Best known for his work on the Discovery Channel's "Dirty Jobs," Mike Rowe has a resume that may surprise some viewers. Besides doing on-air work as a host for the home-shopping channel QVC and voice work in commercials for companies such as Ford Motor Company, Rowe used to sing with the Baltimore Opera Company. But he says some of the most important work he does is through the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, which promotes skilled trades and alternative education. To keep updated with the 51-year-old San Francisco television personality, you may follow him @MikeRoweWorks or on Facebook.
Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?
A. I've been fortunate to visit a number of exotic locales, but really — if I'm just looking to get away without worrying about lice or tape worms or diarrhea — there's a Four Seasons in Kona, Hawaii, that's hard to beat. It's out of the way, but easy to get to, and very civilized.
Q. What was the first trip you took as a child?
A. Like many kids in the '60s, my brothers and I were often packed into the station wagon — the one with the fake wood on the side — and driven to various destinations within a few hours of our home in Baltimore, Md. The first trip I recall was a three-hour drive to Gettysburg, Pa., where my Dad, a high school history teacher — lectured us on the state of the union in 1863, the root causes of the Civil War and the many challenges that faced some guy named Lincoln. It was about 102 degrees that day and the re-enactors on Little Round Top were passing out every few minutes. I had a ball.
Q. What's the most important thing you've learned from your travels?
A. Avoid the bulkhead. It's overrated. Never check a bag. Always pack less than you think you need. If you're on the cell phone, you're probably talking too loud. If you work out on the road, bring some old T-shirts that you can sweat in and then throw away. There's no good reason to bring a sweaty T-shirt back home. Oh, and at the hotel, don't forget to tip the maids. They have a tough job and usually get stiffed.
Q. If you've ever gone away for the holidays, which was the best trip?
A. Years ago, I was hosting a show that aired exclusively on American Airlines. It was called "On-Air TV," and it played to a truly captive audience. As the host, I had a D-3 Travel Pass, which was essentially a "Golden Ticket." It allowed me to travel anywhere on the planet, plus in first class, with no advance reservations. As perks go, that's about as good as it gets. Late one January, I sat next to a delightful young woman on a flight from Colorado to Los Angeles. When we landed, she agreed to have dinner with me in the airport. At some point in the conservation, she mentioned her dream was to watch the sunrise over Sydney Harbor. I asked her if she had her passport. She did. Twenty hours later, we were in Sydney, watching the sun come up. The date was February 2, which I believe is Groundhog Day. I'm not sure if that's technically a holiday, but it sure felt like one.
Q. What are your five favorite cities?
A. Baltimore, Melbourne, Capetown, Santa Fe, Eugene, Ore.
Q. Where have you traveled to that most reminded you of home?
A. Melbourne is a lot like Baltimore, which is where I grew up. Sydney is a lot like San Francisco, where I live.
Q. When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?
A. Breathe Right strips. They're the difference between sleeping and not sleeping.
Q. What is your best and/or worst vacation memory?
A. The best memories for me are a collage of time spent on the Eastern Shore in Maryland, Delaware and North Carolina. Nothing specific — just a lot of nostalgia. Ocean City, Md., was a great mix of family, friends, girls and mischief. I remember meeting some people in Rehoboth, Del., who had rented a giant house on the beach and invited me to stay for a week in June. I left in September. As for the worst, I was in St. Thomas for a few days back in 1995 when a hurricane called Marilyn stopped by. We were trapped there for a week or so with no electricity, wet clothes, warm beer and spoiled food. No flights in or out. All the boats were swamped. "Lord of the Flies" meets "Survivor."
(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 @GoAwayWithJae where Jae-Ha Kim welcomes your questions and comments.)Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun