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Go Away With ... Meghan Markle

By Jae-Ha Kim, Tribune Media Services

Celebrity Travel by Jae-Ha Kim

9:30 AM EDT, September 30, 2013

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Actress Meghan Markle was born and raised in Los Angeles and films her series, "Suits," which airs on the USA Network, in Toronto, Canada. Her mother was a travel agent, which meant that Markle got to travel quite a lot as a child and she grew to love it. "I got the travel bug quite early," says Markle, who portrays Rachel Zane on the series. "My earliest memories are of going to Mexico twice a year and Hawaii quite a few times. We never did conventional family trips like Disney World. Hawaii and Mexico were closer for us than going to Florida or the Caribbean." Fans may follow Markle on Twitter (at)meghanmarkle.

Q. As a child, did you ever wish you could go on more conventional trips like you friends?

A. You know, this is all I knew. Just like being an only child was all I knew. I was always aware of how unique and cool it was that my mom got to take me to all these cool places because of her job and connections. It was so much fun traveling, primarily with my mom. I never felt envious of the more cookie cutter-type of vacations, although I'm sure those would have been wonderful, too. But my mom never wanted me to just go to a resort and not leave the property, and think that was all there was to visiting a foreign country. We liked going to Oaxaca, Mexico, and tried to really get an authentic cultural experience.

Q. What has traveling taught you?

A. It really shapes you from a young age and makes you really empathetic of people of whatever culture, wherever they're from. It made me much more courageous to take myself out of a sheltered bubble. I moved to Argentina at 21 and worked for the U.S. Embassy. And then I went to Madrid. My dad's a lighting director. Growing up in Hollywood, I was around the entertainment industry all the time. I knew I'd end up in show business in some capacity, eventually. But when I was young, I knew I wanted to try something else. So it was wonderful to be in the foreign services and live in Buenos Aires. I think that kind of life experience can only help in your performance as an actor.

Q. What's the most important thing you've learned from your travels?

A. That you should just go! It doesn't have to be a fancy or expensive trip. Some of the best trips of my life, I've paid for in pennies. When I was a student at Northwestern University, people were doing the quintessentially spring break to Cabo San Lucas. I backpacked with a friend through France and then went to Italy. We nickeled and dimed it, because we wanted to see the world. You gain new friends everywhere. Traveling gives you some perspective of what the rest of the world is like. I think that having the courage to step out of the norm is the most important thing.

Q. Are you comfortable traveling alone?

A. Absolutely. I just use street smarts. When I was in France, I would've loved to have gone from there to Morocco, but at that time, specifically, it wasn't wise to go. Being cautious doesn't mean you need to be sheltered. You just need to make wise decisions. When I was growing up, my mom said, "It's not you I'm worried about. It's the other people out there."

Q. What are your favorite cities?

A. Barcelona is one of the best cities in the world. I love it there. I love Big Sur. It's stunning and you get a therapeutic experience there. The drive up the coast is one of the most beautiful I've ever done. Also, Hong Kong. I could easily live there!

Q. Are you an adventurous eater?

A. Oh gosh. I eat everything! My poor husband has to try to keep up with me. In Vietnam two years ago, I was eating everything I had seen Anthony Bourdain eat. My husband just got sick. Food makes travel so exceptional, because you get to taste what it's actually supposed to taste like. To eat the real Pad Thai or finally have a proper curry is something pretty amazing.

Q. What's on your travel bucket list?

A. I haven't spent a lot of time exploring Asia. I want to go to Laos. I'd love to tour around Cambodia.

Q. Camping or five-star hotels?

A. Both! It all depends on where you are. We went campervanning through New Zealand for 14 days once and it was amazing. We hiked through the glaciers and visited the wineries in Marlborough. Then we went off the North Island off the coast of Auckland and stayed four nights in a beach house. It really is a beautiful country. This island is like a California beach town meeting Nantucket. It was so easy to explore. Before that trip, I'd never driven on the opposite side of the road. I'd never been in a campervan. It was easily one of the best trips of my life. I'm looking for more places where I can go campervanning. I think Scotland would be a fun place to try that next.

Q. Do you favor warm or cold weather destinations?

A. It depends. Warm can be more comfortable than cold, but there's such a thing as too hot, too! (Laughs.) I love Chicago and loved going to college there. People warn you about the weather in the winter, but they don't tell you about the humidity in the summer. That was so challenging! I'm used to nice, crisp weather. But all of that was trumped by the people and the amazing food. It was an adjustment, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Q. What helps you feel more at home when you're away for a long period of time?

A. The first thing that comes to mind is that there's something so comforting about a peanut butter sandwich. Wherever I am in the world, I'll always try to have one if I'm feeling a little homesick. And I also like to bring candles so that it'll smell like home wherever I am. Other than that, I just throw myself into my travels and don't need much else.

(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column by visiting her website at http://www.jaehakim.com. You may also follow "Go Away With..." on Twitter at @GoAwayWithJae where Jae-Ha Kim welcomes your questions and comments.)