Traveling with the Stars: Derek Fisher

Los Angeles Lakers guard Derek Fisher, whose team is playing the Orlando Magic in the NBA Finals as it goes for its fourth title in 10 years, is winding down another grueling, eight-month season of travel. The 13-year NBA veteran shares his travel highlights and tips with USA TODAY.

Q: Where have you been lately that you liked or were surprised by?

A: I traveled to Europe, including Paris and London, and was in awe of both destinations. What I was truly amazed with was the history that the cities hold. There are amazing historical sites to visit, and just a different overall feeling than here in the States. We visited everything from the Arc de Triomphe to the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and of course Buckingham Palace in London. One of my favorite things was visiting the Louvre. My wife and I were riveted by the art. Iconic pieces that you read about, see in photographs, but they were so much more impressive in person.

Q: What's the best place you've ever visited?

A: My personal favorite is a tossup between Cabo (in Mexico) and Paradise Island in the Bahamas. I find the water to be tranquil and calming. They are the few places where I can really check out and just relax. I can lie on the beach for hours or play a round or two of golf, which I love. We love staying in beachfront rooms so we can be as close to the water as possible. After playing 82 regular season games, half on the road and then add in the pre and post season, you can end up playing over 100 games in under eight months, so this is the time I treasure. Sitting on the beach, enjoying the peace, listening to the water, it takes me to another place and allows me to rejuvenate and get ready to do it all again next season.

Q: What's the most surprising/unexpected place you've ever visited?

A: Being in the NBA, you are on the road and in a different city every few days. We have traveled to Oklahoma City, and I was very surprised to find such a sense of community, kind people and was extremely touched by the Oklahoma City National Memorial honoring those who were lost in the bombing of the Federal Building.

Q: What's your favorite vacation spot?

A: This past summer my wife and I visited Maui for the first time and really enjoyed the island. It was just the two of us, which is rare considering we have four children and when I'm not working, it's usually all about being together as a family.

When we take the kids, Atlantis is the place to go. With attractions like the Marine Habitat, the Speedway, special kiddy pools, it keeps them happy and busy. And then when it's just my wife and I, we enjoy the spa, the great restaurants or just lying on the beach.

Q: Can you offer an insider tip or recommendation for your favorite vacation place?

A: I travel so much that sometimes, I just want to stay local. I find that you can take a drive up the coast to Santa Barbara, or a drive to Palm Springs, and it feels like you are anywhere but a couple of hours out of the city. Especially in this economy, if you want to get away, go local. It still feels like vacation!

Also, because I'm an expert traveler now, there are great deals and discounts for last-minute trips. Sometimes, leaving at the drop of the hat is cost effective!