I’m not a huge consumer of things like fashion, but what I will consume is travel, especially with family. Making memories for my kids is, I feel, one of my first and foremost duties. I have three children: Eva, now 36, Jack Henry, 32, and Miles, 29. I’ve taken them on safari, we’ve been rafting in the Grand Canyon, and I’ve driven them everywhere too. Tim Robbins, my former partner, would say, “Why? I never travelled as a kid.” I’d say, “I rest my case.”

I actually made a rule that when each of my children turned eight, I would take them on a trip somewhere I hadn’t been. According to the Catholic Church, when you’re seven years old you’re old enough to go to hell, so I just added one more year. It started because there was a trip coming up with some scientists to the Amazon rainforest, and I brought my daughter along. She went there, Jack Henry went on safari in South Africa, and my younger son went all through Puerto Rico and into the rainforest again. I especially like to see something for the first time with them. And, of course, what happens when you’re older is that your kids start to introduce you to things too – they give you music to listen to, and you’re re-reading Vonnegut, and you start to understand why you had them.

I remember the safari with Jack Henry. On about the third day, he said, “So, is it just going to be you?” I thought, I had better figure out a way to make this more interesting. As for the rainforest with Miles, we went to a place where they were rescuing monkeys – we took my brother too (I’m the eldest of nine children). We stayed in a hotel that was in the canopy, up on stilts, so there were monkeys all around – I remember checking in, and my son was just standing there very calmly with a monkey on his chest. We did a river trip and met a lot of indigenous people – there was ayahuasca everywhere. Of course, later on I figured out what that was all about, but that wasn’t something I did with the kids. I did do mushrooms with my son for his birthday: he was turning 25 and he asked if we could go to Joshua Tree and do mushrooms. So we did.

Morocco was probably the most memorable trip with them. The king really helped us out. I hate to drop a name, but without him, we never would have been able to cover as much as we did. We hadn’t planned to go up in the mountains, and we hadn’t planned to go way deep in the desert, but he made that possible – we rode camels in the desert on Christmas Eve. We drove to Essaouira, then we drove to Fez, and to Marrakech; my kids heard the call to prayer there. I was happy that they had been there to experience that country for themselves.

When I grew up, we were fine, but we didn’t have the extra money to go on serious trips, so we went camping all the time. I guess it was insane to take a whole bunch of kids camping, but we didn’t lose anyone, and no one ever broke anything. We’d go to places not that far from home, like Toms River in New Jersey or Lake George in New York State, and my dad would make a fire and have a big skillet that he would make the best eggs and bacon on in the morning. Later on, I bought him a little cabin that they used to go to, on a lake in Mount Desert Island, Maine. All my family goes, in turns, throughout July and August. My father retired to that cabin; his ashes are there. My brother’s ashes are there, too. 

My kids do know that they’re very privileged with these trips –they have the photo albums to prove it, because I’m still a rabid maker of photo albums. They’re going to need a new wing in their houses for all the albums that they have! Another great trip was rafting at the bottom of the Grand Canyon for eight days: you feel like you’re looking at mountains, but they’re not mountains, you’re really just in a crack. I hope that the environment lasts long enough for me to do it again, not just with my kids but also my grandkids, who are seven, five and one. But I’ll have to pry my daughter’s hands off, probably, in order to get hold of them. 

Susan Sarandon is a Fairmont Global Ambassador and stars in its Experience the Grandest of Feelings campaign

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