Why I Travel: Actor Josh Malina

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Beach time in Tulum.

Real Traveler Stories

This family knows that balance makes a great vacation.

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Boating in Belize.
From the archives: Isabel and Avi Malina in France.

Interviewed by David Hochman
 
Joshua Malina is best known for his roles as Will Bailey on The West Wing and David Rosen on Scandal (which wraps up its sixth season on ABC this month). His wife of 20 years, former costume designer Melissa Merwin-Malina, owns Isarose flower boutique near their home in Los Angeles. They love to travel, but with two teenagers – a son in high school and a daughter away at college –  vacations are typically about juggling agendas and expectations. That’s where their Virtuoso advisor comes in with planning that includes something for everyone.
 
Joshua: “Who enjoys what?” That’s always question number one. I’m happy on the beach with a book and a cocktail. Mellie loves a spa or a city. Our daughter’s an art history major, so museums work for her. Our 15-year-old is a skateboard nut who doesn’t like anything that’s not action-related – he’s not a tour kid or a sitting-down kid. After one Mexico trip, we had a joke: “You ruined the ruins!” He laughed, at least.
 
Melissa: We travel because every new place stimulates you, it teaches you, it opens your eyes to new foods and smells and ideas. Traveling is a leveler. It erases the distance between cultures. Plus, I can shop for inspiration.
 
Joshua: We’ll talk to anyone who’ll talk to us. As much as Mellie and I have enjoyed our 25-year conversation, we like to bust things open by meeting locals or talking to people at the next table or getting tips from fellow travelers. People are what make the trip. London is very big on West Wing, so I’m recognized by lots of superpolite Wingnuts there. Scandal was the game changer. People everywhere say, “Aren’t you that guy?” I don’t mind it. Most places are fine.
 
Melissa: Vegas is the only downside. People won’t leave him alone. Paris is everything that’s good in the world. You don’t have to plan anything. Walk out your door and it’s on. I love the Ritz –  and not just because Coco Chanel lived there. It’s glorious.
 
Joshua: I’m a London guy. Our advisor put us up at the Corinthia, which is so elegant and beautiful. Berners Tavern restaurant has a supercool vibe. My favorite might be tea at The Dorchester – I don’t know if they keep records of “most finger sandwiches consumed,” but I gave it a good run.

The beach isn’t travel. It’s vacation. For me, the ultimate is Hotel Esencia on Mexico’s Riviera Maya.  You get ocean, jungle, Mayan tradition and history, style, and incredible food.  Everybody’s happy.
 
Melissa: Sometimes it’s easier splitting up the group. This summer, Joshua needs to be in Israel and our son is at skateboard camp, so my daughter and I will spend time in France, seeing art and doing mother-daughter things.
 
Joshua: My son loves soccer, and when we were in England, our advisor arranged for us to see a Tottenham Hotspur match. The seats were incredible – practically on the field. It turns out they were someone’s season tickets. We’re rule followers and were sweating because we felt like we weren’t supposed to have them, but we loved every second of it.
 
Melissa: I’m a decide-what-you’ll-wear-on-the-other-end traveler, which humiliates our children. They don’t stand near my luggage because they’re embarrassed by how much I have. My daughter is a minimalist.
 
Joshua: If it’s just Mellie and me, we’ll go to Ashland, Oregon, to see theater in the summer. I get really jazzed by theater. We’ll see two plays a day – it’s not just Shakespeare. We’ll see Into the Woods this summer: The shows start before sundown, and you sit outside and watch the stars come out. It’s magical.
 
WHERE NEXT?
Melissa: India is on our empty-nest vacation list. We want to go back to Amsterdam, even if it’s just to see the flowers. Norway. And we haven’t been to Italy since our honeymoon, and would love to re-create it.