The actress tells T+L all about her travel routine, plane uniform, and the creative way that she keeps her snacks fresh in the air.

By Meredith Lepore
November 22, 2020
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Credit: Mike Pont/WireImage

If you feel like you weren’t very productive during those first months of lockdown, perhaps you just need some inspiration from someone who used that time quite well. Enter Mayim Bialik.

The actress who first entered our lives playing a young Bette Midler in "Beaches" before going on to achieve worldwide fame as everyone’s favorite precocious, sunflower-wearing teenager "Blossom," used her time of sheltering in place very wisely. 

It’s not surprising considering that instead of riding the coattails of 90s teen idol fame after "Blossom "ended she went to UCLA and earned a degree in neuroscience before going on to receive her Ph.D. in the same field in 2007. But acting is her first love, and when the role of Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler on the hit show "The Big Bang Theory" was offered to her in 2010, she couldn’t turn it down.

She stayed with the CBS series and was nominated for an Emmy four times, until its series finale in 2019. During the run of the show, the mother of two teen boys wrote the New York Times best-sellers; "Girling Up: How to be Strong, Smart and Spectacular,"  "Boying Up: How to Be Bold, Brave and Brilliant," as well as "Beyond the Sling" and cookbook "Mayim’s Vegan Table."

So it is really no wonder that during the quarantine she worked on her directorial debut for the film "As Sick as They Made Us" (which she also wrote), formulated the idea for her new mental health-focused podcast "Mayim Bialik’s Breakdown," and also went into production for her new series "Call Me Kat," premiering Jan. 3 on Fox, produced by her "Big Bang Theory" co-star Jim Parsons.

Tired yet? Don’t worry, she also did some mundane chores like get all her phone and computer cords in order too.

The multi-faceted Bialik, who has traveled to Israel almost every year since she was a teenager (she minored in Hebrew and Jewish studies in college), spoke with Travel + Leisure over email about her upcoming series, as well as her love of travel and pro tips for flying. 

Travel +Leisure: First of all, would love to hear about your new show "Call Me Kat." What made you want to jump into a series so soon after "Big Bang?" 

Mayim Bialik: "It actually wasn’t so soon! I essentially had a year off! Jim Parsons approached me about doing an American version of the BBC show "Miranda," and I was so incredibly thrilled at the possibility of working with him again and bringing an eccentric woman who is not afraid to be herself to television."

T+L: Speaking of Jim, what is it like to be working with your "Big Bang" co-star again?

MB: "I trust Jim in so many ways. I trusted him as an actor and learned so much from him in my almost 10 years with him on "The Big Bang Theory." Now, I trust him as my producer and essentially the guide of the next phase of my career. His company is delightful and we are incredibly aligned in so many ways. As artists, as producers, and as friends. It is truly a blessing to be working with him!" 

T+L: Can you tell us about your new podcast?

MB: "My project during the early quarantine was developing a mental health and mental wellness podcast. As a trained neuroscientist with a rich family history of mental health struggles, I decided during the quarantine that too many people were struggling and didn’t know how to get help or even what kind of help to get. “Mayim Bialik’s Breakdown” is a place where I am vulnerable about my mental health struggles and I find people who are experts in either their own struggles or research and alternative methods of improving mental wellness. I’m speaking to celebrity friends and professors and people from all walks of life who are figuring out what works and what doesn’t."

T+L: From all your trips to Israel, do you have a particular memory that sticks out from a recent trip? What is your favorite part about traveling there?

MB: "I have been going to Israel about every other year since I was 16. I have dozens and dozens of family members there, including my aunt and uncle and some of my most dear cousins. My cousins are now grandparents and we have a very big family in Israel! My ex-husband and I took both of our mothers and our sons there a few years ago in anticipation of our older son’s bar mitzvah. We did the bar mitzvah here in Los Angeles but we wanted to have the experience of standing in front of the Western Wall with both of our mothers and even though we’re divorced, we wanted to do this trip together. It was challenging and also absolutely unbelievable."

"I almost always spend my time in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and I also have family on a beautiful archaeological site which is a kibbutz, Kibbutz Gezer. We hope to travel to Israel next year for our younger son’s bar mitzvah trip and he is very interested in seeing the north of Israel and in particular the Baha'i Gardens in Haifa. My favorite part about traveling there is that the whole country feels like a family because it is so small. The vibe is very Manhattan meets family dinner at Passover."

T+L: I know you also love Travaasa in Hana, Maui. When did you go there last and why did you enjoy it so much? 

MB: "I went about 6 years ago and have been wanting to get back since…it’s one of the most idyllic places. A resort in a small town is so special because you get to get a real feel for the community and the culture of East Maui. The air smells sweet, the food is incredible, and the people who work and live in the community are so in love with their town and sharing it with guests who want to take it all in."

T+L: What’s the one thing you cannot travel without?

MB: "Lip balm. My lips get so dry on planes and in hotels. No clue why. They just do."

T+L: What is your plane routine? Are you a good flier?

MB: "I am an expert flier! I take super early flights so I can sleep on the plane. No drugs, no alcohol. Just a cozy sweatshirt and headphones. As a vegan, I bring my own snacks so I’m not disappointed with my food choices — I have a banana protector so it stays firm! A chocolate nut KIND bar. Almonds! And I drink tons of water and take an aisle seat so I don’t annoy my neighbor when I get up 1000 times."

T+L: What was the best trip you recently took?

MB: "Since COVID, I don’t go anywhere, but I have a house in Ojai which always feels like a vacation; even if I only go for a night!"

T+L: Is there a place you are dying to travel to? 

MB: "So many! Japan. Peru. Cuba. India."

T+L: Do you have an airplane uniform?

MB: "Hahaha - Yes I do! Black sweatpants, comfy black and white striped dress over the sweats, slip-on Doc Marten boots, my Chanukah cozy socks, baseball hat. 

T+L Do you have a favorite carry-on bag?

MB: "Always take a Patagonia backpack."

T+L: Do you have any packing rules for yourself?

MB: "I am a really weird packer. I basically take all black clothes and hope it all works together. I ALWAYS invariably forget something important like a jacket or underwear or a toothbrush. And I always think less is more!"

T+L: What’s the best hotel you’ve ever stayed in?

MB: "Amangiri at the Utah/Arizona border. Absolutely the best."

T+L: What’s the one place that surprised you when you travel?

MB: "Everywhere is full of surprise - Egypt was spectacular. Like walking into a postcard. Also, Glacier National Park when the fog rolls through the canyons was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced."

T+L: And then I have to ask, do you have a favorite outfit from "Blossom?" 

MB: "Ha. Not really. The title outfits are special – the skirt made of ties was my mom’s idea. I still have a pair of earrings from Blossom, and a shirt that was Vinny’s!"