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Celebrity Q&A: Gillian Anderson
By Sarah Maber
Family Traveller: November 2013

Is travel important to you?

Travel is a huge part of my life. I'm on airplanes all the time. The place I've gone to the most over the past five years is Sri Lanka - I fell in love with it in 2008, and I bought a property there. I was looking for a place on the beach but then I fell in love with this extraordinary colonial-style house on a coconut plantation. While I was doing it up, I would go five times a year with the kids. I perfected the technique of long-haul travel with children.

Any tips on keeping children quiet on long-haul flights?

Kids are actually great travellers; they're very adaptable. When they're young, the best thing to do is to travel on night flights, and take enough toys and soft books to occupy them. As they get older, just do whatever gets them through the flight. My kids are usually quite restricted on their TV time, but on flights I don't care if they watch four movies. There's only so much colouring that can be done.

What was your first holiday as a child?

When I was six months old, we moved to Puerto Rico for about 15 months. It wasn't meant to be a holiday, but there was a great deal of surfing and beach time. I remember being in my nappies on the beach and napping on a hammock swinging between palm trees. I remember the ocean.

What has been your most memorable trip?

My second husband and I once drove from Kenya down to Johannesburg, and camped in places along the way. There were buffalo and crocodiles and hippos; there were elephants nearby. One afternoon, there was a red kite circling around us and we started throwing up pieces of hot dogs. The kite would swoop down and catch them. That was pretty memorable.

And what was your worst-ever trip?

When my now 18-year-old daughter Piper was 18 months old, I did a press tour for The X-Files. My husband and I were young, and properly exploring Europe for the first time. Because of my schedule, we gave ourselves two days in Florence, two days in Paris, two days in Venice, it was insane. It was August and so hot. I'd rented a house in France that turned out to be like a dungeon. We walked in the door and turned right around again. A relative had a tiny campervan that we borrowed and we ended up at a campsite in St Tropez, and had the best time.

City break or beach holiday?

Because I spend a lot of my time in cities I would say beach. The one thing I have the hardest time doing is relaxing. If I'm in a city, I'm going to be exploring; on the beach I'll actually read.

What items would you never travel without?

Flip flops, I wear them pretty much every day; you shouldn't be without them in hot countries.

Do you have a favourite hotel?

There's a place in Sri Lanka called Club Villa. It has a beautiful pool and grounds, and it's very child friendly. There's a railway line that runs through the garden and separates the hotel from the beach. Most people would think 'what a shame'. But it's so romantic to be in the pool with your kids smelling the frangipani when all of a sudden this rickety old train goes through the garden.

What do you do when you first arrive?

I suss out the accommodation and work out who's going to go where and what the playing area is going to be. I put the toys out and move anything that might get broken.

What would be your perfect holiday?

I want to go to Vietnam and Cambodia - but that's one to do as a solo trip.

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