The Overhead Compartment With Jemele HillShining a spotlight on celebrities and athletes who love to travel. Created and developed by Stacy Steponate Greenberg.

Today, we welcome ESPN’s Jemele Hill.


(This ThrowbackThursday Post was originally published on October 14, 2014)

Outspoken, tellIng-it-like-it-is, with an amazing t-shirt collection, Jemele Hill has risen fast to become one of ESPN’s top personalities. From her days as a newspaper reporter through today, as one half of ESPN2’s Numbers Never Lie, with co-host Michael Smith and their podcast His & Hers with Michael Smith and Jemele Hill, Hill has traveled all over and we can’t wait to hear her story!

THE OVERHEAD COMPARTMENT…..with Jemele Hill begins now:

OC: As a frequent traveler for both work with ESPN and leisure, how often do you find yourself traveling during the year?

JH: I travel less now for ESPN because I’m in studio 5 days a week. But before this relatively recent role change, I traveled frequently in my career as a general assignment reporter, college and football beat writer, columnist and as a college football sideline reporter in 2012. But aside from that, I’ve always loved traveling and I’m grateful to have a professional career that has furthered that interest. So even though I’m not traveling for work as much as I used to, I’m still infected with the travel bug.

OC: What is your favorite city to visit for work?

JH: My favorite “work trip” of all time was the 2010 World Cup, in South Africa. The great part about covering the World Cup is that you travel across the entire country since the various matches are in different cities. Our base was in Johannesburg, but I was able to go to the Cape, Sun City, and a number of other places. It’s one of the best events in all of sports, but the trip left such a deep impression on me because South Africa is such a special country. I’d never been there before and for me and a huge portion of the world, our impressions of this country was formed through the ugly lens of apartheid. But it’s a beautiful country with beautiful people. It was Nelson Mandela’s dream to see the World Cup in South Africa. He was a huge believer in sports being a tool to unite people. And I’m humbled by the fact that I was able to see Mandela make one of his last, public appearances, before his death.

OC: What do you do if you have down time in that city?

JH: I’m curious by nature, so I like to do as much exploring as possible. If possible, I try to explore with someone who is actually from that city. If that isn’t possible, I try to get as much intel from the locals as possible. In general, like most people, I want to avoid the tourist places and go to those areas that explain the fabric of a city.

OC: Favorite place for leisure travel?

JH: I don’t have children, but I imagine this is the equivalent of picking your favorite child! In the states, my favorite places to visit (in no particular order) are New Orleans, San Diego, Las Vegas, St. Augustine (FL), Puerto Rico, and Hawaii. Outside of the U.S. — Athens/Greek Isles, Cabo, Amsterdam, and South Africa (the cape and countryside are AMAZING)

OC: What do you like to do in your down time for leisure?

JH: Travel. Specifically, I love sitting on beaches and doing absolutely nothing.

OC: What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you on an airplane?

JH: I saw actress Amy Adams give up her first-class seat up to an American soldier. I tweeted what she did from the sky and by the time I landed, it had become a huge story. TMZ and Inside Edition were actually waiting for me when I got off the flight. To date, that was my most Retweeted tweet of all time. I tweeted it because I thought she deserved an acknowledgement, but I never expected it to become such a huge story.

OC: In an airport?

JH: I will never not be amused by drunk passengers who try to talk themselves onto the plane. It’s phenomenal entertainment.

OC: In a hotel?

JH: I once accidentally locked myself out of hotel room naked. Let’s just say that was an awkward call to the front desk. I also chipped my two front teeth after slipping on a bathroom floor. And no, alcohol was not involved in either instance. I’m just that ridiculous.

OC: What was your last trip?

JH: I went to Martha’s Vineyard for a weekend. It was pretty fascinating, in a weird, provincial way. Very lovely people. It’s just strange because it’s such a different way of life there.

OC: First thing you do when arriving at a hotel in your room?

JH: Open the curtains to see what the view is like.

OC: Biggest pet peeve about hotels?

JH: They’re getting a little skimpy on the shower gel.

OC: Complete the following sentence: I never leave home without,___________________________

JH: My headphones and iPad. I need something to read, and I need something to listen to.

OC: Go to snack when on the road?

JH: Depends on the part of the country I’m in. For example, if I’m in the Baltimore-DC area, I must get Utz’s Chesapeake Bay Crab Chips. In general. I’m a potato chips addict.

OC: Worst travel experience?

JH: Coming back from Greece after the Olympics. It taught me to never to leave the day after the final day of competition. Took nearly two days to get home, and included a bus trip.

OC: Best travel experience?

JH: I’ll break them into categories. The best work trip I ever took was to South Africa for the World Cup. Every Memorial Day weekend, me and my girlfriends take a trip and we’ve been to Vegas, Miami and Puerto Rico. And this past summer, I took a trip by myself to Cabo, which was spectacular. I’ll also fondly remember my first international trip, which was to Dusseldorf, Germany, to visit a friend and her husband. I actually went to a World League football game, and drank more beer that entire week than I have any year in my life.

OC: Check or carry on?

JH: There’s only one right answer — carry on.

OC: Best part of flying

JH: TSA pre-check.

OC: Worst part of flying

JH: Flying with people who don’t normally travel. I have everything down to a science, so they just disrupt my routine.

OC: Please put in order, favorite way to travel….Car, Plane or Boat?

JH: Plane, Boat, and any form of transportation other than the car, I hate car trips. I’m too impatient.

OC: Top three favorite restaurants any where in the world

JH: Anywhere in New Orleans, Graycliff restaurant in Nassau, Bahamas, and Blessed Cafe in Puerto Rico. I’ll have a different answer next week.

OC: Travel secret/habit about you that no one knew until now,______________________

JH: This might make me sound like a snob, but I can’t fly in coach. Have traveled too much and can’t do it.

Jemele Hill, please use care upon departure as items may have shifted in The Overhead Compartment during our journey. Thanks for choosing us for your travel tips! Have a wonderful day!

Photos courtesy ESPN.