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‘Don’t be a mess’ and other travel thoughts from soccer star and equality advocate Megan Rapinoe

Megan Rapinoe with girlfriend Sue Bird in Grenada.
Megan Rapinoe with girlfriend Sue Bird in Grenada.

The most iconic image from the US women’s soccer team’s World Cup victory over the Netherlands in July was Megan Rapinoe running to the sideline after scoring a penalty kick and striking her signature mischievous, playful post-goal pose that crowds had eaten up in previous matches. Rapinoe, who along with her teammates, inspired a generation of young female athletes, will be in Boston Dec. 12 as a keynote speaker at the Massachusetts Conference for Women (at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center). An outspoken advocate for equality — including pay equity between the sexes — Rapinoe said in a recent phone interview that she is looking forward to speaking at the conference and meeting other female leaders. The international soccer star, 34, who is co-captain of Tacoma, Wash.-based Reign FC (part of the National Women’s Soccer League), is from Redding, Calif., where she lived with her parents, twin sister, and four older siblings, and lives in Seattle with her girlfriend, Women’s National Basketball Association standout Sue Bird, who plays for the Seattle Storm. We caught up with Rapinoe to talk about all things travel.

Favorite vacation destination? Anywhere. I mean anytime I get to go on vacation, I don’t even care where — but preferably somewhere sunny and warm where I can just sit and not do anything.


Favorite food or drink while on vacation? Pina colada. And good vacation sushi is always nice.

Where would you like to travel to but haven’t? So many places. Definitely Vietnam and other parts of Southeast Asia. I mean, rest in peace Anthony Bourdain … how can you watch [his show “Parts Unknown”] and not want to go to Vietnam? The food is so phenomenal. The vibe, everything … I don’t know, I might want to backpack around and just be there for a while. There’s such a different energy that can’t be found anywhere else in the world, so I kind of want to get involved.


One item you can’t leave home without when traveling? There are a lot of items. I do not travel light — ever. I need all of my things. I mean, I always have my AirPods, but also my iPad, my computer … especially flying a lot. Oh, and a good hat — anything to cover my hair. We’re getting into the winter months, so beanies will start coming out again.

Aisle or window? I actually kind of prefer the aisle because I get up and pee a lot because I’m constantly drinking water, so it’s nice to have that freedom of access.

Favorite childhood travel memory? We mostly just drove around in our van to soccer tournaments. Sleeping in the van was the jam.

Guilty pleasure when traveling? Airplane food. Sometimes it’s so good. I’m like: Why is it tasting so good? I mean, sometimes it’s trash and you don’t want to eat it, but sometimes … like when they bring those hot chocolate chip cookies around, I’m like: Oh yes.

Best travel tip? Be organized. Do not get to the screening area and be a total mess. Be organized. Have a system and a plan, so you can just take your backpack off, put your phone in the bag — in the little pocket in your backpack — take your jacket off, then go through. Don’t be a mess.