My Travel Tales: Yara Shahidi

The Grown-ish actress shares her fondest travel memories

May 2019
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New York Thought Exchange

My high school graduation gift was going to Harlem to hear filmmaker Raoul Peck speak about his documentary I Am Not Your Negro, about James Baldwin, one of my favorite writers. Walking in and seeing Raoul Peck sitting in the audience is my favorite New York moment.

Two Days in Paris

When I was 12, my baba [Farsi for father] and I went to Paris. We did every touristy thing you can imagine on day one and spent the other just eating food, which was fantastic. I’ve been to Paris since then, for longer, but this trip is still my favorite.

Costa Rica Crawlies

On a school trip, we went to Costa Rica and stayed in cabins in the middle of the jungle. There were two scorpions inside, and then at night I woke up and saw a huge spider on the wall. I’m terrified of spiders and couldn’t sleep and kept staring at it. But in many ways, we were the guests in their home, in their territory. 

Pizza in Pompeii

I was going through a very long audition process for Imagine That, and in the middle of it all my mom said, “Why don’t we just forget about this? Let’s go travel and have a great time.” We went to Florence and got to see Michelangelo’s David. We also went to Pompeii and before our train back to Florence, I made my parents stop so I could eat a slice of the Neapolitan pizza. It was so good and we missed our train!”

The English Patience

Before Black-ish started, I spent a month studying in Oxford, England. It was the first time I was overseas. I called my mom the first day, panicking because I didn’t have anybody to go to lunch with. But it was such a good experience: I’d be walking and think, “Oh, that’s where Oliver Cromwell was murdered.” I love those moments when you learn about things off the beaten path.

Yara’s packing list

Playlist
I create new playlists every time I travel—I love listening to music while going through that moment of relaxation and rejuvenation.

Crystals
I usually travel with an amethyst crystal. I also recently got a necklace with a labradorite stone in it. I always like to have crystals with me, especially when I travel.

Watercolor Paint
I am in no way a talented visual artist, but I love bringing watercolors with me because it helps me stay off my phone and in the moment. One time, I took a sip without paying attention and proceeded to drink the paint water.

Books
I often bring three or four books with me. I love essays and non-fiction, but my mom is encouraging me to read more fiction.

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