Sarah Bockel was many years from being born when, in the 1970s, Carole King was at the height of her success, but that hasn’t kept the Chicago native from thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to portray the music icon in the Tony Award-winning “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,” at the Boston Opera House through Feb. 10. When the national tour was in Boston in 2015, Bockel was in the ensemble. Now, after playing the prolific singer-songwriter on Broadway and on a previous national tour, she is again in the lead role and loving it. Bockel, 30, said when she was in Boston in 2015, she was on a restricted diet — the 30-day Paleo challenge — and was preparing most of her own meals, so this time around, she is looking forward to checking out the city’s food scene. “I’m also excited to do a little more exploring,” she said in a recent phone interview. “Boston is a great city.” Bockel lives in Chicago with her 2-year-old rescue dog, Warren, a Chiweeni (a Chihuahua-dachshund mix), who is traveling on tour with her. We caught up with Bockel, who said her favorite song to sing in the show is “It’s Too Late” (“It’s got a great groove and is one of the first songs from ‘Tapestry’ in the show . . . definitely a crowd favorite, too”), to talk about all things travel.
Favorite vacation destination? Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. My parents spend a month there during the winter, so it’s my favorite place to visit them. Also, I am a huge admirer of Mexican culture, folk art, and food
Favorite food or drink while vacationing? Fresh fish and a margarita — maybe some ceviche by the pool.
Where would you like to travel to but haven’t? I have always wanted to go to Spain, but haven’t been yet. My first year of college I was a Spanish literature major and was all set to go abroad, but once I changed my major to music theater I didn’t have time to go to Spain.
One item you can’t leave home without when traveling? A water bottle — especially on tour. Hydration is key. I have to use a special one for the show that has a straw because I have to drink out of it so many times without hands because of quick changes. The one I use, Contigo, is great — and it fits into my dresser’s apron pocket.
Aisle or window? Window, so I can rest my head on the wall of the plane.
Favorite childhood travel memory? Going to Italy with my parents when I was 9 years old. So much of that trip is so clear to me; we visited Rome, Palermo, and a tiny island off of Sicily called Lampedusa. I remember going to the beach. The water was so clear that you could see the shadow of the boats on the [sea] floor. I also remember having peach-flavored popsicles with black licorice sticks and these huge ice cream sandwiches that were made with gelato in brioche buns.
Guilty pleasure when traveling? Frozen cocktails poolside.
Best travel tip? Be organized. Packing cubes are essential for quick unpacking and repacking and they make everything less stressful.