Q. Where have you traveled to -- besides Australia -- that had a big swim culture?
Q. What was your experience like at the 2012 London Olympics?
A. My competitions actually detracted from my ability to see much of London. (Laughs) But I'm glad I got to see what I did.
Q. Have you been to Brazil before?
A. No! I've not been there yet, unfortunately. Hopefully, I'll be able to attend some meets there and will make the U.S. team for the 2016 Olympics (in Rio).
Q. Where is the best water for swimming recreationally?
A. It's tough to ever beat Hawaii, but the Mediterranean in the summer is pretty amazing.
Q. A lot was made about how much Michael Phelps ate to maintain his weight and energy. Is it difficult to find the right food when you're traveling?
A. (Laughs) I think the calorie count was probably exaggerated a bit for Phelps, but it's pretty normal for us to eat a whole lot. I have to eat every two to three hours or I'll get really hungry, so that's something I'm always aware of no matter where I am. I love eating and I've found that it's not really difficult to find good, nutritious food to eat. I just make sure I eat some protein, carbs and get fiber and minerals.
Q. Where did you enjoy your best meals?
A. Barcelona is pretty tough to beat. Not only is the food amazing there, but I really enjoyed the atmosphere and how laid-back everything was. Spending a couple hours at dinner wasn't a big deal. People were there before I got there and were still enjoying their meals after I left. There's kind of a different objective in the U.S., where we eat and are out of there! I do enjoy the tapas style of dining. You can eat a little bit if you're hungry or really make a meal out of a variety of foods.
Q. How cautious are you about dining in foreign countries?
A. When we travel for an international competition, we are all pretty careful. Often we'll have a nutritionist fly out and check out all the food and we tend to eat meals that are pretty Americanized -- things we're used to. I'll ask around at the host swim club and ask them what their deal is, what's good and that kind of stuff. But the day after the competition? That's when I eat whatever I want to! I'll try pretty much anything. I'm half Chinese and grew up eating all kinds of different, delicious food, so I'm not scared of spices or things that I haven't had before.
Q. How hard do you work out when you're traveling?
A. It depends on the time of the year. When it's time to relax, I don't push as hard. But when I'm training for competitions, I do my best to maintain some sort of fitness, even if I'm traveling for fun. I like to swim and hit the weight room.
Q. What are some quick getaways for you?
A. I really enjoy going on trips to Los Angeles and New York. They're great cities, and I know I can always get good meals there.
Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?
A. I'm a water creature, so any place where it's warm, like Hawaii. I prefer relaxing kinds of vacations. I'm not someone who likes to go to a place for seven days and do something different each time. It gets exhausting. I like kicking back.
Q. How does your hometown compare to the places you've visited?
A. I grew up in the Seattle area. Whenever I show people pictures, they say, "Oh, it's so beautiful!" I think it's one of the most beautiful places in the world. You can take a small boat around Puget Sound, visit the University of Washington's beautiful campus, try the amazing restaurants. ... There's not much I don't like about it. It's rainy, but I don't mind that either.
Q. What was the first trip you took as a child?
A. One of my earliest memories is of going to Hawaii to watch my sister compete in a swim meet. It was incredible. It was my mom and myself, and one of my cousins came along, too. I was about five and loved playing at the beach.
Q. What is on your travel bucket list?
A. I want to get to Thailand and that area. It's so difficult for us Americans to get to, but I've only heard amazing things. I've heard the Philippines is absolutely gorgeous. We have a summer competition this year in Australia. After the competition, I'm going to try to convince some of my friends to go to South Asia with me to explore.
Q. When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?
A. I bring a memory foam pillow with me for long trips so that I'm comfortable and have something that feels like home. I found a place where I can buy them pretty cheap, so after I'm done with them, I leave them at the hotel. I don't bring them back home with me.
Q. Where would you like to go if you had two months off to do nothing?
A. I would go home and spend time with my family. I have a new nephew and I'd like to hang out with him. Don't get me wrong. Living in the Bay Area is awesome and Seattle is just two hours away. I just don't have much time to get back there.
Q. What is your guilty pleasure when you're on the road?
A. When I'm at home and training hard, I really stay away from desserts. But if I'm traveling and someone offers me dessert, I don't turn it down!
Q. What is your best vacation memory?
A. It's from the first trip to Hawaii that I took. I remember I got up earlier than I ever had and we watched the sunrise. It was really beautiful.
(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column by visiting her website at http://www.jaehakim.com. You may also follow "Go Away With..." on Twitter at @GoAwayWithJae where Jae-Ha Kim welcomes your questions and comments.)
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