Jessie James Decker Talks Secret Escapes Contest, Travel Tips And New Music - Exclusive Interview

In her career as a country singer, Jessie James Decker has had the opportunity to travel all over the U.S. Now, she's partnering with Malibu Rum to offer lucky winners the chance to visit one of her favorite destinations. The country star worked with Pack Up + Go to curate the perfect vacation itineraries for these secret getaways. Winners don't have to worry about planning anything, but they also don't know where they'll be traveling to — they just have to be ready to pack their bags and go to a surprise destination with their friends and enjoy the moment. 

Each of the Secret Escapes is worth $10,000, and contestants can enter to win up until July 5 by filling out the application to say why they're ready to "do whatever tastes good" and confirming when they and two friends are ready to travel. 

During an exclusive interview with The List to discuss her partnership behind the surprise vacation giveaway, Decker also shared stories from her favorite vacations and gave her best travel tips. The singer also teased new music coming this summer as well as her next cookbook!

Planning the Secret Escapes vacations from personal experience

Can you tell us about the travel giveaway that you're doing with Malibu Rum?

I am so excited to be working with Malibu. I've been a fan of the brand forever, and whenever they came to me with this opportunity to give away a sweet escape vacay, I was so excited about it, because the last couple of years have been tough and not a lot of people have been able to get out and travel and treat themselves. So I was excited about this opportunity to pick some of my favorite cities in the U.S. and have everything lined up for the [winners and] a whole vacation. Three different groups of people [will win] and we'll send them on a trip where they don't have to think about anything. It's a "do what tastes good mindset" energy. And I'm very, very excited to be able to do this for a few different people.

What kind of things were you considering when you were picking the packages and where people would go?

I've been lucky and fortunate enough to travel to different cities and a bunch of different places throughout my life. And I really went into it thinking about the places that I have truly enjoyed and had great memories from visiting, and [where I] felt super relaxed, so it really wasn't that hard to choose from. But I think that whoever wins this contest will not be surprised ... I can't give away the cities, but they will not be surprised by [those] that have been chosen.

Her favorite travel stories

What have been some of your favorite travel destinations or vacations that you've taken in your life?

Sneaky, sneaky. You're trying to find out! I'm joking. But you know what? I really love so many different parts of the U.S. I love California. I love Denver. Obviously, I love my home state here in Tennessee. I love the East Coast. I feel like there are so many different places that I have truly fallen in love with, and they have so many different things to offer.

America has such beautiful places, and I've been fortunate enough to see them, but I don't want to give away too much. But I will say I was in Baton Rouge recently. My whole family's from Baton Rouge, and I love Louisiana so much. It's one of my favorite places because I get to visit family, and I love me some crawfish, and I love me some gumbo. It's always one of my favorite spots to visit.

Do you have any places that are at the top of your travel bucket list that you haven't gotten to yet?

I've always wanted to visit Switzerland. I've never been able to visit Switzerland, and I've always been very curious about the culture there. But as far as in the U.S., I have not visited Wyoming. I feel like that's the spot I'd love to check out. I've seen such beautiful photos from people that have visited before, and it looks like something I would really like.

Do you have any favorite travel stories from the places you've been?

We took the kids to South Carolina, a little south of Charleston. Palmetto Bluff is what it was called, and there's nothing specific, but that was one of my favorite trips we've ever been on. We went exploring. We went to Tybee Island and went looking for shark teeth and rode jet skis, had crab traps, and I made lobster risotto. It was one of my favorite trips with my kids. And I love, love, love the beach. I love the water. I love the sand. I love the sun. It was different than going to Destin or 30A (which is what we do all the time) and just laying out and relaxing. This was a lot of different activities that we did, and I loved it so much. And the kids loved it.

Jessie shares her top travel advice

What do you think the key to a relaxing vacation or getaway is?

