Olympic Champion Figure Skater Nathan Chen On All Things Travel

It’s safe to say that Olympic champion figure skater Nathan Chen, 22, is all too familiar with the world of travel. His high profile job has him globetrotting throughout the year for his competitions.

In fact, Chen is currently doing a victory lap around America in the 2022 Stars on Ice Tour with all of his US Olympic Figure Skating Silver-medalist teammates. The show is a spectacle where audiences enjoy figure skating routines featuring incredible costumes and top hits that have them dancing out of their seats. It kicked off earlier in the month in Fort Myers, F. and visits 24 cities quality wrapping up in Portland, Or. on Sunday, May 29th.

Currently, Chen says that New Haven, Conn., where he attends Yale University, is home base. “I just gave up my apartment in Orange County so I don’t really have a home,” he says.

Chen recently spoke to Forbes.com about all things travel.

Below are edited excerpts from the interview.

What do you like the most about traveling?

I love exploring new places, especially the food scene. I am not a picky eater and will try anything. I go to markets like the fish market in Seattle or farmers’ markets in LA. And I am a big fan of cities in general. I like hitting the tourist sites as well as lesser-known sites that only locals know about.

How about the least?

Definitely packing and keeping my luggage in order and organizing my clothes. For Stars on Ice, we’re staying at a different hotel everyday so I don’t really settle in. Each day is about packing and unpacking.

What are your travel essentials?

Chargers, a camera, my Mac book and a comfortable pair or shoes.

When it comes to choosing a hotel, what kind of properties do you prefer?

I enjoy luxury hotels, but I would be more than happy staying at an Airbnb. I like properties that are contemporary. I’ve never stayed at a hostel and want to try that someday.

Does your preference change depending on whether you’re traveling for work or fun?

If I’m traveling for fun, which isn’t often, I would rather not spend so much money on a hotel. I want to my budget to go towards experiences and eating. I don’t want to blow it on a hotel that I’m not going to spend time at.

In your opinion, what’s the sign of a great hotel?

A room with a comfortable bed and hot shower. I’m mainly there to sleep and shower.

Can you describe your travel style? Relaxed? Go go go? Or in between?

Go go go. I always want to maximize my time in a place. I was in New York recently and stayed at the Moxy Times Square which was really cool. I would wake up early and explore the city. I walked or took the subway everywhere. I hit all the touristy spots—Highline Park, Little Island, Hudson Yards, Chinatown.

What’s your vacation spot of choice?

Honestly, I have never taken a trip that’s pure vacation. It’s something that I want to change this year though. I want to go Greece, Hawaii, Southeast Asia. The list is long.

Hawaii is interesting because I was there once on a layover and had eight hours to explore. I wanted to see more. I loved the ocean and ate some great poke. For Greece, I am interested in the architecture and landscape. And Southeast Asia seems very attractive.

Do you have trepidation about traveling in the wake of the pandemic?

Yes. There’s always a nervousness that comes with traveling given the pandemic. I plan to take trips where I can be relatively isolated with my family and friends.

Tell us your secrets to beating jet lag.

When I travel to the destination, I try to stay awake on the plane and arrive at night so that I get a good night’s rest right away. It helps my body acclimate. And I use Tylenol PM a lot when I am traveling to help me fall asleep at night.

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