She won a million bucks in Survivor, but Parvati Shallow is virtually penniless—for the next three months anyway.
As host of CBS.com's online series Around the World for Free, Parvati will travel the globe for 100 days without money. (Once again, she's beating fellow Survivor champ Rob Mariano to the punch—his similar reality series, Around the World in 80 Ways, airs later this year on the History Channel.) During Parvati's journey, airing in 50 webisodes on CBS.com, viewers can contact the famous flirt in real-time on the show's microsite to offer restaurant recommendations (no dine-and-dash for this girl—she'll pay the bill with charm) and suggest accommodations and local attractions.
We met up with the three-time Survivor star in her Santa Monica fitness studio, ESP Wellness Center, to get the lowdown on her latest adventure.
WHO: Parvati is traveling solo—but without a penny, so she'll need to form alliances with locals for room, board and transportation, drawing on the Around the World for Free interactive audience for guidance. Unlike Survivor, Parvati tells us, "this time it will be the viewers and audience taking this journey with me...The most exciting thing for me is the viewers being a part of it from the beginning to the end and seeing that it's possible to travel and explore life and you don't need that much money: You can create your own adventure." (Here's hoping Queen P's former ally Russell Hantz is too busy flipping houses to crash this party.)
WHAT: Fans will guide Parvati toward her next destination—within reason: "If it's not anywhere close to where I am it would be next to impossible for me to find a way," she explains. "If I'm in South America, it would be impossible for me to find a way to get to Paris the next day for free. So it's going to be like a domino effect. You're sending me—I'm going from place to place in a linear direction. I do have a little bit of a say in where I'm going, but the viewers can help me [get there]."
WHERE: "I'm leaving from L.A.—I have to get across the U.S. down to New Orleans to fly out [because] I want to go to Haiti first," Parvati says. "That's my wish list—to go to Texas, and gospel churches, and honky-tonks, and swamps with alligators, and hang out with people in the bayou. I want to be with people that are so extremely different that no one would know I was still in America." After Haiti, Parvati hopes to head to South America, including Guyana and Brazil, Africa—"to experience the open call of the wild, ride elephants and feed the lions, play soccer with villagers"—Indonesia and Sumba, "places where [organizations like] the Sumba Foundation are helping locals build sustainable communities."
Throughout her travels, Parvati hopes to "show what Americans are doing that's good for the world also…and that the most important things are connecting with people, the relationships we build, and supporting each other."
WHEN: Queen P begins her journey today, leaving from L.A. The 100 days she'll spend on the road is two weeks shy of her 114-day record playing Survivor. When we asked Parvati about Redemption Island winner Boston Rob Mariano breaking her record, she pointed out, "Rob played the game four times [to Parvati's three], so I don't know if it's really in the same category." But she graciously added, "I think it's great—good for Rob. He's really an awesome guy and he played a great game, so I don't feel so protective of my record. That's what makes Survivor so cool, people just getting out there and giving everything they have to win. Records are made to be broken."
WHY: "Travel is how you learn about life, the world, and experience—I want to experience everything possible in every way on this planet," Parvati tells us about her decision to take over Around the World for former hosts Alex Boylan (The Amazing Race) and Jeff Schroeder (Big Brother). "Doing this show feels very kismet to me. Talking my way into situations, depending on the kindness of strangers, connecting people around the world, is something I'm extremely good at." (And how she scored a million dollars—just ask her poor Survivor: Micronesia Black Widow victim Erik Reichenbach.) "I always get myself into these predicaments," she laughs. "It's fun to challenge myself to do something completely different."
HOW: CBS is paying for four overseas flights; otherwise, Parvati will be relying on locals to provide her with food, shelter and transportation. The show's rules prohibit fans "from afar" financing her journey, but she will be depending on interactive viewers to direct her where to go, introduce her (via social media) to local contacts and, most important, offer inspiration: "I'm going to need you guys to motivate me," Parvati asks of fans. "I need you to say, 'OK, you can do this—you're starving and tired and hungry but you've done it before, you can do it again.'...It's going to be really cool to have the support of the viewers this time."