It's a mindset. Sometimes planning a trip can be stressful for people. And then once you finally get there, you're so worn out from the planning. So sometimes it's good to have people help you plan your trips. That way, you can be relaxed throughout the whole process. That's what I love about this contest, the Secret Escapes, is it's just all laid out for you. You don't have to do any of the work. You just show up and enjoy yourself.

Are you more of a planner when you go on trips, or do you try to be spontaneous?

I try to be spontaneous. I will definitely pick out the cities and do my research on why they're great, but I like to get to a place, kind of feel out the vibe, and then go from there. Because you could plan a whole bunch of things and then get somewhere, and you're like, "You know what? Where I'm at right now, I don't need to leave." Or you could get somewhere, and you didn't plan anything. And then something spontaneous happens. I usually like to go with the flow.

What is one item you never travel without?

Oh goodness, I would say ChapStick. ... My lips get chapped so fast, and they burn. I have a ChapStick problem. I don't actually leave the house without ChapStick, but that is one of those things on vacation, especially in a sunny vacation, I definitely don't forget. I know that was a random choice.

The most memorable tour stops

As a musician, you travel to a lot of different places on tour. Do you have any favorite cities specifically to perform in?

Oh, New York. New York has my heart. I love playing there. I love my New Yorker fans, my New Jersey fans. I love the city. I love the restaurants. I love all the Italians. New York just melts my heart every single time with the food and the people. I'm sad that I never lived there. You know? But it's definitely one of my favorite spots to play, and I just love the energy there.

When you go on tour, do you feel like you have enough time to really explore the cities while you're there? Or is your schedule usually too busy?

We usually have the majority of the day. ... For example, I woke up in New York, and the first thing I did was got off the bus and me and my manager Matt went and got coffees and walked around and had breakfast. We just walked, honestly. It was so nice, and we had all day to do that because we usually don't have to be back at the venue until around four o'clock. So I usually get a whole day to explore, and I definitely take advantage of it. Every city I get to, I'm like, "I want to see the place that I'm at, and I want to explore and take it all in."

Was there any city when you were on tour that surprised you as far as, if you liked it or maybe you weren't expecting to enjoy yourself there as much as you did?

Hmm. Let me think about that. [Speaking aside] Oh yeah. That was fun ... My manager Matt is actually with me now. Glenside, you're right. Glenside was really cute and quaint. It was this little square and had cute little restaurants and shops. You're right. That was so much fun. Glenside, Pennsylvania was awesome.

Upcoming projects and new music releases coming soon

Your last EP was "The Woman I've Become." Is there any song from that you're most proud of?

Probably [the title track] "The Woman I've Become." I've never written anything that vulnerable before. I usually like to write fun, happy songs or confident songs, and I never write anything too emotional or deep. I feel like I, as an artist, sometimes my job is to bring fun and joy. And I sometimes have a hard time being vulnerable. But for the first time, I was vulnerable. And it was hard for me to put the song out, but I did, and I'm proud of it. And I'm even more proud because it seemed to touch a lot of people.

What was that like, trying something new like and then seeing the response to it?

You never know how people are going to react. I remember being very anxious about putting it out and not really knowing what people were going to think or say. But once the reaction was so amazing and so special, it made me feel good. Honestly, it's been therapeutic for me and made me feel like I could put out more vulnerable songs, and people appreciate that.

Absolutely. Are there any upcoming projects that you're working on now that you can tease or tell us about? 

I do have another cookbook in the works and I will have a rum cocktail recipe in there. So I'm very, very excited about that book. My cocktails seemed to be very, very popular the last time, so I'm excited to add in more. And of course, Malibu's one of my favorites, so that'll be fantastic to put in there. But I also have more music coming out. Expect something really cool in July.

From June 14 through July 5, visit to apply to win one of the Secret Escapes by sharing why you and your crew are ready to Do Whatever Tastes Good. Each trip, worth $10,000, will be coordinated by surprise travel brand Pack Up + Go. 

This interview has been edited for clarity.