Former Olympic gymnast Nastia Liukin was born in Moscow, raised in Dallas, and lived in New York City for many years. (She earned her bachelor’s degree in sports management from NYU in 2016.) Now she is happy to call Boston — specifically the South Shore — home. “But growing up in Texas, I’m still adjusting to the cold,” she said. “I’ve only been here a year, but it kind of already feels like home.” Liukin, 28, lives with her fiance, tech entrepreneur and former Boston College hockey standout Matt Lombardi, who is from Hingham. Together, they recently launched the app Grander, on which Liukin and five of her Olympic and world champion teammates mentor young gymnasts and create a community for them to communicate with each other. We caught up with the Olympic gold medalist, who some may remember from season 20 (2015) of “Dancing With the Stars,” to talk about all things travel.
Favorite vacation destination? I’ve been lucky to travel the world both for gymnastics and now for pleasure. Hard to pick one favorite because I love different places for different reasons. I love Paris and Italy to explore, shop, and eat amazing foods. Turks and Caicos was an awesome beach getaway with my fiance (pictured) a few days after we got engaged.
Favorite food or drink while vacationing? Red wine and pasta in Italy.
Where would you like to travel to but haven’t? I would love to explore New Zealand, Fiji, and Bali. I’ve heard they are all so beautiful and they have always been on my bucket list.
One item you can’t leave home without when traveling? My Canon PowerShot camera. I’ve really gotten into photography the last few years, and while I’m not a pro by any means, I love taking photos and creating memories.
Aisle or window? Definitely a window so I can sleep. I’ve actually really enjoyed traveling lately because I can catch up on my sleep, read books, and watch movies I didn’t have time to see in theaters.
Favorite childhood travel memory? Being born in Moscow, Russia, my travels started pretty early as we moved to the United States when I was just 2 years old. I went back almost every summer to visit family until my gymnastics competition schedule starting interfering. We used to also go skiing every Christmas in Vail or Keystone [in Colorado] and now I actually own a home in Keystone, so we love spending time there as a family.
Guilty pleasure when traveling? Gummy Bears or Sour Patch Kids. I really do try to avoid eating sugar in my normal diet, but something about those airport gift shops really gets me with my gummy candies.
Best travel tip? Stay hydrated! Your body and skin gets extra dehydrated while traveling, so it’s important to drink tons of water, even if that means annoying your seatmate a little bit.