Susan Sarandon Recalls Her 'Most Meaningful' Family Trip — and How Travel Has Changed Her Life

"I think it's very easy at a certain point in life just to want to preserve what you've got, but I'm not interested in taking it easy," the Academy Award-winning actress and new Global Ambassador for Fairmont Hotels & Resorts tells PEOPLE

Susan Sarandon x Fairmont Hotels Campaign
Photo: Fairmont Hotels & Resorts

As one of nine kids, Susan Sarandon didn't travel much when she was younger — so when she grew up and had a family of her own, she made exploring a priority.

"I spend money on travel before anything else, except maybe food," the Academy Award-winning actress, 75, tells PEOPLE. "I've always just been really curious about other places, other cultures, and have insisted upon that for my children too."

Her passion for travel is what led her to her latest partnership: becoming the Global Ambassador for Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, and starring in their new campaign, "Experience The Grandest of Feelings," below. Much like the brand (which owns famous hotels like The Plaza in New York and the Château Frontenac in Quebec City), the mom of three is driven by the desire to explore, learn and enjoy.

"I've always been very determined to travel, just in terms of opening your imagination and making you flexible," the star tells PEOPLE, noting that she's made it a focus for her kids and grandkids, as well. (She is mom to daughter Eva Amurri, 36, and sons Jack Henry Robbins, 32, and Miles Robbins, 29.)

"If you don't start at a pretty young age, anything that's different can feel threatening, because you're somewhat out of control," she adds. "But if you start traveling when you're younger, I think it speaks to a certain amount of adaptability and curiosity and opening your mind."

Susan Sarandon x Fairmont Hotels Campaign
Fairmont Hotels & Resorts

One of the most meaningful trips she ever took with her kids when they were younger, Sarandon says, was to Morocco.

"That was the first time they'd heard the call for prayer," she says of the recitation that can be heard five times per day in many cities whose residents practice Islam. "Having conversation about what that was and seeing that culture I felt was really important after 9/11."

"There was so much hatred and misinformation and Islamophobia after 9/11," says the long time New York City resident. "So having been to a country that had now put a human face on people that dress that way or whatever I think was really, really important."

She adds that her kids are "pretty flexible and adaptable" now, and "those are probably the best things I could have given them."

Passion for travel is also a quality that Sarandon, who is currently single, says she is looking for in a potential partner, noting that they must have "an inquisitive, adventurous mind."

"I think it's very easy at a certain point in life just to want to preserve what you've got, but I'm not interested in taking it easy," she says. "I want some awe in my life still. When travel makes someone uneasy, to me that signals their need for control, because you are surrendering to a certain extent when you travel. You have to surrender and trust in the humanity of other people to get you through in a situation that you don't know much about."

"I like that quality in someone," she continues. "That they are down to surrender to the happy accident, to serendipity, to other cultures, to hearing other music and tasting other foods."

Susan Sarandon x Fairmont Hotels Campaign
Fairmont Hotels & Resorts

As the pandemic continues, Sarandon has been dreaming of the places she wants to visit as the world opens up again — and she is ready to cross a few oceans.

"Definitely the Maldives," she says of her dream destination, adding that she's been itching to stay at Sirru Fen Fushi, the Fairmont Resort in the celeb-favorite island destination in the Indian Ocean. "And I haven't seen Ireland. I've worked in Ireland, but I haven't really seen it. I'm curious about Ireland and Scotland, and I have Welsh blood, so that's kind of close."

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After spending much of the pandemic in New York, Sarandon does note that she's ready to travel to smaller, more relaxed destinations when she hops on a plane again.

"I'm ready for more of a smaller village than a bustling city, because I get so much bustle at home in New York," she says. "I was born here, raised my kids here, the whole trip. I don't want to race to another big city."

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