Travel

The VIP Lounge with DeeDee Trotter

Three-time Olympian DeeDee Trotter, who has won two gold medals and one bronze in track, is bringing her winning attitude and athleticism to the city for a free public workout on Boston Common at 6 p.m. on May 18 as part of the US leg of her worldwide speaking tour. In addition to coaching athletes, Trotter, 34, is a life coach. “I’m looking forward to getting people in Boston amped up for their dreams and fired up for their future,” said Trotter, the Olympics brand ambassador for Cambridge-based EF Education First, an international education company. She said the event, which will include Boston-based fitness instructor Eliza Shirazi from Kick It by Eliza, is for all ages and ability levels. Born in California and raised in Decatur, Ga., Trotter now calls Zurich home. We caught up with Trotter — who won her gold medals in the 4x400 relay at the 2004 Olympics in Athens and the 2012 Games in London, and her bronze in the 400 meters in London — to talk about all things travel.

Favorite vacation destination? I think I need to start by saying that I have only been on one planned vacation in my life and that was to Aruba when I was 25 or 26 years old. Nearly all the world traveling that I have done has largely been because of my career as a professional track and field athlete. But now retired from the sport, my world travels are attributed to my job as the EF Olympics Ambassador for EF Education first. My “vacations” have always been a free day or two in between competitions or events, but I have been very lucky to have this work and play world travel experience because I have been more places than I can count. One of my favorite, and I’ll call them “workcations,” has been Bali. [It] is awesome because you can get a beautiful, amazing, adventurous, five-star experience for a fraction of what it would normally cost to take a vacation of the same caliber in other tropical destinations. After your airfare, you are spending next to nothing on hotels, food, and sightseeing activities.

Favorite food or drink while vacationing? [It] is something I can only get in Mexico City, a Mexican frozen margarita. It’s different because instead of putting salt on the glass, they put a sweet and spicy seasoning called Lucas around the rim and this makes it so very yummy! I’m typically not one for alcoholic beverages, but this is a tasty little sweet treat.

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Where would you like to travel to but haven’t? I would like to visit Sydney, Australia, because it’s one of the few places I haven’t been in the world and I only hear amazing things about it. One of my best friends is three-time Olympian Hazel Clark, and she made the 2000 Olympic team in Sydney. She swears it was one of the best experiences of her life and is always reminiscing about it. Because of her stories, I have been very anxious over the years to have an opportunity to visit there. I’ve had a few layovers in the Sydney airport, but that’s as close as I have gotten.

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One item you can’t leave home without when traveling? Headphones. I need to be able to go hands-free while walking with my bags, and I need to be able to turn the volume all the way up to drown out crying babies on the flights. I have no shame in this.

Aisle or window? I’m a window seat girl for sure. Some people are confused by this because I’m almost 6 feet tall, but I have good reasons. After taking more flights than I can count, I’ve found that the fastest way to make the time “fly” is to get on the flight sleepy. Airplanes are uncomfortable, so I like to lean on the wall of the plane for neck support while I sleep the flight away. Also, you don’t have to worry about people bothering you to get up and down to let them out for whatever reason. The aisle seat in my opinion is overrated; you spend the entire flight getting bumped in the shoulder, knee, and sometimes head by people passing by. You have no neck support if you want to sleep, and this theory that you have more leg room is preposterous, because it’s not like you can comfortably leave that leg hanging out in the aisle.

Favorite childhood travel memory? [It] goes back to when I was 12 years old. As part of my youth basketball team, we played in out-of-state tournaments. Every year we would caravan from Georgia to Tennessee and Florida, but instead of riding with my mom, I used to ride in the car with my best friend, Danielle, and her dad, who I called Uncle Johnny. Uncle Johnny was not only our driver, he was also our basketball coach. Looking back, I realized that Uncle Johnny had ninja-like patience because we were the most annoying kids you could ever have in the back seat of your Ford Taurus. We would play I spy, punch bug, tongue twisters, hand clapping games like “Miss Mary Mac,” and worst of all loudly sing and dance. He never once told us to settle down. When I think about these trips, I can’t help but smile because of all the silly laughs and fun we had. Poor, poor Uncle Johnny. I truly need to send him a thank you and apology letter.

Guilty pleasure when traveling? Ordering late-night ice cream from room service. Clearly this was not something I used to do while I was running track. Even now that I’m retired, I still feel guilty doing it. I think it’s a desire that comes from years of discipline and restrictions against doing something like that.

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Best travel tip? Pack lots of snacks. On many occasions I saved myself and many other people from hunger spells. Now I’m no hero, but let’s just say that were it not for my plethora of snacks that I packed in my luggage and carry-on bag, some people I know would have starved. All jokes aside, I earned the nickname “treat lady” from my USA teammates because when times got tough overseas and nothing was open late, our hotel had no restaurant, or the nearest place to get food was too far away, they knew they could count on me to share some of my snacks. I still do this and it always pays off. Whether I’m on an 11-hour flight with a bad meal, or I arrive at a late hour and everything is closed, I always have something to hold me over. Always bring your snacks, people.

JULIET PENNINGTON