Maggie Szabo takes her work on the road. Literally. The Canadian singer-songwriter has penned songs in Greece,Thailand, England and Amsterdam. “I sometimes forget how big of a world there is out there outside of my little bubble,” says Szabo, who’s based out of Los Angeles. “There is so much music, so much culture and so many styles of writing and production that I learn from traveling. It’s really good to be reminded of that.” Her latest song is the Ryan Riback remix of “I Don’t Need You.” Best known for her single “Don’t Give Up,” which was dedicated to the transgender community, Szabo stays in touch with her fans on social media, where she goes by the username @allaboutmaggie.
Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?
A. Budapest. My background is Hungarian and this was my first time being there. I just love going to Europe in general, because each country is so unique in its own way. There is so much history and so much to learn. We took a train to Vienna for the day and that was stunning. That’s also what I love about Europe. You’re really only a train ride away from the next amazing city.
Q. What untapped destination should people know about?
A. I’ve spent a lot of time in Amsterdam writing music and it’s one of my favorite cities. I love that you can get anywhere you need to go just with a bike. It’s fun and great exercise.
Q. What was the first trip you took as a child?
A. Growing up in Canada, we get pretty desperate to get sunshine in the wintertime, so as a kid it was common for us to go somewhere like Mexico, Cuba or the Dominican Republic during the winter holidays. I always loved it! I definitely belong in the sunshine, which is part of the reason why I love living in California.
Q. Where are your favorite weekend getaways?
A. Joshua Tree and Santa Barbara have been my fave spots lately. They’re only a couple of hours away, but it’s so nice to take a break from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles.
Q. Where is the most romantic destination?
A. A few months ago, my boyfriend and I took a road trip to Carmel, which was absolutely stunning. We drove along the Pacific Coast Highway all the way there and back and really took our time to stop and enjoy the scenery along the way. We went to wineries, ate lots of amazing food and stopped at Big Sur. I’m not going to lie. The way back driving along the PCH was pretty scary, because you’re right on the edge, but it’s definitely an adventure worth taking.
Q. If you've ever gone away for the holidays, which was the best trip?
A. Over Christmas holidays a few years ago, I spent the week snowboarding in Whistler, Canada. There’s no better place to spend Christmas. Between the mountains, the outdoor heated swimming pools and chocolate fondue, that’s one place that really makes me appreciate the wintertime.
Q. What are your five favorite cities?
A. Amsterdam, Budapest, London, Chicago, Toronto.
Q. Where have you traveled to that most reminded you of home?
A. Chicago. Since it’s also on a great lake, it reminds me a lot of back home in Canada on Lake Ontario.
Q. When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?
A. Portable charger for my cellphone, fanny pack and running shoes. One of my favorite ways to work out while traveling is running, because it really allows me to explore a new city.
Q. What kind of research do you do before you go away on a trip?
A. The first thing I look up is where the closest gym is! This might seem crazy, but I love visiting gyms when I’m traveling. It’s a great way to meet new people and learn about the culture. People are always super friendly and offer the best advice as far as what places to visit and the best restaurants in town, since it’s always locals that I meet at the gym.
Q. What is your best and/or worst vacation memory?
A. Worst vacation memory (was) missing a flight to New York from L.A. and waiting at the airport for eight hours for the next available flight. Best vacay memory was my very first time to Asia. I was traveling to Thailand for a songwriting trip. Just the feeling of being there for the first time was amazing. I traveled alone, too, and I think there is a very special feeling of being independent while traveling. You learn a lot about yourself.
(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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