On the field he may be known as a hard-hitting NFL linebacker, but off the field, the Patriots' Brandon Copeland wears numerous hats, including mentor, philanthropist, public speaker, financial consultant, and part-time Ivy League college professor. That’s right: Copeland, who is playing his first season with the Pats, teaches finance and what he likes to call “Life 101” during the off-season at the University of Pennsylvania, his alma mater. “I try to help [my students] better understand the options they have when making major financial life decisions,” said Copeland, 29. “It’s something I really enjoy and find very rewarding.” The Baltimore native is also committed to helping young people through “Beyond the Basics,” a nonprofit he and his wife, Taylor, founded in 2018. “Our mission is to help young people realize and maximize their full potential,” he said. “If they lack exposure to opportunity, to mentorship and guidance . . . it’s hard for them to have vision. And if they cannot create vision, it’s hard to have hope.” Copeland and his wife, who works in marketing at Google, live in Old Bridge, N.J., with their 14-month-old son, Bryson. Copeland said he is “excited” to be playing for the Patriots. “It’s a new team, a new city, new teammates, new coaches. … With everything going on in the world, it seemed like this season would never come,” he said. We caught up with Copeland to talk about all things travel.
Favorite vacation destination?
Hawaii has been to date my favorite vacation destination. It is one of the few places that I can completely relax [and] re-sync my mind with my body. Hawaii has every type of geographical terrain that a person would be looking for: mountains, beaches, forest, etc.
Favorite food or drink while vacationing?
This may sound simple, but chicken wings and lemonade. I don’t get to indulge with my food choices that much, but that meal hits the spot every time.
Where would you like to travel to but haven’t?
I would like to travel to Africa. I want to see where my ancestors come from first and foremost, but also I would want to experience the beautiful people and land.
One item you can’t leave home without when traveling?
A phone charger. I know you are supposed to disconnect while traveling, but for peace of mind, I can’t leave without that. I guess the phone, too (laughs).
Aisle or window?
Aisle, because I need the knee room, but I have no issue peaking through my neighbor’s window.
Favorite childhood travel memory?
We would go on 18-hour road trips to Mississippi for a family reunion every two years with my mother, younger brother, cousins, and grandparents. Back then we had to listen to the same CDs on repeat on those trips. I remember we had DMX, Usher … and maybe Sisqo as well.
Guilty pleasure when traveling?
The sweets. I really don’t buy any at my house, but whenever I am traveling, I am susceptible to making an impulse buy. I like chocolate chip cookies, apple pie, key lime cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory … and for candy, I can get lost in a bag of AirHeads.
Best travel tip?
Check the weather of the places that you are going to make sure that it is warm the time of year you plan on traveling. This allows you to pack lighter and also allows more opportunities to enjoy the scenery of the destination.