Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald visits the ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu in Peru earlier this offseason as part of his traveling hobby.
These days, Larry Fitzgerald is in Minnesota.
That's normal this time of year for the Cardinals' Pro Bowl wide receiver. It's his home state and the place he does some rigorous pre-training camp workouts. He's also been known to arrive in the Cards' camp home of Flagstaff a little early, to acclimate to the altitude.
As destinations go, however, both are somewhat boring. Fitzgerald's passport proves such.
Fitzgerald is a world traveler, having already been countless countries despite his youth (Fitzgerald turns 25 Aug. 31). The partial list includes Turkey, Spain and Portugal. The Netherlands. Denmark. Germany. Peru. Argentina. Brazil. Australia. New Zealand.
Fitzgerald searches his memory for the complete inventory, at one point adding "pretty much every country in Europe."
"I like the flavor of lifestyle outside our country," Fitzgerald said. "It's fun and different. It makes you have a greater appreciation for home once you get back. It also lets you see that some other countries might not have as much money but the quality of life … it seems the people just enjoy it."
Fitzgerald gets around the United States too, having spent time – that is, more than an airport layover – in 46 of the 50 states. The missing? Alaska, Vermont, Oklahoma and Tennessee, and Fitzgerald will go to Tennessee in 2009 when the Cards play the Titans.
A wall in Fitzgerald's home is covered with a gigantic map of the world. He puts black flags on the domestic places he has visited, red ones in the international destinations. Call it his travel checklist.
Fitzgerald said his parents – who were "always on a plane" – instilled the drive to check out other places. In addition to going around the United States, he visited both Mexico and Canada as a boy.
"It was always part of the family routine," Fitzgerald said, "so traveling like this is kind of second nature to me."
Not surprisingly given his personality, Fitzgerald prefers to take many of the trips solo. He hires tour guides in the countries he visits, often exchange students that not only can speak the language but know the area – taking Fitzgerald to the museums and nightclubs that are interesting, and keeping him out of the spots he should probably avoid.
"It's like I'm in my own world," Fitzgerald said.
He tries to take two big trips a year, one immediately after the season and another right before the Cards' offseason program begins in March. This year, Fitzgerald was headed on his long trip to places like Brazil and Peru on the day he signed his new contract.
Fitzgerald recites his favorite places to visit thus far as a stream of consciousness. Maybe it was Iguacu Falls in Brazil, the world's widest waterfall that made Niagara Falls "look like a hole in the wall." It could have been the 680-foot bungee jump off the 1000-foot Sky Tower in Auckland, New Zealand. Perhaps it was the scuba diving near the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
Next year, Fitzgerald plans to visit Africa and Morocco. He wants to go to Egypt and see the Pyramids. Places like South Africa and Zimbabwe are on the to-do list.
He said he often talks with fellow Pro Bowl wideout Anquan Boldin about the trips, and Boldin – who went to Brazil himself earlier this offseason – seems to have bought into the idea of traveling worldwide. Boldin told Fitzgerald he was thinking about visiting Australia and New Zealand himself, and Fitzgerald gave him ideas where to go.
"Once you get the bug, it's a lot of fun," Fitzgerald said. "Seeing other cultures and living that life a little, it's an out-of-body experience."
Contact Darren Urban at firstname.lastname@example.org. Posted 7/3/08.