Welcome to Refinery29’s Travel Diaries, a place where we find out the how, the why, and the where people are exploring now that the world is opening up again. In their answers to 29 questions, diarists will reveal their unique — and often a little offbeat — travel habits, stories, and hacks, from their bucket list destinations to their must-have road trip munchies to the wildest thing that ever happened to them while on a vacation. Buckle up, because we’re inviting you along for the ride.
Today, Lolo Jones — one of only a few U.S. athletes ever to compete in both the summer and winter Olympic games — tells us about an incredible meal in Norway featuring fresh snow crab legs, the best solo trip she’s ever taken, and the one airplane drink she swears by.
Name: Lolo Jones
Occupation: Olympic athlete
Home: Baton Rouge, LA
Plane, train, or automobile? I would take the plane. That’s what I’m used to. It’s the quickest option and I get more time to be where I want to be.
Beach or mountains? I’m definitely going to take the beach, because I love relaxing and hearing the water. I love doing water workouts — even though I’m on vacation, I can enjoy a very chill workout. And people watching is much better on the beach than in the mountains.
What’s your biggest vacation splurge? I love food. I’m a big foodie. Every time I go on vacation, I’m all about the food. I don’t diet — I eat extra. I just want to partake in the local flavor.
What’s your minibar weakness? Anything dark chocolate, or regular chocolate… Okay, anything chocolate.
What is the first big trip you ever took? The first big trip I took was to Germany for a track and field competition.
Tell us about your best travel experience. I went to Thailand for three days. Honestly, I was on a plane longer than I was on the ground, but it was amazing. I went by myself around Christmas time, and it was the best experience because I felt so independent. I love the culture there and I love the food.
Tell us about your worst travel experience. I traveled to Costa Rica and I thought it would be cool to get a car and basically travel all around. And it was cool, but the GPS and maps… we kept getting lost and that was a nightmare. Also, the cops were kind of scamming you — they would pull you over and try to get bribes to get out of tickets — that was not fun.
What is your favorite place to visit? I really like Italy. I love the food, it’s an amazing place. It has everything — beaches, mountains, and the old history where you can tour places like the Colosseum. It’s a great place to go to get it all.
What is your go-to traveling outfit? I love to wear a tank top and an oversized hoodie or jacket, because planes are really cold. And comfy pants that have pockets in them.
Do you arrive at the airport three hours early? Or 30 minutes before boarding? I like to arrive 30 minutes before boarding, because usually airports are pretty boring.
What are your favorite traveling snacks? Salted almonds, Reese’s Pieces, or any type of gummy snack.
What’s your favorite part about staying in a hotel? I love a big comfy bed, and just checking out the in-room dining. Sometimes it’s hit or miss, but when it’s amazing it’s so nice to order food (even though it’s really expensive) and just sit in your bed and watch a movie.
Where do you want to go next? The next place I would love to go is Fiji. It just looks awesome.
Where would you travel if it were the end of the world? I’d probably like to go to a small island so I am out of the way of the chaos — wherever there’s not a lot of people.
What’s your most frequent trip? I tend to go to Europe a lot, pretty much every year. I spend a lot of time in Germany and Switzerland, those countries are beautiful.
What’s your packing style? I like to roll my clothes. I take one big bag and one carry on roller. I tend to pack for 7-10 days even if I’m going for a month — you can always wash your clothes. I never try to have heavy bags because I hate dealing with the extra baggage fee.
What was your last trip? I was in Mexico, and I went there for a three day vacation with my bobsled teammate Kaillie Humphries to celebrate winning world championships this year.
What’s your next trip? My text big trip will be to Beijing, China for a pre-test event for the [2022 Winter Olympics].
What’s your best travel hack? I guess just packing for seven days regardless of how long you’ll go. You can always wash or buy cool clothes when you get there.
What’s better: solo trips or traveling in groups? I really enjoy traveling in groups. If you want to take an amazing photo, you have someone to help you — and they provide extra laughs.
What’s a touristy spot that’s actually worth it? Hawaii. All the trails that they have, even if they are crowded with tourists, are so worth it. The hikes are gorgeous.
Window, middle, or aisle? Window seat all day. I don’t like feeling people come through the aisle, I don’t have to worry about the cart hitting my elbow, I can just lean my head on the window and go to bed.
Hotels: splurge or save? It depends on where I’m at. I’ve stayed at cheap hotels before and had no problem with it. I think the more I travel, though, the more I like splurging on nice hotels. It just makes the stay more refreshing.
What’s your go-to airplane drink? I’m big on apple juice. It helps hydrate you, and you get really dehydrated flying.
Domestic or international travel? I like international travel because it allows me to just take a break from my phone. I’ll be on airplane mode for hours and clock out, watch a movie, and it helps my brain detox.
What’s the best meal you’ve ever eaten while traveling? The best meal I ever had was when I was in Oslo, Norway. I had these snow crab legs and it was just delicious, they way they seasoned them with the butter. We were right on the water seeing the ships pull in. They must have just pulled those crabs from the fishing boats — it was so good.
Podcast, audiobook, or playlist? I love listening to podcasts when I travel, and I like listening to calming music if I’m having a hard time falling asleep on the plane.
What’s your favorite airplane movie? I just check out the newest movie they have, and find something I’ve never seen.
What’s at the top of your bucket list? To go to places I’ve never been before and try new foods, and just really do it while I can and have the freedom to do so. I think too many people wait to travel and they miss out on so much.
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