Sports Illustrated swimsuit model and former New England Patriots cheerleader Camille Kostek can’t wait to get back to St. Thomas, her favorite vacation spot. But for now, the 26-year-old’s work as a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, television host, and creator of a jewelry line – the Voyager collection from Dune Jewelry — is keeping her too busy to fit in any vacation fun. Kostek is from Killingworth, Conn., and now calls Beverly Hills, Calif., home. She is in the 2018 SI swimsuit issue and will be in the 2019 edition, too. We caught up with Kostek, whose boyfriend is Patriots star tight end Rob Gronkowski, to talk about all things travel.
Favorite vacation destination? St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. This is one of the first tropical destinations that I traveled to as a kid, and continue to visit to this day. St. Thomas is where my mother grew up and where some of my family still resides. It’s one of my favorite getaways — I also love Jamaica — because I have gotten to experience the island from a local view rather than as a tourist. I love everything from the food, the island homes and huts, the beach bars, the music — especially the steel drums — the weather and quick passing rain showers, and best of all the crystal clear ice blue water. I already can’t wait for the next time I get there.
Favorite food or drink while vacationing? I love tastes of the islands. I love requesting rice and beans with a side of avocado and plantains. My favorite of all is ordering mangos when I’m in tropical destinations. They are so juicy and fresh.
Where would you like to travel to but haven’t? I have been so eager to get to Hawaii. It is one of those places that I have fallen in love with without having been yet. I love that it’s an island with tropical rain forest, waterfalls, coves, mountains, and beaches — a beautiful, breathtaking place of nature and plenty to explore.
One item you can’t leave home without when traveling? My Polaroid camera. Pictures are the best way of capturing a moment in time. Having an instant print of a memory is my favorite to have wherever I go.
Aisle or window? Window always. I do most of my deep thinking when I am in flight above the world. I like to take my time on flights to disconnect from social media, my phone, and computer to stop and stare out the window to study everything below me as I travel across the globe and reflect. Flying during sunrise is my favorite time to fly so I can watch the sky light up in rainbow colors.
Favorite childhood travel memory? Going to Paris for my very first time. We stayed at my grandma’s apartment and toured the Eiffel Tower. I celebrated my sixth birthday there with a 101 Dalmatians theme. Fun fact about me: I have never been to Disneyland or Disney World but have been to Disneyland Paris. I want to go back to Paris soon so I can take in and appreciate the culture much more now than [from] my 6-year-old perspective.
Guilty pleasure when traveling? The desserts don’t count when you’re on vacation.
Best travel tip? Minimize. The more I travel, the more I realize that I need less. It is so easy to over pack, especially for us girls. Pack your shoes in your carry-on suitcase and leave the clothing and toiletries to the main luggage — it will lessen the chance of it being overweight and allow plenty of space and weight for the new souvenirs and goodies you’ll end up purchasing to pack to bring back home.