By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
ALLEN PARK – A local mother and daughter team went on a blind date with the world April 14 to May 8 as they completed a three-week, 27,000-mile scavenger hunt across both hemispheres.
Wendy Fichter, 52, of Allen Park and her mother, Sue Biggs, 73, of Brownstown Township flew to Mexico City in mid-May not knowing where in the world the global challenge would take them before they returned three weeks later to Washington, D.C.
When Fichter was studying music – piano performance – in college, she said she became nervous about earning a living that way, so one summer she and her mother took a course that taught them to be travel agents.
Today, Biggs is a group tour specialist with Custom Holidays and Fichter is a musician and president of the American World Trade Chamber of Commerce.
Biggs said she has seen other global tour packages come across her desk before, but they were either too long or too expensive.
The Global Scavenger Hunt, sponsored by Great Adventures Inc., is 23 days long, and costs $25,000 per team of two, which included airfare, accommodations, some ground transportation and 40 percent of their meals.
Biggs said the trip is for experienced travelers only, and she and Fichter have each been to more than 50 countries.
The trip was in the Northern Hemisphere’s spring and the Southern Hemisphere’s fall, so they packed clothes they could wear in layers.
In each country the two-person teams were given scavenger hunt challenges: places to go, things to do and adventures to undertake. Some items were mandatory, and others optional, with a wide range of point values.
Some clues were tricky or vague, while others were very specific.
Fichter said they were not allowed to use the Internet or hotel concierge services for help with their challenge, and while they stayed in five-star hotels around the world, they did a lot of walking and searching wherever they went, “trusting strangers in strange places.”
After they arrived at each destination they were given a booklet of clues of scavenges to do in that area.
There were point values, based on difficulty, attached to different items, and there were more things listed than could be done.
“You could choose what you wanted to do,” Fichter said. “The clues were not geographically related. You had to figure out the clues, then take a map and then try to figure out how you wanted to do it.”
Both said they used charades extensively to overcome the language barrier, but in most countries they could find someone who spoke English, and the locals liked to help them solve the clues.
One of them would negotiate while the other navigated, and one would watch their surroundings if the other was focusing on a map or other task.
“We have traveled a lot, and we are very cognizant of everything around us, and we are always looking out for each other, and we don’t carry a big handbag or wear expensive jewelry,” Biggs said. “We knew when to carry our pack in front, and when in back.”
By the end of their three-week adventure, Biggs and Fichter had traveled to Mexico, Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Oman, Kenya, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland, returning to the United States for two final days in Washington, D.C.
To read about their journey in more depth, go to their blog at 2globaljunkies.com.
They took seventh place out of the 10 teams on the scavenger hunt, but were satisfied with their results.
Fichter and Biggs said their next trip around the world will be on their own terms without a scavenger hunt.
Their trip, planned for April and May 2018, will take clients to 10 countries in three weeks, and will provide much more flexibility than the global scavenger hunt.
For more information about the upcoming trip, contact Biggs at [email protected].
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected].)