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Go Away With ... James Durbin

By Jae-Ha Kim, Tribune Content Agency
Celebrity Travel
1:31 p.m. CDT, April 8, 2014

James Durbin didn't win "American Idol," but he made his presence known. He stood out with a musical style more hard rocking than the typical "Idol" contestant. His first album -- "Memories of a Beautiful Disaster" -- debuted at number eight on the Billboard Rock Chart. He's hoping to better that ranking with his new CD, "Celebrate." Durbin took a break from his tour to call in and chat about his travels. There's no place like home (Santa Cruz, Calif.), he says, but he's going to travel as much as he can while he has the opportunity to do so for work. Fans may follow Durbin on Twitter at https://twitter.com/durbinrock.

Q. Does touring make you appreciate travel more or less?
A. Honestly? It all depends on how you're feeling that day and where you are. Right now I'm in New Orleans at an RV park with our tour bus and we're right next to the freeway and an old cemetery that was used in a bunch of horror movies. Each of the grave plots look like little houses. From the freeway, it looks like a maze of houses and it's really creepy. So you could say that being stuck in a tour bus isn't that interesting, but looking at what I'm looking at is. For me, it's still exciting being on the road. When I'm home, I'm home! But when I'm touring, I do appreciate the fun moments, even though I miss my wife and son.

Q. Where would you like to visit next?

A. I'd love to go to Japan, Hawaii and anywhere in the United Kingdom. Anywhere to Europe would be great. I'd love to take my wife to all the places I've gone to on tour that she wasn't able to come along for. I can be her cheap tour guide.

Q. Are you an adventurous traveler?

A. I'd like to think that I am, but I know that I'm not. I'm kind of a cautious person in general. I don't jump into too many things without thinking things through. I'm not the guy who says, "Yeah, let's go do this!" The French Quarter is a block from where we are now so we'll go try some broiled crawfish. I'm that kind of adventurous.

Q. What was the first trip you took as a child?

A. We used to do road trips to visit with my oma and opa (grandparents). We'd load up the RV and see the country with them. It was their RV. We rode on a ferry when I was three or four years old in Kentucky. I also remember going to Kentucky to stay at my great aunt's house for a month and that was cool.

Q. What is your favorite travel memory?

A. When I was a kid, we went camping at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park in Big Sur. We went every single year since right after I was born. We did this every year until I was 16 or 17. That was great, just to have that ritual every year with my family and a big group of people. I'm really thankful for it and I cherish those memories.

Q. Do you still go camping?

A. I really enjoy camping. My wife and I try to go camping once a year at least. It used to be easier before "Idol" happened, but now there's a tour and an album out and all that kind of fun stuff. But I'm enjoying it while I can, because all that could change.

Q. Where are your favorite weekend getaways?

A. We spend a lot of time in Monterey, Calif. We live in Santa Cruz, so it's kind of like living on a very small island. People tend to not venture off too much. But we've been able to break free and spend time there, and in Carmel, and explore and see what it has to offer. In our situation, Monterey is 40 minutes to an hour away from Santa Cruz and it's an absolutely beautiful place with a great kids' museum and aquarium.

Q. When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?

A. Headphone, phone charger, toothbrush, plenty of pairs of drawers (underwear) and some movies. It's always nice to have my favorite movies and wrestling DVDs. Really, other than that, I just pack one bag with some drawing books and postcards. I always buy some postcards when I get to a destination, but it's always nice to have a few.

Q. Do you have any quirky habits when you're touring?

A. Sometimes I like to pick up a T-shirt from all the venues I played, but not every venue has a shirt. Also, my son finally let me borrow one of his stuffed animals and I've started to take a picture of it at each venue.

Q. What is your best and/or worst vacation memory?

A. Almost all the memories are great, but I've got one bad one. We went to this place right after my son Hunter was born. We went on a camping trip to a spot that our friends had told us was really cool. We got there and it was completely disgusting. The lake had leeches and the water was filthy. It was hot and sunny and there was no shade. We're spoiled. We live right by the ocean in Santa Cruz and we have redwoods right there. We can camp near our home and be comfortable, so it was horrible to be at this yucky campground with a skinny little pathetic excuse for a tree. Anyhow, our son was a newborn so at least he won't have bad memories of that trip.

(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column by visiting her website at www.jaehakim.com. You may also follow "Go Away With..." on Twitter at @GoAwayWithJae where Jae-Ha Kim welcomes your questions and comments.)