassi – hint, entire continents are involved – and how the pandemic has helped her realize how important travel is to her very identity.
Listen in for her overall thoughts on travel companionship, and check out this blog post if you’re looking for travel companions that could make your next trip go a little more smoothly.
The One and Only Rashida Jones
Nisreene Atassi: I don’t know if I say this enough, but my job is the best. Not only do I get to talk, analyze, and dream about travel all day long, but every once in a while, I get a chance to talk to some amazing people and today is one of those days. I’m Nisreene Atassi, and this is Out Travel the System. She’s an actress, writer, producer, director, and also the co- host of her very own podcast, Bill Gates and Rashida Jones Ask Big Questions. The one and only Rashida Jones. Hi, Rashida. Welcome to the show.
Rashida Jones: Hello. Thank you for having me. Happy to be here.
Nisreene Atassi: All right, Rashida, let’s start with an easy one.
Tell us what kind of a traveler are you? Are you a beach vacation person, more of an adventure traveler, or perhaps maybe a city break kind of person?
Rashida Jones: I like a mix of everything. It just depends how tired I am. I like city vacations, but I have to have good sleep and good caffeination. Caffeination, is that a word?
Nisreene Atassi: It can be.
Rashida Jones: It is now.
Nisreene Atassi: I mean, everything really goes on this show, so caffeination works.
Rashida Jones: Okay, great. But if I’m exhausted, I just want to be plopped out on to a beach, yeah.
Nisreene Atassi: That makes sense because I think sometimes there are those vacations where you need a vacation from the vacation.
Rashida Jones: Yes. Exactly.
Nisreene Atassi: So if you’re already exhausted going into it, it’s probably not going to be the best experience.
Rashida Jones: I don’t like a stringent itinerary. I like to get lost and to find my way in a city, if I am in a city, and I don’t like to feel like a tourist. I want to try to feel like I belong there somehow.
Nisreene Atassi: Yeah. Do you have any good memories of when you did get lost on a vacation?
Rashida Jones: I like to build in time to get lost.
Nisreene Atassi: Yes.
Rashida Jones: Tokyo is the perfect place to get lost because everything is so rich and dense and beautiful. You can find the coolest things if you don’t know where you’re going. That’s a good version. I’m sure there’s tons of bad versions of me getting lost as well. I’ll have to think.
Nisreene Atassi: Let’s talk about sort of just in general, if you were sort of thinking back of the most memorable travel experiences that you’ve had, is there a trip or a moment that really comes to mind?
Rashida Jones: I think my earliest travel memories are my best memories, because it was with my family, and I think the reason I’m so in love with travel is because I was indoctrinated into travel so young, and my parents just took us everywhere. If they had to go somewhere, they just packed us up and took us with them. And I remember going to New York, I think it was maybe the first time, or at least the first time where I was really sentient, during Christmas, and seeing the tree in Rockefeller Center and walking around the snow and going to FAO Schwartz and just getting the real magic of that city. Also, it was like the early ’80s, so different time. That’s a very vivid memory for me.
Nisreene Atassi: That sounds so beautiful, actually. I mean, New York in Christmas time is an amazing place. So that’s an amazing memory to have.
What do you think makes somebody an ideal travel companion? If you had to go and sort of choose somebody what would be the qualities that you would really look for?
Rashida Jones: Somebody who can take in the scene and be like, ‘okay, you know what? You think you want to go to the pink wall to take pictures, but really you want to go to the vineyard’, or whatever. You want to go to the place where you can really have an experience as opposed to the thing you’re supposed to enjoy that you’re not really going to enjoy.
Nisreene Atassi: Yeah.
Rashida Jones: Somebody who knows me well enough to be like, ‘this is what you’re going to like about this place.’ By the way, I don’t mean to suggest that I’m a go with the flow person. I do a lot of crowdsourcing from friends who I trust in terms of places to go. What I try to do is get enough data to understand that these are the kind of touristy places, these are the kind of cool places, and these are the really, really like , deep cuts. You’d have to be this kind of foodie to know about this place or this shop or whatever. So I try to do as much research as I can to get to the heart of the city or the town or wherever I’m going.
