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Five Miles Up with … Joe Staley

Bekah Wright
December 18, 2012

People travel in myriad ways — by train, plane, boat, automobile. As left tackle for the San Francisco 49ers, Joe Staley travels as part of a football team. The Michigan native divulges the ins and outs of team travel, as well as sharing a glimpse into his recent European vacation. What he discovered when shopping in Prague? A little bit of home can be found wherever the road may lead.

What's it like travel as a team?
We do our security check-in here at our facility. Then we board buses and have a police escort to the airport. We're dropped off right on the tarmac, where we charter a 747 flight. The veterans and starters sit in first class, everyone else filters in and grabs whatever seat they want. When we land, another bus and police escort is waiting on the tarmac to take us to whatever hotel we're staying in.

Have you found traveling with the team to be a good way to experience cities?
We typically have about five hours when we're in a city. We'll see any family that lives close by, or grab something to eat. One exception was when we traveled to London two years ago and stayed for over a week. Being there with some of my closest friends and seeing sights like the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace was amazing.

Carry-on or check-in?
Check-in if traveling personally. Carry-on with the team.

What's something you never fail to pack in your suitcase?
I'd say my toothbrush, but I forget that occasionally and have to borrow one from the hotel's front desk. So, my iPad; it's my one-stop for everything — music, game film and movies.

What's on your travel playlist?
Imagine Dragons, Mumford & Sons and techno music, which I listen to before games to get pumped up.

Window or aisle?
I'm a big guy, so you'd think I'd like the aisle, but I like to curl up in a fetal position by the window and snooze.

Where's your favorite destination for games?
I really like the city of Chicago. The best place to travel, though, is Seattle. It's a short flight and we stay in the Grand Hyatt Seattle, which is a pretty sweet place.

What's your idea of the perfect vacation?
Recently, I traveled to Europe for five and half weeks and visited about 11 different countries — London, Amsterdam, Belgium, France, Spain and worked my way in a horseshoe all the way up to Germany. Really don't like to go by a schedule. I prefer exploring, talking to locals and discovering things on my own. Yeah, you might miss out on some stuff, but you'll also see things that aren't in tour books.

What's the biggest regret you've ever had while on vacation?
On the trip to Europe, spending too much time going from place to place instead of taking time to experience places. It was fun, but hectic. I'd like to go back to Italy and Switzerland and spend more time there.

Was there a place that blew you away?
My girlfriend and I arrived in Interlaken, Switzerland at night; it was dark and we couldn't see around us. In the morning, it was amazing to wake up and find ourselves surrounded by the Alps.

What's the silliest souvenir you ever came back with?
In Prague, I came across a store that sold Russian nesting dolls. They had one of Alex Smith wearing his 49ers jersey with his number on it. When it opened up, inside was Frank Gore. Inside that was Vernon Davis. I bought it for Alex as a present.

What's your favorite resort you've ever stayed in?
The Four Seasons Resort on Maui. It's very chill, has great restaurants and a great location on beach. It's very peaceful and there's everything you need right there.

The one thing you're willing to splurge on?
I don't really splurge. I travel coach and stay at nice hotels, but nothing extravagant. When I'm on vacation, though, I do want to enjoy it and not have to stick to a budget.

Where would you take someone visiting your hometown?
Rockford, Mich., is a cute, small town right on the Rogue River. I'd take them to do one of my favorite things — walking along the streets downtown. If I have visitors in San Francisco, I usually take them to Alcatraz Island, then some of the Marina District's great restaurants.

You only get one more trip in your lifetime. Where will it be?
I could spend the rest of my life in Hawaii.