Go Away With ... Isaiah Mustafa
Former football player Isaiah Mustafa is known to TV viewers as Luke Garroway in the Freeform series “Shadowhunters: Mortal Instruments.” He also won an Emmy for Outstanding Commercial for his work in the Old Spice commercials. An avid photographer, Mustafa shares his photos with fans on his website (https://www.iamphotographs.com), Twitter (https://twitter.com/isaiahmustafa) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/isaiahmustafa).
Q. What is your worst vacation memory?
A. I’ve never had a really bad experience. I’ve never gotten really sick from food on a trip and when I got lost, it was never bad. It ended up kind of interesting and fun. But there was this one time when I was in Argentina. I was there doing a job and they gave me this driver named Roberto. He was probably 82 years old. He had these piercing blue eyes and was just an older, mellow guy. Roberto had said zero words to me the whole trip. One evening, after dinner, I told him that I would walk back (to the hotel). He put his hand on my back, looked me in the eyes and said, “This is South America. You don’t walk at night.” I wasn’t going to argue with him. (Laughs) I just got in the car.
Q. How thorough are you when you plan a trip?
A. If it’s a place I’ve always wanted to go, I will plan it out and figure out all the details. But if I have maybe 12 days and I want to get away to some place really quick, I like to roll the dice. I will think about the top six places that are within my budget right now, assign a number to each (pip) and throw a little craps to see what happens. (Laughs)
Q. Where are some of the most memorable places you have been?
A. Holland is a great place. I have a lot of Dutch friends. When I played football for the Barcelona Dragons, I got to enjoy the great nightlife. I love Northern California to kind of chill and relax. And New Zealand blew me away. It was incredible and I’d like to go back there. I went to Marseilles once. I did that by train from Paris to Barcelona and it was awesome.
Q. How have your views on traveling changed?
A. I used to say getting lost is the best way to find a place, but that’s not always safe to do these days. I do like walking around, but I’m very aware of my surroundings.
Q. What is your guilty pleasure when you’re on the road?
A. I’m going to say enjoying the toiletries, like the hand creams and bath oils or salts or whatever. There was this one place I stayed at that had Versace soap and it was so amazing. I asked them where I could buy it and they said, “Sorry, but we only have this at our hotel.” I asked if I could buy it from their hotel and they said no. (Laughs)
Q. Are you a fan of road food?
A. I wish. That’d be fun. I have to watch what I eat. I have to pay attention to what’s in the food and how much sodium and sugar are in it and that kind of stuff. I won’t just randomly eat a croissant or something like that. But that’s OK. I feel like I’ve already had that in Belgium or Paris. But if there’s something really good, I’ll take a taste.
Q. What is on your travel bucket list?
A. I’m a photographer. That’s my hobby. So what I do is look for a place with either great architecture or amazing landscapes or a really interesting street culture. Bali and some island in Greece are at the top of the list.
Q. Have you traveled anywhere interesting for a holiday?
A. It wasn’t a holiday, but it was my birthday. I had my 39th birthday in Tel Aviv. I was there for work for seven days and had an amazing time. I went everywhere -- New Jerusalem, the Dead Sea. It was unbelievable.
Q. Is there a travel year that stands out for you?
A. Yes. It was 2014. I traveled to 17 countries for Old Spice and went all over the place. I remember going to Stavanger, Norway. It was such an impressive experience. You feel very small and human (when you see) the fjords.
Q. Where have you gone to on a whim?
A. Sweden. I had a week off from work. I asked people to go with me and no one wanted to go, so I went by myself.
Q. Did you travel a lot as a child?
A. I was a pretty good athlete as a kid, so I ran track. The U.S. had a development program that took us to Hong Kong. That was the first international trip I ever had. That blew my mind. It was for 10 days in 1993, before the (sovereignty) changed back to China. I remember that trip in Hong Kong. I got stuck because the tunnel closed at a certain hour and the subway was closed, too. I was 18 and we were out probably where we shouldn’t have been. I had a great coach who was really cool. I still talk to him now. He was like, “So, what did you guys get into?” We told him and he said, “Well, you know. You have that life experience.”
Q. What’s your favorite souvenir?
A. I have this pair of boots. I realized I’d taken them to every country I’d been to while I was doing this crazy tour for Old Spice. I took those boots and had them engraved with the cities and countries I stepped in.
(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.)
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