Nisreene Atassi: If you could have anyone in history as your travel companion on that trip, who would it be and why?
Rashida Jones: That’s a good question. I think for the most part, when it comes to travel companions, I like people who are up for it and can roll with the punches. And then obviously somebody who speaks a lot of languages or can kind of charm their way out of things.
I have a friend, my friend Mimi, we were college roommates, and she’s just so good at traveling because she doesn’t take any of the missteps personally. It’s just always fun to be with her, even if it’s a delay, a layover, you’re stuck in traffic, you went to the wrong place. It’s just fun to be with her.
Nisreene Atassi: Let’s talk about packing.
Rashida Jones: Right.
Nisreene Atassi: I would love to know, if we were traveling right now, and I grabbed your carry on bag, what would I find inside of it?
Rashida Jones: It’s full Mary Poppins.
Nisreene Atassi: Yeah.
Rashida Jones: I have a little bit of absolutely everything. It is an endless well of utilitarian, functional product. So I’ll have truly anything from Neosporin, to gum, to a first aid kit, to a face spray, to hand lotion, to an eye mask, to extra socks, to a lint roller.
Nisreene Atassi: Lint roller. Okay.
Rashida Jones: By the way, that’s true with also my handbag. I just want you to know. In my day-to- day bag, I have everything in it.
Nisreene Atassi: Well, that’s good. I mean, you’re a woman on the go. You gotta to have everything accessible. I get that. What about when you’re packing your luggage? Are there certain things that you always make sure that you pack that you absolutely cannot travel without?
Rashida Jones: Like outside of the normal range of things?
Nisreene Atassi: Yeah. Yeah. Are you the type of person who always has to pack their own Bluetooth speaker because they just can’t be in a room without music type of thing.
Rashida Jones: Right. Well, that’s a good idea, actually. Thank you for reminding me for my next trip.
Nisreene Atassi: Yeah. That came from Joe Jonas, actually. I stole that from him.
Rashida Jones: Oh, very smart, very smart. My friend as a wrap gift got me a tiny Duxiana down pillow, that’s like small. I travel with that in a little bag and three pillow cases. So I use one for the plane, because then I have my own luxurious little pillow, and then wherever I’m going, in the hotel or whatever, I can put that on top of the pillows that are already there. So my head is touching my pillow, my little luxurious pillow.
Nisreene Atassi: That sounds really nice, but also seems like something that could be really helpful and beneficial because you always get that more comforted night of sleep because it’s something that you’re familiar with. I like that.
Let’s talk about sort of just in general. If you were sort of thinking back of the most memorable travel experiences that you’ve had, is there a trip or a moment that really comes to mind?
Rashida Jones: Oh, yeah. I went to this island, one of the Aeolian islands in Italy called Panarea. And we went to a little fish place right on the water and it was the best meal I’ve ever had in my life. And we were the only people in the restaurant, it was kind of early. I think a tear maybe came out of my eyes. Just like a really fresh pasta and just the most delicious fish I’ve ever had. Of course don’t remember either, but it’s written down somewhere for my next trip to Panarea. I really miss Italy so much. I love that country. I miss the pasta and I miss the pace of life and I miss the beautiful Tuscan countryside.
Nisreene Atassi: So you mentioned the pasta in Italy. Are you a big foodie when you travel?
Rashida Jones: Yes. It is vital for me that I have the best meals that the place has to offer. And that could be anything from a cart on the street to a little weird place in the back of an alley or a Michelin star restaurant. And that’s not always that, that’s not always the restaurant that’s the best restaurant. I remember eating a piece of pizza in Sicily at just like some little pizzeria and it was the best pizza I’ve ever had. I don’t even think it was like the best pizza place in Sicily, but it didn’t matter because it was just miles above anything I’d ever had. So yes, food is a huge part of this, huge.
Nisreene Atassi: All right, we’re going to dig a little more into Rashida’s travel hopes and dreams right after this.
