Travelling with Elle Macpherson

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Oct 06, 2016

by JESSICA IRVINE, Associate Editor

The model and entrepreneur delights in the unexpected and found it behind the wheel of a 42-foot RV on a US road trip.

Where are you right now?

I’m in the Bahamas. I’ll be leaving this morning to go back to Miami then on to California for a week – I’m hiking there and doing a digital detox.

Where is your home away from home?

 Miami – because Australia is my home and I live in Miami. I moved there 18 months ago. Living in Miami is fabulous; it reminds me of Australia because it’s laid-back, it’s warm and there are lots of water sports.

SEE ALSO: Travelling with Marta Dusseldorp

What was your typical childhood holiday?

Oh, we had fun. We had a Kombi and used to go camping and waterskiing on weekends down the South Coast [of NSW] in Mollymook. It has a beautiful surf beach and a rock pool known as the Bogey Hole.

Where would you like to take your children?

 I’d love to take my sons [Flynn, 18, and Cy, 13] to the Galápagos Islands and Patagonia. We’ve just come back from the Maldives. We stayed at the Shangri-La and it was one of the most beautiful locations – good breezes on the water, the staff were great and the kids loved it.

When you walk into a hotel room, what’s the first thing you do?

I go to the closet. I get everything out of my suitcase and hang it up and put my toiletries away. Because I travel so much, I need to feel like I’m at home.

Do you wander the streets or check maps?

I like to explore. The power of exploration and discovery is so strong. It’s such a delight when you find something unexpected because you made a wrong turn, followed your gut or followed the lights.

Any travel mishaps you can share?

Losing luggage is a pain in the arse, isn’t it? It’s happened to me – not with Qantas, of course! So in my hand luggage I take the things I need for two days, just in case.

If I’m going to a black-tie event, I take my wardrobe on the plane, even if it’s heavy.

Which destination was a surprise to you?

China. What surprised me was the food – it was so exquisite, it became this gastronomical tour. In the heart of Beijing the food was just extraordinary.

Have you ever gone completely off the grid?

Well, I’ve been around for a long time and I don’t think there were mobile phones when I started modelling. I feel like I was off the grid for many years before modern technology. And I will be again next week – it will be interesting to see how I go.

Have you ever been fleeced?

Not that I remember. But I was in a hotel in Los Angeles during the big earthquake in the early ’90s. It was three or four in the morning, I was in bed and the alarm started going off. We had to get out of the room and all I could think was, “I have to get my jewellery and my passport in case something happens!” Everyone was racing for their lives and there I was, scrounging around. I did get them. Then I was running down the stairwell with not a lot of clothes on; there were lots of half-dressed people on the street, wearing bathrobes and no shoes.

What are your most memorable dining experiences?

I always love Icebergs [icebergs.com.au] at Bondi Beach in Australia. And there are a couple of restaurants in the Fontainebleau hotel [fontainebleau.com] in Miami that I really love, like Scarpetta, which serves great Italian food.

What’s the greatest road trip you’ve done?

I did an amazing one with my children about seven years ago. We rented a 42-foot [13-metre] RV – it’s like a caravan – and I had a lesson on how to drive it in a parking lot. We travelled around America: Los Angeles, Big Sur, San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, the Grand Canyon, Sedona and San Diego. A guy who works with us came and we took turns driving this “truck”. We had a map and we were putting pins on places the boys thought they’d like to go. There was San Francisco because they’d never seen a cable car and they wanted to go to Alcatraz and see the Golden Gate Bridge. We just had to pick random camping grounds; we didn’t really know what we were getting into. So, for example, when we went to Big Sur, the RV camp was absolutely charming; there was a pond, a waterfall and a pool. Then we went to San Francisco, where the camp was just a parking lot – no trees, no benches and no washing facilities. The Grand Canyon camp is a whole “city” with convenience stores and biking trails. It was a very earthy experience; we barbecued, we cleaned the RV and pumped the sewage. It was a real bonding experience and an adventure. The boys still talk about it.

When you travel, what are you most likely to bring home?

I like finding arts and crafts – stuff for the home, bowls, that kind of thing. Experience has taught me not to buy souvenirs because they look great where you are but then you get them home and go, “What was I thinking? Where am I going to put this snow globe of the Golden Gate Bridge? How many dreamcatchers from Sedona am I going to have?”

If you could be anywhere else in the world right now, where would you be?

I love to be right here, right now. I’m an in-the-moment kind of girl.

You’re in the Bahamas right now so I imagine a lot of people would want to be there, too.

Yeah but wherever I am is where I want to be. I’ve learned to enjoy where I am. I’ve just come back from Montauk [the Hamptons, New York], Cincinnati, Chicago, Boston... I’ve been travelling quite a bit and one of the best ways to be grounded, for me, is to put on my shoes and go for a walk outside and say, “Okay, this is where I am, right here, right now.” And be there. That’s the big challenge in life. 

SEE ALSO: Travelling with Anthony Lapaglia