Danica Patrick, the most recognizable female on the professional racing circuit, said she loves New England crowds. “They’re really knowledgeable about racing, and it’s fun to be in an area where [the fans] are so excited about and pay attention to sports,” she said. Patrick, 35, was born in Beloit, Wis., and raised in Roscoe, Ill. She now lives in the Charlotte, N.C., area with her boyfriend, fellow racer Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and their two dogs — a miniature Siberian Husky named Dallas and a Belgian Malinois named Ella. Patrick, who enjoys exploring new places in her travels, will be at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway July 16 for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race. We caught up with Patrick to talk about all things travel.
Favorite vacation destination? My usual answer is somewhere I’ve never been, because I’m excited to see new things and I always think that there’s probably something better out there. But as far as the best place I’ve been so far? I would probably have to say New Zealand. It’s a beautiful country and there’s a big difference between the north island versus south island. There’s wine country, which makes me happy, and the people are really friendly. Also, there’s something about going to another country and having English be their first language. For an American or somebody who speaks English, it adds to the comfort zone.
Favorite food or drink while vacationing? I am a very healthy eater on a regular basis, so for me, what I enjoy when I go to new places is what’s culturally normal or indigenous to the area. Also, I like to drink wine when I’m on vacation.
Where would you like to travel to but haven’t? There are so many places. I would really love to explore some of Europe — France, Italy, Spain, Portugal. . . . I’ve been to some of those places, but I haven’t visited them like a tourist. I was just there for racing. I only want to go when the weather is good though, and my time off is November, December, and January, so that makes it a little challenging. I want to go to Argentina and Chile, and I would love to see the pyramids of Egypt. That would be cool to see. I’d also like to go to some of those Pacific countries like Bali and places like that. So yeah, there are a lot of places I haven’t been, but there are also many cool places where I have been.
One item you can’t leave home without when traveling? Next to my phone, I would say my credit cards and money. Those are the most important things because with a phone and money, you can get in touch and get where you need to go. If I could take anything with me all the time, it would be my dogs!
Aisle or window? The aisle, because I try to drink a lot of water when I travel, and I get up to go to the bathroom often. Also, I don’t sleep on planes.
Favorite childhood travel memory? When I was a kid, we raced a lot. And I just remember riding in my parents’ truck or the van we ended up getting. We called it the “fun van” because all of the fun was inside — it had headsets on both sides, a seat in the middle, it had a bed that was electric that went from a couch to a bed. That was really cool. We would take road trips that were up to 15 hours. That’s really what I remember a lot about my childhood.
Guilty pleasure when traveling? Staying in a nice place. I’m fully prepared to spend plenty of money on that. Because of traveling so much, I don’t want anything that resembles a hotel, so if I am going to spend the time to go somewhere — since time is what I have the least of — I want to make sure that I do it right. And nice places doesn’t mean the Four Seasons or Ritz-Carlton. While those are very nice, I don’t want it to look like a hotel. I tend to like boutique resorts that are very unique and you usually have your own building or house or structure.
Best travel tip? I would say have a plan. When I travel — especially when I take vacations — I like to have a general plan so that I don’t miss out on anything. If I go to a resort and I want to get a massage, and I call when I get there and they say “I’m sorry, we don’t have any availability,” I’m mad because I can’t do what I want to do. Outside of that, I would say make sure you bring someone you like. It’s like the old saying that you can go to a crappy bar, but if you’re with all of your friends, you’re going to have the most fun you’ve ever had. It’s all about who you’re with.