Nisreene Atassi: I’m Nisreene Atassi, and this is Out Travel the System. We know as the pandemic continues that it can feel like there’s a lot of travel information coming at you from all over the place. That’s why we’re making it a mission to be a calm, expert, and transparent source of information and inspiration to you. Like and subscribe now so that you can stay up to date on your travel planning, and so you can be ready to go whenever the time is right for you. All right. We are back with Rashida Jones, talking about all things travel. What are some destinations that are still on your bucket list?
Rashida Jones: I’ve never been to Argentina. I’ve never been to Chile. I’ve never been to South America. I would love to go. I’ve never been to Australia.
Nisreene Atassi: Okay.
Rashida Jones: I know. I would love to go to Korea.
Nisreene Atassi: Okay. Yeah. I feel like Seoul. Seoul is one of those places that I feel like has a lot of character. Yeah.
Rashida Jones: Yes. Would love to go there. I’d love to go back to India at some point. I love India. I really miss the beach, even though I live in southern California. And I just don’t go to the beach much. I would love to do like a tropical beach vacation. I’ve never been to Bora Bora for instance. Would love to go there. There’s so many places left, Africa. Yeah. I’m also hitting like continents, which is something to look forward to. There’s so many.
Nisreene Atassi: I mean, this is a pretty good list. A lot of the places that you have are places that a lot of Americans have on their list as well, because they’re also far places or they require maybe a little bit more planning or a little bit of a longer trip, which I think is what makes it tough to get to them sometimes. I think sometimes people think when they hear bucket lists, they inevitably think it’s going to be more expensive, but what makes it so tough to make happen I think is just probably time. I feel like time is a much harder currency to get to make those trips happen than price, for some people.
Rashida Jones: Yes, absolutely. And I do feel like this time, because it’s such a weird time and we’re like, ” What was this year? What was the actual timeframe of this year, and what did we accomplish, and what do we want to accomplish in the future that we didn’t get a chance to do during this time?” It’s certainly changed my relationship with time. And I’ve been having this conversation with a lot of friends where I just feel like I don’t want to be rushed back into this idea of what my life is supposed to look like. And I feel adamant about needing to carve out the time to do those things. If I’ve wanted to go on safari for my entire life, now the time. Even to book it out in a year from now, two years from now, make the time to do those things because travel, that is the height of quality of life. I feel so grateful. I feel so fulfilled by travel in a way that very, very little else does for me in my life.
Nisreene Atassi: I love that. That’s such a great mindset to have. And you’re so lucky that you’ve been able to sort of dial into that because I think so many people haven’t had a chance to really recognize that. I used to be the type of person, I was just like, “I’m just trying to check places off my list, add those stamps to my passport.” Makes you really just start to sort of appreciate the value that travel can bring and all the different types of trips that are out there.
Nisreene Atassi: All right. Well, time sure does fly by when you are chatting travel with Rashida Jones. Rashida Jones is an actor, director, writer, and producer, and also the co- host of Bill Gates and Rashida Jones Ask Big Questions podcast. Rashida, thank you so much for joining us on Out Travel the System Today.
Rashida Jones: Thanks, Nisreene. It was such a pleasure.
Nisreene Atassi: You’re the best guest I’ve ever had.
Rashida Jones: You’re so professional. I’m going to take some tips from you for my podcast.
Nisreene Atassi: Okay. All right, well just let me know if you need any more training. Happy to-
Rashida Jones: Thank you. Thank you.
Nisreene Atassi: Happy to provide that for you.
Rashida Jones: It was so fun.
Nisreene Atassi: I’m definitely feeling inspired to think about my future travels. Not only in terms of going myself, but also who I want to have with me, because travel can definitely be a better experience when it’s shared. Speaking of sharing, we are sharing some amazing travel pricing and itineraries in our next episode, so you definitely do not want to miss it. I’m Nisreene Atassi, and this is Out Travel the System. Happy travels. Out Travel the System is brought to you by Expedia. Our show runner and executive producer is Claudia Kwan. Our associate producer is Katie Doten. With sound engineering from Jill Constantine. Additional production support is provided by JAR Audio.