Go Away With … Justin Guarini


Photo by Matt Beard

By Jae-Ha Kim
Tribune Media Services
December 1, 2009

While many “American Idol” contestants are never heard from again, Justin Guarini steadily built a career for himself as a singer, actor and television host.

“Honestly, I was grateful for the exposure from the show and knew that it was up to me to keep the momentum going,” says Guarini, 31. “I’ve worked really hard to just keep on working in the entertainment business.”

His travels for work have taken him around the world, but he’s not done exploring.

“I got the travel bug early,” he says. “Some Americans don’t like going outside of the U.S. Although that’s not my choice, I can understand it to a certain point. But with what’s going on with the rest of the world’s views on America, I do think that it’s imperative that Americans travel and try to understand other cultures if they can. Besides, it’s so much fun to get a glimpse of other parts of the world.”

Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?
A. I love going back home to visit everyone in Pennsylvania, but Fiji is my favorite vacation spot. It’s amazing. It’s a long flight, so I was tired when I got there. But I remember being stunned in a good way. Everything in Fiji just looked so vibrant — the way the sunlight hit the trees, the people’s attitude, just everything! I spent 10 days there and had the best time of my life. It’s like an untouched version of Hawaii and the Bahamas put together. I have never seen water such a beautiful shade of deep blue before. I scuba dived for the first time there and swam with clownfish, barracudas and all the beautiful sea creatures. Everyone told me that I was spoiled for life now ‘cause I would never dive again in another place as pretty as that.

Q. Where are your favorite weekend getaways?
A. I’m pretty simple. I like to get away to open spaces, whether that means camping or a bed and breakfast. I spend a lot of time indoors writing, so getting outside is a must on the weekends.

Q. What are your favorite hotels and restaurants?
A. I’m a huge fan of the W franchise (www.starwoodhotels.com/whotels/index.html), although I’ll never get used to their half-glass showers. My favorite restaurants range from the humble Cactus Taqueria in Los Angeles to the upscale Nobu (www.noburestaurants.com) in New York City. Food is an adventure for me and I like to sample all kinds of cuisines.

Q. When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?
A. Bose noise-canceling headphones, my MacBookPro, my Paul Smith sunglasses, something to keep my hair in check like a beanie or a headband and a fast-paced action novel. I’m currently reading “The Gray Man” by Mark Greaney. If I’m going for business, I have to bring my cell phone. But for vacations, I like to travel to places where I know my phone won’t work! When I go on vacation, I’m on vacation. I don’t want to be sitting there checking emails all day and working. But I will bring an iPod with me if I know I’m going on a really long hike. For shorter hikes, though, I prefer to listen to the sounds around me.

Q. Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?
A. The Far East. I’ve been to Japan but not to Vietnam or Thailand. I would love to go at the height of summer, just to get the full effect of the life there in the heat. I’d love to go to Tibet and hike around in the mountains there. I think my next trip will be to India, though. I’ve got a lot of exploring left to do still.

Q. What is your best vacation memory?
A. Best vacation memory was at a retreat at the amazing Namale Resort (www.namalefiji.com) in Fiji — 10 days of absolute heaven on earth — scuba diving, fishing, a billion stars, massages, kava kava, horseback riding and a seaside villa with waves crashing below you. Priceless. And something I’ve got to do again.


FULL NAME: Republic of Fiji.

OFFICIAL LANGUAGES: Fijian, Hindi and English.

CURRENCY: Fiji Dollar (FJD). $1(US) equals $1.5(FJD).

WHERE IT IS: Located in the South Pacific, Fiji is a 10-hour flight from Los Angeles.

FACTOIDS: Comprised of more than 300 islands in its archipelago, Fiji offers some of the world’s best snorkeling and scuba diving. NOTE: Fijians don’t tip. While tourists certainly may leave gratuities, it’s not expected. To learn more about Fiji, check out www.bulafiji.com.

© 2009 JAE-HA KIM


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