Magician Michael Carbonaro says he loves to travel with his own coffee. (Jeremy FreemantruTV / June 17, 2014)

On his truTV series "The Carbonaro Effect," Michael Carbonaro puts a spin on the hidden camera reality series by adding a magical touch. Imagine "Candid Camera," but with more pranks and sleight of hand tricks. Also an actor, Carbonaro has had roles on such shows as "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," "30 Rock" and "CSI: Miami." A New Yorker who now resides in Los Angeles, Carbonaro says, "I love getting home to see family and friends in New York. But I fell in love with L.A. weather." Fans may keep up to date with his career at his website (

Q. What is the best way to get acclimated to a new destination?

A. One thing I do anytime I'm in a new city is take a bike tour to see everything first hand. I got to go to Berlin last year and I loved biking around the city. But the best thing, if you're lucky enough, is if you have a friend who knows the city and can show you around.

Q. When you travel, do you get freaked out if you get lost?

A. I like to think that I have a good sense of direction. But I have the worst direction sense ever. It's my Achilles heel. I could get lost in a hotel room. I need to be with someone who knows where they're going!

Q. How much research do you do before you go on a non-work-related trip?

A. There's only so much research you can do. When I went to Berlin, my friend got me into this crazy dance club where the line wrapped around the block three times. I have no idea why everyone thought it was such an exciting place. Anyhow, my friend got me the hook up, so that was cool to get to experience it. But it's not something I would've found doing research.

Q. Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

A. I don't speak any German.

Q. Where would you like to visit next?

A. I haven't been back to Amsterdam since my last semester of school. I'd love to go back.

Q. What is on your travel bucket list?

A. I've never been to Australia. And I know somebody there, so I won't get lost. I'm also fascinated by the Icehotel in (Jukkasjarvi) Sweden. I'd love to find the right person and go there.

Q. Is there a special holiday you like to celebrate in the same place every year?

A. Yes! My favorite season is fall. Nothing beats October in New York City. I have never not been in New York for the Halloween parade. I love Halloween and New York.

Q. Are you an adventurous eater?

A. I could be. I tried the escargot in Paris and was pleasantly surprised. I would try anything food-wise, even spiders fried up. I'd give it a shot.

Q. Do you seek out other entertainers to watch when you're on vacation?

A. Sometimes. Germany had a really cool sense of performance and their cabarets were really cool. Paris has this really great show called "Le Plus Grand Cabaret Du Monde." In contrast to what we have in the States, it's a variety show where they really showcase their appreciation for variety acts. Our variety shows tend to be competition based and I think that does something to the mentality of the performance. You hear someone singing and all of a sudden you wonder if someone's going to hit a buzzer.

Q. Where have you seen the most amazing magic show?

A. It was a group called Dogtroep and it was in Amsterdam. There's a moment in the show where someone has been carrying around a mannequin that she assembles piece by piece and she leaves it in the middle and walks away from it. And then the thing starts to come to life. And it stood up and it was like a real person. As a magician, I have no idea how they did it. I thought it was a puppet or maybe a person inside of that suit? I really don't know. There are some people who really want to know how that's done and others who really like to ride the ride. I love to be fooled. Once you know the secret, it's like being bit by a vampire. You can't go back.

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

A. I like Quest energy bars. Have to have Ray-Ban sunglasses. They're like my pacifier. If I drop it underneath my seat, I'll be crying like a toddler. I really like to bring something mindless to look at on airplanes. That's the one time you really do escape from the world.

Q. What is your guilty pleasure when you're on the road?

A. I like to ship coffee from Cafe Grumpy in New York, if I'll be there for a long stay.

(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column by visiting her website at You may also follow "Go Away With..." on Twitter at @GoAwayWithJae where Jae-Ha Kim welcomes your questions and comments.)