Nate Solder still hasn’t gotten over a trip to South Africa he took recently with his parents, brother, girlfriend, Lexi (they have since married), and a handful of friends. The New England Patriots left tackle, a Colorado native, called his safari experience “amazing” and said that getting close to animals there was the experience of a lifetime. Solder, 26, also went shark diving — which he called “terrifying and humbling” — near Seal Island (off Cape Town). We caught up with Solder to talk about all things travel.
Favorite vacation spot? Since I just went to South Africa, I’d have to say it’s my favorite place. We did a wildlife safari for six days and we had some of the most amazing up-close encounters with wildlife. It’s crazy how emotional it was. It was just a really neat trip.
Favorite food or drink while vacationing? For drink I would say a gin and tonic. It’s very refreshing — a great warm-weather drink. For food, the first thing that comes to mind is something I don’t have on every trip, but I had in Hawaii: poke. It was a fresh fish dish that was marinated and it was just awesome. It had tons of flavor and you could tell how fresh it was.
Where would you like to travel to but haven’t? I’ve been wanting to go to Thailand for a while — Thailand or the Philippines or someplace like that. They’re such foreign places to me.
One item you can’t leave home without when traveling? Besides my passport? I always say you can never have too much underwear. I always pack so many pairs of boxers.
Aisle or window? I’ve got to go with aisle on that one so I can stretch out my legs. (Note: The Pats’ roster lists Solder at 6-feet-8 and 320 pounds.)
Favorite childhood travel memory? When I was in second grade, my parents took us out of school and we went to Mexico. I’d never been to a foreign country before and everything was different — the food, the culture. We did more than the typical trip too. We found out things to do and places to go from the locals, which was really neat. And I got out of school, so it was a win-win!
Guilty pleasure when traveling? You know when you’re at the pool and the servers have to go twice as far to deliver food or drinks? I wouldn’t typically make people walk all the way from the bar to serve drinks, but when I’m on vacation, I like to be served well next to the pool.
Best travel tip? OK, this goes back to underwear. I always like to have two bags: One bag will have the majority of my stuff, but then in the other bag (a carry-on), I always like to carry an extra change of clothes. So I’ll usually have a toothbrush, a T-shirt, a pair of boxers, and a change of clothes so if your bag gets lost or if you get diverted or whatever, you have something to change into.Juliet Pennington can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.