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Celebrity Travel: Go Away With Brian Dietzen

By Jae-Ha Kim, Tribune Content Agency on

Fans of the CBS crime procedural "NCIS" know Brian Dietzen as Dr. Jimmy Palmer. An avid fan of road trips, Dietzen says, "When we were growing up, my dad and mom wanted us to explore the United States. Our family went to Yellowstone and all these different national parks. We went out to California every now and again and we returned to the Midwest to visit with our cousins. Those trips were so much fun for us." The Los Angeles-based actor is currently finishing up a documentary about the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team, which pairs children with veteran athletes who share the same injuries. Fans may follow him on Instagram ( and Twitter (

Q. Do you remember moving when you were a child?

A. Yes. My dad grew up in the Midwest and went to the University of Chicago for a while. We had a lot of relatives in the Chicago area. I have a bunch of family that still lives there. When I was about eight, my dad moved us out to Colorado. I was sad to leave, but Colorado is great, too, especially for the outdoor life. He wanted us kids to be raised somewhere that on weekends we could go hiking or skiing and stay active. I remember we didn't have a baseball team at the time so we continued to watch the Chicago Cubs on WGN. Once we got the Colorado Rockies, I couldn't change teams, so I remained a Cubs fan. I've been gradually moving westward and am in Los Angeles now. I joke that maybe I'll retire in Hawaii or Japan. (Laughs)

Q. Have you been to Hawaii or Japan?

A. We went to Hawaii for our honeymoon. We also went for a family trip with my parents and brother and his family. I've never been to Japan. I'm not much of an international traveler. It has only been within the last three years that I've been to Europe.

Q. What kind of trips do you take with your own family now?

A. My wife and I take our children, who are 8 and 10, to visit national parks. We really enjoy that. My favorite trip that I've ever taken was this past summer. We rented an RV and took a month-long trip, which was amazing. The kids slept so well. We got a bunch of books on tape and listened to Harry Potter on the road. We visited Yellowstone, the Grand Teton, Rocky Mountain National Park, visited family in Colorado and took our time going through Utah before heading back to L.A. We got to play it by ear. If we went to a place where we thought we might spend four nights and it didn't turn out to be that great, we could pick up and drive to a different place.

Q. Do you tent camp a lot, too?

A. Yes, we've done a lot of that and really enjoy it. But there were a few times when we pulled up in our RV and it was raining hard. And I was thinking how glad I was that we don't have to play with poles and set up a tarp and try to stay dry. It was nice being able to just fall asleep after having cooked a nice dinner inside the RV.

Q. What are your five favorite cities?

A. Chicago. Boulder. New York City. Vancouver. San Francisco.

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Q. What is on your travel bucket list?

A. I've been to Canada and Mexico. I went to Monte Carlo and South Africa two years ago, but I would love to travel internationally a little bit more. I would love to go to Scotland and golf at St. Andrews. My daughter is a big fan of mythology and Greek everything. I studied Greek history in college. We would love to go to the Greek Islands and visit some of the ruins. Those are my two top places to get to one day.

Q. What did you do in South Africa?

A. I had to go to South Africa because my mom passed away in a car accident. My dad was in really bad shape and I went over there for a couple weeks to help him figure out all the things we needed to do, so that wasn't a pleasure trip. Shortly afterward, my wife and I went to London for a photo shoot for a magazine. Then we went to Monte Carlo to accept the Golden Nymph Award (at the Monte-Carlo Television Festival). Then last year we went to Nicaragua, which was really cool. We visited some friends who live down there, saw volcanoes and played on the beach. That place is just gorgeous. I've never been to Costa Rica, but from what everyone says Nicaragua is what Costa Rica was like 20 years ago.

Q. It sounds like you've been to more places than you give yourself credit for.

A. (Laughs) There are so many more places to see!

Q. Are you an adventurous diner on the road?

A. I don't think I'd do well in India, because for some reason I have a reaction to curry that's not good. But outside of that, I like trying new things. I'm not inhibited by anything. My daughter and I will try just about anything, while my wife and son stick to vegetarian fare, which is hard when you're in a place like Nicaragua where a lot of their cuisine is based around animal protein.


(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column by visiting her website at You may also follow "Go Away With..." on Twitter at @GoAwayWithJae where Jae-Ha Kim welcomes your questions and comments.)



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