Actor/director/travel writer are descriptors gracing Andrew McCarthy's website. Those who've watched him graduate from Brat Pack films like "Pretty in Pink" to roles in "Mulholland Falls" and, coming up on December 9, Hallmark Channel's "Christmas Dance," probably aren't surprised by the first two labels. But travel writer? In his book The Longest Way Home, McCarthy talks about stumbling into this second, accidental career through a chance meeting with a travel magazine editor. "For me, travel has rarely been about escape; it's often not even about a particular destination. The motivation is to go — to meet life, and myself, head on along the road." Head on, indeed. Read on to learn more about McCarthy's travels, including a honeymoon rife with mishaps.
What's something you never fail to pack in your suitcase?
My laptop and grapefruit seed extract — a few drops a day and stomach problems from weird food are not a concern.
Carry-on or check-in?
Carry on. Waiting for luggage after a long flight is soul crushing.
Window or aisle?
Aisle. I need to feel I can move.
What's your idea of the perfect vacation?
Most of the time that I'm traveling I'm writing about it, so I'm not really sure what a vacation is, but Keawakapu Beach on Maui (Hawaii) feels pretty damn close.
Tell us about a vacation you've taken that's come close thus far.
I took my son out into the Sahara Desert (North Africa) after I finished a writing assignment in Marrakech (Morocco). We had an amazing experience.
What's the worst vacation you've ever been on?
Got a flat tire at night on a dirt road in a remote section of Mozambique and had no spare. At dawn, distant drums began pounding. Eventually, made it to the still war-ravaged city of Beira. Spent a few days in the malaria capital of Africa before we could get a flight out. Not a great start to a honeymoon.
What's the most unusual souvenir you ever came back with?
I brought back a statue of a fertility God from Tanzania. Not sure why, I wasn't trying to have kids at the time... I've got two (kids) now.
Ever try a food that you wished you hadn't?
Eating a grilled slug in the Peruvian Amazon was probably a mistake.
Favorite hotel/resort/train/boat you've ever stayed in?
I remember being very happy at the Berkeley Hotel in London — my personal butler made everything so pleasant. Loved the Villa d'Este on Lake Como, Italy. Love being in the Absaroka Mountains (Montana/Wyoming border). I also slept very well on a train in Spain.
The biggest regret you've ever had while on vacation?
I was once asked to dance by a very beautiful woman at a nightclub in Paris. I was too uptight to say yes. Biggest mistake of my life.
The one thing you're willing to splurge on above all else.
A gift for my wife.
Three artists on your travel playlist?
Bruce Springsteen, because I'm also from New Jersey. Bob Dylan, because he usually has the answer to most questions. And Tom Waits, because there are long flights and lonely nights on the road.
Where would you take someone visiting your hometown for the first time so they could see what you love about it so much?
I love the Guggenheim Museum (in New York), then a walk through Central Park and my favorite diner — Lexington Candy Shop Luncheonette.
You only get one more trip in your lifetime. Where will it be?
Patagonia or Rome.