Born in Seattle, Wash., Maiara Walsh was 2 when she and her family moved to her mother's native Sao Paulo, Brazil. In her tweens, she moved back to the United States to pursue an acting career. After roles on series such as "Desperate Housewives," "Switched at Birth" and "Cory in the House," the 25-year-old actress portrays Katniss Evershot in the feature film parody "The Starving Games." "I love to travel and experience the culture and meet new people," says Walsh. "I feel like I expand my mind every time I get on a plane to go somewhere new. Honestly? I can't imagine life without travel." Fans may follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MaiaraWalsh.
Q. Where did you shoot "The Starving Games"?
A. It was filmed outside of New Orleans. I had never been there before. It's now one of my favorite cities. I'm a huge fan of jazz and I love to eat, so that city offered the best of both worlds! It was really fun, because we would go into the city every weekend. It was a good group of people. When you're shooting a parody, the attitude is pretty fun anyways. So the whole cast and I would go into New Orleans and stuff our faces. At one point, I thought, "I'm going to be on a 60-foot screen. Maybe I shouldn't be eating so much." (Laughs) But then the food was just so good. We definitely were not starving.
Q. What was the first trip you took as a child? And did you love it, or not so much?
A. I literally have been traveling since I was a month old. My mom's Brazilian, so we went back and forth all the time. I lived in Brazil for a few years when I was a baby.
Q. Do you pick up other languages fairly quickly?
A. It depends on where I am. I speak Portuguese and am proficient in Spanish. So if I'm in Spain, I pick up Spanish very easily. The first time I went on a European adventure was a year ago. By the time I left Barcelona, people thought I was a local!
Q. Are you better traveling in a group or going by yourself?
A. I can do either. Last year was my first solo trip ever and I loved it! I went for six weeks to Europe. This year, I went for seven. Originally I was supposed to go with some friends, but they couldn't at the last minute. So I went alone. I have an adventurous spirit so I didn't mind. It was really fun. And I experienced a type of freedom that I can't describe in words. I made no plans and had zero reservations. I'm a low-maintenance traveler and go with the flow, so it worked out really well. I wanted to experience everything, from hotels to hostels to couch-surfing. I did every form of travel -- planes, trains, cars, bikes, walking. ... Honestly, for people who want to travel solo, I recommend traveling to Europe first because it's very easy to do.
Q. Have you ever felt as if you were in danger in your travels?
A. Only once so far. When I first landed in Turkey, I was afraid. I was going to meet some friends that I didn't know that well at the time. We were going to go sailing. There were about 50 Turkish men trying to get my business at the airport and none of them spoke English. There was supposed to be someone with a sign waiting for me. And there was, but I didn't realize it at the time 'cause my name was spelled incorrectly. There were three guys who kept insisting that I go with them leading me to an unmarked taxi. I had to make a split decision. I looked them in their eyes and I got in the car with them. I was texting my friends the whole time, trying to let them know where I was en route, just in case. But it all turned out fine. They were affiliated with the boat company.
Q. Where do you love returning to?
A. Brazil! All of my trips to Brazil are amazing because I have so much family there. I usually go once a year, but I haven't been back for two years now. I'm dying to see my family!
Q. Have you felt like you could ever pick up and move to another country?
A. All the time! I like to pick up and go anytime and I have this mentality of, "I could move here at any second." I felt that way after visiting Amsterdam. We went on a 50km (30-mile) bike ride. I was dying, but we ended up in this beautiful little town with a population of about 100. But after the seventh week of my last trip, I admit I was more homesick than I'd ever been.
Q. Where would you like to go to next?
A. I'm dying to go to Africa. I need to be in a jungle somewhere, preferably in Southeast Asia or the Amazon. I want to go to the Middle East. I want to go to North Korea, because I can't! There's really nowhere I don't want to go.
Q. What do you take on every trip?
A. I always have a journal and these amazing pens by Stabilo. And my cellphone. Last year, I literally had a string attached to my cellphone and my pants so I wouldn't lose it. And sunglasses, but I always lose those.
Q. If you've ever gone away for the holidays, which was the most memorable trip?
A. Last November I got to go to Hamburg for five days. It was Christmas season and they have the most amazing markets filled with incredible decorations and hot spice wine. I bought so much chocolate to bring home that my bag was actually over the allotted weight limit. I had never been a huge Christmas person, but the holiday spirit was so alive and I fell in love with it. That year, I really did up Christmas at home!
(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column by visiting her website at http://www.jaehakim.com. You may also follow "Go Away With..." on Twitter at @GoAwayWithJae where Jae-Ha Kim welcomes your questions and comments.)
(c) 2013 JAE-HA KIM DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.
Go Away With ... Maiara Walsh
Actress Maiara Walsh. (James Thompson / November 5, 2013)