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Celebrity travel: Go away with Phil Collen
Phil Collen doesn't need a chauffeur. After finishing an interview at a Los Angeles radio station, he jumps behind the wheel of his own car, gets directions and heads onto I-405. "I love living in California," says the guitarist for the British band Def Leppard. "The weather is beautiful every single day. Sure the traffic can be spotty, but it's a small price to pay for the lifestyle."
Currently on the first leg of their U.S. tour to support their latest CD "Songs from the Sparkle Lounge," the musicians will travel to Turkey, Russia and Greece later in the year. Which is fine by Collen. Besides loving to play live, Collen is a bona-fide travel junkie who says he has enough of the tourist in him to enjoy exploring places old and new. Once Def Leppard's tour is done, Collen will hit the road again with his side project Man Raze, a three-piece alternative rock band that also includes Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook and rock bassist Simon Laffy.
FAVORITE VACATION SPOT: India is always great! I love going there and have been there a bunch of times. I'm excited 'cause we get to go to India again for this tour.
WHY INDIA? The people, the culture, the history. It's just an amazing place. And the food is out of this world. You just want to spend the whole day eating, even if you're not hungry. Although I have to say, the best Indian food I've ever eaten ironically enough wasn't in India, but in Bradford, England.
BEST WAY TO SIGHTSEE: Just get out there with the people. I enjoy going to see the sights that everyone wants to see, but I also just enjoy going to a local mom and pop restaurant or something that was recommended by the locals. I know I stand out in some countries because I'm pale and have blond hair. But the people in India could not be any nicer. They have a way of making foreigners feel at home. I wish more people were like that. They are extremely kind to the visitors to their land.
TRAVELING LIGHT: I'm good at packing and I can get everything I need packed pretty well. I just don't do that often enough! I constantly overpack. You'd think after all these years of touring and traveling that I'd have learned. Even if I go away for the weekend, I tend to bring too much. I've improved a little bit. At least I don't have to buy a suitcase while I'm on the road for all the things I've picked up anymore.
THINGS TO BRING ON THE PLANE: An iPod. You can bring your whole record collection with you that way. I've got everything on mine, but one of my favorite artists is Talvin Singh, who's a British musician of Indian descent. He's very talented! Technology is great but I did have a nightmare iPod experience recently when it got corrupted and I lost years of music that I'd been putting together.
DREAM VACATION: China. I've never been there and would love to get the chance to spend some time there. Def Leppard actually may get to play there later this year, if everything gets worked out.
THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT INDIA:
FULL NAME: Republic of India.
CAPITAL: New Delhi. (Calcutta was the capital until 1911.)
CURRENCY: Indian Rupee. One U.S. dollar is equivalent to about 40 Indian Rupees.
POPULATION: More than 1 billion people.
OFFICIAL LANGUAGE: Hindi. Many natives also speak English.
NATIONAL ANIMAL: Tiger.
FAMOUS INDIANS: Mahatma Gandhi, Ravi Shankar, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and Deepak Chopra.
To learn more about India, go to www.tourisminindia.com. For more information about Def Leppard's tour dates, check out www.defleppard.com.
Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column at email@example.com or visit her Website at www.jaehakim.com. She welcomes your questions and comments.