Go away with Shelina Moreda

Professional motorcycle racer Shelina Moreda has always liked moving fast. She was just a toddler when she rode ATVs. She fell in love with dirt bikes at the age of 12. Her mother and father — who raced cars and dirt bikes himself — were supportive when she announced her career choice. Moreda, now 27, lives in Petaluma, Calif., one of just three women to race in the AMA Pro Road Racing National Series.

Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?

A. Okinawa, Japan is my favorite place so far.

Q. What types of vacations do you prefer?

A. I like to see places I haven't been to before and explore them. I love sunny, tropical weather the most. Okinawa has beautiful white sand beaches and the water is crystal clear and glassy smooth. The people are wonderful and the food is fantastic. Okinawa is a small island but there is a ton to do there. You could not get bored of it.

Q. What kind of research do you do before you go away on a trip?

A. As spontaneous as I like to be, I research a lot before I go on vacation. I like to know what an area has to offer. I want to see how the people live and what they do so that my experience there can be authentic. I want to know the local restaurants and bars, some historical sites to see and if things like gold mining or snorkeling are available, so I can try them.

Local food is a must. I will go out of my way in a tourist town to get out and find the real local fare. In Taiwan, we rented scooters and rode an hour out of town to have dinner at a restaurant in a little shack. They didn't speak a word of English there but understood we were starving and they loved feeding us the local, hometown food! That meal was by far my most memorable in Taiwan. Experiences like that are irreplaceable!

Q. Where are your favorite weekend getaways?

A. When I have a weekend to do anything I want, my favorite thing to do is a road trip. I like to pick a destination on a map and make an adventure of finding new things around the area I'm in. Recently, I got to explore Northern Texas and Tulsa, Okla. There are beautiful countrysides and amazing landmarks everywhere you go. I love to see what is special to each area and figure it out when I get there.

Q. What are your favorite hotels?

A. The Ashland Springs Hotel (http://www.ashlandspringshotel.com/), in Ashland, Ore. It's an old restored hotel that overlooks a cute town with fun and easy day trips. I love charm and you cannot beat the grandeur of a restored century-old landmark hotel.

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

A. I need my GoPros (wearable waterproof and shockproof cameras) to capture all the little moments and exciting adventures of the trip. I like to bring a notebook to write down my experiences. I always pack a bathing suit, my favorite pair of Levi's and a lot of socks so I am prepared for adventure. Getting dirty isn't an issue.

Q. What are your five favorite cities?

A. Ishikawa, Okinawa, Japan; Daytona Beach, Fla., Victoria, British Columbia; Park City, Utah and Monterey, Calif.

Q. Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?

A. I'd like to see as many places as possible. There are so many places in the United States that I have not been to, from Niagara Falls to going to the Kentucky Derby. Outside of the United States, I am drawn to Russia. I would love to explore Portugal where my family is from and also Italy and Germany. The Isle of Man is also high on my list.

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

A. My best vacation memory is a recent one. My mom and my sister met me in Italy after this big motorcycle event that I attended. We traveled to Venice, Verona, Modena, Milan and Lucca. We have family in Lucca that we had never met, so with an old map and some photos from my grandmother in hand, we set out to find the old family home. The town was welcoming and one person pointed us in the direction of the next person until we were in the home of our family, sitting with our cousins, laughing about old family memories and sharing stories. It was a big adventure and a memory that will last a lifetime.

(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..." @GoAwayWithJae where Jae-Ha Kim welcomes your questions and comments.)

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