Go Away With ... Thomas Q. Jones

Go Away With ... Thomas Q. Jones
Former NFL player turned actor, Thomas Q. Jones, says that traveling for college football games opened his eyes to a whole new world. (Ian Maddox)

After retiring from a 12-year football career in the NFL, Thomas Q. Jones has reinvented himself as an actor. He currently stars opposite Gabrielle Union in the BET series "Being Mary Jane." "I'm very adaptable and I like to work," says Jones, 36. "When I played football in school, I took academics very seriously. If I didn't get A's and B's, I couldn't play sports. I was an honor roll student and graduated from university in three years. My parents didn't push sports. They wanted us to do well in school." Jones splits his time between his homes in Hollywood and Miami. Fans may follow Jones on Twitter at or on Instagram at

Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?

A. Probably Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It's beautiful. I went three years ago and am going back next year. We went to the rain forest, visited the statue of Christ the Redeemer. We were so high up in the air that it was like driving through clouds. It was probably the most amazing thing I've seen in my life. It's definitely one of the top wonders of the world and was amazing and breathtaking.

Q. Are you an adventurous eater?

A. I try to be! I love Anthony Bourdain's and Andrew Zimmern's shows. I'm not at their level, but I'll try new things. I have a mother and five sisters and they're all fantastic cooks, so I was spoiled when it comes to eating really good food. When I played football, I had a strict diet because of the rigorous job that I had. Now that I've retired, I've ventured out a little more and tried different types of food. I really like seafood and Greek food. And I really enjoy the smaller, little hole-in-the-wall places where everything's more personal. It just seems like the food's made with love.

Q. Where do you enjoy going to for a quick weekend getaway?

A. I like going back to Miami. My brother lives in Pompano Beach in Florida. I also like going back to Virginia to see my mother and father.

Q. What's on your travel bucket list?

A. There're so many places I want to see still. I would love to go to the Philippines. That's one place. I want to go to Rome. I'd want to eat my way through Greece! I want to go to Italy. I'm very interested in their culture and history. Ideally, if my schedule worked out, I'd want to go to a few different countries each year. My schedule is heated up, but I will always find time to travel.

Q. What was the first big trip you took?

A. It was during my freshman year of college. We played the University of Miami in a bowl game in Miami. We played in December, so I spent Christmas and New Year's there. After growing up in Virginia with cold and snow, it was unique to spend the holidays where it was warm. I was 18, in Miami and had some spending money. That was a fun, crazy experience. It opened my eyes to what was out there in the world and I knew that I wanted to see more of what was out there. It sparked my interest in travel. Virginia is a beautiful place. But where I grew up, there wasn't a lot of culture. Hearing Spanish and Creole and all the different languages in Miami was amazing.

Q. Do you speak any foreign languages?

A. I speak a little French. I took three years in high school, but I forgot most of it. I had a Dominican girlfriend for a long time and learned a little Spanish. I love hearing different languages. We didn't hear much of that growing up.

Q. What are your five favorite cities?

A. One would have to be my hometown of Big Stone Gap, Virginia. Anytime I'm home, it feels like I'm setting the reset button. Rio in Brazil is another. The landscape is amazing. I couldn't even believe a place could be that beautiful. Tokyo is amazing and great. I really like London. I felt so distinguished standing outside of Buckingham Palace. Miami. It feels like you're on vacation every day. And Chicago, which is a fantastic city. That's six, right? Chicago's the bonus city.

(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.)