LuxeGetaways always wants to travel smart, travel healthy and travel in style; and we want to share what we have learned with our readers. We caught up with busy Emmy Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Derek Hough recently. With his motto often being “Live with passion,” he is a perfect match for LuxeGetaways’ ongoing direction to connect with readers that have a passion for traveling in style! Derek is the only six-time champion in the franchise history of the popular ABC show Dancing with the Stars. At eleven years old, Hough started dancing in his hometown of Salt Lake City, and one year later moved to London to attend a performing arts school where he studied theatre, music and dance. He has been nominated six times for an Emmy Award, has acted in film and has performed in London’s West End and on Broadway. He has also headlined at Radio City Music Hall and has teamed up with his sister, Julianne, for a live stage dance concert called Move Live On Tour. Derek is now set to star in NBC’s “Hairspray Live!” adapted from the Tony award-winning Broadway musical airing December 7 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. This rising star, with the furious travel schedule has naturally developed travel tips to make every journey count for both business and leisure. Here, he shares these with you.

LuxeGetaways:  Derek, how do you plan a leisure trip?

Derek Hough: Visualize Your Goals… Visualization is so important to me both professionally and personally, so of course I use this technique when planning my travels. In fact, did you know that 86 percent of all travelers set goals for themselves and that visualization is the most common method used to achieve their goals?[1] If you picture a result or an outcome, it trains your brain to seek out the resources that will help you achieve it. Stop dreaming and make it happen – get started with a vision board today.

Stop Making Excuses… Whether it’s due to your work schedule or family obligations, sometimes taking a trip can seem out of reach or even impossible. But, it’s so important to remember that life is happening now. You don’t want to wake up one day and realize that you let life rush by. Make it a priority to take time for travel, for adventure, for discovery – it’s without a doubt one of the best ways to fill your soul, enrich your life and find inspiration in the beautiful world we live in.

Have Fun with Planning… Planning might seem stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Savvy travelers know that planning a vacation is actually part of the fun. Reduce planning stress by approaching each part of your trip – whether it’s deciding on a destination or figuring out how to book it – as a piece of the puzzle. Seek advice from your family and friends or travel guidebooks to create a game plan to manage each step. When you’re ready to book it at the best rate, know you can also get great perks by booking direct with Hilton Hotels & Resorts.

Surround Yourself with Doers… If you still need a push to make your dreams – travel or otherwise – a reality, surround yourself with achievers. These ‘doers’ actively make time to pursue their passions, so soak up all the insights and inspiration you can from them. You’ll be surprised by how quickly you move from dreaming to doing.

Stay Healthy on the Road… As a professional dancer and performer, staying fit is a must. When I’m on the road, I follow four simple steps to stay in shape: move, eat well, sleep like a king and remember to unplug.

LG: What are your favorite travel tips?

DH: Move… It’s important to me to always be moving and exercising as much as possible. If I’m staying at a hotel and they have a gym, I’ll try to use it as much as I can. If my hotel doesn’t have a gym, I’ll typically just do push-ups or sit-ups in my room. I actually have a P90x app on my phone. The programs are only 20 minutes and probably one of my favorite ab workouts. The best part is that I can do my whole workout regimen in my hotel room.

Eat Well… My biggest priority here is that I never skip breakfast. That’s just not an option for me. When I don’t have time to sit down for a full meal, I take advantage of the new grab-and-go options that are springing up at hotels. When I do have time, though, I closely review the menu and make sure I’m picking the healthiest sides and food preparation methods – for example, I’ll go for steamed veggies over mac-n-cheese and grilled over breaded/fried mains whenever possible.

Sleep Like a King… For me, the best part about hotel living is the fact that your room is designed to be a sleeper’s paradise – those giant beds, the blackout curtains, and my personal favorite – the pillow menu. The first thing I do when I get to my room is check out the pillow menu and see what’s available to make my sleep as comfortable as possible.

Unplug… Every night, I “go dark” for at least a half hour before bed – that means no scrolling through my social media feeds or sneaking in one last episode of TV before bed. The screens’ bright light can really throw off your body’s natural clock, so it’s important to resist checking your gadgets when you are getting ready for bed.

LG:  How do you select places to explore on your own time when not traveling for work?

DH: Being on the road is such a part of who I am now, so you might think that I’d be a homebody whenever I could, but that’s not the case. I make time to travel whenever I have a break in my schedule because for me, traveling is one of my greatest sources of inspiration and creativity. It’s such an important part of my life that I’ve partnered with Hilton Hotels & Resorts to launch their Our Stage. Your Story. Program so that I can help others make their travel dreams a reality. The website provides peoples with the inspiration they need to move from being a ‘travel dreamer’ to a ‘travel doer’ – you can create digital vision boards, check out fun ‘how-to’ videos and immerse yourself in a 360° experience of one of their hotels.

What these tools have in common is that they are all rooted in the idea of visualization – a method that I rely on heavily in my day-to-day life. When you visualize a positive outcome, you are so much more likely to gain the self-confidence and conviction to make that happen. That remains true for me whether I’m preparing for auditions, performing live, figuring out my next step in life or making my next bucket list travel dream come true. Like I said earlier, 86% of travelers set goals for themselves and visualization is the number one method they use to make them happen. Dreaming about a trip to Australia? Try creating a vision board, sharing it with your family, posting it to social media – give yourself something tangible to look out and get inspired by so you have a reminder of what you are working toward.

In terms of the actual places I like to visit – well, I am always in search of adventure. I like to look for places where I can be outside, in nature and do something that gets my adrenaline pumping. Some of my favorite travel memories have been swimming with sharks in Hawaii, cliff jumping in Australia, and sky diving in California.

LG: What projects are you currently involved in?

DH: I’ll be performing in ‘Hairspray Live‘ as Corny Collins this December and at the same time re-joining the cast of Dancing with the Stars.

I am also partnering with my sister, Julianne, for what we call MOVE Interactive. We host high energy, pop up fitness classes – from group hikes to dance classes to runs – throughout the LA area to get people active and moving. They’re a great way to meet new people and just have a blast while working out.

LG: We like your unique perspective on the power of visualization. How do you use it?

DH: For me, it’s all about visualizing a purpose and an outcome. Visualization is like a mental dress rehearsal for what will happen. If you picture a positive result, it trains your brain to look for the resources that will help you achieve it. Seeing what you want stimulates your creativity and strengthens your confidence.

When visualizing, it’s important not to get hung up on the small things – which can be challenging for perfectionists like myself. It is easy to go to a negative place and think “nothing is going right.” So, I make myself say out loud, over and over again, what I what to achieve. Sound crazy? It works. Before I go onto the competition floor, sometimes I’ll look in the mirror and say, “I want you to do your best, and I want you to be passionate and in the moment.” By giving myself these marching orders, I remind myself to focus on the positive instead of getting lost in what might be wrong. Whatever you focus on is your reality and you’ll move in the direction of where you are focused.

LuxeGetaways: Derek, thank you so much for sharing your Travel Tips and visualization technique and ideas with us. We wish you continued success and look forward to watching you in “Hairspray Live!” and keeping up with the latest on Dancing With The Stars.

[1] *Data is from an online survey commissioned by Hilton Hotels & Resorts and conducted by Edelman Berland in January 2016. The survey included 5,033 travelers ages 18+ in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, China and Japan (approximately 1,000 per country).
Photos Courtesy Hilton Worldwide & Derek Hough