My life in travel: Daryl Hannah, actor and environmental campaigner

'I'm crazy about the New Forest – it's just magical'

First holiday memory?

Going to summer camp in the Rockies where all the kids lived in covered wagons for two months. We would set up tents, dig latrines, make fires and groom and ride horses. I grew up on the 42nd storey of an apartment block in downtown Chicago, so I think camp was when I first really connected with nature.

Best holiday?

It sounds corny but the best holidays are at home in the Rockies. When I work it's on location in different countries all over the world; it's nice to be at home.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

I'm crazy about the New Forest. I used to take the train there on my days off when I was doing a play in London. I'd stay in a thatched cottage and eat wild mushrooms from the forest and go riding; it was just magical.

What have you learnt from your travels?

I think that your idea of what's possible comes from experiencing other cultures and lifestyles.

Ideal travelling companion?

I have travelled quite a bit with my friend Charris Ford; he's hilarious and fascinated by other cultures and people and can get along with anyone. He's always game, which I think is an essential quality in a travelling companion.

Greatest travel luxury?

I usually bring my own food because I'm a vegetarian and you can't always count on finding good vegetarian food abroad.

Holiday reading?

Sometimes I'll get scripts out of the way, but I am really fond of creative fiction and biographies.

Where has seduced you?

I've fallen in love with places that have untouched natural systems. Unfortunately they are getting fewer and fewer. I recently went back to Palau [an island nation in the north Pacific] where I hadn't been for 15 years and I was shocked to see how different it was under the water; there was far less life. It's a result of over-fishing, pollutants that we're putting in the ocean, bottom trawling, long lining, reel fishing and global warming.

Better to travel or arrive?

I wish I could say a magic word and arrive somewhere; but I do love trains.

Worst travel experience?

I've had scary flights and been stuck on the runway for hours on planes, but nothing worse than that.

Best hotel?

The Al Karm Ecolodge in Sinai, Egypt. The site dates back to the 13th century and is very basic. I also really liked the Hotelito Desconocido in Mexico that was completely off the grid. I like to stay in off-grid places.

Favourite walk/swim/ride/drive?

Swimming in the cenotes [sinkholes] in Tulum, Mexico, was really magical. Walking along the bottom of the Grand Canyon to the Havasupai Indian reservation and swimming in the waterfalls there was amazing, too.

Best meal abroad?

Pretty much anywhere in Italy; it's hard to beat.

First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?

I was told by a medicine woman in Hawaii that the first thing I should do whenever I go somewhere new is take off my shoes – even if it's cold – so that I can feel the heartbeat of the place I'm in. I've done that ever since and it grounds me in a visceral way.

Dream trip?

My dream trip is to go everywhere in the world I've never been!

Favourite city?

I'm from Chicago and that's a pretty nice city. But I'm more of a rural person than a city lover; I'm crazy for natural ecosystems.

Where next?

I'm in England at the moment to raise awareness that we're in the middle of a mass extinction. The UN has declared this the year of biodiversity because we're losing between 100 to 200 species per day; it's a huge crisis. After that I'm going to be in Spain for an environmental film festival.

Daryl Hannah is raising awareness of The Green Wave and the loss of biodiversity in the international Year of Biodiversity, with the UN CBD and Airbus ( greenwave.cbd.int and cbd.int/2010/welcome).

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