Go Away With … Maria Menounos

Maria-MenounosBy Jae-Ha Kim
Tribune Content Agency
March 18, 2014

Television viewers are accustomed to seeing Maria Menounos interviewing other celebrities on programs such as “Extra,” but the 35-year-old on-air personality is also a bestselling author, “Dancing with the Stars” alum and occasional actress. Her latest project is producing and starring in the Oxygen reality series, “Chasing Maria Menounos,” where she juggles a fast-paced career and a close-knit family that would like her to get married. Fans may follow Menounos on Twitter.

Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?

A. Greece! It’s unbelievable, and not just because it’s the motherland. Everyone who’s been there and who’s well traveled has always told me they loved Greece. So it’s not just me! (Laughs) The food there is amazing. I was eating so much homemade food that had fresh ingredients in it.

Q. When you’re on a flight, do you tend to veg out?

A. People used to tap me on the shoulder and want to talk, not because I’m a celebrity but because they were bored. And I appreciate that, but I feel like my flights are sacred. Those are my only times alone where no one can bother me. I get to watch shows, read or just go to sleep. So I feel like it’s up to me to kind of set the tone when I get in my seat. I put on my earbuds, make no eye contact and just do what I need to do. I edited part of my book on my last flight.

Q. Where would you return to, just for the food?

A. I want to fly back to Boston just to eat. When I’m there, I literally eat seven meals a day. I’ll stop by Regina Pizzeria and then go to Bob’s (Italian Foods) in my hometown of Medford. I’m thinking about lobster rolls right now and getting hungry.

Q. What untapped destination should people know about?

A. I went to Rhinebeck, N.Y., for Chelsea Clinton’s wedding. We were there for four days. It was so quaint and cute with all these Mom and Pop places in town. I would love to go back for a long weekend and explore.

Q. What was the first trip you took as a child?

A. My parents were janitors at many nightclubs and I would have to go to work with them, ‘cause a babysitter was too expensive. In the nightclubs, we found lots of change on the floor. My dad got a helium tank and cut a slit into it. We were all told to put any money that we found in that helium tank. So we did this for 10 years and finally saved up enough money to go to Greece. We also got to go to Disney World, which was amazing. I’ll never forget those trips.

Q. Do you raid the hotel minibar?

A. I was always scared of the minibar. I’m not poor anymore, but being cautious about my money is who I still am. If I take something, it has to be something really good. But I might order a dessert from room service.

Q. What are your favorite cities?

A. I love Chicago. Boston, obviously. I love New Orleans, which is so much fun. I love Texas and would pick Dallas as a favorite. Miami. And let’s see — just about anywhere in Hawaii!

Q. Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?

A. I want to go to Alaska.

Q. Do you camp?

A. Yes! I love camping! I just talked to my best friend and said, “We haven’t been camping in so long and I want to do another camping trip! I want to make s’mores and have some beers and do the whole thing.” She said, “Maria, we’re not 18 anymore.” I have to take her camping and get her out of her comfort zone.

Q. When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?

A. I travel light. One bag and you’re good. I always make sure I have my iPad for the plane. Also, an eye pillow and a scented lavender pillow that helps me calm down when I close my eyes. I also have a white noise app and a travel blankie. I never get on a plane without it. Planes are always freezing. And sometimes I’ll need an extra blanket at a hotel, but I don’t want to call down to ask for another one.

Q. What would be your dream trip?

A. I was just looking at my Pinterest travel board last night and I would say that my next trip has to be to Fiji!

© 2014 JAE-HA KIM


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